Monday, March 28, 2022

#60 Manny Sanguillen

If not for a backstop named Bench, would have the apex of the catching position of the 70's.....played a different game than Bench....hitting for average which he did excelled not for swinger, never took a pitch be didn’t like...somewhere there may be rare footage of Manny getting a walk.....brought in other assets, strong defensively, a robust arm, great work ethic, positive energy, and speed, unusual for the position......A Panamanian, early liability was his language barrier with the English, but in time adapted and overcame....earned praise as a non-verbal communicator....infectious smile.....a brief tryout in 1967 showed promise but showed a need for seasoning....returning in 1969 wrestled starting spot from Jerry May finishing with a .303 BA....Onward and upwards, Manny improves each of the next two consecutive years with +.300 average....arguably the best NL catcher in 1971, edging Bench who had an off year....Crowning achievement was game management as the Bucs upset the favored Orioles in the Fall Classic.....Manny cools off a bit in next few years but remains near the top of his peers with a BA always above .280....returns to +.300 mark with a .328 accomplishment in 1975 reaching highs in OBP and SLG.....was traded to Oakland for 1977 in a typical swap involving the rights to manager Chuck Tanner.....steady body of work in light of a team gutted by free agency....returned to Steel City in a reserve role for next three last blaze of glory circa 1979.....a walk off hit in game 2 bringing home his replacement Ed Ott as the Pirates repeat another WS victory over the Orioles....Traded to Cleveland for 1980 but was released in spring training.....A Pirate icon hitting .299 over 12 years in the gold and black....personal opinion Manny is the GOAT of Pirate backstops.....still active with the franchise reminding the faithful of better days.   

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

#61 Cubs Rookie Stars

One stand out in the trio....Burt Hooten  A first round draft pick by the Cubs from the Texas Longhorn in tracked to AAA Tacoma mid season where enjoyed a very brief and successful run....had a taste of the MLB stage having won two games (one by shutout) in 1971....Not missing a beat, throws a no hitter in his 1972 debut making many a sports page headline....Settled into a 11-14 record and excellent 2.80 ERA......unique specialty pitch the knuckle/curve....took to the Cubs mound two more full years continuing as an inning eater yet plagued by a rising ERA ....Started 1975 poorly and was traded to the Dodgers....Ineffective at first but was seemingly invigorated after seeing a hypnotist....proceeded to win 12 straight games on the way to 18 total....becomes a fixture in the LA rotation showing a quiet reliability well into the 80’s....stepped up his game with taking 19 W(s) in 1978....good for 2nd in Cy Young voting.....A strong post season performer victorious in 6 decisions, with an excellent 1981 winning 4 games over three series....phased out of prominence in 1984.....ended career with one season in Texas.....   Gene Hiser a seldom used and little known position both the major and minor league of several candidates for the Cubs centerfield trouble spot.....taken in first round of 1970 draft out of the University of Maryland....Back of card is a misnomer.....while Gene had only one hit in 19 at bats in AAA, played the bulk of 1971 in the Western Carolina League hitting a .289 clip (not shown on the card)....a light hitter in any league he played.....was able to eke out 236 big league at bats over five partial career line one home run and eighteen RBI’s plus a .202 BA....tried his hand at a short lived professional soft ball league after baseball offers dried up......Earl Stephenson No longer a Cub at the start of 1972....instead employed 70 miles up I-94 at the Brewer's Milwaukee County Stadium...was included in exchange for Jose Cardenal ....a limited but decent 3-5 record with 3.25 ERA for the Brew Crew....was traded to Phillies in off season....failed to make the club and struggled in AAA....not impressing big clubs was passed around from organization to organization....descended into the Mexican League....was spotted by Oriole scouts and was able to return to major league franchise employment....was able to sneak back in MLB with the birds in 1977 and 1978 appearing in a total of 12 1/3 innings.   

