Saturday, July 29, 2017

#303  Joe Pepitone #304 Joe Pepitone-In Action

Groomed to be the next legendary Yankee....known for his 1960’s New York days, just like another Joe of NY Jets football fame....Pepitone never reached the stardom, notoriety, and controversy of Namath....although Namath was never shot in abdomen like Pepitone was....came on like gangbusters in second year of 1963 leading the Bronx Bombers....reached 100 RBIs in 1964 and hit a grand slam in the WS....future looked bright but the following years in NY were uneven...sometimes showing good power (31 HRs 1966) sometimes a disappointment (13, 1967) far off from Mickey’s body of work....BA did not deviate far from .250....Mostly a 1st baseman but had forays in Centerfield....unusal...NYY not foreseeing a major upgrade in output swapped Joe to Houston for Curt Belfrey for 1970....bad deal on both sides.....Joe free form style clashed badly with traditionalist Harry Walker (although production did not decline) refused to play.... trade to Chicago Cubs was a god send for two reasons....catalyst for playoff drive and could manage his chain of local hair stylist shops....Stuck around Wrigley-ville for 1971....had best BA of .307 about 50 point over career average....1972 Joe was stopped cold by injuries mid seasons....never fully recovered....bizarre comeback attempt in 1973....started in Chicago, then a month  Atlanta, released and tried his luck in Japan for few games....totally alienated (might have been a worst situation than Houston).... laid low for a few years....resurfaced in 1976 AAA Hawaii, baseball answers to a pseudo-retirement home....another ill fated adventure but at least it was a paid vacation trip for the three time all star and two time gold glovers....I like to think that’s how Joe looked at it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

#305 Ken Boswell  #306 Ken Boswell In Action

Three year prime then relegated to the NYM and Houston bench....Handy player when on his game...liabilities were injuries and initial an inconsistent glove (bad in 1969, greatly improved 1970) then later on  had trouble at the plate....closely aligned with manager Gil Hodges.... his work with him is considered the source improvement with the glove...his sudden death, a possible cause of his decline at the plate.... most impressive in the first NLCS when he hit 2 home runs, especially given Ken only hit 3 out of park in 362 regular season at bats.... came of age as simultaneously with many of his Miracle Met prodigies... acquistion of Felix Millan cut into his playing time....stuck around NYC until 1975 when Boswell took his game to Houston for 3 more years.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

#307 Steve Renko #308 Steve Renko In Action

Nice acquisition at the time by the prospect seeking Expos...a hopeful with the Mets given up to the fledgling Expos for WS hero Don Clendenon...pressed into a starter usually in the #2 position behind Stoneman, Morton, Torrez....College athlete played with Gale Sayers at Kansas.... Began baseball as an outfielder 1st power but BA was poor....using his 6-5 frame converted to the mound mid 1967....once with advances along with more starts and wins....noted 15 wins seasons in between a horrid 1972....1973 his best year although Mike Marshall got the top billing.... 1974-75 were mediocre stints....1976: First few games convinced Montreal Renko was not returning to 1973 status and put up trade....starting session of four different clubs for different four years, Cubs, White Sox (‘77), A’s (‘78), and Red Sox (’79)....Was able to stick around Boston for 1980...won 20 games over two years....took the free agent route to the Angels 1981-1982...won 19 for two years work...finished playing days with Royals 1983....won 134 as opposed to 146 losses...never played in post season.    

