Saturday, December 31, 2022

#3 Bob Tolan

Out of commission for 1971….absence was a cited reason why sports teams have contractual clauses prohibiting “recreational” teams into other sports.....a significant reason the Big Red Machine turned into Big Dead Machine after there juggernaut 1970....Started in the Cardinals system but never seemed to fully mesh with them.....traded to Reds the deal paid out with two great back to back seasons....hit carrer highs in homers and RBIs in 1969....led NL in stolen bases 1970 a formidable task given the golden age of Lou Brock.....Tolan came back as did the Big Red Machine in 1972 but the injury hasten career stat erosion....fortunately Reds were able to return to the WS for 1972.....batted .286 but his numbers went into free fall in 1973.....speed on the base path had exited too....traded to San Diego who were collecting veterans in hopes of recapturing passed glory for their 1974 campaign.... Tolan gave average results at best....travels to Philly mostly as a reserve in 1976 and a fraction of 1977....Still trying to find work, spends remainder of 1977 in Pittsburgh, then overseas in Japan (1978), and a stint in the short lived AAA Inter-American League (1979)....was able to finish career with handful of at bats during a return trip with the Padres.  

Sunday, December 25, 2022

#4 Checklist 1-132

Checklist 1st series....The last checklist of this blog….Per company tradition Card #1 is the defending world champs..... date range of reviews Dec 12 2020 to the end of this blog taking place on January 12th 2023......HOFers are plentiful with Carl Yastrzemski, Willie Mays, Harmon Killebrew, Tony Perez,  Joe Morgan, and Frank Robinson....Plus Red Schoendienst inducted as a player but was manager in 1972 . 

Monday, December 19, 2022

#5 John Bateman

Just this side of the law.....Traded in baseball for softball....and made a lot more coin doing so….after hanging up his MLB spikes joined fabled Eddie Feigner in a barnstorming fast pitch softball act...Team comprised of Eddy, John, and two others ...took on all local all star teams and way more often than not came out on top….Baseball life on the field a bit more pedestrian…..but not off it….. from accounts a tumultuous upbringing with baseball his only positive outlet….a case of arrested development: didn’t get traction towards organized ball until playing at a military base….folklore has it he wrote to all team and Colt .45 organization responded leading to a try out and signing….lied about his age to cover his dirty life and times….Played with one kidney, fabricated a story about losing it due to a football injury....truth was the kidney was lost from a bar fight injury....Also had trouble keeping his weight down, an issue for managers....First professional assignment, Class C California league….determined to make up for lost time put forth strong numbers….in an incredible leap made the Colts team holding down regular work for 1963….hit .210 but did show power and ability to drive in runs....Sophomore and Junior jinxes took over each hitting under .200....each resulting in trips back to minors.....Strong comeback 1966, his best year ever as a pro....going full throttle  17 HR, 70 RBI, and .279 overcoming small injuries with ease.....once again, slumped badly in 1967 with a minor revival in 1968....Initially thought his Astro position was secure but the addition of backstop Johnny Edwards made Bateman expansion draft fodder....quickly selected by the Expos but initial year was a disappointment....Given an ultimatum by Gene Mauch (notoriously known for his fitness demands), lost weight which limited another demotion to the minors....once up had two solid yet unspectacular  campaigns....In his last season Bateman starts by riding the bench in Montreal traded straight up for fellow veteran backstop Tim McCarver….Is the primary Phillie receiver but as Sept call ups roll in surrenders games to prospect Bob Boone….With Boone taking over the helm Bateman was released….No takers to continue his MLB days turning to fast pitch softball....confined to second division teams for career.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

#6 Fred Scherman

Unsung but brief star in Tiger’s fireman corps….a case of being Johnny on the spot….signed by Twins in 1963 but acquired in a first year by Detroit….and toiled in their system….cup of coffee in 69 but got first true light of bigs in 1970….part of bullpen committee that found limited success….Seized opportunity to become head closer in light of the vacancy left by John Hiller’s heart attack and mediocrity of others….a big reason for El Tigre's 22 game upswing in 1971 as he was second in games and third in saves for the Junior Circuit….1972 repeats strong effort but did share bullpen with Chuck Sheelback….status and career took a quick knee to John Hiller’s incredible comeback season in 1973… work, inflated ERA and never fully regained closer status….middle relief and mop up….traded to Astros for 1974 staying a season and a half….packed up his suitcase and in a cash deal headed to Canadian border June 1975….run of the mill work in mop up to finish out his playing days.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

