Sunday, August 1, 2021

#100 Frank Robinson

HOF career and historic trailblazer….Big powerful and in this writer’s opinion the largest hands I’ve ever seen.....Collector of major awards....ROY, 2X MVP, 2X All Star game MVP, batting crown, WS MVP to name 7 of 10....led respective circuit in OBP, runs, OPS. Slugging, doubles many times over...in addition led in HBP, Sacrifices, and IBB adding to run production....named to 14 all star games...Product of Oakland’s McClymond’s High School a breeding ground for sport stars....By passing higher rungs in the farm ladder, started as a Red out of the gate....instant star....a propellant in a franchise turnabout from also rans to first division competitors...both Robinson and crew hit pay dirt in 1961....Reds took the NL crown, Robinson MVP....King of the Queen city for 10 years....seemingly a great relationship....shockingly traded after 1965 season when Robinson completed his 4th 100+ RBI season and solid body of work....reason he was predicted to be “an old 30” in the upcoming year by the powers that be....Lucky recipient of this “living elder”;  the Baltimore Orioles, an improving squad looking for an added agent of change to ascend past the aging Yankee dominance....Robinson already known for intense play was galvanized for action....to prove the Reds wrong....no better way to do than taking the 1966 AL Triple Crown, leading the birds, slicing away to make short work of the LA Dodgers in the WS....Provides the O’s with strong offence for next 5 years.....a leader in the second resurgence 1969-71....three world series and one win coming aptly against his team of origin the Reds....Despite the impressive run Orioles flipped Frank to Dodgers for young prospects....Orioles missed him in 1972 and age seemed to gain on him in Chavez Ravine...traded to the other So Cal lineup, the Angels....deposited 50 balls over the fence for the most of two campaigns and impressive given he had few peers to assist him....in a minor deal is acquired by Cleveland just before the conclusion of the 1973.....the true motive of the deal was to break a racial barrier by naming Robinson skipper for 1974....Robinson wasn’t done playing however and retains a roster spot....reminds the Cleveland populace he has still have something left in the tank by homering in his first at bat as player manager helping out in opening day win...proceeds for 16 more years as a skipper....mostly with rebuilding teams....San Francisco, Montreal/Washington, and a return to Baltimore....No pennants or playoffs were reached.....Robinson’s greatest achievement was 33 game improvement to the favor of O’s in 1988....has few peers that reached equal levels of success....his trade to the Orioles is considered one the all time steals close to Lou Brock and Nolan Ryan deals....first ballot hall of fame....passed away early 2019.




Sunday, July 25, 2021

#101 Astro Rookie Stars

A mixed bag of careers....starting with Bill Greif…..by this time already gone from the Astros…..and exiled to San Diego….no run support, plus a losing mentality but there was plenty of work to be had…..1972 was a difficult year, 5-16 and ERA at 5.60….the Friars meekly armed with .227 team BA most likely were not going to bail Bill out....Bill toiled in Padre Brown and Yellow....showed inconsistent signs of improvement....1973 Greif lowered his ERA by 2 runs a game and doubled his win total....limited backing lost one more game from year prior...took step back with 4.66 ERA in 1974 losing a career high 19 games....a new tact for the rest of career reassigned to bullpen....mixed results....out of the majors after 1976 season and out of baseball after 1978....known as the "Texas Tiger" from an early career on the field incident....an eccentric given his interest in psychic phenomena  and hypnosis.  

A Fire-baller  J.R. Richard 1980 was riding a dominant wave....sub 2.0 ERA midseason with 10 wins....seemingly HOF bound.....career came to an abrupt end by a stroke shortly after appearing in his first all star game...Debut in 1971 was exemplar vs. Giants KO’ing  15....despite the record tying debut Richard is prone to pedestrian numbers in both call ups and minors....sometimes invincible as evidenced by 4 wins in 4 starts, shutting out the competition in 33 innings....Stayed with Astro all year in 1975....a modest winning record but struggled with control....led league in wild pitches and walks....Put game in high gear in 1976 winning 20....proceeded to rack up 18 wins in next three years....supremacy in any given year was measured by averaging over one strikeout per inning....he was improving each year toping the circuit in ERA and strikeouts in 1979....Did try to come back in the minor but such efforts were futile.... One of the tallest pitchers ever standing at 6’8” giving him superior leverage...had a difficulty with being out of baseball but has bounced back to work in baseball’s community relation....had a TV movie made about the abrupt change in his life.

