Thursday, October 22, 2020

#138 Mike Kekich

1972: 4th starter for the Yankees but in the future he would not be known for on the field accomplishment but a reflection of changing relationship norms …popularly known as a “wife/life swap” with teammate Fritz Peterson but further analysis Kekich and Fritz wife were only together for a short while and never married….Kekich has a straight California lineage....Born in San Diego and signed by the Dodgers...spent parts of three seasons in the Dodgers class A affiliate in Santa Barbara in the years 1964 to 1967....1965: debuted and exclusively played for the LA Dodgers but only on a frugal basis...Became a true member of the Dodger roster in 1968....most spot starts kept ERA under 4 runs a game....traded to NYY straight up for Andy Kosco...1969 and 1970 took on swing man role, some starts some relief with mediocre effectiveness...lowered ERA and garnered himself as a starter in 1971....continued on that path into 1972....won 10 games in each season....then the aforementioned quickly stalled in 1973 suffering a significant decline in performance that was not reversed by a trade to the tribe....Released by Cleveland prior to 1974 season....went to be a vagabond signing with Texas laboring for their AAA Spokane club, took on an unsuccessful stint in Japan, then returned to Spokane and a Texas call up for handful of innings....Got hurt in a motorcycle accident and was released by Rangers.... After time off for rehabilitation signed by the fledgling Seattle Mariners which assigned him Mexican League Nuevo Laredo to keep active....As a Mariner, did not pitch particularly well (5.60 ERA) but was lucky enough go 5-4 on a 98 loss team....did not make to 1978, washing up on shores of San Jose PCL AAA team and then another stretch back in Spokane....tried being a player/manager in the short lived Inter-American AAA league which quickly folded....not willing to give up on baseball played 2 years in Mexico...a serviceable career that may have been derailed by being a tabloid sensation.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

#139 Tim McCarver

Top of the line of NL backstop in the mid to late 1960s until the intro of Johnny Bench…From 1963 to 1967 was probably the best “true” catchers in the circuit passing by an aging Del Crandall and Ed Bailey… Arguably Joe Torre hit better and got more All Star appearances than Tim but Joe often took the role of infielder….Caught the eye of the Cardinals organization at age 17 who signed him in 1959….spent first year pro ball mostly in low minors up the Mississippi River at Keokuk Iowa…his .360 BA earned him a late September call up….The nurturing Red Birds then assigned their young prospect to his hometown of Memphis to engage the AA Southern League competition….responded well to home cooking hitting a .347 clip a two game call up…Given his press billing the climb to AAA in 1961 was a step backward….rebounded enough the next year to get an opening day birth on the 1964 Cardinal team….Never looked back, establishing himself as a regular nearly instantly….hit .289, 14 points higher than his AAA BA….hit also better than ROY award winner Pete Rose…but McCarver was 11 at bats past the criteria putting McCarver ineligible for the award….1964 stats were a clone of the year before but Tim’s pinnacle was his .478 BA in the world series as the Cards defeated  the Yankees….Next two years McCarver maintains his yeoman work…led NL in triples 1966, surprising batting stat for a catcher….1967 registers personal highs home runs,  RBIs, and full season BA….McCarver finished second in MVP voting to teammate Orlando Cepeda…. did not reprise his 1964 WS production but Red Birds get their second crown in the 60’s…..1968 and 69 McCarver down shifts to solid journeyman… but the birds make it to the 1968 October classic and hits .333 but Cards were downed by the Tigers….McCarver’s decade long relationship with St Louis is sidetracked with a trade to the Phillies….spends two and a half years with floundering club….Phillies starting to clean house in mid 72 ship him to Expos who are marginally better….from this time on McCarver is frequently traded and evolves to job sharing platoon work with younger talent….1973 reunites with the Cardinals for a full season and part of 1974….acquired by the Red Sox who use him sparingly….McCarver viewed his release by the Sox as the end of his playing days….A well liked and known personality returns to Philly looking for a broadcasting opening….pressed into service to provide veteran leadership for the up and coming Phillies….proceeds to stay for all or a portion of 6 seasons...became Steve Carlton’s requested backstop….added three playoff appearances….Once playing days were over Tim then sidesteps to a highly successful broadcast booth career which exceeded his time as a player….Retired from the booth in 2013…during playing days listed dancing and collecting matchbooks as his hobbies.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Back with #140 Pat Dobson

A prospect raised of the pitching rich 60's, beneficiary of expansion in the 70's...not immediate success but in the same vain as peers Mike Marshall and Dick Drago, …Never seemed to get a lot of love for his efforts....began by toiling in the Detroit farm systems circa 1960....roughed up at first...started to make in roads around 1965 making forward progress to higher tiers....Was able to crack the Tiger staff in a mixed reliever/starter role in 1067...pitched in 3 1968 World Series all in losing efforts; but the Tigers prevailed with the championship....Spends one more year in Tiger town but is shipped to the Padres for the 1970....Becomes the pitching leader for the sophomore team taking 14 victories in win starved team and broke free of his swing man label....Despite this effort, dealt to Orioles in six player deal....With the trade, joins a top flight offense, pitching, and defense... As a result he joins incumbents Mike Cuellar, Jim Palmer, and Dave McNally in a 20 win club...a feat that most likely will not be repeated again....Since the Orange Birds were reigning World Champs as case of the rich got richer and poor get unfulfilling prospects....Despite his 20 wins, gets little love in his time with the O's....sits out ALCS and has only one World Series start in 1971....1972 improves his effectiveness with personal bests in ERA and WHIPs....a team offensive slowdown resulted in a 16 wins and 18 losses....recognized by the league with a spot on the all star team, his only time named....Nevertheless Baltimore sends Pat to Atlanta....A direct flop with the 1973 Braves....Traded back to the AL East mid season...this time latching on to the Yankees and Dobson rebounds.....gets 9 wins in the second half of 1973 and racks up 19 victories in 1974....sticks around until 1976 when he was traded to his fourth AL East team, the Cleveland Indians....once again he put together another 16 win campaign....Comeback is short lived however for 1977 performance falls off dramatically....end result 3-12 record....released in April 1978...moved on to coaching at the minor and major league level....Passed from leukemia in 2006....known to be very funny to his contemporaries despite appearing often serious and humorless in early pictures....could have been an excellent broadcaster.