#7 Enzo Hernandez

Memorable season but not in a good way....Came up in Houston then Oriole farm systems without a fall promotion….Traded for Pat Dobson who won 20 games for the Birds.....In return? much or his career near historic  futility at the plate..... A .222 BA and s puzzling paltry 12 RBIs in over 500 at bats in his rookie it the lowest percentage of RBIs to ABs ever recorded?….IDK for most baseball records go the other way….dubious title at best….Never got that much better….his sub .195 mark for his sophomore year made the year prior BA looks like league leading stuff….Despite the failure to steal first, Enzo is the undisputed stolen base leader of the Pads, and an efficient one at that ….undaunted Padres stay with Enzo….1973 is a shortened affair lost to back problems that will plague the rest of his baseball vocation…..1974 is comeback buoyed by a regular work livelihood, a then best .232 BA, and 37 stolen bases….1975-76 are both truncated effort brought on aforementioned back aliments….a humble bright spot, despite pain hits a MLB best of .256 plus one of his two home runs….is out for the overwhelming majority of 1977 with surgery….released after a minuscule handful of games…..signed by Dodgers and is placed in AAA PCL club….a very brief call up avoiding exclusive Padre employment….passed away from an apparent drug overdose 2013.... Venezuela born was a regular on the native winter leagues.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

#8 Ron Swoboda

Known for “the play”....1969 Mets game 5 catch….in Met world no matter what happened before or after he is crowned forever a hero….A wunderkind associated with Mets franchise from 1964, being fast tracked to the bigs….sported a Topps Rookie Award for his 1965 debut….The card company possibly excited by his awe inspiring start of 9 home runs by May 8th…..overlooking his .228 BA in favor of his 19 dingers and 50 runs driven in….the accumulated four baggers in his debut were his career best….follow up year statistically near identical….career year 1967 was his third, hitting robust .281…..20 points better than any other effort and 39 points above his career mark of .242.….retains everyday status for 1968….come 1969 starts to wind down and settle into platoon staff as new kids with new and improved skills vied for his playing time….BA diminished accordingly to the .230 mark…..The island of respite comes in 1969 Series…..hits .400 based on 6 safeties but importantly was a double in game 5 that brought in the winning run….Maybe more significant was diving catch of liner that limited the damage of an Oriole rally in game 4….a redemption for years of being perceived as a defensive liability….target of roasting by Casey Stengle….A trade to the Expos and then Yankees within 1971 hammered home his confinement to reserve only role….did not benefit from new established AL DH rule which could have been key in more activity....BA floundered….last MLB at bat was 1973….Unsuccessfully tried out with Atlanta spring training 1974…..Balanced baseball and non baseball pursuits….notably the broadcast booth and sportscaster….appeared in 1999 episode of Everybody Loves Raymond with fellow 1969 Miracle Mets teammates….a writer too having wrote a memoir called “Here’s the Catch:….”     


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

#9 Stan Williams

Old school....righthander professional introduction 1954 ....Product of Dodgers system….won 19 games for AAA St Paul but wasn’t called up for the last days in Brooklyn….Got the early season call up as a first year LA Dodger…..early on used his 6’5” frame as leverage to throw heaters and fireballs but control and walks were his Achilles heel…..swing man two years then enters the rotation in 1960….upside averaged 14 notches on the victory column 3 seasons placing him 3rd or 4th on team win list…..down side were the high walks, no more than in the case of blown lead on 165th game of 1962….Rival Giants opposed to the Dodgers in a three game set for title for  NL crown….Williams was the fall guy with two walks and a wild pitch participating in 9th inning bullpen melt down blowing game and championship….Possibly alienated LA sends Stan to NYY….while staying with a top flight his status is downgraded to 5th  starter and mop up assignments….Sold to Cleveland prior to 1965 campaign….stumbled badly out of the gate….accepted demotion to minors and stayed for nearly three years… back with Indians with strong efforts for the last third of 1967 and all of 1968…..a regression prompted a return trip to the twin cities…..had an exceptional 1970 effort going 10-1 with a 1.99 ERA....but age showed in 1971 splitting time between Twins and Cardinals….Second year with Twins a train wreck but a mid season restart in St Louis gave pause to critics saying he was done….AKA “Big Daddy” enter 1972  giving it one more shot to rekindle his career for final time….didn’t return to the Redbirds….passed along to Red Sox….reassigned to AAA but had enough in the tank to put in his farewell innings with Boston…..immediately went into an extensive career as a pitching coach in major and minor level…..50 years in baseball….Best friends with Indian teammate Luis Tiant supporting him when he appeared washed up….passed away 2021

Thursday, November 17, 2022

#10 Amos Otis

Sigh....The other Met trade gone sour....His acquisition gave a highly positive asset to fledgling KC unit for the decade…..Mets acquired one sub standard year out of bust Joe Foy…..setting them up for the trade in franchise history, Jim Fregosi…Stepping up in 1970 became instant offence for the Royals making them the early frontrunners towards success among the 1969 entries….led AL in doubles to go with his .284 clip and made all star team (too much time spent with Mets in 1969 disqualified him for ROY)….enhanced his stats and standing for 1971….allocated to another all star game adding a gold glove and 8th in MVP voting….career best .301….subsequent years brought three more All Star games, two more gold gloves, and some serious MVP consideration….decent power (sum total HR 193) but much more likely to get a double….or triple if ball was not cleanly handled…..A Royals fixture through 1982….on occasion BA was drift down to .250 mark, but Otis compensated either with more stolen bases or an outstanding post season….seceded to a part time player 1983… year a free agent signing by Pittsburgh failed to materialize a comeback….only knock on a great career….A long standing source of speed, fair power, and longevity he is considered Royals Royality.   

