Friday, March 30, 2018

#208 Milt Pappas

Right hander who reached double figure wins 14 out of 15 seasons 1958 to 1972 with O’s, Reds, Braves, and Cubs....209 career victories, right now good for 99th all time best....his station is threatened by Jason Verlander....for all his consistency all hit a ceiling, personal best were two back to back 17 win seasons nearing tail end of his career....Also know for two misfortunes; Orioles traded him and others to the Reds for Frank Robinson....considered an all time steal in favor of the birds....Robinson proceeded to win the 1966 AL  triple crown, MVP,  and led them to a WS title....Pappas 28 wins over 2 years pale in comparison....The other mishap was being denied a perfect game by highly questioned (by Milt anyway) the no hitter though....When Pappas left the AL he had collected 110 win....won 99 in NL....if he had won one more NL game Milt was would have been only the fourth pitcher at the time to get 100 wins in each league (there are now seven including Milt’s Cubs teammate Fergie Jenkins)....kind of player who got a shot in the arm from a mid season trade....passed away in 2016.   

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

#209 Joe Rudi

A quiet unassuming player on the rise contra to his some teammates....He and his team started to fulfill promise expected of him after paying his dues…spent three years of call ups yielded nothing.....blossomed significantly in 1972 becoming runner up in MVP voting....hit .305 and 19 home runs....good numbers that look better in lock out shortened year....more importantly Rudi makes a catch in 9th inning of game 2 that ranks as one WS all time best.... crucial to the A’s world crown....repeated his MVP runner up status in 1974 with career high point in home runs and runs batted in while getting the first of three consecutive gold gloves...Rudi plays two more years consistently in the tumultuous Oakland class struggle....for three days is a Red Sox (see Rollie Fingers)...Joe took flight in first large wave of free agency 1977....Kept to California roots by becoming an Angel....Rudi’s 4  years in Anaheim are expectations impaired by injuries...sort of returned to Red Sox (for real this time) in 1981 but years have taken their toll...finished in Oakland 1982

Saturday, March 24, 2018

#210 Denny McLain

What would have been a historic baseball career at the time in a free fall ..... and took his new found franchise with him..... So effective, superior at winning games in his prime....Despite a sometime awkwardly looking appearance McClain likened himself as baseball’s answer to Frank Sinatra, a power player, a singer, a free spender, an associate with gambling and the mob.... after two partial season came into limelight in 1965 with 16-6 record, followed by a 20 wins campaign....after a middling 1967 McClain became the superlative AL pitcher in the year of the, 1968...accrued a now unapproachable 31 wins....maybe the last person to so, hitting .400 may be more obtainable....accomplishment somewhat overshadowed by Bob Gibson’s 1.12 ERA.... McClain was the first pitcher to reach this plateau in 34 years....It was based on is mostly going deep into games, incredible endurance, and several late inning comebacks...AKA luck....Took MVP and Cy Young honors...Follows up with 24 wins becoming a co-winner of the Cy Young with Mike Cuellar...All is great until 1970....The 1971 blog:

tells the series of unfortunate events best in the Who is the man section....with the long layoff is reduced effectiveness....Enter the Washington Senators looking for enhanced starting pitching plus gate appeal trade to Detroit the left side of their infield plus two pitcher for Denny...outcome: McClain's W-L record inverses to 10-22 mark...addition Senator's record and attendance degrades (Tiger become resurgent again and one pitcher Joe Coleman goes on to win 20-19-23 games in succession)....late in the year owner Bob Short gets the go-ahead to move to Texas...early in 1972 spring season is acquired by Oakland thinking he'd respond best by not having the pressure of being 1st starter...After one good outing is hit hard over 4 more games...McClain is bartered to Atlanta with no improvement....demotion and then outright release to minor league club squad did not result in a comeback...playing days were over before age 30....McClain has become a baseball pariah since this time with full conviction and imprisonments...released he now makes a living off appearances base on his past laurels al la Pete Rose...a shame.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