Ray Busse  obscure SS-3rdbaseman....ordinary minor stats point to his best case scenario being destined for a deep reserve.....spare MLB work....traded to Cardinals for 1973 and quickly returned back to the Astros.....final line 2 home runs, nine RBIs, and a .148 BA.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

#102 Lloyd Allen

1971 far and away prime season….headed a greatly improved bullpen….one of few bright spots on an underachieving squad distracted by team discord....High spot of career....1972 was a setback and the wheels fall off in 1973....a brutal 0-6 between the Angels and Rangers....9.43 ERA....arm troubles....never to return to form....earlier the wunderkind was fast tracked....youngest player in big leagues in 1969....bounced around minors through the 1979 season even trying a turn in the Mexican League.




Sunday, July 11, 2021

#103 Checklist 133-263

Hall of Famers in the series Ted Simmons, Orlando Cepeda, Lou Brock, Rollie Fingers...HOF manager is Dick Williams.....date range of reviews Nov 8 2017 to Dec 6 2020.....in that time the following have passed away Lou Brock, Richie (Dick) Allen. Grant Jackson, Jay Johnstone, Lee Stanton (from Mets Rookie card) plus Manager Frank Lucchesi




Sunday, July 4, 2021

#104 Toby Harrah

Palindrome last name....Future Ranger fixture that present for the franchises swan song from Washington….valiant effort  to make the DC crowd forget about losing the left side of their infield in the infamous Denny McClain trade...tough trick fresh out of AA ball....was the last Senator to bat although never registered a plate appearance for Tom McGraw was caught stealing while Harrah at the plate, next inning the crowd took over the field while the Yankees were at bat....result forfeit ending a truly bizarre contest....As a Ranger does a rare thing improves his numbers for five straight seasons evolving from a banjo hitter to a power threat....exceptional batting eye accelerating his on base % much in the mold of peer Gene Tenace....a keen batting eye over a pitcher reluctance to surrender a hittable offering....a subpar year of 1978 promoted a traded to Cleveland....regained his plate skills along with being united with fellow “walker” Mike Hargrove....also made for many a long game, sometimes referred as "human rain delays".....continues standard work past 1983....traded to Yankees for 1984....a decided flop in the Bronx....returns to Arlington for a comeback albeit a more limited role....at age 36 hits .270 and garners 113 walks in 521 plate appearances....personal best in walks and good for 2nd in AL...1986 was last year as time caught up....4 time all star but did not play in 1972 due to shoulder injury.....Adaptable in the field, starting at short, middle career at 3rd, and finishing as at 2nd base....Did extensive managing and coaching both at minor and major league level....would be better known if he played in media centers rather than obscurity of cellar dwelling Cleveland or Texas....a practical joker....never spent a moment in a post season but remained a romantic and philosophic about participating in 2155 games.




Tuesday, June 29, 2021

#105 Gary Gentry

Unsung 1969 WS hero…. a secret weapon against the favored Orioles....facing the most potent lineup in baseball at the time, the rookie put a shut down on the O’s in a harrowing performance aided by two miracle catches by Tommy Agee and relief by Nolan Ryan...but game 3 conquest put Mets in control....native of Phoenix....born, raised, played HS, Community College and at the fabled player factory Arizona State University....Led Sun Devils to 1967 NCAA championship.....Unfortunately his WS win will always be a high point.....Won 13 in his first season and career high...barely above 500 win % in first 3 years.....Achilles Heal; owned a fiery temper which eroded the relationship between teammates, management, and fans alike....known for flipping his glove and angry stares to teammates on the field....despite having a break even year in 1971 he made progress with anger issues in a report per skipper Gil Hodges.....Gil would never live to see if his prediction  of progress would continue as he would expectedly pass away during 1972 Spring Training at age 47....Gentry's value dropped with a 7-10 record in 1972....traded and started a two season comeback with the Brave....Braves hoped for duplication of Nolan Ryan's turn of career with the Angels....They didn't get it ...fared no better only winning 5 decisions in a handful of games ....Braves released him mid 1975 season and signed by the Mets in a desperate hope of a comeback, but failed to register an out in only minor league appearance....steered clear of game in his day afterwards opting a real estate career in hometown Phoenix....When he was "on" drew raves from one opponent, Astro Jim Wynn, who said he had better stuff than Seaver.