Friday, November 11, 2022

#11 Bobby Valentine

Photogenic....Another talented product of the Dodger star making factory....put together a historic PCL season in 1970 where he led the league in all batting numbers save home run and RBIs....But only translated to fair rookie season....Improved slightly in 1972 but MLB numbers did not match MiBL….a significant new opportunity change that came with a trade to crosstown Angels…..With the Halos in 1973 was hitting .302 and generating buzz early on when he crashed into an outfield wall, breaking his leg…..Devastating injury, out for the season and never really the same….His 1974 comeback while admirable was unexciting….fortunes regressed further in 1975….majority time spent with two minor league team and with a short split between So Cal and San Diego…..much of same for 1976 although a strong AAA season and hitting .367 in his Padre September call up improved his stock and trade….Split time between Padres and Mets in 1977…..Finished off playing career with sporadic servitude as a Mariner in 1979......While since ending his playing day, Valentine has run successful restaurant business but eventually returned to the game as a manager from 1985 to 2012….Stops as dugout chief included Texas, Mets, Norfolk (AAA) and Boston….also sandwiched between he in a unconventional move managed the Chiba Marines on two separate stints being the first foreign skipper to do so….second go round led Marines to a Japanese League Championship in 2004, also another first.....Last try as a dugout helmsman was derailed by an underperforming Red Sox squad…..Still in the hunt and mentioned for further managerial opportunities…..this may not be the end of Bobby Valentine.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

#12 Jose Cardenal

Sometimes controversial but always colorful…..Known to miss a game with the Cubs in 1972 reportedly because crickets in his room had kept him awake at night.....A 18-year odyssey through the big leagues with 9 of the last Cuban players to freely leave the island to pursue a career in the U.S. before Fidel Castro put his foot down.... But he could play. He hit .275 lifetime with 138 homers and 1,913 hits. He was twice in the top 10 in batting average and over .300 twice; 8 times in the top 10 in stolen bases, twice each in hits and doubles….Defensively, he 3 times led his league in left field or center in assists, 2 times led in fielding percentage in left or center, 1 time led leftfielders in double plays..... Beginnings in the Giants organization….a traffic jam of quality Giant outfielders set Jose to the trade winds…..landed down the California coast in Anaheim his first regular employment….surprised skeptics with power and speed (329 Stolen Bases) coming from his diminutive size….An off season Cardenal washed up on the shore of Lake Erie at Cleveland put up fair numbers as in his earlier days….Toodle-oo-ed  to St. Louis for Vada Pinson….put together his best season to date with a healthy .293 BA….offensive numbers benefited by evolving from traditional lead off to more of the meat of the batting order….Did not duplicate his output in 1971 and shipped to Milwaukee (deal involving Ted Kubiak)….was able to mildly steer his number up in Brewtown…..his split season quietly resulted in a career best 80 RBIs….Milwaukee tenure was short lived and was placed south of Wisconsin border with little bears of Chicago…..So begins a strong relationship…..Meat of his career was spent with the Cubs….fixture in the Wrigley outfield 1972-1976 hitting a robust .303… became more subdued starting 1977 initiating a trail of multiple cities as a bench reserve…..Philadelphia, Metropolitans, and KC Royals lay in wait over next three years…..released by the last-place Mets in August while hitting .167 appeared done….Picked up by KC and doubled his batting average…..added to the the WS roster for his one and only time….didn't go out in a blaze of glory starting out 0 for 10, but gave a good parting shot, on Oct. 21, 1980 getting 2 hits in his final at bats in the deciding game 6….Royals lost but made the climax interesting.….Post playing was a coach on 3 Yankee World Series Championship teams (96, 98, 99)….did garner a few far flung MVP votes but never named to an all star team….Still perceived as a Cubbie.