Thursday, July 20, 2017

#309 Roberto Clemente #310 Roberto Clemente In Action 

Maybe one should break the fourth wall with Roberto....Do not report facts but tell what was important to you and how he affected your life....I didn’t have the 1972 card but I have 3 of his 1973 cards...a sad and somber memento...his face obscured maybe intentionally in an in-action pose....his story begins as a signee by the Dodgers who recognized his pending stardom....placed in Montreal AAA squad in a pattern reminiscing of Jackie Robinson’s upbringing....only thing is didn’t play much in an attempt to hide  him from Rule 5 draft....still didn’t work, Pirates brass (Branch Rickey) had too much knowledge of the Dodger prospect and he was taken for a price of a measly 4,000 dollars...Overtook the Pirates spot immediately 1955....had an solid  body of work for 5 years (.282 BA, 26 home runs, 236 RBI cumulative)  but supercharged with power and RBI number with the start of the 1960’s....bravado, proud, possibly  narcissistic of his skills but he could back the talk....4 batting crowns...MVP 1966....hit under .300 only once in the decade....1961 started a string of 12 consecutive Gold Gloves augmented by a legendarily strong and accurate throwing the Baltimore Orioles found out in the 1971 WS....1969-1971 was nearly flawless hitting a .3456 clip....personal goal for 1972 was to reach the mile stone 3000 hits....battled viruses and a strained tendons resulting in only  403 plate appearances...the 3K mark was reached on September 30....a double off of Jon Matlack....last regular season hit ever....the Pirates lost out to the Reds in NLCS....Roberto was home when word of an earthquake devastating Nicaragua....continuing a personal commitment  to charitable work in Latin America to the beleaguer nation...As most people were celebrating the new year, his plane carrying relief went down a mile off the Puerto Rican coast...body never recovered....tragedy put a pale over the 1973 Pirates who descended into a losing record....In an act of highest reverence, inducted into Hall of Fame 1973 waiving the 5 year period....Other tributes poured in....Well remembered to this day..... Baseball also renamed the newly created Commissioner’s award to the Roberto Clemente award which is given the player combining good play and strong work in the community.

Note: Many of back sides of the In Action Card are the same promotional advertisement.  So I've left them out.  For Roberto I will show his 1973 card.

Monday, July 17, 2017

#311 Clay Carroll #312 Clay Carroll In Action

Ace reliever who took over as the anchor of the Reds bullpen an\ quiet, unsung asset...Carroll’s story starts with cups of coffee with the Braves waning years in Milwaukee....Took top spot in bullpen immediately once the Braves moved south.... Led NL pitchers in games 1966....suffered a terrible 1967....started 1968 with Braves but did not show improvement...flipped to the Reds early in the year where he immediately turned tables....a work horse tandem with Wayne Granger 1969-71 each alternating the closer role....Granger’s departure to the 1972 Twins put sole spotlight on Carroll, who responded with a NL best 37 saves and the NL Fireman award....Reds return to WS....held his part of the bargain in playoffs surrendering 5 runs in 32 innings....Carroll maintain a consistent status quo for the Redlegs up to 1976....that year traded to White Sox as Cincinnati was leaning towards a youth movement then a year later landed in St Louis both locations kept ERA in around 2.5 runs per game....took brief return to Chisox as they made an unexpected playoff run 1977...age caught up and finished out career with a few games for Pittsburgh.

Friday, July 14, 2017

#313-314 Luis Aparicio-In Action

Fiery competitor, an All star 10 times over....Made the squad 7 consecutive years, then 3 consecutive years later on....Synonymous with the position of Shortstop....took to the field in 2581 contests over 18 years, never deviating position.... an OK .262 BA lowered by the occasional off season....Value lay in stolen bases and glove; 9 time award winner and 9 consecutive times top AL base thief.... HOF material and he was inducted circa 1984....Illustrious career began with Go-go White Sox beginning 1954....moved over to the Orioles....Return trip to Chicago....hit a career best .313 1970 when the Sox were at their worst...acquisition by Red Sox was the team's answer to deficit at 3rd base....Rico Petrocelli shifted to over to the right as Luis took his spot... Results were a mixed bag...speed had diminished....Batting ranged .233 in 1971 to a .273 to 1973...Released spring training 1974....vetoed an offer from George Steinbrenner to take over Yankee’s SS spot....Diminutive but incredibly durable averaging 144 games a season in addition to playing 19 consecutive years of winter ball in native Venezuela...Rookie of the year 1956.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