 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

#106 Milwaukee Brewers Team Card

Baseball’s return to the once home of the Braves…recent residency was Seattle….this team would have started in 1971 but at the insistence of political figures in KC set the wheels in motion for 1969 birth….The prematurity of the Pilots resulted in a bankrupt franchise and one year stand in a city and facilities that wasn’t quite ready…franchise was snapped up by car salesman Bud Selig a few days before 1970 season….it is said the moving trucks from AZ spring training paused in Utah to receive the call to go Northwest or Northeast…as all expansion franchises of the time struggled no matter what locale….Brewers would not exceed .500 until 1978…at that point buoyed by budding superstars, the newly formed free agent market, and shrewd trades the team entered a competitive age that remained up to the 1993 season….the high points of glory included the 1982 World Series berth and ALDS appearance a year prior….Upon losing a slew key cogs the Brewers decline to sub .500 for 12 consecutive season….since then hit and miss; a few playoff runs but no return to the World Series…best chance was taking Dodgers to 7 games in 2018….A new stadium in 2001 was vital for survival in Milwaukee…. But still suffers from being in a small market, so free agents available need to be chosen wisely....The face of the franchise is HOF Robin Yount whose motorcycle riding exploits endeared him to the blue collar locals....Paul Molitor, Yount’s sidekick for many years would be second although many indigenous Milwaukeeans felt betrayed by his free agent departure....Remains to seen how long Christian Yelich will stay but he might surpass all other Brewers....to date team has had only one no hit game; Juan Nieves 1987.




Thursday, June 17, 2021

#107 Jose Cruz

A bright future ahead….Like fine wine got better with age…..kicks his game to a new level once he donned an Astro uniform…Like the Alous brothers a decade later had two other siblings appear in the major league….Hector and Tommy….Jose, far and away is the most successful of the trio; tallying nearly 8 thousand at bats over 19 seasons….was still in a prime at age 38….after 3 ½ years of employment by the Cardinals, Cruz becomes another case of player being sold to another team who becomes far more valuable  than the original sticker price….Once again Houston struck gold again on bargain bin having acquired Joe Niekro the same year (although results were not immediate)….while cash is nice on a ledger sheet, it doesn’t win games or draw fans…..accolades includes two all star games and silver slugger awards….led NL in hits in 1983….wore the multicolored Astro uniform through 1987 when he was starting to show signs of age.....took a flyer and wrapped up playing career with a taste of AL action as a Yankee...a line drive hitter but was able to go yard on occasion reaching double figures in 9 campaigns and  culmatlative165 times total....such arguments are immaterial because Cruz body of work focusing on fundamentals and was hence a custom fit to the spacious Astrodome.....A serious, dedicated player with excellent work ethic....the marriage of Jose and the Astros continues into its 38th year as he has served in various functions, most recently community relations....Native of Puerto Rico...son had 12 year MLB career.




Friday, June 11, 2021

#108 Gary Waslewski

New England native, born and raised in Connecticut….Decent ERA for whatever MLB team he served with….but lacked the notoriety and the "wow!" factor that could have translated into a more significant MLB career…..sometimes the support cast wasn’t there like his time with the first year Expos….highlight of his mound vocation was a strong effort in a Red Sox uniform during the 1967 World Series…..8 1/3 innings pitched giving up two earned runs….His local background added excitement to the Boston faithful in the fall classic….In minors since 1960 sometimes with impressive victory totals namely 18 wins for AAA Toronto in 1966….In addition had 17 wins in a season combining time in Class A and AA….Other locales in the record books include St Louis (his opponent in 1967 WS), and Yankees.....second year in pinstripes was limited by injuries that took half of the season….last stop for the 1972 Oakland A’s  was a  case of non support…in 8 games went 0-3 despite a 2.04 ERA….Excluded from post season action although he was reunited with skipper Dick Williams from 1967….Final MLB line was 11 wins, 26 losses….forged a post baseball career in the insurance industry and still participates in 1967 Red Sox reunions….hobby during playing day was bowling.....turned into a golfer after his playing days were over.





Saturday, June 5, 2021

#109 Jerry May

An enigma....not much is known…. exclusively a backup backstop…..talent summary: glove over bat…..came from a baseball family and took up catching when he high schools team was short in that position…..his fielding skill was kept him in the MLB…..got a new start in KC….Played enough to be considered the Royals main backstop closely followed by sometime outfielder Ed Kirkpatrick…..was crowded out as Kirkpatrick returned behind the plate in 1972….. Origins were with the Pirates….was given a shot at regular work after an impressive 1967…unfortunately his performance dovetailed in 1968 with .219 BA……relegated to being Manny Sanguillén’s back up from then on….as was the case in both KC and Pittsburgh a loss of playing eroded his batting average….hitting sank even further 1973, his last season….Released by KC, took a brief minor league assignment in the Pirate farm system and had a millisecond with the NY Mets….stayed out of baseball thereafter.....In 1996 May passed away as result of a farm accident.....A rotary brush cutter fell on him at his farm in Virginia. He had jacked up the machine to remove some wire that had gotten snarled in the blades, and the jack slipped…..reminiscent of Mark Fydrich’s death.… not much is known about May personal life other than he was married in 1963 and his game stats....one of six players with the last name May playing in 1971, joining Dave, Carlos, Lee, Milt, and Rudy.