Monday, October 31, 2022

#13 Joe Grzenda

Lefty who wore a plethora of uniforms and rode many minor league buses....Like most of his trade began as a starter and settled in bullpen specialist.....a case of work late in his occupation   A model persistence, toiling for 20 years.....plied his vocation in 19 different cities....Brief work assignments for the Tigers (1961), KC Athletics (1964, 1966) and NY Mets (1967) gave him enough calendar time to exceed rookie status…..landed in Twins AAA Denver club in 1968 and met one Billy Martin…..Martin liked what he saw enough to give the 32 year old a spot on the 69 Twins….served court as a backup reliever added 3 saves…..late spring transaction sent him to the Nation’s capital in 1970….numbers regressed to +5 ERA and 6 saves….a rare instance of player liking skipper Ted Williams, who returned the feeling….Teddy Ballgame’s faith in Joe was rewarded the following year….1971:  armed with a new weapon AKA “slip pitch” Joe put together his best season by far…..In 52 games an ERA of 1.92 lowest on the staff… added 5 saves…..6th save was in sight were it not for the forfeit of the Senator’s last game as fans stormed the field of play before the last out… the mayhem Grzenda personally kept the last ball used in play…..Joe relocated but not to Texas….One of several vets acquired by St Louis in an Over the Hill gang business model….However his effectiveness using the slip pitch significantly evaporated resulting in opponents hitting over .400 against….as the season progressed Cards reversed course and retooled with a youth movement in their bullpen….released but was game enough at age 36 to return to minors…..endured two more years of bush leagues before hanging up spikes…..flash forward 34 years later at the Nationals first home game, he caught the inaugural first pitch from George w. Bush using the same ball from retained from 1971…..Excitable, colorful and quotable, best quip focused on his long minor league career “I’d like to stay in baseball long enough to buy a bus,” pause “then set fire to it.”….after 21 years left baseball altogether opting to be a deputy sheriff….passed away 2019   

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

#14 Phillies Rookie Stars Pete Koegel Mike Anderson Wayne Twitchell

Close inspection on the back of the card shows the making of a formidable front basketball team....and maybe they should have tried.....Phillies of the early 70s were in full rebuild mode with a few stars and future HOFers in the wings, but aside from that some short it largely missed this crew.

Pete Koegel  standing at 6’ 6” was an applicant in the derby to be the regular Phillies backstop with offensive capabilities....A location of stop gap applicants....Slow start but built a solid body of work in minors during 1970-71....was able some MLB time with the Brewers and then Phillies but neither excited critics....was able to stay in Philly for the during of 1972 but was used very little....any chance of career enhancement ruined by the arrival of Bob Boone....bounced along a couple of farm systems with rapidly diminishing returns.

Mike Anderson Billed as the doppelganger of Greg Luzinski, who was just called up and would make inroads.....Sizeable man 6’ 2” .....Massive minor league stats seem to promise great things.... In the major leagues you could die of encouragement and like several other Philadelphia fledglings fell on his face in 1972....relegated back to minors....Anderson returns to Philly for next stint but lost time to injuries....relegated to 5th or 6th outfielder or pinch hitter....numbers passable at best but a near shadow of AAA figures....trail took him to St. Louis, Baltimore, and then a final return to Philly.

Wayne Twitchell  Another tall timber.....boyish looks on a 6 ’6 ½” frame..... Like Pete Koegel plucked from the Brewers system....In absence of other alternatives was thrown into the competitive MLB breech of 1972 and given a swing man role with an occasional start....Came out with 5-9 W-L record....followed up with an all star season in 1973 and 2.50 ERA good for 3rd best....13 wins put him a four way tie for club lead....but after last game injury altered the hopeful upstart was never the same....started 1974 on DL and once returned ineffective, a tract continued next year....ERA improved greatly but work load was shrunk to mop up only....pitching woes return and stay in 1977 splitting time between Phillies and Montreal.....released by Expos after next year....Signed by Mets for 1979 then sold to Mariners....both resulting in a inflated ERA....grant free agency but with no takers.

Close inspection on the back of the card show the making of a formidable front basketball team....and maybe they should have tried.....Phillies of 1972 were in full rebuild mode with stars and HOFers in the wing, but it missed this crew....Pete Koegel
 standing at 6’ 6” was an entrant in the derby to be the mainstay Phillies backstop with offensive capabilities....A location of stop gap applicants....Slow start but built a solid body of work in minors during 1970-71....was able some MLB time with the Brewers and then Phillies but neither excited critics....was able to stay in Philly for the during of 1972 but was used very little....any chance of career enhancement ruined by the arrival of Bob Boone....bounced along a couple of farm systems with rapidly diminishing returns.

Mike Anderson Billed as the doppelganger of Greg Luzinski, who was just called up and would make inroads.....Sizeable man 6’ 2” .....Massive minor league stats seem to promise great things.... In the major leagues you could die of encouragement and like several Philadelphia fledglings fell on his face in 1972....relegated back to minors....Anderson returns to Philly for next stint but lost time to injuries....relegated to 5th or 6th outfielder or pinch hitter....numbers passable at best and a near shadow of AAA figures....trail took him to St. Louis, Baltimore, and then a final return to Philly.

