Sunday, April 29, 2018

#198 Dodger Rookie Stars

Charlie Hough, Bob O'Brien, Mike Strahler  The Dodger farm system was a gold mine with star hitters in the 1ate 1960’s and  early 1970’s…not so much with pitching….Exception to the rule was Charlie Hough a knuckleballer who got his first taste of the LA Dodger scene 1970 at age 22….Charlie did not reach regular status until 1973 with middle relief…established himself as closer in 1976-77…relegated to secondary bullpen duties in light of injuries and trials as a starter….career ascends with trade to Texas in 1981….becomes firmly entrenched  in starting rotation circa 1982…reaches double figure wins for 10 consecutive years….at age 43 moves to  White Sox via free agency for two years holding his own in the rotation….last venture in free agency Hough lands himself in the fledging Florida Marlin franchise…. Was the starter in their first game ever…got the win in a quality start against LAD….hung up cleates in 1994 age 46….with his incredible longevity hold marks that may not be broken….finish career at an even 216-216 W-L the highest number of win to do so….plus last pitcher to start 40 games…only pitcher to start and relieve over 400 games….Sometimes a good a hitter with a .313 clip over 4 years… self admittedly would have no where without the Knuckleball…. Bob O’Brien’s station in MLB was over by the time this card came….went 2-2 in MLB play 1971 ….lost effectiveness in minors that year and the rest of his playing days….career highlight was being included in a deal for Frank Robinson ….minor league play ended in….prospects good for Mike Strahler….at the conclusion of 1971 had logged in 31 innings with 2.01 ERA over two call ups….unfortunately quality of work declined slowly and never able to find a foothold to steady work….spent 1972 with a 1-2 record and 3.47 ERA over 47 innings…traded twice once off season, once at the beginning of 1973 finally  landing in Detroit….last and prolific work of career going 80 innings with 4.56 ERA….eventually faded from view.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

#199 Mike Fiore

A surprise performer of 1969 now relegated to a tiny segment of playing time on the Boston bench and a quick exit from expansion draft pick by the Royals plucked from the Orioles chain....hit .274 for KC, with no prior big league experience....did not come close to repeating this number....splitting 1970 as a Royal then with Red Sox BA dropped 90 points.....1971 lost what little playing time he had and hit .177....strangely was traded to Cardinals for Bob Burda (who was best NL pinch hitter in the previous season)....1972 was abysmal hitting .063 for Cards and Padres (who after 6 hitless at bats sent him back to the Cards)....caught on I.L. AAA clubs most Baltimore’s Rochester team until 1978.

Monday, April 23, 2018

#200 Lou Brock

Hall of fame superstar.....A fixture, a pillar and symbol of the St Louis community….origin came with Cubs who suffered from one baseball’s lopsided trades.....A godsend for Cardinals who experienced back to back superstar outfielders with Stan Musial….magically and astoundingly turned his mundane .251 Cub BA to a .348 BA under the Gateway Arch….got smarter and grew as a player over the years….studied pitcher’s pickoff moves add his speed and Brock captures 8 stolen base titles out of 9 consecutive years….his last crown was the most impressive, in 1974 at age 34 breaks Maury Will’s modern day mark with 118 steals….Brock’s lasts for 8 years broken by Rickey Henderson…. consistent with a bat, hit over .271 in 15 of his 16 Cardinals campaigns, many of those at or near .300….overcame impoverished childhood….A grand exit took a poor 1978 BA of .221 into his final year….turned around to a .304 BA, returned to the All Star Team, plus 21 stolen bases at age 40….small man yet processed impressive power; hit a homer over Polo Grounds Centerfield fence…..exceptional in 3 World Series often unnerving the opposing pitcher if on-base….reached 3000 hits and left game as the holder of the career stolen base mark.  


Friday, April 20, 2018

#201 Phil Roof

Long time reserve backstop….Went with the repartee and antonym nickname "Babe"….Well traveled donning the uniforms of eight teams….began with Milwaukee (Braves) with a solo year splitting time in Cleveland and California….found a four year home the A’s organization and was their most used catcher in 1966-67…Returned to Milwaukee (Brewers) for year and half starting 1971…..settled in for 6 years in Minnesota….finished up with a handful of game Chisox and first year edition of the Toronto Blue Jays….Struggled at the plate spent ½ of his 16 years below .200 BA….exited with a .217 BA….Had anomaly in 1975 hitting .302 and 7 home runs in 126 at bats….that year maybe, occasionally he was Babe….had a brother Gene, who was Phil’s 17 year junior with very brief MLB career the early eighties.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

