Sunday, September 30, 2018

#181-182 Ed Kranepool Ed Kranepool In Action

Mr Met, for real.... when you’re Met, you’re a Met  all the team player over 18 seasons...saw low lows and  a miracle WS championship...a late year call up taking a huge leap from NY-Penn league to 1962 Mets as a teenager....did not take long to get steady work (1964) and accounted himself well with consistently cellar dwelling Mets....A case of economics, limited distribution of runs within a mostly slender talent pool....RBI total never exceed 60 in any one of his 18 years, topped out at 16 homers....but could hit for average for good stretches at time....later on, in his 13th to 16th seasons hit .300, .323, .291, .282 in sequence....t..but had a bad spell in 1968-1970, hit .231, .238. and the nightmarish .170....he redeeming event was getting 1969 WS ring despite taking second fiddle to Don Clendenon’s heroics....Things got so bad in 1970 that he demoted to AAA minors for most of the season....considered retiring but staged a strong comeback in 1971 with 14 home runs, .280 BA....mostly known as a first baseman but dabbled in right field when crowded out by the aforementioned Clendenon, and John Milner.....    

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

#183 Bill Melton 184 Bill Melton In Action

Unexpected home run champ of the AL 1971.....relatively a newbie to the home run crown and departure from the perennial incumbents like Yaz, Killebrew, Frank Howard of the decade before....his 33 homers represented the lowest top mark  since 1964 but it was the first time White Sox took the honors....Melton’s debut took place in 1968, started slow and returned to the minors...September call up accounted for himself very well raising his BA by 62 points....took over Sox third base for good in 1969....relocated 23 baseball over the fence and in play....exceeds his encore by hitting 33 dingers in 1970....a positive on a truly bad 106 loss team....Melton was the backbone of the 1971 that made great strides towards respectability.... higher hopes with the addition of Dick Allen  for 1972 were dashed by Melton’s back injury....ChiSox run production suffered and fell short to the A’s....Melton comes back in with full seasons 1973-75 but has lost some his previous punch from get go....facing declining output traded to California and then Cleveland for 1976 and 1977 respectively...did not help and relegated mostly the bench....done thereafter.....sometimes a defensive liability; in 1970 split equal time at both third base and right field....move made after a disproportionally high number of errors... despite this  only DHed 88 times over five campaigns.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

#185-6 Ron Bryant Ron Bryant In Action

A nova that shone briefly then dropped enigma, not much is known about him....came up to the bigs in the usual way for the time....Drafted at 22nd round by Giants in 1965 draft....worked his way up the farm system and eventually the big club....first as a swingman eventually morphing into a starter....22 starts and lowered ERA  in 1971 upgraded his status as the rearguard starter to Gaylord Perry and Juan Marichial....becomes the club leader in wins a lone bright spot in the wake of the disastrous Perry trade and Marichial’s reality it was his best effort with a sub 3.00 ERA and 4 shutouts....won 10 more games in 1973 to go 24-12....far and away the most wins in NL....was third in NL Cy Young voting but ERA went up and no shut outs....exceptional record seem to more about luck than improving his game....information is spotty, but the consensus is Bryant hurt his back in a diving pool accident during 1974 Spring training...carried on but suffered a nightmarish 3-15 record and surrendered two more runs per game....damaged goods....traded to Cards who tossed him in few games with extremely poor results...let go mid-season 1975....note baseball reference indicates Ron appearing in 21 AAA games in 1976 but no pitching record other than 2-7 win loss is given....fittingly strange end.

Monday, September 17, 2018

#187 Gates Brown

A rarity....One team, 12+ year as a reserve player...A fixture and resident of Tigertown....pinch hitter deluxe...impoverished childhood ran afoul of the law...incarcerated at an Ohio reformatory, same one where the Shaw shank Redemption was filmed 30 years later....his talent was noticed by a guard and subsequently Gates was scouted and given a chance by the Tigers....a move similar to the Tigers acquisition of Ron Leflore a decade and half later....Climbing up the Tiger’s chain debuted with the big club 1963...gained near regular status the next year... settled into the pinch hitter role in years thereafter....suffered thru a brutal 1967 only to come back with a vengeance in 1968....hit a torrid .370 in  92 at bats with 1.12 OPS...outstanding sample of work given that pitcher domination of the year....continued at his understudy role....another exceptional year 1971 with .336 BA....would not reach that figure again but continued on up to the 1975....did get more work with the advent of the DH rule....results were so-so hitting .236....once considered confrontational employee with his perception of his limited role, but subsequently grew into his lot and became a terrific clubhouse presence and a Tiger icon....passed away 2013.  

