Thursday, July 20, 2017

Duke Sims (#169)

Duke Sims played in the majors for 11 seasons (1964-74), the first 7 years with the Indians before moving around to other teams. Although never an every-day backstop, he got significant playing time with the Indians from 1967-70, mostly platooning with Joe Azcue. 1969 was the only season where he started more than half of his team’s games.

Sims began his pro career on the Indians' farm in 1959. After 6 seasons in the minors he made his major-league debut in September 1964, making 1 start that year on the season’s final day.


After the 1964 season, the Tribe traded starting catcher Johnny Romano to the White Sox, opening up the starting job for Azcue, who was the ’64 backup. Sims also moved up a notch, starting 33 games in his rookie season after spending the first 2 months in triple-A.

Sims was bumped down to #3 catcher in 1966, when Cleveland acquired the veteran Del Crandall (in his 16th and final season) to serve as Azcue's main caddy. The Duke still saw action in 48 games (31 starts).

With Crandall retired, Sims' fortunes improved in 1967. Not only did he return to the #2 slot, but he was on almost even footing with Azcue (77 starts to Joe’s 80 starts).

Their playing time in 1968 is misleading. Although Sims had 71 starts behind the dish to Azcue's 90, Duke began the season starting 14 straight games, and then was the starting 1st baseman for most of July (presumably Tony Horton was out of the lineup with injuries).

Azcue was dealt to the Red Sox during April 1969, meaning a promotion for Sims. He started a career-high 94 games behind the plate, with rookie Ray Fosse and journeyman Ken Suarez picking up the rest. That was to be his last season as a somewhat-regular catcher, as Fosse was primed to take over the job in 1970.

With Fosse catching 120 games in '70, Sims started a few dozen games at 1st base and a similar number in left field, while catching 38 games on Fosse’s days off.

After the 1970 season, Duke was traded to the Dodgers for pitchers Alan Foster and Ray Lamb. In LA, Sims was part of a 3-way catching carousel with Tom Haller and Joe Ferguson in 1971. The following year, he split the catching with Chris Cannizzaro (wait...Cannizzaro was a STARTING catcher for the Dodgers????), until Duke was shipped off to the Tigers in early August (joining 1971 teammate Haller, by the way).

He joined the Yankees for the last week of the 1973 season, and caught the final game at old Yankee Stadium. Sims bounced from the Yankees to the Rangers in 1974, and was released after the season.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Mike Shannon (#293)

Here is Mike Shannon, in his final season as the Cardinals’ regular right fielder. After the 1966 season, the Cardinals traded for Yankees’ right fielder Roger Maris, paving the way for Shannon’s move to third base.


Mike is a native of St. Louis, and was a baseball and football star both in high school and at the University of Missouri. He left college to sign with the Cardinals in 1958, and played in the minors for several seasons before making his big-league debut in September 1962.

Shannon began the ’63 season in the minors, then was called up in July and used primarily as a pinch-runner and backup corner outfielder.

In 1964 Mike played with the Cardinals for the season’s first month, then was sent down to triple-A. He returned in late-July and was the starting right fielder for 59 of the final 83 games, and in the ’64 World Series. He collected 6 hits, 1 homer, and 2 RBI against the Yankees as the Cardinals won the Series.

Shannon was the starting right fielder for the first week of 1965, but spent much of the season on the bench due to a prolonged batting slump. He started 45 games in right field and another 11 games as Curt Flood’s backup in center field. Mike also caught a few games due to injuries to both catchers.

He returned to the starting lineup in mid-May 1966, starting 110 games in right field that season. Mike reached career highs in home runs (16) and batting average (.288) in 1966.

As mentioned at the top, Shannon moved in to 3rd base at the start of the 1967 season, and remained there for the final 4 seasons of is career. Mike appeared in 2 more World Series (’67, ’68), homering in each.

In 1970 the Cardinals alternated Shannon and Joe Torre at 3rd base (with Torre also spending time behind the plate). Mike only played in 55 games that season, his last coming on August 12th.

A kidney disease ended his playing career in 1970, but he moved to the broadcast booth in 1971 and has been calling Cardinals’ games ever since. In 2014 he was inducted into the Cardinals’ Hall of Fame.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Jim Lonborg (#93)

Here is future Red Sox’ ace Jim Lonborg, fresh off his rookie 1965 season where he went a disappointing 9-17 in 31 starts. No matter, after a 10-10 season in ’66, Jim had his career year in 1967.

He posted a 22-9 record (leading the AL in wins), also led the league with 246 strikeouts (interrupting Sam McDowell’s 5-year dominance in that department), won the Cy Young Award, and led the Sox to the World Series. Against the Cardinals in the Series, Lonborg was 2-1 in 3 starts with 1 shutout.