#202 Scipio Spinks

Unfulfilled promise and had trouble with enduring a season….but undeniably great name….listed as an Astro on his card but traded to Cards a week into play starting in a walk out delayed 1972….So highly regarded that the Cards parted him and rookie Lance Clemons for an already established 14 game winner Jerry Ruess….Interestingly the Spinks and Clemons appear in a combined 33 MLB games after the trade….Ruess tallied 571 games in a distinguished career reaching the 1990’s…Hard thrower and was holding his own in Cardinal uniform at 5-5 and 2.68 ERA….season abruptly ended after meeting Johnny Bench at the plate…Returned 1973 but comeback fizzled with a 5.45 ERA…two more years in minors were even worse…..named after a Roman general who defeated the Carthaginians in the Punic Wars.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

#203 Ron Blomberg

Answer to trivia question, first MLB Designated Hitter ever April 1973…..drew a walk against Luis Tiant and drove in a run....Perceived as a liability with a glove with 13 errors in part time work 1972….DH rule could not have been implemented at a better time….Teemed with talent at the plate….a gift not easily acquired….unfortunate career with injuries, small at first, then season cancelling later on, he never reached stardom or qualified for batting crown during his playing days ….excellent half season in 1971 with a .311 BA, turned in .329 BA in the DH inaugural year….hard times hit 1975 with reduced playing….followed by a two year long injury that took out 1976 and 1977 seasons save for one game…picked up as free agent by White Sox but .231 BA dispelled any comeback rumors….Jewish helped to import baseball to Israel by becoming a manager in that country’s professional league.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

#204 Tommy Helms

A decent player collecting ROY honors….was named to 2 all star teams and gold glove awards….Established himself in the Reds lineup in 1966….took over 3rd base and hit solid .284 being the league’s top rookie….switched to 2nd base his sophomore year and continued hitting near his ROY pace for several seasons…..strictly a line drive hitter at one stretch hit 6 home runs over 4 season with the Reds….  batting did decline in1970 and rebounded somewhat in 1971….At the end of the season ,Helms was dispatched to Texas with the Reds looking to gain speed made a blockbuster  trade with Astros….some baseball experts sided that it was more advantageous to Houston who let go of the speedy yet underperforming Joe Morgan….outcome Houston improve slightly while the Reds return to formidable status…..Helms BA remains static and RBI slightly increase….But Morgan accelerates to elite status, a consistent contender for MVP, and eventual HOF honors….Helms continues journeyman work in Houston for four years….tailed off in 1975 his last year as an Astro….was able to hang as a reserve in Pittsburgh and Boston  1976-77.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

#205 Dick Drago

Expansion workhorse....took his bumps with losing records as a starter aside from an excellent 17-11 record in 1971....nevertheless was usually ranked one or two in Royal victories until 1973....1974 found himself in Boston, going 50-50 on starts or relief....moved up to top bullpen specialist in AL championship year....oddly traded to Angels for 1976 (rumored to be a late payment for player to be named later for the early 1975 acquisition of Denny Doyle)....Drago spends a year and change with the Angels, then spends remainder of 1977 with Orioles....Is reunited with Red Sox 1978 pitches well for 3 years....offering support in the wake of the downfall of Bill Campbell.....sent to Mariners for 1982 with lesser results and the end of his career....had confrontations with the law after retirement.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

#206 Dal Maxvill

Before Mario Mendoza and his mythical line 15 years into the future, the 1960’s boasted Dal and Ray Oyler as the worst hitting his peers mentioned his defensive skills were the compensation....a long career of 14 years, starting and mostly with the St. Louis Cardinals.....grew up across the river from Busch Stadium in Granite City, Ill....debuted in mid season 1962 after hitting an uncharacteristic .345 in AA.....shared SS duties and hit .222....shifted between minors and Cardinals bench until 1966....with veteran Dick Groat traded, Dal took over the top spot for several years....hitting varied from a high of .253 to dismal .175 the mode hovering around .220’s....last portion of 1972 was acquired by Oakland mostly in 2nd baseman by committee also started his role as a veteran bench presence....was pressed into full time service in the wake of the Bert Campaneris bat throwing incident during the ALCS against Tiger....did not make the roster of WS about for the next 3 years with Pittsburgh calling on him for remnants of work. ....Slightly built hit on 6 home runs in over 1400 games, but was the first player in hit a grand slam in Canada....hit .217 for his career.

Monday, April 2, 2018

#207 Tom Egan

Had most productive season filling in as Chisox #2 backstop....took over for the departed Dwayne Joshepson....otherwise an offensive liability.... signed by the Angels in 1964 stayed with club all of 1965 but used hardly ever late year call ups their after until 1969...spent entire year with big club but his output was .142 BA.....was able to stay and gain playing in 1970 lift his BA to .238.....White Sox year mustered a .222 BA....taken back by Angels in 1974 Rule 5 draft...hit .164 in his last two years...was the catcher in Nolan Ryan’s 3rd no hitter.