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.