Lonborg tore knee ligaments while skiing in the off-season, and was never the same with Boston. After the 1971 season he was traded to the Brewers (with 1st baseman George Scott, pitcher Ken Brett, catcher Don Pavletich, and outfielders Billy Conigliaro and Joe Lahoud) for Tommy Harper and pitchers Lew Krausse and Marty Pattin.

After only 1 season with the Brew Crew, he and Brett were forwarded to the Phillies in exchange for 3rd basemen Don Money and John Vukovich, and pitcher Billy Champion.

After the Phillies’ shambles of a 1972 season (where Steve Carlton had 27 of the team’s 59 wins), the Phillies began assembling a REAL pitching staff to help Carlton, adding Lonborg and Brett in ’73, Tug McGraw in ’75, and Jim Kaat and Ron Reed in ’76.

Jim pitched for the Phillies from 1973 to 1979, highlighted by winning 17 games in 1974 and 18 in 1976.

I recall Lonnie running out of gas in his later seasons with the Phillies and was released in June 1979, ending his 15-year career.

After baseball, Lonborg became a dentist.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fred Talbot (#403)

Here's Fred Talbot, with the Kansas City Athletics – the 2nd of his 4 teams. For fans my age (specifically if you weren’t a Yankees or A's fan), Talbot is most remembered as one of the zany characters in the 1970 book "Ball Four".

I haven't read the book since 1971, but I remember that Talbot did not get along with author/pitcher Jim Bouton. I can’t remember if Fred was the one that Bouton seemed to be afraid of, and went out of his way to avoid, or if that was Wayne Comer.

Talbot was signed by the White Sox in 1959, and after making his major-league debut with 1 game in September 1963, he was back in the minors to start the 1964 season. Recalled in June, he pitched 17 games (12 starts) for the Pale Hose.


After the 1964 season, Talbot was part of this 3-team blockbuster. He was the Athletics' #1 starter in 1965, leading the staff in starts (33) and innings (198).

In 1966 Kansas City had a youth movement going on, with most of their pitching staff (and all of their starters) aged 23 or younger. I guess Talbot was either considered expendable, or the Yankees were just making another call to their unofficial farm team, but in June Fred and catcher Bill Bryan were traded to the Bronx for pitchers Bill Stafford and Gil Blanco, and outfielder Roger Repoz.

At first Talbot was a starter with the Yankees, but by June 1968 he was relegated to the bullpen for the rest of the season. His 1-9 record may have had something to do with that.

In May 1969, the Yankees traded him to the expansion Seattle Pilots, putting him squarely in the journalistic cross-hairs of his ex-Yankees teammate Bouton.

After 25 appearances with that zoo, Fred was returned to the Athletics (by now in Oakland) in August. He pitched 12 games (mostly in relief) for the A's in '69.

Talbot's final season was 1970, He only pitched 1 game (in mid-June) for Oakland, while pitching 25 games for their AAA team.

Talbot passed away in January 2013 at age 71.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

White Sox Team (#426)

Here is the White Sox' team card for 1966. Unlike in other years, each team's previous year finish is noted on the card front. The Sox finished 1965 with a 95-67 record, but that was only good enough for 2nd place, 7 games behind the Minnesota Twins who finished with 105 wins.

In 1966 the Sox dropped to 4th place, 15 games behind the Orioles.


Offensive leaders Don Buford and Moose Skowron would both be gone in 2 years. Although an All-Star in 1965, Skowron's starts dropped from 145 in '65 to 98 in '66. By May 1967, the ex-Yankees' slugger was traded to the Angels for a minor-leaguer, and retired after the season.

Buford still had plenty of mileage left. After the '67 season he was traded to the Orioles in the Luis Aparicio deal, and had 5 productive full seasons with Baltimore, including 3 trips to the post-season.

On the pitching side, Joel Horlen, Gary Peters, and Tommy John were the top 3 starters. The White Sox got by with only 11 pitchers (having decisions) in 1965. Top reliever Eddie Fisher was traded to the Orioles (who else?) in June '66 for 2nd baseman Jerry Adair.

I'd like to compare these stats with those from 1966, but the 1967 White Sox card has the Cleveland Indians' stats on the back!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Bob Bolin (#61)

Bob Bolin was a swingman for the Giants from 1961 to 1969 (though primarily a starter in 1966). After playing for the Brewers in 1970, he finished up with 3 seasons as a reliever for the Red Sox.

Bolin was signed by the New York Giants in 1956, and played 4 seasons in the minors (1957-60) before making his major-league debut in April 1961. Bob was the youngest pitcher on staff, and was the 10th man in terms of innings pitched (48). He appeared in 37 games, all but 1 in relief.

He slowly moved up the bullpen ladder in 1962, pitching 92 innings in 41 games, while making 5 starts.


1963 was a good year for him. A 10-6 record, co-leading the team with 7 saves, and was 4th in innings pitched (behind the top 3 starters). Bolin’s 47 games included 12 starts.