Thursday, September 13, 2018

#188 Frank Lucchesi

Last name pronounced Loo-Case-ee....Long time minor league skipper landing with a struggling team...did not make things better....had nearly 20 years of minor league managing experience before landing  the Phillies top spot...taking the reins in 1970, rough going as a reconstruction began....first year finished ½ game over the sophomore Expos.... in 1971 despite a new stadium, Phils backtracked 6 games and were overtook by Montreal to wind up in the NL East basement....1972 imported Steve Carlton but little else....Frank was let go after a 26-50 record....Frank resurfaced in 1975 as the Rangers new manager replacing the controversial Billy Martin...Frank forged a winning record for the remainder of the season....following year was a bit of a disappointment going 76-86....1977 was contentious...starting with spring training fight initiated by Lenny Randle which resulted in Frank's concussion and assault charges were filed....Randle was quickly discarded and Frank stayed....Rangers played .500 ball in 62 games....Frank was let go and replaced by Eddie Stanky who only coached one game and stepped aside...Despite wild times, at the end of the season Rangers won a franchise best 94 games good for 2nd AL West sans Lucchesi...continued in baseball with scouting positions with Texas, Dodgers, and Cubs....finished out the last 25 games of the 1987 Cubs season as their manager ...continued to do some AAA managing before retiring

Sunday, September 9, 2018

#189 Gene Tenace

October Classic Hero...obscurity of three years of backup catcher melted away with notoriety of four homers in 1972 World Series....A shocking turn of events instrumental in compensating for Oakland’s loss of Reggie Jackson in their upset win verses the Reds...Took home series MVP....Call it new found confidence but took over the regular backstop from then on and proceeded to slug 101 more home runs in a A’s uniform over the next 4 years....took the free agent road and accepted Ray Kroc’s payday located in San Diego...could not duplicate the power in Oakland but made a decent showing with an above average knowledge of the strike zone....never hit higher than .263 but OPS was very good based on high rate of walks...traded to St Louis for 1981 but used only sparingly....had to learn to be a catcher and defensive struggles ultimately took to first base....real name was Fury.      

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

#190 Dave Giusti

Best of NL firemen 1971….star making turn in the bullpen spawned by fill in role in 1970... started as a run of the mill yet earnest starter for Colt .45s...Played in the team’s first year….made significant time with the big club circa 1965...over several seasons displayed good ERA with a sub .500 W-L due to the growing pains of his support cast.... had a career high 15 wins in 1966....several times was courted by the Cardinals, first as a College player prior to his Colt .45 debut, was traded to Cardinals in 1968, in turn gave him up in expansion draft to Padres,  who flipped him back to the Cards....circumvent us route was all for naught for Giusti’s neither established himself as a Redbird starter or substantial reliever going 3-7....passed along  to Pirates in a minor deal...Unexpected dividend early in 1970 when he took over the bullpen In April....proceeded to collect 26 saves and propelled the Bucs to the playoffs...contributions not unnoticed finish 4th and 6th in Cy Young and MVP voting...1971 continued excellence NL best 30 saves and no runs surrendered in 10 innings of post season work as Pitt rolled to the WS championship.... several years of superior work followed....last year for Pirates was 1976....lost effectiveness and the process of handing over the reins to a young Kent Tekulve began...traded to Oakland in a 9 player trade as the A’s needed bodies after 1977 massive free agent exodus... had a sub 3.00 ERA in 1977 was a strong effort despite being on a gutted squad...sold to Cubs nearing the end of the season but could not regain form and was released at the end of the season....impressive run though.