Wayne Twitchell  Another tall boy.....boyish looks on a 6 ’6 ½” frame..... Like Pete Koegel plucked from the Brewers system....In absence of other alternatives was thrown into the competitive MLB breech of 1972 and given a swing man role with an occasional start....Came out with 5-9 W-L record....followed up with an all star season in 1973 and 2.5 ERRA good for 3rd best....13 wins put him a four way tie for club lead....but after last game injury altered the hopeful upstart was never the same....started 1974 on DL and once returned ineffective, a tract continued next year....ERA improved greatly but work load was shrunk to mop up only....pitching woes return and stay in 1977 splitting time between Phillies and Montreal.....released by Expos after next year....Signed by Mets for 1979 then sold to Mariners....both resulting in a inflated ERA....grant free agency but with no takers. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

#15 Walt Williams

A member of the South Side Sox....line drive hitter, not usually one to go yard....came out of Houston’s developmental program only NL experience was as a Colt .45 for 10 games 1964....passed through via St Louis Cardinals farm without a promotion despite twice hitting .330 twice first in the Texas League then PCL (good for league best).....Surfaced with Pale Hose by way of minor trade....First two year a reserve hitting near .240 remarkable but slightly better than team BA at the time...a major upgrade in 1969 exceeding .300 and for the only time escaping the collar of part-timer.....thereafter a flurry of see-saw years; 1970 a downgrade in BA to .251 and playing time...return to proficiency in 1971...lost time again in 1972 plus .249 BA....traded to Cleveland for 1973....his one put up a solid BA and a complementary career high of 38 RBIs.....Often put in leadoff hitter which limited RBI production...demonstrated base skills in minor but it transferred the MLB....traveled on to NYY but mired on the depth chart....left American to extend career over the border and overseas in Japan....Utilizing the smaller Japanese ballparks hit 44 home runs, pop that he had never shown before in the states.... Dabbled in minor league managing mid 90’s for Texas farm system.....Passed away in 2016.....has a grandnephew Mason Williams, presently a MLB journeyman....his nickname same as his granduncle “no neck”              


Thursday, October 13, 2022

#16 Mike Jorgensen

Up and coming 1st baseman that could also play outfield....good glove but needed playing time.....outside of some regular work with early editions of the Expos, mostly a platoon player that quietly kept himself on MLB rosters for 18 years....Raised and cultivated in the Mets organization who engaged in back and forth transfers from minors then to the show.....a case of a quality, one individual Rusty Staub, swapped for quantity Ken Singleton, Tim Foli, and Jorgensen.....Gave the Expos solid remedies to positional aliments.....close to being regular 1st smacker and showed a little pop during first two years and gold glove award.....caveat being a BA hovering near .230.....standout season came in 1974 sporting a .310 BA and increased runs driven in....ensuing year brought career best in HRs and RBIs but a 39 point drop in batting was telling of downgraded future....hung on north of border until traded to Oakland in 1977....another franchise at the time with the help wanted sign out.....took the free agent route to Texas then a second go-around with the Mets and eventually the  Braves covering the period from 1978 to 1984....last stop St. Louis was fleeting although some endearment between him and took place...held several positions in the franchise up to an interim Manager spot in 1995....Only MLB player to be born on the day Babe Ruth died.....Last at bat came in the 1985 World Series.

Friday, October 7, 2022

#17 Dave Duncan

A  pitcher's mentor and best friend.....Signed in 1963, toiled as an Athletic franchise trainee for years....A cog in the changing of the team’s fortune.....Duncan along with other multiple A’s mainstays found their path to the Fall Classic and tasted success....Others found individual stardom, it eluded Duncan....Solidly built, earned a fast track to KC with an outstanding 1964 at Fresno.....Once up however started slow.....Had to fight competition from Phil Roof, Larry Haney, Frank Ferandez for playing time....while his power and RBI numbers did rise over time Duncan lacked the ability to consistently maintain an acceptable batting average (.219 career)....with the ascendency of Gene Fury Tenace (also waiting in the wings) in the 1972 World Series, his tenure involving 11 years with KC/Oakland organization halted after 1972 with a trade to Cleveland....hit 109 homers, one for every 26.5 at-bats....Cleveland provides playing with a slightly less congested talent field but Duncan remains underwhelming at the plate at best.....made expendable and shipped to the Baltimore Orioles for an exchange for  aging Boog nearly 600 at bats over the course of two season Duncan fails to eclipse a .205 BA.....still armed with enough skills to be offered as trade bait Duncan is swapped to White Sox....Active player status concludes by failure to make the Chisox roster out of spring training.....All is not lost.....His iconic status was obtained through being a pitching coach....was a great agent of change within the science....incorporated extensive charting and data recording.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