Sunday, May 30, 2021

#110 Ron Hunt

Career summed in one word:  "Ouch"….or some used “scrappy”…..anything for the team guy….proficient at being plunked…..In 1971 a sensation, an incredible number HBP (50)....this was significantly larger than his peers at the time and anyone else in the modern ball era…..in statistical regards a historical season….not an anomaly, three years prior and three years after led the NL in being the hit batsman giving him seven consecutive years….6th on all time list with 243….developed in the Milwaukee Braves system….1963 was plucked by the fledgling NY Mets in a cash deal….was able to bypass AAA  ball for a starting position in the Met infield….established himself as a solid hitter and a ray of light in the woeful sophmore squad….was #2 in ROY, following year an All Star terminating with .303 BA….made All star team 1966 to offset an injury ridden 1965…..nevertheless traded to LA Dodgers and the flipped a year later up the coast to the Giants for a 3 year residency…..started his HBP legacy along with consistent offensive figures….traded to Expos for minor league journeyman Dave McDonald….a steal….held second base until 1974….moved to 3rd base for his last year of playing ball….his four years in Montreal yielded with a .277 BA…..put on waiver late in year….picked up by the Cardinals to top off the season and his baseball career….As a Red Bird had 4 hits in 28 plate appearances….plus was hit by two pitches…..Motto was  “Some people give their bodies to science; I give mine to baseball.




 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

#111 Jim Grant

AKA Mudcat….Long time mound veteran….entitled into a set up/closer role for his last three seasons….minor league win tallies included 21, 19, and 18 falling in a four year span….. MLB stamp date is 1958 in Cleveland…. long time starter showed glimpses of brilliance but between military commitments, run ins with coaches/management, and wavering assignments which stunted his progress….Found resurgence in being traded mid season to the Twin….resurrected a lost season….took game to the next level in 1965…..possibly aided by the controversial, outspoken pitching coach Johnny Sain….dominated the AL with 21 wins and a league best win %....added to his standout year was two victories in the World Series….hit a 3 run home run to help his cause to boot in game 6…..an encore was elusive and in a matter of a few years found himself a proverbial rolling stone in LA, Montreal,  St. Louis….was brought aboard the Oakland A’s for 1970…..took over bullpen while other mainstays Rollie Fingers and Diego Seugi were tried out in starting roles….Collected 24 saves in 72 games good for 5th and 2nd in AL respectively….in an unusual move traded to the Pirates with 2 ½ weeks left in the season....added eight more appearances as a Buccaneer to bring his seasonal total to 80 which was best in  the majors….contributed to the Pirates holding on to gain the NL East title….Retained  for 1971, Grant becomes the sidekick to Dave Guisti’s closer role….garnered 7 saves…..in an inverse of 1970 is purchased back to the Oakland A’s to support their successful playoff efforts…..tallied 3 saves to bring his two team total to 10 to compliment sub 2.00 ERA….While thwarted  in a return to the WS, did make a fair show in ALCS with two shutout innings….turned out to be his exit from MLB stage….despite strong season was released….tried out with Indians in spring training but  wound up signed to a contract with the AAA Iowa Oaks an A’s affiliate ….at age 36, was 11 years older than the average age of his peers…  Not call up which is surprising given the A’s aptness to import veterans nearing the conclusion of league competition…..while several great chances never won a World Series…most of his post baseball work has been to advocate for greater participation of African Americans in baseball.





