Tuesday, December 29, 2020

#129 Charlie Fox

A true company man....long time Giant farm system skipper elevated to the big club....ironically grew up near the Polo Grounds and was part of NY devoted population....spent much of his early career in the late 40’s and 50’s being player/manager  for the St. Cloud Rox of the Northern League...future stars Willie Kirkland, Leon Wagner, and Orlando Cepeda passed along the way....In the 60’s moved to the Giant’s scouting corps, managing Arizona Winter League in the Phoenix area and third base coaching with Giants....managed at AAA level in Tacoma 1964 and Phoenix 1969....brought in to an underachieving and  floundering SF Giant team in 1970....at the time was four games under .500....produced a squad finishing 10 games above .500....follows up in 1971 with a hard fought West Division pennant and a first time birth in the NLCS....took home Sporting News Manager of the year award....it came crashing down however as 1972 uncovered an aging, often injured roster....subsequent years brought on see-saw results....dismissed mid season 1974....was able to resurface twice in MLB as an interim managers..... also rans Montreal (1976) and Chicago Cubs (1983).....hence served in various baseball capacities from scout to all the way up to Expos GM....As a player at the very start of career was able to make the NY Giants for 3 games in 1942....further time in a MLB uniform was blocked by catcher Wes Westrum who would be eventually be a Giant coach under Fox....known as an easygoing manager by players....recalled as having a talent for storytelling aided by a light Irish wit....passed away 2004 at age 82.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

#130 Bob Gibson

An exceptional career....intimidation factor on the field incomparable, maybe only Don Drysdale came close in his class....Tour de force on the mound in the 60’s and the early 70's....So many strengths....A player you did want him on your side, not against you...he was a Cardinal red from beginning to end.....Three time postseason virtuoso regardless of series outcome....a 7-2 W-L record in 9 complete games over three fall classics....owns two WS MVP awards....a clean sweep eluded him via the Cardinal seventh game loss to the Tigers in 1968....the only setback capping a MVP and Cy Young winning year....the astonishing regular season ERA of 1.12.....incredibly logged 28 complete games in  34 starts along with 22 wins....seemingly a manager dared not to take him out of a game...a stat impossible by today’s standards even when it is compared to MLB yearly total....post game he was aloof and distant, Gibson’s passion and drive to win was put out on the ball yard...sometimes to the consternation of teammates and press...spent a 4 month stint with basketball Harlem Globetrotters before professional play.....signed by the St Louis Cardinals and conveniently assigned to AAA squad in his hometown of Omaha Nebraska....Career might have never took off if it wasn't for manager Johnny Keane....the helmsman in Omaha, Keane saw what Gibson could be....Career flourished when they were reunited under the Gateway Arch erasing Gibby's first two underwhelming seasons that were plagued by racial undertones....Keane left after the 1964 championship but Hoot didn’t miss a beat with successor Red Schoendienst in 1965....won at least 20 games five times under Red's command....in all likelihood would have vied for a 6 consecutive year stretch if not for an injury midseason 1967 leaving him with 13 win....made up for his absence in 1967 WS....1970 his last year of 20+ wins, awarded him with his second Cy Young award....slipped a bit in 1971 with a 16-13 record but was able to get his only no hitter of his career vs. the eventual World Champion Pirates....against age and time puts together his last great season in 1972 winning 19 contests and lowering his ERA by half a point.... Exited playing after 1975 season as his effectiveness diminished....logged 255 complete games, it would take an estimated 7 seven years for all of baseball to match that total....took 9 consecutive gold glove awards and four time league shutout leader....no slouch with a bat either...went yard 24 times in the regular season plus add two in the World Series...Well know in baseball circles for his hospitality off the field...HOF inductee in 1981....recently passed away in October 2020 succeeding teammate Lou Brock by a month.


Saturday, December 19, 2020

#131 Jim Nettles

Note to Twins franchise....if a time machine becomes available, trade Jim Nettles....Not Craig, his far better known, multiple all star, brother....Twins could have greatly benefitted by keeping the consistent, solid 3rd baseman for the following decade and beyond.....After the trade Jim was left in the shadows to hold up the Nettles name in the upper Midwest....drafted 4th round 1968 climbed his up the Twins farm system....made a nice transition essentially from Northern League 1968 to AAA 1970 (lost most of 1969 season to military service)...1971 rookie year hit .250 in part time work which was passable at best....could not follow up and only hit .204 in 1972....returned to minors for most of his career....run of the mill stats in AAA but hung on to be an active player into early 80’s....journey included stops in the Mexican and Japanese league....was able to resurface in the show for the briefest of times.....42 games with the Tigers in 1974....11 games for the Royals in 1979.....one at bat for the Athletics in 1981....turned to managing in the lower minors after playing.....at the service of Oakland, Seattle, and Toronto organizations.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