#18 Juan Pizarro

Prolific Puerto Rican pitcher.....21 years in organized ball most of them with some major leagues going back to the late 50’s.....Career of several acts....starting trajectory was of a talented protégé but failed to meet expectations early on, found a short window of prime only to be later sent to the minors.....having  relied upon by big clubs for instant starting support.........Story began in Milwaukee 90 miles north of Chicago but was mired under underwhelming performances and the Braves’ pitching depth.....Teemed with talent but couldn’t make the right pitch at the right time.....Personal godsend was a trade to White Sox to whom he gave his 3 best years collecting his career bests of 19, 16, and 14 wins at different injury shortened his 1965 and lost his rotation spot in 66....embarked on stops to Pittsburgh, Boston, Cleveland, and Oakland in the span of three years failing to firmly establish himself....was released and signed by Angels farm club in Hawaii for 1970...went undefeated and quickly flipped mid season to the Baby Bears....change or scenery did not fit him....shelled in first Cub outing, sent down to AAA Iowa and continue to struggle.....was able to more successfully contribute to the Northsiders cause in 1971 getting another mid season call up and procuring seven wins vs. six losing decisions....netted a full season in 1972 but was unremarkable succumbing to weight issues....while he still could win in minors or Mexican league and get the call from Cubs, Houston,....could not mount a moment of longevity at the top level....but a 1974 Pittsburgh call up yielded an excellent 1.88 ERA...... Did finish his career with two fine years in the Mexican League ending 1976....the man knew how to pitch if he was focused and in of demise February 18, 2021 

Sunday, September 25, 2022

#19 Billy Cowan

The angelic Angel....Career is far more noted for this iconic card pictue utilizing the halo of the scoreboard than any field endeavor....Career overview: 5th or 6th outfielder at best..... a resume of eight seasons, but only one as a starter....Came up Cubs system, had a monster 1963 for PCL Salt Lake City and a decent fall call up propelled hopes to be a Wrigley Field fixture for 1964 his shot falling just short of 500 at-bats and hit 19 home runs....however BA was a pedestrian .241.... Being second in the NL in strikeouts that big year probably didn’t help things much......and even worse was his 18 walks showed no proficiency in getting on base or plate patience.... It was the only year he got more than 200 at-bats....As the Cubbies go in another direction Cowan experiences a quick succession of trades Mets, Milwaukee Braves, Cubs (again), Phillies.....stays in majors during 1965 riding the Mets and Braves benches.....quickly dispatched to the minors of two later organizations....a strong effort in AAA for during 1968 increased his stock and trade to point Cowan was taken in the Rule 5 draft by the Yankees....after a few pinstripe at bats swiftly flipped to his final MLB destination:  Anaheim, where his two seasons were passable and helped to enhance his final line of 40 homers, 125 RBIs, and .231 BA....was the Halos player representative which has been linked to an early career exit (common for the time).....1972 gave him only three pinch hitting at bats with a release in early May....Played every position in the big leagues other than pitcher...personal highlight did get kissed once by Morgana. 

Monday, September 19, 2022

#20 Don Wilson

Successful Astro hurler but also one of baseball’s most mysterious and tragic stories....When he played was consistent at keeping his ERA low and provided some run support an Astro win.....Breezed through the minors starting in 1965 with a strong fastball with movement....realized a full spot in the Astro rotation 1967 and responded with 10 wins and an ERA under 2.80.....added an exclamation to his year with a no hitter against the Braves....1968 brought increased work and decisions albeit yielding a losing record....Don stepped up his win total in 1969 to 16, fortunate for the Stros who jettisoned their two top starters from 1968....Wilson also notched his second no hitter coming a day after Red Jim Mahoney no-no-ed the Astros.....While 1970 was underwhelming at 10 triumphs, 1971 turned in his career year complete bronze medal in NL ERA and 16 conquests.....strong follow up season in two years wins were shaved by non supportive Astro bats but his bottom line was still strong.... 6 out of 8 full seasons pitched over 200 innings..... but reached double digits wins for 8 years....all this time was positive and looked forward to the future....was working on adding the breaking ball to his pitching arsenal...In one of his last starts 9/4 going 8 innings without giving up a hit....taken out in the 9th because Astro were trailing 2-1 on an error that surrender two runs.....unexpectedly passed away on Jan 5th, 1975 at his home as result of carbon monoxide poisoning......who knows what the second half of his career could have produced..... Wilson’s demise is a complex and contradictory assortment of stories that is too complex for the boundaries of this was ruled accidental and not a suicide.....For more information and opinions....  