Wednesday, May 19, 2021

#112 Greg Luzinski

I have friend, his name is Dan….he is great golfer but he was also a decent high school pitcher in the Chicagoland area circa 1968….in his high school career faced several eventual big leaguers but said the longest home run he ever gave up was a moon shot by Greg Luzinski…..Dan thinks the ball still traveling to this day…..in high school word of his exploits must have reached the Philly brass….selected in 1st round in 1968 draft…tore up minors….. repertoire strength; clouted 307 ding dongs starting 1971 to 1984….balanced out his power by hitting over .300 three times….never led a circuit in homers but five times in the top five….. Part of a Phillie youth movement that imported new blood either through trades or draft prospects…..the hits were Luzinski, Bowa, Schmidt, Carlton…..misses were Joe Lis, Roger Freed, Mike Anderson, Pete Koegel, Denny Doyle…swung the bat like a toothpick….Groomed as the 1st baseman of the future but with Deron Johnson being withdrawn from 3rd to 1st it was felt Luzinski could handle left field….was not known for his outfield fielding (well not in a positive way at least)…. played only a handful of times at first for the rest of his career  but Phillies did change from pretenders to contenders in the later 70’s….his prime years were 1975 to 1978 adorned all star laurels in each passing year….he averaged 109 RBI per season in that time….however after two seasons of diminishing returns, Luzinski and Philly part ways after the 1980 season…..Purchased by the hometown Chicago White Sox, looking for a tailor made DH….The native delivered over the next three years, the pinnacle being an AL playoff berth in 1983…..a reprise of previous year’s achievement did not materialize in 1984 for neither the Chisox nor Greg…..Numbers dwindling as it was his last season….. Considered other offers for 1985 but all indicators led to believe his future would be relegated to pinch hitting roles only….Uncompromising retired to coaching and investments…. In 1989 was inducted into the Polish American Sport Hall of Fame.  




Thursday, May 13, 2021

#113 Rogelio Moret

Incredibly slender Red Sox standing at 6’4” and 170 pounds….an even mix of starter or reliever….established himself as neither but was able to pull off two sparkling campaigns….After splitting several seasons between the minor and limited MLB employment, wowed the baseball world with a 13-2 record in 1973….one more decision would have taken league best win % honors……after a mediocre 1974 bounced back with 14-3 record in 1975 helping the Bostonians to a WS showdown...Despite his solid Red Sox resume standing to date at 3.43 ERA and 41 wins out 59 decision was traded to Braves….Red Sox’s sudden reluctance to continue with Roger may have been due to an auto accident…..Moret was unhurt but had great difficulty explaining the incident….Moret’s year with Atlanta was a second rate endeavor and ventured off to Texas for 1977….His only full year in Texas brought a lowered his ERA but his career was at an impasse….Next season his career was virtually stopped by an episode of mental illness….found in a reported catatonic state in the club house before a game in early 1978….was hospitalized for a short period….resurfaced for a few limited appearances but was shelled in his last start….set aside for the rest of the season….Released spring of next year….tried out with Cleveland and Texas again but did not get farther than spring training in subsequent years….a couple seasons later tried a short turns in the Mexican with varying accomplishments…..moved back to native Puerto Rico….little is known about his post baseball activities other than he passed away in late 2020.   



 

Friday, May 7, 2021

#114 Bill Buckner

“Avatar of the significance of one moment"….Part of the amazing era of Dodger player development….Brilliant climb up the farm system many times under the tutelage of Tommy Lasorda…. Once with the big club, started out as either an outfielder or platoon 1st baseman sharing duties with Wes Parker….Attributes of grit, hustle,  team chemistry, and mind over pain were put to use…. exceptional speed could be included in his first couple of years but ankle  injuries hobbled him after 1976….Never the same and needed to permanently move to 1st base….problem was the emergence of  ironman Steve Garvey.....this necessitated his departure to Chicago…..managed his pain with stretching exercises practiced by ballet dancers and yoga, ahead of his time….oh so difficult to strike out….1980 NL batting Champion…..Appeared in 8 seasons in Dodger blue, 8 in Cubs threads, in that time span batted over .300 8 times…..only appeared in two postseasons;  1974 with Dodgers and the infamous 1986 Red Sox…..departed teams just prior to playoff runs traded to Cubs just prior to 1977, shipped to Red Sox mid season from Cubs 1984….Two proficient seasons  in Beantown collecting over 100 RBIs in each…. his solid performer was been reduced to one play in the 1986 WS...ridded, taunted by opposition fans all due to the slow, run of the mill roller hit by Mookie Wilson in game 6 …..in fairness the Red Sox wheels were falling off before the incident….Buckner returns to the Red Sox in a somewhat alienated state was gradually nearing his career terminus….his 2 home runs, 42 RBIs and .273 BA at mid season 1987 failed to be the robust numbers put up in the past two years…at this point released and picked up by the Angels and next year to KC as an extreme backup role… by virtue of one at bat in 1969 and his short stint for the Red Sox in 1990 played in 4 decades…..for all his hits 2715 only made all star team once….more would have been were not for the injuries…..Well liked wherever he played….Contracted dementia and passed in May 2019 but had made his peace with the Boston faithful and all his other would be critics.






