Tuesday, October 30, 2018

#167-168 Deron Johnson Deron Johnson In Action

Well traveled long career in baseball....245 home runs over 16 years....drawback it was a highly uneven distribution....Johnson starts out as a highly regarded Yankee prospect, compared as a new Mickey Mantle (as many were)....Nevertheless, Yanks sent Deron to KC A’s via their well beaten trade route in the 50’s....could not hit for KC despite more playing time....after a year of minor league ball in his hometown of San Diego, resurfaced with the AAA Padres parent club; Cincinnati Reds....Made immediate impact with good power and.273 BA in 1964....his 1965 follow up improves by 15 BA points, along with his league best 130 RBIs....output immediately starts to decline...with his BA dipping 30 points in two successive seasons....1968 shipped to Atlanta where his .208 BA was unsatisfactory....surprisingly wasn't put up in the expansion draft but another low point sold to Phillies for straight cash deal 1969.....great investment, strung together 3 solid seasons with a personal best 34 homers in 1971....1972 power and his  BA went into freefall....following year took advantage of the new DH rule in the AL putting up fair numbers in 1973 (A’s) and 1975 (White and Red Sox)....passed away in 1992....Jimindowningtown  I got a feeling you are chime in.   

Friday, October 26, 2018

#169-170 Vida Blue Vida Blue In Action

The Man of 1971....the lefthander was the talk of baseball not seen until the arrival of Mark Fydrich five years later...Born in Louisiana, drafted by the KC A’s in 1967....a raw talent....late season debut in 1969....showed tools but not knowledge...another year of seasoning and Vida gets a second call up....makes the most it by no hitting AL champion Minnesota Twins....Blue serves notice he will be a force to be reckoned with in the future....takes AL Cy Young and MVP honors based on 24 wins and ERA of 1.82....youngest to win an all star game....Sought a pay raise for 1972...Owner Charley Finley balked at the notion beginning a standoff....Blue agrees to terms in early May and doesn’t start until the end of the month....out of synch but his athletic side ekes out a 2.80 ERA and mundane 6-10 record....An alienating move to all....returned to approximate form 1973 winning 20....after a solid 17 wins in 1974, upswings to 22 wins 1975....best effort since 1971....the intended dismantlement of A’s in 1976, had Blue sold off to the Yankees midseason....deal was nixed by the commissioner....the whole affair cost starts.... Blue continued to serve sentence in Oakland for 1977 one of the few holdovers from a gutted team....takes the win in 14 games and league leading 19 losses.... History repeats itself in lesser known is Blue’s nixed trade to Cincinnati in the off season....fooled the 1978 edition of The Complete Handbook of Baseball... Vida finally gets his long sought walking papers via trade across the bay to San Francisco....responds with strong 18 win campaign....1979-80 wins 14 games each with vastly different ERA’s....Blue’s 1981 is highlighted by his second all star game win the only person to do so for different leagues overshadowing a 8-6 record in strike shortened year.....1982 Blue lands in KC, which eventually uncovered a darker side....on the field started well initially then faded badly with 0-5 record 1983....was arrested, did jail time, and suspended on drug charges for all of 1984...signed on with Giants was able to make a respectable showing 18-18 over two years...career and problems were similar to Dock Ellis....would be a candidate for hall of fame if his career had less delays, bumps, and drama....some not of his making.

Monday, October 22, 2018

#171-172 Darrell Evans-Darrell Evans In Action

First significant taste of MLB ball circa 1971....big things coming ahead....took over an aged Clete Boyer as the Braves 3rd sacker....interesting back story; selected in 5 different drafts from 1965 on....settled with KC A’s....then taken by Braves in Rule 5 draft....A good move...Mainstay for Atlanta’s hot corner for 5 seasons.... Evans’ trademark was power; hitting 41 balls over the fence in 1973....one third of a 40 home run trio in company with Henry Aaron and surprisingly Davey Johnson....Lesser known was Evan's ability to get walks enhancing his career BA of as .248....Evans currently is 12th on the all time walks list surrounded by many HOFers....A poor start in 1976 prompted a swap to the Giants, a mistake by Atlanta....Evans had problems becoming untracked that but nevertheless the Giants stay with him and he becomes a steady presence for seven campaigns...Evans took the free agent route to Detroit...while the team blossomed to WS championship in 1984, Evans had a bit of an off year....Evans rebounds strongly in 1985 by leading the majors in home runs with 40...the time only Evans lead a circut....stayed in Detroit thru 1988....started to show age with .208 BA....returned to Braves in his last go round with free agency for 1989....hit .207 with 11 home runs in his last year....accumulated 414 home runs over his 21 years....worked hard to be a good fielder and became respectable. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