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

#21 Atlanta Braves

Three city National League franchise established 1876 in Boston....Then a little more than a decade time in Milwaukee....then settling into Atlanta circa 1966....2021 gave a second World Championship to the big Peach..... singular crowns were captured during the Boston and Milwaukee residencies during 1914 and 1957 seasons respectively under the standard AL vs NL format....As an overview; an up and down franchise since inception.....The 19th century the Braves were on a high ebb....with the first half of the 20th century was by in large not successful (save for 1914 WS win).....the Boston years were lean and unstable  Boston fan base turned to the crosstown AL rival while losing campaigns mounted..... nadir was a horrendous 38-115 record in 1935, an embarrassment, which included a rapidly declining Babe Ruth....While some improvement took place over time (1948 WS berth).....but in 1952 the move west took place surrendering Bean town to the Red Sox......Destination upon Milwaukee site of the franchise’s top minor league team....One in Brewtown the team became a model of consistency and took one WS, fell a game short in 1958.....from 1953-1965 Braves never finished below .500 buoyed on the broad shoulders of three of the Braves’ greatest HOFers, Hank Aaron, Eddy Matthews, and Warren Spahn....The lure of being the first team of the south (and its growing TV market) proved too much for Southeast Wisconsin.....once the franchise’s top AAA locale proved to be its next destination.... Move to Atlanta was uneven at best for the first 25 years.....a couple of NLCS appearances....that all changed in a 30 year time span from 1991 to 2021 which has resulted 21 post season appearance which include 2 of the team’s 4 world championships....the vanguard of new prosperity are the arms of Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Greg Maddaux, and the bats of Chipper and Andruw Jones (no relation).....more recently Freddie Freeman has helmed team success.....A variety of team nicknames where tried to instill interest but Braves was the preferred choice....Interesting to note nearing 22,000 Braves games have been played and currently they are just under 100 games above a .500 record which was passed into the black on 8/11/2018....enterprise going under 5 different nicknames as the franchise was well under .500.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

#22 Rob Gardner

A hard luck story of extended existence in and out of minors and majors.....1972 far and away his best MLB endeavor.....while initially signed by the Twins Gardner climbed up the Mets organization during the team’s early years.... only spent one full season in the majors 1966.....output was 4 wins 8 losses 5.12 ERA  including 17 starts amidst a total of 41 games..... Greatest highlight going toe to toe with Chris Short each going for 15 shutout innings in game that was declared an 18 tie....Gardner expected to be in future plans but no return materialized, subsequently bouncing along multiple only short promotions to Cubs and Indians despite the increased demand for players with expansion....was able to turn heads of franchises off a 16 win season in AAA Syracuse in 1970....earned a short stint up that expectation of a steady roster spot were dashed by a ping pong trades between Oakland and NYY.....A’s were already flush with pitching and was used sparingly then returned to NYY organization (landing in Syracuse again) and a call up for the conclusion of 1971....overcame his 4th straight minor assignment gave a yeoman-like yet abbreviated turn of work for the Yankees as they found themselves in a four way AL East pennant a starter had a 2.24 ERA stacking eight wins vs four defeats.....Once intensions quickly turned and history repeats and traded prior to 1973 to the A’s who not only sport the strongest staff in league plus the full return of Vida Blue.....naturally limited and ineffective work with a AAA demotion sandwiched in between.....procured by the Brewers in cash deal but arm problems resulted in a poor pitching display.....Gardner was returned to the A’s as damaged goods thereby ending his year and MLB days....went into MiBL coaching while he did return to the mound every once in a while in a very limited claim to fame was that he was traded to the Yankees for one Alou Brother (Felipe) and traded back to the A’s for another Alou (Matty).

Thursday, September 1, 2022

#23 Ted Kubiak

Good glove man....but struggled with the bat regardless of what side of the plate....went yard 13 times in a career spanning 10 years 1967-1976....for a career hit an uninspiring .231 over but other than his .157 debut was able to keep BA over .200 in every subsequent season....was never demoted to minors either....finest season was 1970....took over at 2nd base in Milwaukee....fair results .252, 2 HRs, 41 RBIs.....started slow in 1971 and flipped to the Cardinals .....Surfaced with newly relocated Texas Rangers for 1972 (the worst) then the pennant winning Oakland A’s (1st)....stayed in the eastern side of the bay area until mid 1975.....collected three championship rings.....last stop made San Diego his home....continuing reserve infield duties until age 34 at the conclusion of the 1976 season...Initially shied away from baseball in favor of real estate....eventually coaxed out into managing in the low minors for 21 season ranging from 1989 to 2014.....Cited art as his primary hobby, a deviation from the standard hunting, fishing, golf of most his his early playing days bore a striking resemblance to 80’s Rocker Adam Ant.

Friday, August 26, 2022

#24 Ted Ford

For a season his power made him a big fish on an underachieving pond....the 1972 Texas Rangers....the power man with 14 shots as long standing franchise leader Frank Howard (aka the Capital Punisher) experienced a meltdown at the plate.... also led the upstart Rangers in doubles.....hit .235 outstretching the team BA of .217 but neither stat is much to cheer about....chances to extend on his career year diminished with the emergence of Jeff Burroughs.....Returned to minors in Spokane and the back Cleveland the organization a few weeks into 1973 but failed to impress in call ups....always incinerated AAA pitching at .320 lifetime clip....his last MLB stint was a repeat of further futility....after another year in AAA resorted to an extensive shift in Mexican League spanning from 1975 to 1982....a strong throwing arm. 