#315 Paul Splittorff  

At the time, still a youngster....the first significant pitcher in the Royals franchise...held the mound for one team for parts of 15 years....Holds team mark for career wins with 166, although Dennis Leonard was probably the more dominant pitcher....was not expansion selection but taken in 25th round of 1968 amateur draft...was the first Royal signed to a professional contract...was able to take a reasonable jump from low A to AAA ball in 197\68 to 1969...brought up gradually, to full effect....First taste of the Show was in 1971 and held his own....kept taking on more work and subsequently paid dividends by being KC’s first 20 game winner 1973....injuries hampered effectiveness in subsequent years....staged comeback with 16-6 and 19-8 records in 1978 and 1979...continued on hovering  with .500 record in four subsequent seasons....last effective year was 1983 when Paul went 13-8....last game was June 26th 1984....Was the Royal’s best weapon against the NYY in their 3 playoff showdown...won two games and had 2.68 ERA in 6 games....donned glasses later into his career giving him a scholarly appearance....passed away as of 2011.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

#316 Cardinals Rookie Card 

Jim Bibby, Jorge Roque, Santiago Guzman One eventual career Major Leaguer followed by two failed tryout at the MLB level....Bibby, after an extended minor league odyssey finds control and success with the Texas Rangers 1974....19 game winner paired Ferguson Jenkins who was similar in stature...although 4.75 ERA is incredibly high....a steal by the Texans from St Louis from the get go...pitched a no hitter just after arrival....Came from an athletic family; brother was NBA guard Henry Bibby....sometimes consistency issues insued....went 7-15 next year splitting time between Texas and Cleveland, despite a lowered ERA from the year before...two more years in Cleveland, Jim took a free agent route for the Pirates....In Pittsburgh, Jim finds himself in similar spot starting with occasional bullpen shift...worked his way back into rotation....A regular starter 1980 found a return to the 19 win plateau and his personal best campaign....pitched well in early 1981 when an injury derailed him....never was the same....sat out 1982 and at age 38 his 1983 comeback fell far short of expectations.....finished out career back in Texas with a few games....passed away in 2010.... Rouque and Guzman has similar careers....short ones....Both were permanently of out MLB uniforms in 1973 and 1972 respectively....Guzman, from the Dominican highlight went 8 innings in start against the Mets 1971...gave up one run as teammate Stan Williams got the win...Roque from Puerto Rico looked like a comer after 3 consecutive strong minor league seasoning 69, 70, and 71...minor league output tailed off considerably 1972 and was dealt to Expos....Career highlight was hitting a grand slam for Montreal against Philadelphia....Roque feasted on Phillie pitching going 8 for 19 against them that year.   

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

#317 Rich Hand

A Cleveland castoff along with Mike Paul brought in to be a reclamation project to patch up the Ranger’s staff in the wake of the Denny McClain debacle...1st pick in 1969 June secondary draft....put on the fast track landing AAA Portland for the remainder of the stranger to the Northwest, born and schooled in Washington....Promoted big club 1970....fared OK with a 3.83 ERA mostly as a starter role...faltered on the mound in 1971 but was able to put up decent AAA numbers in Wichita....As a Ranger went 10-14 with a 3.32 ERA....a better record might of been had if first year Rangers hit better than their Ted Williams ulcer making .217 BA....Rich couldn’t reprise his output in 1973....Midseason took his Ranger 2-3 record and 5.40 ERA to Angels where he logged in 4-3 record and 3.62 ERA....last MLB season not to return.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

#318 Sonny Jackson

Speed incorporated....but only truly realized in his rookie season with the 1966 Astros....49 stolen bases to go along with a .292 BA....good for second in ROY balloting next to Tommie Helms....As a hitter, was single savvy, leading the NL in singles having only 14 extra base hit....Started out as a Shortstop....many errors leading the NL in rookie and second season possibly cut his playing time....traded to Braves for 1968....considered regular SS in 1969 but only got one at bat in first NLCS....took to the outfield for 1971 to replace the season long loss of Rico Carty  and appeared in 149 games his most since rookie season....short lived status...lost playing time and MLB career ended 1974....hung out in AAA for a couple of more years with last professional game in 1976.