Friday, April 30, 2021

#115 Jim Fregosi

Some people have a bad rap because of a play (see upcoming 114 Bill Buckner)…..the word association with the name Jim Fregosi  is on the negative end of steal of the 70’s….. should be better known as the face and offensive point man during the California Angels franchise first decade...three time winner of the Gene Autry trophy as Angel MVP…. his batting numbers were modest by most other teams standard but they were stable and consistent with the Angel philosophy of small ball and stingy pitching…..Last of the original Angels being a late season call up in 1961….A mid season call up in 1962 solidified his role on the Halos….all star 6 times in a seven year span starting 1964….Best season in Anaheim was 1970 when he went yard 22 times and drove in 82…..Fregosi’s high mark was short lived for his numbers nosedived to 5 homers and 33 RBIs in a tumultuous and injury plagued 1971….The plan was for Jim to be the answer to the Met’s weakness at third base….Mets should have known what they getting with an 11th year veteran ….in reality his 1972 numbers were nearly identical to his last year as an Angel….His tenure at Flushing Meadows NY lasted 1  ½ years, in the meanwhile Nolan Ryan wins 295 more MLB games….Fregosi moves on to Texas mid 1973….a helpful reserve but his starting days were over….Retiring as player he returned to Angels as a manager midseason 1978….Was his lifelong dream fulfilled…..Helmed his long associated franchise to the AL West pennant in 1979 buoyed free agency contracts fueled by deep pockets….plus one Nolan Ryan, the man indelibly he was forever linked to…..Alas Ryan soon departed and Angels tanked….Fregosi exits to manage AAA Louisville….while not major league the Red Birds won two league titles and set minor league attendance records….invited back to the MLB scene by White Sox 1986-88….Within a five season stint managing the Phillies was able to helm them to a World Series berth falling to the Blue Jays in six games….finished his managerial calling with two years with the Toronto Blue Jays….passed away in 2014 after suffering from multiple strokes which began on a MLB cruise....handsome young man back in the day, one of the most photogenic players of his time.   





Friday, April 23, 2021

#116 Ed Farmer

A complex career, very similar to Skip Lockwood….marginal pitcher early on but matured to have a solid prime….Upon further review Farmer’s on the field performance may have been effected by a genetic kidney disease (Polycystic Kidney Disease) that would eventually take his life on April 2020…..Despite this a model perseverance……His 2  ½ years with the Tribe was uneven resulting in eventually landing in Philadelphia…..A low ebb came at end of 1974 after 5 MLB seasons had 5.05 ERA….a return to minors resulted in shoddier work….did not play in 1976 due to shoulder surgery…..without a club scouted and was signed by the Baltimore put in AAA….his 1977 return to the bigs resulted in a dishonorable “infinity” ERA as an Oriole ….acquired by the Brewers  assigned to minors….an impressive handful innings in Milwaukee after being called up did raise his value to be traded to Texas…..His  new employer gave him sorely needed work at the big league level; albeit of short duration….traded to White Sox and his career was instantly galvanized….instant game saving relief for his beloved south siders….saved 44 for the rest of 1979 and the duration of 1980….made all star team in 1980….free agent after 1980 and was re-signed for one year with a hefty payday….a fair 10 save total although his ERA ballooned to 4.61….a Chicago Tribune interview suggests that a kidney related physical decline may have started after a nasty on field fight with Detroit Tiger Al Cowens in 1979….reportedly Cowens wanted to even a score from a beaning incident while Farmer was a Ranger….moved via free agency for a second run with the Phillies (almost equally unsuccessful as the first)….Released then surfaced with Oakland for his last MLB appearance….doggedly spent another three years in various efforts to pitch his way back to the show….. a true rolling stone playing for seven big league franchises plus playing for two other farm systems….also had a spell in for Independent team and a disastrous 2 game appearance in the Mexican League….received a transplant donated from his brother....was a long time White Sox announcer his hometown team and location of his most success. 



 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

#117 Cleo James

 Twice a mid season call up to fill the Cubs centerfield spot….a trouble area for the franchise at the time.... speedster and a line driving hitter....hit an amazing .367 in PCL Tacoma prior to his Cubbie stint in 1971....accounted decently for himself well in his second go round for the northsiders hitting .287....despite his year was not invited reprise his role for the Cubs in 1972…..stayed in minors continuing an extensive farm system livelihood going back to 1962….once a Dodger prospect….got one more short stint for the Cubs in 1973 but by in large a majority of that season and the next were spent in AAA Wichita…..had a short trial in Mexican League in 1975….hit well in limited at bats.




