Tuesday, January 29, 2019

#142 Chris Chambliss

What does the 1970 AAA Rookie of the Year do in his next season?....win the 1971 AL rookie of the year....debuted with no prior MLB experience and only a single year and month at AAA Witchta....Would have been called up but had military commitments....Highly touted but a godsend and bright spot for the struggling team....Replaced a rapidly aging Ken Harrelson at first detouring his outfielder training....became a Cleveland fixture for two more seasons....strangely after a great start in 1974 Chris and tribe parted ways, transforming into a  NY Yankee...Chambliss’ bat cooled considerably  in his first Yankee year but appeared to have settled in with new experiences, namely winning, nationwide exposure, and watching other engrossed in controversy...Chambliss regains his batting stroke and exceeds his Cleveland output....gained more power....apex of which was 1976, his best year....hit 17 over the fence in the regular season....then became unstoppable in ALCS  topping off with series ending walk off homer....set an iconic visual; seemingly swimming upstream from the frenzied Yankee faithful who had stormed the field to touch home base....Chris’ steadiness made him a favorite of Billy Martin...Chambliss continues his steady consistency over 1977-79, acquiring two WS rings in tow...the latter year being tarnished with the death of Thurman Munson....Chambliss was the linchpin of trade to Toronto for young backstop Rick Cerone....Chris never appeared in a  Blue Jay uniform, quickly flipped to the Atlanta Braves....on the surface it appeared to be a return to the NL answer to Cleveland, but the Braves were buoyed by draft picks, Ted Turner’s deep pocket, and the first coming of skipper Bobby Cox....after a couple of season of near .500 ball efforts were rewarded with his last postseason appearance in 1982....Chambliss sticks around as regular in 83, yielded playing time for 84, dropping  to limited use reserve for 1985 and 1986 effectively the end....returned to Yankees as coach....in moment of short handedness in 1988, signed a three day contract to take his last at bat as a Yankee....fittingly.

Friday, January 25, 2019

#143 Garry Jestadt

Padres utility infielder...expansionist on the roster of both Expos and Padres in the first three years of their existence....1968 taken off the Cubs roster in the 43rd round by Montreal Expos in the expansion draft....mostly confined to the minor was able to sneak in 6 at bats in Montreal....reacquired by the Cubs early on in 1970.....spent all of the year in the minors....made the Cubs roster for 1971....little used and sent to AAA....swapped to SD for catcher Chris Cannazaro..... stayed with Padres for rest of year....little power and started very slow.....gathered speed towards the end of the year hitting .291....an incredibly good figure for team that hit .233 as a collective.... made the most of 189 at bats hitting 13 doubles and RBIs....4 doubles and one RBI better than Enzo Hernandez who had three times as many at bats...Jestadt couldn’t quite follow up in 1972...stayed with club all year batting .244 with 6 home runs 22 RBIs.....lost his spot on the Friars roster....played minor and Japanese league baseball thereafter.

Monday, January 21, 2019

#144 Marty Pattin

Leading game winner for the first two years of the Milwaukee Brewers....traded to Boston for 1972 in nine player deal....responded with a career high 17 wins....career beginnings started with Angels organization....was able to split evenly a total of 8 decisions in 1968 as a reliever....picked in expansion by Seattle, a case of the new franchise taking a player who had AAA history in the city....turned him into a starter....after a fast start  had so-so going in the Pilot’s only year with a 7-12 record and +5 ERA....followed the franchise east to Milwaukee and yielded two less runs per game and win figure doubled....continued success with Boston going 17-13 for 1972 and 15-15 in 1973....signature was his high leg kick delivery....traded to Kansas City for 1974....while he had spent 5 years prior as a starter, fails to establish one singular role in KC....career best 2.46 ERA in 9176 was offset by 8-14 win-loss....is able to win ten games twice however....finishes his career in KC  until to the 1980 season....last appearance was in 1980 World Series....turned to coaching/managing primarily for Kansas University.....born, raised, schooled (bachelor's and master's s degrees from Eastern Illinois University) and passed away in Charleston, Illinois, while visiting friends in October 2018

Thursday, January 17, 2019

#145 Don Kessinger

The most consistent shortstop of his time...not much power but a decent line hitter...a Cub regular who is less of a name now when compared to Williams, Banks, Santo, Fergie Jenkin...Named to 6  all star teams in a 7 year stretch...the one year excluded, 1973 qualitatively was on par or even better than years he made the squad...excelled at turning the double play....Kessinger’s career trajectory  mirrors  that of the Cubs, struggling in the mid 60’s, progressively improved, best year took place in 1969....followed by above average results to gradual decline....After a great run, Kessinger parted ways with Cubs after 1975....traded to St. Louis, unusual for the Cub to deal with a longtime rival....Was a regular in 1976 lineup, appearing in 145 games mostly at Shortstop....lost playing time 1977 with the arrival of Gary Templeton and traded to cross townChicago White Sox late in the season....Kessinger regains the playing time he was used to in earlier days in 1978....named player-manager for 1979...dual role cut into playing time....won 46 and lost 60....retired after 7 game losing streak about 2/3rd  into the season....replaced by rookie manager Tony LaRussa....ending both MLB playing and managing....went into managing in the college ranks thereafter....man of strong Christian belief and positivity. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