Saturday, August 20, 2022

#25 Bill Singer

Tallied 118 victories, highlighted by two 20 win seasons in both the NL and of only 23 hurlers to do so....But overall inconsistent; all other seasons could only max out at 13 wins in a given campaign......attributed to poor run support (1967-68), a bout hepatitis (1970), two hand injuries from HBP (1970, 1972), and finally back issues deeply cut into the tally column.....Groomed with Don Sutton and various others to be the heir apparent to Sandy Koufax....The 1969 season represented a superior effort aided by team who hit twenty five points better than the paltry 1968 season....result the 315.7 innings pitched, 2.38 ERA and ranking in the top 10 of major pitching categories.....victories tumbled in 1970 to 8 (see injuries above) but Singer was effective in games he did pitcher and added a no hitter as to his career highlight.....Next two years found Singer lost two games for every game won.....Traded to Angel was a restart of career without relocation.....Responded with his second 20 win mark......but also ironically a duplication of 4 years earlier, next year was effective but shorten by injuries, followed with a year of double losses to win.....1976 was traded to Texas then midyear to Minnesota but the season was considered a success tallying 13 wins and 10 losses.....but Twins owner Cal Griffin balked at the prospect of extending his contract....Placed on the unprotected list, was selected by the expansion Toronto Blue Jays...Rumor has it that NYY offered the infant Blue Jays Ron Guidry in a straight up trade, should took it......nevertheless was bestowed the honor of being starter on opening day.....result no decision....not much left in the tank going 2-8 with a career high, soaring ERA....Followed a career path in Real Estate after playing.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

#26 Andy Etchebarren

Best unibrow since Wally Moon...a platooning member of the Birds backstop corps first with Larry Haney then Elrod Hendricks for several years.....starting out at one time was the Oriole’s #1 backstop.....pressed into service as a rookie in with the medical retirement of incumbent Dick Brown.....brought many positives to the Birds WS winning 1966 campaign;  exceptional defense,  superior play calling, strong arm....named to the all star team, setting what were to be personal highs in RBI and homers..... alas all this was undercut by his pale .221 BA.....subsequent season set a tone of being an asset on the field over hitting.....was part of some of best fielding teams in history (1969,1973)....following four seasons were intermittent work and a struggle to accomplish a .250 BA (ranging from .213 to .249)......was able to attain a career best .270 in 1971 while still sharing his position....Entered 1972 poised with his strong effort with the opportunity reestablish everyday status with Hendricks out on the DL.....Unfortunately flopped with .202 BA yielding the title of regular to Rookie Johnny Oates.....While he would never have the same chance again Etchebarren was a valued a starting nod over power hitter Earl Williams in both 1973 and 1974 ALCS....Andy responding by going 7 for 20 with a home run.....1975 was a dynamic year with early season stint on the DL then followed Oriole GM Harry Dalton to California Angles in a cash deal...allowing Andy to be closer to his family and give the young team veteran presence....was considered the Halo’s most active backstop for 1976....finishing year in Anaheim of 1977 hit .254....Gathered a few scattered at bats for the Brewers in1978, but seemingly was groomed for eventual various organizational jobs which he held for several years in the 80's.... Post playing career was in and out of baseball....Managed at the MiBL level for the Orioles in 90's.....Passed away in 2019....finished his career with a .235 average, 49 home runs, and 309 RBIs....exclusively a Catcher never played another position.

Monday, August 8, 2022

#27 Bob Johnson

The pitcher not to be confused with the recently retired utility infielder.....Very impressive rookie debut in the KC Royals sophomore year despite a 8-13 win loss record....known as a power pitcher reaching the 200 K plateau good for 3rd in AL.... Another talented member of the Mets organization who were once again an  overwhelming loser in a trade.....Joined Amos Otis in what may still be the franchise’s best trade, a swap for one season bust Joe Foy....strange being a throw in given he led the Texas League in ERA, complete games, and shutouts.....despite 1970 numbers was shipped to the Pirates for 1971....did retain the starter role but he seemed to struggle when he opted for finesse on the mound rather than power.....while reaching a career best of nine wins, strikeouts were cut in half, complete games trimmed down.....a redeeming highlight was an impressive NLCS win besting Juan Marichal....In 1972-73 Johnson’s role becomes increasingly vague and progresses to default middle relieving....Found himself in Cleveland in 1974 only served to continue his obscurity....soon was tucked away in various minor league organization with poor results....A short time with the Atlanta Braves proved his career unsalvageable.....nevertheless a colorful journey in the big leagues full of life lessons and obstacles some not overcome.....Problems with alcohol as a player gave him a sigma and may have played role in failing to find a stable home.....he has long since been sober.