Saturday, April 10, 2021

#118 Skip Lockwood

At the time Milwaukee property....Career record 57 wins....Lost 40 more games but was a inning eater in the Milwaukee Brewer’s early years.....Some unusual jukes in his career….Story goes wrote in a “1” in front of the 35K offer put out by the A’s organization; ballsy but the organization went with it….Pitched in High School but was made a position player in minors…..the Rule 5 caveat placed him in KC with the big club 1965….very little impact appearing 42 games mostly in late inning defensive work….only played in two entire games….wedged in 33 at bats and 4 singles……returned to minors for a couple of year with no appreciable forward progress…..made the metamorphosis from position player to the mound in 1968....taken in the 46th round of the expansion draft by Seattle…..one of few people who can say played for the Pilots near the terminus of their existence….Followed fellows refugees into brewtown…..A four year starter completed 729 innings and a fair 3.75 ERA….a trade to the Angels gave Lockwood a taste of relief but limited ineffectiveness….Wound up with Oakland’s farm system for 1975….using two AAA team was able to resurface with the NY Mets…the late season call up resulted in his best MLB work….was able to parlay the progress into being the Met’s closer for most of four years….Tested free agent and was signed by his native Boston Red Sox….unfortunately both sides regretted the move, Red Sox claiming Lockwood hid prior injuries and Skip claiming underutilization….released in 1981 spring training although Lockwood was  ½ million dollars richer via Rouge Hose coffers… .Money not wasted after forgoing collegiate offers out of high school was able to get college degrees in off season….Changed teams in off season many times but only part of two trades….Wore corrective eyewear during career although sometimes this hidden from his employers




Sunday, April 4, 2021

#119 Marty Perez

Shortstop turned 2nd Baseman....Known as a good glove man....Developed with the Angels farm system but with nowhere to go with an entrenched Jim Fregosi holding a long standing firm grip at short ...was a regular the 1970 AAA Hawaiian Islander club to fell two games short of a 100 win season (hard to do for all minor league season are shorter than major league)....traded to Atlanta for 1971 for John Burns who never was close to being in the majors, in essence a giveaway....allowed incumbent Sonny Jackson and his questionable glove to try another position....Perez first two years resulted in an underwhelming .227 BA....the Braves were patient with him and his bat which started to gradually climb in the next three years.....meanwhile Perez successfully transitions to 2nd base ...Braves wanted to try other options in the infield trade Perez to Giants midseason 1976.....Traded to Yankees just prior to 1977 season resulting in comprehensive bench riding....one game and four at bats later is traded to the  talent depleted Oakland A’s gutted by free agency departures.... an assembled a patchwork crew....Perez succeeds the traded Phil Garner in his last full season....Small injuries hindered his return to the A’s..... In 1978 stumbles badly going 0-12 and getting a pink slip early  in the campaign....finished up 1978 as a Met farmhand in AAA.....as injuries increased, he retired and returned to his adoptive home of Atlanta....used his name as ball player to successfully sell insurance leading to the development of his own agency....still attend Braves alumni functions.    



 

Monday, March 29, 2021

#120 Bill Freehan

A star of his time....A superstar? HOF? probably just short on both based on hitting fluctuations....however he is the prime AL Catcher most of the 1960s.....and his quality play went well into the 70’s....A one team man, typical of the Detroit Tigers, with his likewise peers being Kaline, Stanley, and Gates Brown....Even better, prototypical  hometown hero, born and raised in Detroit....obtained a degree in history from University of Michigan....Tremendous run of 10 consecutive years being named to the AL All Star team 1964 -1973 and being best in the league from 1966 on....adding 1975 makes up 11 all star games....Was omitted in 1974 because  he was split between catcher and 1st albeit it was his best year in the 70’s.....also in the mix was a run of 5 gold glove awards..... Came to Tigertown at age 21 as a part timer in 1963....earned regular status the following year earning accolades for .300 being the first El Tigre to do so in over 30 years....hit 200 home runs (100 at home and 100 on the road)....while a great relationship between himself and the city was established, it became strained after his tell all book (ala Ball Four) came out around the time of Denny McClain’s 1970 suspension.... while his power and RBI production was down he did a rare thing in 1976, achieving a final season BA higher than his career average at age 34....even if he had a couple of off seasons Freehan would rebound to prominence and usually the Tigers fortunes followed suit.  