#146 Steve Kealey

Serviceable reliever career spanning 5 years....Two teams;  Angels to White Sox....known for being fast to warm up which relegated him to mostly bullpen work...interesting albeit brief highlights....took on part time work 1968-1970 home office Anaheim California....highlight 1969 made a rare start and shutout the formidable Baltimore Orioles....spent most of his time in AAA Angel’s Hawaii farm club....As an Islander, was a favorite of skipper Chuck Tanner....1970 Islanders are considered one of the best minor league teams of all time...rejoined new appointment White Sox Tanner along with other ex-Anglos Tom Egan, Jay Johnstone, and pitcher Tom Bradley...good results all imports contributed to a 23 game upswing by the Windy City South crew....Steve's credits included 6 saves good for second on the club....late that season Steve got to bat and delivered what would be the last White Sox pitcher to hit a home run for what would be 35 years...Kealy sticks with the big club in 1972 registering 4 saves and an improved 3.30 ERA....in off season 1973 hurt arm by not warming up in the off season and never regained effectiveness at major or minor league level.   

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

#147 Dave Kingman

King Kong....stood 6’ 6”....few have ever swung a Louisville Slugger so hard....442 direct connections over a MLB fence....but a lot of misses too as evidenced by 1,816 strikeouts....twice a home run champion and three time strikeout leader (for a batter)....sometimes in the same season....never hit for a high average....when on his game expect ..270 to .290 BA....his story begins by signing the Giants after being on NCAA 1970 Champs USC....hit for power and average in minors....MLB debut July 30 1971 after driving in 99 runs in 104 games for PCL Phoenix....In his partial season hit .270 with 7 homers in 115 at bats...but his 35 strikeouts were a harbinger of things to come..... first full season made a name for himself with 29 homers and 140 strikeout....BA dropped to .225 which turned out to be the norm for his Giants days....Kingman hits 42 over the fence in next two seasons but has limited playing –being something of a liability in field and being unable to secure a steady position....change came via being sold to Mets in 1975....more playing results in 73 homers in next two years....1977 with a looming free agency Kingman is given the distinction of playing for 4 teams (the two NY, San Diego, and Angels; a team from each division, only person ever to do so)....hit at least one home run for every squad; the only person to do so....Signs with Cubs in what would turn out to be a three year stint....far and away his best batting average for any team; a healthy .278.....Cubbies days includes his best season circa 1979....lead NL with 48 home runs, slugging average....and strikeouts but 131 whiffs was decidedly low for him....took a return ticket to NY Mets with another three year run starting 1981....once again led NL in home run/strikeouts but hitting average was under his weight for his stay....after hitting .198 released in 1983....picked up by the Oakland A’s.....an excellent comeback in 1984 nearing his 1979 output....35 home runs, 115 RBIs, .268 BA....held on as an A for two more years....racking up 100 home runs in his final 3 years....a feat few can claim....a couple more seasons given his finishing stride, Kingman could have reached 500 home run....his one dimension play most likely would have kept him from HOF.....also hampered by the fact he was on losing teams most of his career, with only one post season coming in rookie year of 1971.  


Saturday, January 5, 2019

#148 Dick Billings

Making the move to Texas....part of an overhaul by the Senators ....Went both ways....Vets like Curt Flood, Denny McClain, Joe Foy imported in a failed attempt to relive past glory....Prospects in the form of Billings, Toby Harrah, Elliot Maddox, Lenny Randle, Jeff Burroughs...end result the Senators regressed in 1971 and first two seasons in Texas....but nucleus had been formed that would bring some respectability....In reality the rookie Billings was already 28 years old just as old as some of long established Senator peers....delay may have been due to frequent changes in position during his development....played left field and third too....hit .240 in 1971 and raised BA to .256 for the first year Rangers....quietly led Rangers in RBIs (56) and hits but the figures show how offensively challenged Texas was....follow up was a total bust....hit a measly .179. in 1973; .given his age and the arrival of upstart Jim Sundberg a comeback never materialized....end result was a few dozen at bats in a Ranger uniform and five for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

#149 Gary Neibauer

Little known, marginal pitcher on the Braves’ staff….most prolific season was rookie year 1969….57 innings winning one losing two…kept on the post season roster and pitched a scoreless inning....best effort was his 21 innings in 1971 registering a 2.14 ERA.....Only full season at MLB level was 1972 but hit hard....traded to Philadelphia mid season....combined ERA of 6.25 made the effort dubious at best...reappeared in the bigs up to 1973 by returning to Braves....post playing days has made a name for himself in baseball circles as a champion for greater baseball pension benefits with the players association....in one sense, an very import individual for all players who appeared on the MLB level....one of the few major leagues to have been born in Montana.