Thursday, March 17, 2022

#62 Angel Mangual

Advanced billing with the albatross label of “the new Roberto Clemente”....ideal spawned in his native Puerto Rico.....such comparisons turned out to be way over extended....evidence of failing to achieve his advanced billing;  started in Pittsburgh organization and garnered a few big club at bats in a call up....liabilities became evident, a poor fielder, weak against right handed pitching, and later a fiery temper.....Two stories abound with his attainment by the A’s....either a player to be named later or purchased outright; depending on the source....Decent MLB debut with the A’s in 1971 with a .287 BA.....even garnered a few ROY votes and a Topps Rookie award....Trouble with following up in 1972 with 40 point BA drop, stagnating his playing time as a late season influx of veteran outfielders joined the fray....the year did harvest the greatest moment of his career with a clutch WS game winning pinch hit....Mangual was relegated further down the Oakland bench with the addition of Bill North in 1973....BA dovetailed another 20 points....was able to regain playing time the following year and put up career numbers but only a marginal uptick in BA rubbed out Mangual’s chances of advancement....was only to play sporadically in 1975 and most relegated to minors in 1976....after a brief comeback chance in the Mexican league was out of baseball at age 32.....little is known about post baseball life but there was some allegations of involvement in a drug cartel in the late 90’s.....passed away in 2121....bloodlines include a brother, Pepe, and a cousin, Coco Laboy, who also were major leaguers.       

Friday, March 11, 2022

#63 Duke Sims

A backstop by origin but really a Jack of many positions.....Played Left and Right field, 1st base too.....unfortunately was never being able fully take over a given position....Started in the Cleveland organization....worked his way up over to reach regular player status in 1968.....production number climbed accordingly topping out with 23 homers and 56 RBIs in 1970 .....caught in an overcrowded talent  pool with position players caused by fine rookie seasons by backstop Ray Fosse and outfielder Roy Foster....traded to the LAD (and a true contender) for two pitchers.....As a Dodger shared catching duties with incumbent Tom Haller in 1971....hit better but lost playing time and seem to struggle with going yard given Dodger stadium dimensions....floundered in 1972 and found himself shuffled late in the season in Detroit via a waiver transaction....immediately helpful in bringing relief to Bill Freehan bearing a .316 BA...appeared in 4 playoff games, accumulating three hits, all for extra bases.....Well traveled and little used......split teams again in 1973, first a Tiger then a Yankee once again acquired via the wavier wire....his last season started as a Yankee then reunited with Billy Martin in Texas....birth name was Duane.     

Sunday, March 6, 2022

#64 Pete Broberg

Great expectations out of #1 draft pick.... Dartmouth educated....Florida born, handsome and well groomed....Taken by the Senators in 1971 and pressed immediately into the big league mound.....despite a 5-9 record accounted well for himself sporting a 3.47 ERA...far and away his career best..... making the move to Texas and was the first Ranger to win a game..... however Pete experienced bulging  ERAs and eventual demotion to minors.....1975 resurfaced in Milwaukee....established himself as team top winner taking on 14 triumphs for a substandard squad....nearly cut his ERA in half from his truncated 1974 number....temporary highlight....could only capture one conquest in 1976, a slight uptick in ERA indicates a season long stretch of tough luck over failed performance.....Broberg’s last two years MLB servitude are a case of a road rarely travel.....left unprotected for the expansion draft selected the infant Seattle Mariners....was a Mariner during spring training....did not make the sea goers roster but since they were sans a AAA team at the time he was loaned to the Cubs Wichita club.....Impressed Cubs organization in an exhibition game performance against the big club to the extent he was acquired by the Northsiders (a rare case of a change of clubs who owned his contract but not changing team).....was able to worm his way to the Cubbie’s friendly confines midseason.....At the end of Spring training 1978 did not fit into the Cub’s roster so he was traded to talent deplete Oakland A’s.....Riding an early season surges was able to go 4-0 (1.08 ERA) and 9-6 at midsummer but only finished with a 10-12 record with 4.62 ERA.....entertained possibly going further with LA Dodgers for 1979 but opted to use his Ivy League pedigree.....returned to the family attorney’s practice specializing in real estate and estate planning in native Florida....aside from a small contribution to the 1974 Rangers and the .500 Cubs, Broberg was decidedly a second division player....outspoken beyond his years and butted head with certain skippers....did better with those he liked.