A big deal at first, relegated to semi-obscurity later on….Pirates his only team…excellent glove man and proficient at small ball….after one season of getting his feet wet in 1964 career started to take off…hit .252 in 1965…reaches personal highs in 1966-67 hitting .299 and .287 winning gold gloves and is possibly the best shortstop for the time…because the best NL shortstop Maury Wills was playing about 30 feet to his right….starting 1968 settled into .240ish batting numbers and losing playing time to Fred Patek….played into 1973….major fails in post season…a fact not lost on skipper Danny Murtaugh who replaced him with sub Jackie Herandez in 1971 WS who hit worse than Gene’s pale .227 regular season mark…final post season tally of 1 for 27....Ouch.
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Monday, August 28, 2017
One and one half year wonder out of the gate 1967-68….coasted to stick around for five more years with limited effectiveness…aloof and sometimes distant from teammates…oh so good in 68, went 17-8 with five weeks left in season..Ran out of gas and only won one game thereafter giving Jim 18 wins….Indicative of his career too….Could not get untracked in 1969 and 1970….Won 6 games each year and totally eclipsed by Bird Hill Ace peers….trade to mid-year 1971 Yankees was highly unproductive..Released and was taken off the retread pile by the Braves….Was able to reach 5 victories with 2 losses in last season...his 4.50 ERA indicate record was buoyed by Atlanta run support….Died in plane crash 1991…it was said about the tragedy that Hardin fought the controls of the plane to avoid crashing into children playing on a baseball diamond.
Friday, August 25, 2017
On a personal note, I thought this guy would be a star…speed and power guy ala Bobby Bonds who was mired in talent laden Pirates outfield….Getting a chance to ascend the chronically rebuilding Padres… read the back of the card lead I.L in steals and hits….plus hit .320 at September call up in San Diego….I was wrong ….while some power showed, struck out frequently and clunked to a .228 BA….Traded to White Sox…rose his BA a bit but not enough to become an incumbent to the next year….stolen bases never materialized and failed when given more playing time….wound up in Cleveland for nearly a dozen and a half at bats in his last year of 1974.
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Short uneventful career….at this point three years three clubs Red Sox, White Sox, Angel….hit OK with some pop….brutal in the field….25 errors cumulated over three positions in 1970 soured any offensive asset brought to the table by his bat….then a .199 BA with Angels was pretty much the nail in the coffin….was able to start 1972 in Anaheim but midseason was shuffled to Milwaukee…two clubs combined for .193 BA.....last MLB season...one of three and the most recent player with the name Syd.
Saturday, August 19, 2017
Cog in the Red Sox veteran starting staff…was quite old for a rookie (27) in 1964...two reasons, attended college and started pro ball as an infielder…..Once he established himself as a starter with Indians was reach back to back 16 win seasons plus a no hitter….lowered ERA but win output declined to thereafter to 12 and 10 wins….Started 1969 with the tribe after two starts was traded to Red Sox for the very popular Ken Harrelson….took awhile to earn Boston affection…started with 14 wins 1969, then 15, then 16 in 1971 best on the team….effectiveness due to control and breaking stuff rather than speed and power... record diminished to 12-12 1972 as the Sox looked forward to the rejuvenated Luis Tiant and Marty Pattin and company….Sonny started 1973 in Boston but played very little and was traded early on to Texas desperate for help…registered a 7-11 record….took diminished skills to St Louis 1974 to 8-8 record…last stop on train was 1975 when he was acquired by the Padres looking for veteran help…at age 38 not much was given…traded to Oakland for a few starts ended season and career….two time all star.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Gifted player whose talent was mired in Red’s outfield depth…then a lynchpin in a savvy trade that catapulted KC into contender status far before their 1969 expansion siblings….latched on with Cincinnati 1970 in a limited role….got more opportunity in 1971 as Bobby Toland was out of action….hit .266 but the Reds faulted without Tolan….sat on bench most of 1972,,,,went west to KC 1973….first suffered from jitters, hitting .234….Kicked into overdrive 1974 starting with .310 BA….1976 participated in a heated batting Championship race….finished second to teammate George Brett…controversial in Hal’s opinion….morphed into an excellent run producer in the following years slightly lowering BA….Best year was 1982 when tallied a league leading 133 RBIs and personal best 27 home runs…twice took top honors of in doubles…slowed up gradually but still an asset….15 years in KC end in 1987…. Still had skills last season hit .313 in 72 at bats…fiery, hard working competitor who took that modality to managing….above .500 at KC but no flag…took over at Tampa Ray 2002…wasn’t able to right that ship….known for tirades about losing.
Sunday, August 13, 2017
Vagabond reliever who had an up and down career overshadowed by his tragic unusual death while driving a dune buggy outside his Phoenix home…took place Jan 1 , 1977….his beginnings were as a Mets prospect….worked his way to the big club splitting time with AAA club 1967-68….got in enough work to lose Rookie status….sent to AAA for near duration of the 1969 missing out on the Championship run….got big league staying power beginning 1970 after learning forkball from Diego Segui…had best season 1971 with 12 saves and below 2.00 ERA….1972 was able to get 9 saves but arm troubles limited effectiveness…trade to Braves for 73-74 was not fruitful and production regressed…..Resurfaced in San Diego 1975 where his numbers improved but went to St Louis as his next stop….after limited work was sent to Brewers mid season….decent number in what would be his final year.