#132 Joe Morgan

Recently in the news, having passed away October 2020....HOF career in three acts....First act;  Joe was as a very good Colt .45/Astro second baseman whose output was hampered by injuries, a poor hitter’s park, and questionable managerial relations....how good?  2nd in ROY 1965, once led NL in walks and once led league in triples....was part of an all first year player starting lineup in late 1963....two time all star but toiled in relative obscurity in Texas....Second act starts in 1972 as Joe is dealt to Reds ...Instant offense!.....elevates himself into superstar status and significant in Cincinnati’s establishment as a perennial NL powerhouse for years to come....First season in Queen City leads NL in runs scored, walks, and OBP....no let up on the accelerator in subsequent years....labeled as the most complete player in baseball according to Sports Illustrated a honor sandwiched between back to back MVP awards in 1975 and 76....coinciding with back to back WS championships for the Queen City....personal area of expertise;  getting on base not only with hits but with walks (led NL 4 times) part of which resulting in top OBP 4 times in 5 years time.....Diminutive of stature defied skeptics with good power collecting 25+ homers several times and went yard 268 times in career....5X gold glove consecutive....named to All Star team eight straight occasions, 10X with the aforementioned time as an Astro.... Fast, second in NL stolen bases seven times...Act 3;  beginnings are debatable;  A slow down began starting in 1978 and 79 caused by injuries would result in a loss of BA and 25-30 contests....Or it starts in 1980 by signing with Astros for one year...no longer the superstar but a contributor bringing veteran influence to a playoff bound squad...moves on to San Francisco on a two year stint....a return to the bay area where he grew up....notably was able to secure silver slugger and comeback player of  the year awards in 1982...most dramatic was his home run on the last game of the 1982 regular season to knock rival Dodgers out of the pennant race....Logged in two more seasons, one with Phillies which reunited him with Pete Rose and Tony Perez plus giving him one last WS experience....hit .263 and twice went yard...Finished in hometown of Oakland in 1984 and accounted for himself with .244 BA at age 40....busy after retiring going into business, broadcast booth, MLB administration, and obtaining a long sought college degree....elected to HOF 1990 on first year eligibility.... only drawback of career was second lower tier post season hitting (.182 BA) although the high number of walks offset some of the futility....signature motion, an arm flap while batting to keep his elbow up.  

Sunday, December 6, 2020

#133 Joe Keough

Career 4th  or 5th outfielder....best year was 1970 when he hit .322 but unfortunately was put on the emergency disabled list due to a broken leg on June 29th to the end of the season....1971 was the closest he would come to regular work;  showing up in 110 games, dieturning in a pedestrian .248 BA ....1972 the arrival of Carl Taylor. Rich Scheinblum, and Steve Hovley eliminated any more significant MLB action....Drafted by Kansas City A’s in the first slot of the second round of the first amateur draft 1965....climbed up farm system with solid line drive hitter numbers....made name for himself in debuts....on 8/7/68 hit a pinch hit home run on his first MLB at bat....hit a game winning single in the Royal’s first game 4/8/69....had a brother Marty Keough and nephew Matt Keough who had long, successful baseball careers....traded to White Sox for 1973 season in a minor transaction....spent majority of season in AAA but was able work his way up to the big club for a couple of weeks in July....Passed away September, 2019.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

#134 Carl Morton

Big Red....ginger haired converted outfielder turned starter....listed in the 1966 Sporting News Register as a position player....Although Morton was on the inaugural Montreal squad and pitched a gem in his first MLB game,  the fourth in franchise history; a scoreless nine inning outing against the Cubs...despite this effort needed more seasoning.... returns in 1970 accumulated decisions in his favor 18 times...Part of a 21 win improvement by the Sophomore Expos...Had an incredible streak of going 7-1 mid summer....Takes the NL ROY award....had underwhelming follow up seasons in 1971 and 1972 but Morton did not lose his starter status....included in deal with the Braves organization for 1973...it was a return to the franchise that first signed him....a positive move for the Braves and Carl teaming with Phil Niekro to provide steady pitching in a highly inconsistent team....won 15, 16, and 17 games in successive campaigns...only won 4 in his final year 1976....traded to Texas but did not get out of training camp....ended in Phillies AAA squad for his final year in organized ball, a natural fit for the Oklahoma native....Died at the tragic age of 39, in his hometown of Tulsa Oklahoma....convinced to switch to pitching by Paul Richards....good move.