#211 Gary Sutherland

 Profile: a good field, career held back by fair to poor hitting.....area of expertise turning double plays at 2nd base, if his  BA reached around .250 all the better ....given sizeable playing stretches via the 1969 expansion and then returned to regular status in mid 70’s with an aging Tiger team....started in Philly as a part timer....picked in expansion draft by Montreal....reunited ex-Phillie teammate Bobby Wine in middle infield....regulars for first two years, shared duties with Ron Hunt in 1971.... lost out in crowd of Expo infielder in 1972 relegated to minors initially for Montreal chain then to Houston for two a minor transaction traded to Detroit 1974....regained starter spot and hit over  .250 for next two years....gradually phased out by Tiger’s much needed youth movement....traded mid 1976 to Milwaukee to serve in a reserve role....later signed on with Padres and Cards to finish his career....had a brother, Daryl who played for Mets in the mid 60’s  

Sunday, March 18, 2018

#212 Grant Jackson

Solid, extensive career spanning well into three success as a reliever but named to All Star team during one of the few times he was a starter.....African American, started as a Phillies chain successfully negotiating the controversies that befell Dick Allen and Alex Johnson....first season as regular 1967....mostly middle relief work first two years....kept ERA under 3.00 but had a disproportionate 1-6 record in 1968....tried as starter 1969 won 14 games but lost 18....retained starter status but lost effectiveness with 5-15 during 1970....traded to WS champs Orioles....mostly relegated to relief in the wake of Baltimore’s four 20 game winners....served in the O’s bullpen 5 ½ seasons including an undefeated 8-0 mark 1973.....after a poor start Grant in1976 is traded to Yankees where he rights his ship with 6-0 W-L mark.....Despite mid season comeback Grant is picked by Seattle in expansion draft....never becomes a Mariner, but flipped to Pirates to begin another residency....Put in 4 years time in Steel City, highlight being winning two games in 1979 postseason while not surrendering a run.....Jackson was able to keep MLB employment until 1982 wearing a Montreal and Royals uniform....last game was a two inning stint for Pirates.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

#213 Angels Rookie Stars

Billy Parker, Art Kusnyer, Tom Silverio This card could be called (besides an airbrushing nightmare) "Best of AAA Salt Lake City 1971"....nobody is particularly a rookie age here....Parker being age 29 at time and mysteriously starting in age organized ball at age 27.....Kusnyer started playing 1966, Silverio in 1965 were 25 at the time.....all hit very well in SLC and collectively their career pinnacle....Parker hit a solid .306 and is the team leader in homers and RBIs....Silverio a fine .339 Kusnyer a .316 clip....Unfortunately this did not into big league stardom.....Results were Kusnyer gets 313 at bats over 6 seasons and sputters a .176 BA...Parker a paltry .222 in 278 plate appearances.....Sliverio 3 hits in 30 at bats....interesting yet inconsequential lot upon further inspection.

Monday, March 12, 2018

#214 Mike McQueen

Fringe lefty for Atlanta who never quite caught on never exceeded 78 innings in a year.....plagued by injuries and horrible misfortune....broke in the big leagues 1969.....from that was he was the youngest player who played in 60’s.....received lofty prophecy from Hank Aaron who called him the best Braves left hander since Warren Spahn....big words good thing Hank hit home runs.....first significant work went 1-5 in 1970, then improved to 4-1 with a OK 3.54 ERA 1971.....neither with many innings or set role....1972 was a winless the off season a car crash with teammate Jim Breazeale that took Mike out for all of 1973.... Breazeale missed a majority of year, was only given a few at bats in AAA.....still young the Reds took chance on Mike acquiring him in Rule 5 in 10 games in first half of season then returned to Braves....sat out 1975-76 seasons whereabouts unknown...tried to comeback1977 in the Astros farm system....let go after poor permanence in AA ball....died 2016.  

