Tuesday, July 26, 2022

#29 Bill Bonham

Not related to the Led Zeppelin drummer.....Another young Cub arm to replace an aging veteran crew of Pappas, Hands, Jenkins, Regan....Intellectual background....UCLA educated with a degree in Psychology.....drafted by several organization but once he finished school was passed over.....signed on as free agent by Cubs.....after starting pro ball in the Northern League, was fast tracked to AAA.....Two seasons was called up midseason....first full season his role as a swingman was a positive on team suffering a declining undertow.....His full deployment came at the wrong time as the Cubs needed to retool from a line up near static for a decade....a dubious honor led NL in losses with 22 in 1974.....at his prime, an inning eater type who could go the distance in many games .....Losses were diminished but losing record weren’t.....a reprieve came in the form of a trade to the Reds, a perennial contender.....Bonham wins 20 while losing 12 in two seasons but the entirety of his Reds days are plagued by arm trouble.....limiting his work load and win total.....Bill closed out a ten-year MLB career in 1980 with 4 games in a brief comeback attempt that were intertwined with high curtailed minor league rehab stints extending into 1982.


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

#30 Rico Petrocelli

One team man....Boston’s Red stockings.....great wherever in the field....went on impressive consecutive error free game at both shortstop and then over to 3rd base.....conversion circa 1971.....occasionally exceptional at the bat....tailor-made his swing to compliment the Green Monster....Signed as a free agent in 1961 for 40K....MLB start in 1965....mixed results for the first two summers.... through patience Rico and other new Bostonian peers upped their game and propelled the team through a heated pennant race and unlikely 1967 World Series appearance.....Set a marks on the field and at the plate in 1969; set record for homers by a shortstop with 40 and  tied for fewest errors by an AL shortstop .....was the AL all-star game as a starter.....Never regained that over the fence frequency but was able to put together reliable years.....as time wore on personal output sputtered.....weighted down by 6 weeks on the injury list 1973..... last season in the black offensively was 1974 by putting up a 15 hrs, 75 RBIs, and .276 BA.....A twenty-eight point drop in BA and halving of power numbers in 1975 were attributed to inner ear issues but more importantly spelled imminent turnover nevertheless.....a bright note did account well for himself with 8 hits his second fall classic.....alas Red Sox were denied again.....Swan song year of 1976, essential role was to groom a young Butch Hobson to the lime light......grand totals were 210 home runs, 134 taking place at the Fenway homestead.....Hobbies were playing the drums, basketball, drag racing, the later two most likely drove management crazy....Still held in high esteem in Massachusetts and New England....Not bad for Brooklyn native transplanted into rival Bean Town.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

#31 Cleon Jones #32 Cleon Jones In Action

Solid contributor to what offense the Mets did have from the mid 60’s to mid 70’s....too inconsistent to be a star.....Cleon is a Mets franchise grown product from the infamous early years.....a member of the cup of coffee club in 63 and 65 Cleon establishes a foothold in Mets line up in 1966....got some ROY looks....after a lackluster 1967 improves in 1968.....The pinnacle was in the 1969 Miracle Mets year.... as he and his boyhood friend Tommie Agee gave the overachieving squad badly needed offensive punch....with modest numbers chipped in 12 homers and 75 RBIs was near the top for the club.... but it was the .340 BA that shines brightly..... also kept his shoes shined well enough to produce a shoe polish play HBP in game 5 igniting the Mets rally....then scores the go ahead run in the 8th......to cap off the day catches the final out, taking a knee in the process, possibly as genuflection of thanks to the baseball gods....Cleon remains in everyday status for the next two year....another strong effort as he hits .319 in 1971....from then on wear and tear on his body becomes apparent and averages 100 games 1972-73.....was able to resurrect himself in 1973 playoff and WS drive..... Cleon rebounds discreetly in 1974 with numbers approaching his prime....however 1975 was close to a disaster with incidents on and off the field....released on 7/27/75 after 50 at bats and a .240 BA.....unceremoniously ended his NY Met employment.... A last minute signing in 1976 by the Chisox failed to materialize a comeback bid.....possibly his legacy is tainted by an under appreciation by the Mets organization.....yet remains popular with fans remembering the miracle 1969 team.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

#33 Billy Martin #34 Billy Martin In Action

Controversy personified....not a passive observer in the dugout but an agitator, a provoker, divisive force of nature...even Billy’s middle finger edging down the shaft of his supporting bat gives away a rough, hard, exterior....but as baseball minds go he had few peers....as a player Martin is a solid but unspectacular infielder.....Known for clutch hitting and excellent WS production, Martin was holding court with Mantle, Ford, and Berra but entrenched in the NYY celebrity club with its price of fame possibly setting off a cult of personality....best season was 1953 was soon nullified with a near two years slated for military service....Departed with a bang being named 1953 WS MVP.....Returns to full time 1955-56.....traded mid season 1957 , tears through six franchises in a nomadic existence for the remaining 5 years of his playing days possibly fueled by brawls on and off the field....his bill vocational line was a .257 BA career....pivotal to his future was his last club the Minnesota Twins, who gave him apprenticeship starting as scout, then third base coach, then AAA Denver manager.....Named to take the helm for 1969 season and responding by capturing the first AL West crown with 17 more wins from the year prior....Martin, whose brashness had sculpted to become a front office antagonist was dismissed....other factors could have been the fight with pitcher Dave Boswell and a quick sweep at the hands of Orioles in the ALCS....After a season of radio work, Martin resurfaces with the Detroit Tigers.....regroups the veteran squad to a 12 game improvement....good for 2nd place in AL East, then a hard won AL East crown in 1972...Tiger town relations soured and departed with a month to go in 1973.....Immediately scooped up by the hapless Texas Rangers.....another dramatic turnaround of 27 games....using a patchwork of various discarded veterans and promising youngsters made the newly replanted franchise competitive.....Once again the heads butt and is out late 75....As Texas did two summers prior, Martin is immediately pluck the Yankee prodigal son from expulsion near three decades ago....So begins the odyssey that earmarked his relationship with owner George Steinbrenner....Now armed with deep pockets and pre-established talent pool NYY make it WS in 1976.....take the Crown in 1977.....The incumbent winner Martin starts the 1978 but is dismissed mid season, one of several instances....Bronx Bombers Role call goes as follows completes 1979, full season 1983,  once completes 1985, and is the initial skipper in  1988....only respite from revolving door was a three year homecoming to his native but wretched Oakland A’s....in 1980 Martin may have done his greatest turnaround masterwork forwarding a 108 loss team to a 29 game improvement....Next campaign landed in ‘81 AL playoffs....Billy's detractors won over and was let go after the A's 1983 losing season.....Billy was killed in car accident about a year and half after his last game on Christmas Day 1989....those who were in his camp greatly mourned his loss.