Tuesday, March 23, 2021

#121 Ed Sprague

Well traveled pitcher....never found sustainable success for any given stretch of time.....a career of call ups and demotions....neither a starter nor reliever....more successful was son Ed who played 11 seasons from 1991 to 2002....signed by St Louis and by virtue of the 1967 Rule 5 draft turned in a decent rookie season with recently settled Oakland A’s taking a solid seat in the bullpen by committee....Lost effectiveness in 1969 and banished to minors all of 1970....sold to Cincinnati for 1971.....a fall call up that year and stayed with Reds in 1972 albeit in a limited role....wore 3 team uniforms in 1973, 4 if AA Tulsa Oilers are included....overcame the nomad existence with his best season Milwaukee Brewers circa 1974....utilizing his swingman role compiling 7 wins and 2 defeats with a minuscule 2.39 ERA....Career hit a wall thereafter going 1-9 in the next two seasons....passed away January 2020....his September call up in 1971 won a game and shut out the opposition in 11 total innings.      




Thursday, March 18, 2021

#122 Larry Biittner

Longevity appeared in MLB 14 seasons and stepped up to the plate nearly  3500 times....patron saint of non daily journeyman everywhere....did things well;  serviceable bat, solid fielder, fine work ethic...pinch hitter or platoon player, good team guy....a definite cog in a given team but usually just short of an everyday player status.... studied under Ted Williams, Whitey Herzog,  Billy Martin in first three seasons....started as the part of the Senators/Rangers started a youth movement along with Burroughs, Harrah....moved along to Montreal then to the northside of Chicago....Found his high watermark of employability and overall performance was 1977 as a Cub....in 138 games hit .298 plus a personal best show of pop with 12 home runs....Biitner’s strongest attraction was with the Cubs and his time on the north side his largest body of work........good sized but was prototypical line drive hitter sometimes puzzling his skippers, Teddy Ballgame for one........Along with the lack everyday work the other snakebite in his career may have been his consistent employment by teams mired in the second division or basement of standings .....The exception was 1981 with Cincinnati who finished at a total of 24 games above .500....the caveat wa  the strike season was split in two...neither half being eligible for the playoffs, and no postseason for Larry...next year Reds lost over 100 games....more than frustration that’s downright foiling....Despite unusual spelling of last name it was pronounced Bit-ner.....Rumor has it that Topps printed 3 1973 Larry Biitner cards for one of everybody else...not true just saying.


       

Friday, March 12, 2021

#123 Ed Acosta

Eduardo Elixbet Acosta....a short timer....As a Padre only completed the back portion of 1971 and a full season in 1972....impressive SD debut, having been acquired from the Pirates along with John Jeter in a deal for Bob Miller, throwing a complete game shutout against the Phillies August 24th....strung along a series of strong starts resulting in 2 more complete games and season end 2.74 ERA.....chief liability was his age.... did not start playing baseball until age 21...was 23 upon starting to play organized ball....Released twice by Pittsburgh (first time) and Houston before first MLB game for Pirates.....Poor start out of gate in 1972 relegated Ed to mop up work in mostly losing efforts...sent down in 1973 did hang around Friar’s AAA Hawaii club for two years....won 14 games in 1973 but did not earn a call up.....ended with a season and portion in the Mexican league 1975 and 1976. 





Saturday, March 6, 2021

#124 Yankee Rookie Stars

Yankee Rookie Stars...none shown very bright all had a September call ups in 1971...most prestigious of the bunch was Rusty Torres who held some promise sporting a .385 BA and 1.115 OPS....burdened with struggles at the plate with an anemic career.212 batting average....did eked out part time MLB labor alternating with demotions to the bush leagues, last year being 1980........In 1972 the switch hitter couldn’t carry his promising  debut ...As a  full time Yankee flopped to .211 BA and a slugging average cut by over a half.....Discouraged Yankees trade Rusty to Cleveland who were looking to fill multiple vacancies in an outfield overhaul...another failed venture as his BA sank to .205 in 1973....Eventually Torres is shuffled to California then Chicago White Sox then finally the Royals....hit .266 with 11 homers with Pale Hose but at age 29 he was too aged to stick around....finished career in AAA and Mexican league.... Roger Hambright....No further future in MLB....had a 3-1 mark with Yankees in Sept 1971....prior had a decent AA season....from 1972 to 1974 found himself shuffling between AAA to AA....Entered into Mexican League thereafter....last professional season  was 1977 won 21 games south of the border....Lasting legacy was the Nickname “Stump” bestowed by Thurman Munson in Hambright’s brief time as a Yankee.... Alan Closter.....by 1972 was well traveled long time Yankee farmhand....A rule 5 draftee to Cleveland and soon found himself a Senator and then returned for his second Yankee stint...all within a few months in 1966....injury plagued career....his MLB career was 2 wins 2 losses all coming in 1971....had a brief unsuccessful call ups for NY in 1972 and Atlanta in 1973....kicked around in minors thereafter concluding in the 1975 season...fair numbers but too old to for a big league return.