#173 Clay Kirby 174 Clay Kirby In Action

Work horse in the hazing years of the Padres....a profile of youth, much like his team...dutifully took to the mound with low probability of a victory....rookie year 1969 went 7-20;  brutal but much worse pitchers do not get to stay for 27 decisions....took claim to 10 games of 26 in 1970....that year one game stands out in Padres lore, Kirby was pitching a no hitter into the 8th inning, with Friars down 1 nil, Manager Preston Gomez takes Kirby out in favor of a pinch hitter...no clutch hit and relief corps gave up hits and Padres to this day do not have a no hit game....Kirby came close on a couple of more occasion....1971 was Kirby’s best doing the formidable, a winning record with 15 wins and above .500 win/loss on a 100 loss club....continued to wallow in SD futility two more years....1974: Hope for bigger and better thing came in the form of a trade to Cincinnati, a top tier team....Kirby produces two winning records 12-9 and 10-8, but his contribution was gradually put aside to the point he was passed over in 1975 World Series....jettisoned to Montreal for 1976....a bout of pneumonia early in the season resulted in an utter disaster of a 1-8 record....released eventually did brief comeback attempts which fizzled out....sadly died of a heart attack at the young age of 43. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

#175-176 Tom Haller Tom Haller In Action

Seasoned 60’s backstop at the tail end of his career....held his own for LA but the acquisition of Duke Sims to share the job was the writing on the wall....Haller was subsequently traded to Tigers where he was slated to be second string to Bill Freehan....for a while at least until Duke Sims trailed him to Detroit relegating Haller to 3rd string....A decade earlier, Haller made a quick rise into the Giant’s catcher vacany....steady performance from 1962 to 1967 for The City....average 18 home runs to compliment a .248 BA....made the all star team his last two year in San Francisco.....more surprising was dealt to the rival Dodgers a first since the clubs moved to the west coast....new ballpark, Haller’s power numbers dropped but his BA rose by 28 points....Was the Dodger’s best hitter in 1968 with 55 points over the team batting average....drove in 53 of the team paltry 470 runs....brother was an umpire....student of baseball knowledgeable, strong defensive skills, efficient game calling....was intended to join Phillies for 1973....did not play and was released at early 1974.....after 5 years absence returned to baseball in various front office posts....Contracted West Nile Virus in 2004, passed away from the disease after a 3 month battle. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

#177-178 Paul Schaal Paul Schaal In Action

1971 Career year....matured veteran...hit for singles or doubles....but a source of pride was his 11 home runs and 61 RBI’s both personal bests....redemption for years of futility in the Angels organization....from his debut in 1964 to 1968 only hit .218 in 1392 at bats with just short of 2 dozen homers... paired with a hit by pitch injury Paul suffered a double whammy of being a never was and uncertain damaged goods....Enter expansion and the KC Royals...taking a chance on the advice of Paul’s ex hitting coach Royal Manager Joe Gordon he is drafted from California....even though at first Paul does not make the KC roster, he shows persistence and feasts on AAA pitching at Omaha at a .374 clip....impressed KC front office pressed Schaal into 61 games...Schaal hit .263 already his MLB top mark.... Paul continues his upward climb for the next two  years....suffered a set back with his .228 1972 BA but bounced back with a .288 mark 1973....1974 started poorly and a young George Brett was waiting in the wings....traded back to Anaheim for the remainder of the year...hit a fair .244...with a lot young competition at 3rd was released....Paul tried several endeavors but found fulfillment as chiropractor...one patient, later on in his practice, was one George Brett.... Word is Paul had some good natured ribbing at Brett's expense....Passed away 2017.  

Saturday, October 6, 2018

#179-180 Dock Ellis-Dock Ellis In Action

OK lets’ get the elephant in room out of the way...Now known for his 1984 claim of pitching a no hitter in 1970 while on LSD to a ragtag assortment of MLB wanta-bes called the Padres first comes to mind in a word association game....somewhat more amusing antidote and the subject of animated short it covers up his career long struggle with drugs and alcohol addiction.....his personal issues surfaced later on, but the duration of his career he was labeled controversial and outspoken on racial relations....given the no hitter in an altered state, he was so close to superstardom, small injuries and the personal issues also pulling him back...when ON carried a team, top winner with Pirates staff 1971 with 19....lowered his ERA but fewer victories in 1972....gradual dimming of his on the field limelight from then on with accumulating confrontations....parted ways with Pittsburgh in 1975 off season a  thrown in a swap with the Yankees...New surroundings agreed with Dock taking in 17 wins and Comeback Player of the Year....his 1976 post season work mirrored his 1971 record pitching a Championship Series win but a poor WS outing....1977 a wild run...ran afoul quickly with NYY management despite 3 quality starts....exiled off to baseball’s version of a post-nuclear wasteland in the 1977 Oakland A’s...horrid results....season was saved by acquisition to the Texas Rangers...pitched decently winning 10 with a sub-3.00 ERA....won 9 in 1978 but 4.20 indicated his skills had eroded....an unimpressive 4-12 record with three teams in 1979 spelled the end of Dock’s saga....in effort to redeem his person, became a drug counselor within and outside the game....eventually his body weakened by years of hard living, succumbed to liver failure in 2008....the animated short on Dock’s no hitter can be seen on Youtube...if one wants to see a complete profile that far exceeds this bio of a complex man check out No-no, A Dockumentary.