Friday, March 9, 2018

#215 Alex Johnson

A predecessor to the Albert Belle’s and Gary Sheffield’s of the baseball world....Blessed with immense bat speed and good foot speed.....large imposing figure suggested significant power....but came with considerable cost....adjectives are obtuse, sullen, surly, and lackadaisical....if Johnson is firing on all cylinders, Alex is an acceptable burden if not he is the first jettisoned to a desperate team to the try their luck.....Pattern was stayed two years if he did well....Started in the Phillie organization in early 60’s, a locale not known for racial understanding see Dick Allen.....hit well for them on a part time basis but controversy ensued stemming from poor defense and liaise fare work ethic....despite potential was swapped as the key player to the Cards....output was considerably poorer than Philly with same liabilities popping up....Next it the Reds turn in the Johnson lottery.....Reds found a capital gain with a gradual realization of his promise....Hit .311 over two years.....Traded again for 1970 to the Angels....Put it all together to win the AL batting crown (.329) by the closest of margins as the Angels finished second to the Twins.....Returned for 1971 and fell into an abyss of conflict from day one.....the Angels, after a considerable clash of baseball management and player’s union put Johnson on DL at the end of June....exiled to Cleveland three days after the regular season.....results were disappointing but with a seemingly aloof quiet which was maybe the best the organization can hope for.....passed on to Texas 1973....advent of DH extended his career by circumventing defensive problems...hit .287 then .291 in 1974 but with few home runs.... Johnson mostly in the field in the later year..... interestingly the greatly improved Rangers  who where in a pennant race played sold Johnson late in season to NYY....stayed in NY 1975 but used little.....given one last chance with Detroit 1976 as DH but was a nonfactor on that squad and was let go at the end of season in favor of retrospect Johnson was enigma and not well understood, when away from baseball and those associated, reports of his personality were positive...Retired Johnson settled in his hometown of Detroit working on a family business of  truck repair and leasing until passing away from cancer in 2015.....note on back of card: had 18 doubles in 1969 not 78 which would have shattered the MLB record of 67.  

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

#216 Joe Niekro

One of baseball greatest bargains of all time… one half of the Niekro brothers the all time winningest siblings of all time.... Known as a knuckleballer but not always was the case.... started in Cubs uniform going 10-8, then 14-8 in his first two years....relied on fastball and change up....traded early in 1969 to the expansionist Padres....took it on the chin with a 8-17 record with the poorest run support in the league....on the bright side lowered his ERA....traded to Detroit 1970.....went 12-13.....1971 starts a road of diminishing effectiveness and work load...briefly sent to minors in 1972 and spends most of 1973 there.....picked up on waivers by the Braves....despite have Phil on the roster, continued with trouble sustaining MLB work..... despite returning seriously to the knuckler that his father taught him sold to Astros for 35K....144 wins were awarded to Houston for their dollar and cents that comes out $243 per win....enter the Houston Astros....success was not immediate.....two years of passable relief....returns to full time starting 1977....responded with 13 wins then 14 in 1978.....real success comes with back to back 20 win seasons....not done played 5 ¾ seasons.....caught on with Yankees and Twins when full effectiveness was lost...but ever resourceful for an edge was caught flipping an emery board on field when umpires asked search is pockets....expectedly was suspended from baseball for 10 days, but used his time by surprising showed up on David Letterman’s show sporting a tool belt complete with power sander....diagnosed suffered a brain aneurysm and passed away in 2006....lived to see son Lance play for most of his career.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

#217 Roger Metzger

Texan came out of seemingly nowhere to take over the Astro Shortstop position in 1971....acquired from Cubs for Hector Torrez after 1970 votes for ROY but did lead the circuit in triples.....brought speed and a fine glove....hitting was never a strong suit....hit .235 rookie season, then .222 the next....had his career year 1973 leading the NL in triples again, hitting .251 and claimed SS gold glove....put up similar numbers in 1974.....batting slumped thereafter failing to reach .230 for three season....had a short lived career resurrection after being sold to the Giants mid season 1978....hit .260 for remainder of season and .251 the next....Lost the tips of 4 fingers in a chain saw accident in off season....made a brave attempt to comeback in 1980....secured a roster spot but had only 2 hits in 27 at bats....released in August....Became a math teacher after playing.