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Another player like Clarence Gaston who’s high water mark was 1970.... mysteriously short career....one theory is that he became problematic to front office because of union activity....greatest strength getting on base with hits and walks....biggest liability: defense....gradually brought up the Giants farm system....broken in with 56 games in 1967....moved up to platooning with Jack Hiatt getting about ½ playing time....with Hiatt’s departure Dick came into his own 1970....107 RBIs and.300 BA....plus over 100 walks.....second best hitting catcher next to Johnny Bench....appeared in all star game....hit home and NL came back to win....1971 suffered a decline but was still considered one of better hitting backstops....19 home runs....strange events thereafter....put on waivers by Giants....picked up by Dodgers....Injured early on and never recouped his stroke...sold to the Braves for 1973....tried out at 1st, more than catcher....plate discipline resulted in .295 BA and 467 on base in 139 at bats....was his limited still related to a blacklisting?...released after the season ending his baseball career....not much else is known....passed away in 2005....would have been interesting to get his perspective....read this http://www.hardballtimes.com/the-blackballing-of-dick-dietz/
Monday, August 7, 2017
Dependable, consistent longevity.....career forged out the 50’s lasting to the mid 70’s....trouble was it took awhile with losing but noble with new edition of the Washington Senators...plus work was plentiful....was able to garner a then franchise high 15 wins....Inning eater extraordinaire...11 straight seasons of 200+ innings plus his last campaign....prime of career was spent in a LA residency bridging the Kofax and Drysdale era to Sutton, Messersmith, Tommy John....a four pitch craftman....Value as a Dodger was first proven by critical win in 1965 WS...trolled along as a mainstay...top LA winner 1967 sans Koufax...Upped his game to 20 wins 1969 and repeated in 1972.... 1973 final season in Dodger blue won 16....With so many starters Dodgers sent Claude to Houston; performed at par but as Astros sunk into mediocrity was traded to contending St Louis....mostly watched on sidelines as Claude was relegated to bullpen....marked a 9-11 record for the year 1974....Cards released him prior to 1975...was picked up by Chisox....opportunity to benefit from coach Johnny Sain’s tutorship....turned out not to be....returned prolific work (204 innings 37 starts) but was plagued by signs of age and wound up 7-16 to finish off his career.
Friday, August 4, 2017
Move over Babe, here comes Henry....A triumph of achievement despite forces against him....Whew!....what to say that hasn’t said.....alphabetically the first player on the baseball register for 50 years until David Aardsma's debut 2008....untainted and unquestioned home run king...said he never tried to hit a home run once at the plate....755 over the fence hitting mistakes later, Hank held the crown as of April 1974 until Barry Bond’s "better hitting through chemistry" credo came along.....Why are we not in hall yet Barry?....Strong ties to Wisconsin and Milwaukee with bike trails, streets, and stadiums named after him....signed out of the waning days of Negro League by the Boston Braves franchise....started professional ball in Eau Clare WI 1952....took flight to the majors 1954 after tearing up the SALLY league the year before...strong rookie debut (.280 BA) but his 13 home runs did not tell of things to come...jumped to 27 and 26 dingers in the next seasons in addition to raising his batting by 40 point ....fully entrenched into consistent superstar status 1957 in what would nearly become his status quo for the next 15 years....League leading 44 home runs, 132 RBIs...MVP....World Series hero as Bushville beat the Yankees....Followed the Braves to Atlanta where he reprised 1957 season NL best 44 home run, 127 RBIs....around 1969 he and Willie Mays were mentioned as contenders to surpass Babe Ruth’s home run mark....age caught up Mays but Hank hammered along with 44, 38, 47, and 34 in years 1969-72....National spot light 1973 as he was in striking distance of 712....Received death threats....nevertheless hit 40 over the fence to remain one short of tying the record....tied mark in Cincinnati 4/4....rested one game then went hitless in the other....Returned home to Atlanta for most anticipated regular season game ever.....First at bat took a Al Downing offering into the Braves’ bullpen...the rest of game was immaterial....rest of the season for Hank was good but decidedly a letdown....age had started to show...traded to Milwaukee for 1975 as a homecoming for the city....featured highly in the Brewer’s promotion for the next two years doing part time DH work....called it quits 1976....To this day, still the career RBI and total bases leader..needless to say Hall of Fame....odd stat stole 190 bases in the 1960 to 1968...interesting fact despite incredible home run numbers in 60’s did not hit the most for the decade...that honor went to Harmon Killebrew...Oh Henry candy bar was not named after him but he put in there commercial...appropriate in action shot.
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
The Macing Mitterwald....Twins regular catcher for 1970-1971, 1973....solid work but nothing spectacular....greatest moment on back of card, a walk off home run off Vida Blue in his Cy Young award winning 1971 season...one of the few Twin highlights that year as the team went from West Champion to also ran...Suffered a massive slump in 1972, BA of .176...sprung back 1973 with 16 homers, 64 RBIs, and .257 BA....Weakness was striking out, twice in top 10 AL....Twins realizing their need for pitching and George’s stock and trade its highest sent him the Cubs....never truly caught on with the Northsiders....platooning mostly....best Cub season was his last...took the free agent route but was only able to play for the Seattle Mariners AAA club in San Jose.