In ’64 he started more games than he relieved, and was 3rd on the staff in strikeouts (behind Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry). Back to the bullpen in 1965, he improved both his record (14-6) and his ERA (2.76).

In 1966 he started 34 of his 36 games, and was the Giants’ #3 starter behind the above-mentioned pitchers. He was also 3rd in innings and strikeouts.

Those crazy Giants and their pitching staff yo-yo! After a fine performance in 1966, it was back to the bullpen in 1967. (Actually, the Giants acquired Mike McCormick from the Senators in the off-season. McCormick led the NL in wins, and was the Comeback Player of the Year in ‘67, so Bolin had to adjust.)

1968 was an even-numbered year, so (you guessed it) Bob was back in the rotation. While starting 19 of his 34 games, he fashioned a 1.99 ERA – tops among Giants’ starters. His was the 2nd-best ERA in the NL, after Bob Gibson’s 1.12.

Bucking tradition in 1969, the Giants kept the same 5 starters they had in ’68. It was Bolin’s last year in San Francisco though.

December 12, 1969 is a weird day in Giants’ history. On the same day they traded Ray Sadecki to the Mets for 2 useless bench players, they traded Bolin to the Brewers for 2 useless bench players (outfielders Dick Simpson and Steve Whitaker). Both Bolin and Sadecki still had some tread left.

Bob spent all but the final 2 weeks of 1970 with Milwaukee. After compiling a 5-11 record for a bad 2nd-year team, he was traded to the Red Sox on September 10th. He played 118 games for Boston for the next 3 years and 2 weeks – all in relief.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Yankees Rookies: Bobby Murcer / Dooley Womack

Here is Bobby Murcer's rookie card (#469). I got this last year at an outdoor flea market, cutting the remaining 1966 non-high numbers needed from 12 to 11.


Murcer also appeared on a Yankees Rookies card in 1967, before finally getting a solo card in the 1969 set. (He was omitted from the 1968 set because he had been in the Army for all of 1967 and 1968.) Please check out those 2 Murcer links, so I don't have to repeat his exploits on this page. 


This is also Dooley Womack's rookie card. I haven't posted any of his solo cards yet, so I'll say that he played 8 seasons in the Yankees' farm system before pitching out of the Yanks' bullpen from 1966-68.

Traded to the Astros in the off-season, he was swapped to the Seattle Pilots late in 1969 for Jim Bouton. Womack spent most of 1970 and all of 1971 in the minors before retiring.  He pitched 2 games with Oakland in late 1970. His final card was in the 1969 set.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Don Pavletich (#196)

Don Pavletich was the #2 man in the Reds’ 3-man catching corps in the 3 seasons prior to the arrival of Johnny Bench in 1968.

Pavletich was signed by the Reds as a bonus baby in late 1956. The bonus rules dictated that he remain on the big-league 25-man roster for 2 seasons. It appears the Reds got around this the same way Jim Pagliaroni’s team did – farm him out to the military for those 2 years. After appearing in only 1 game for the Reds in April 1957, Don spent the rest of that year and all of 1958 in military service.

He returned to baseball in 1959 and spent the next 3 seasons in the minors, save for 1 game with the Reds in April 1959.


Don played for the Reds from the start of the 1962 season through the end of the 1968 season. In ’62 and ’63 he was primarily used as the backup 1st baseman.

He was back in the minors for the first half of 1964 (possibly to work on his catching skills, because after his return he was used almost exclusively as a catcher by the Reds).

Pavletich started about 40 games per season from 1965-67 as Johnny Edwards' backup (with Jimmie Coker starting a dozen or so as the 3rd catcher).

On August 28th, 1967 Johnny Bench made his major-league debut, starting 26 of the final 32 games behind the plate. That was the end of the line for the Reds’ other 3 catchers. Edwards was traded in the off-season, Coker retired, and although Pavletich was the starting catcher for the first 5 games of 1968, those were his last starts as a Reds’ catcher. He played a bit at first base that year, but was traded to the White Sox after the ’68 season for pitcher Jack Fisher.

Don was a backup catcher for the White Sox for 1 year and the Red Sox for 2 years. After the 1971 season he was one of 6 players (with George Scott, Jim Lonborg, Ken Brett, Billy Conigliaro, Joe LaHoud) sent to the Brewers in return for Tommy Harper, Lew Krausse, and Marty Pattin. (Seems like a lopsided trade!) 

Although Don has a card in the 1972 set featuring him as a Brewer, he never played for them, with his last game coming on 9/1/1971.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Born on the Same Day - 1/9/1936

Another installment in my "Born on the Same Day" series, featuring players who were born on the same day (!) and year. 

This is post #7 in the series: Julio Navarro and Ralph Terry - both born on 1/9/1936.


Navarro pitched for the Angels from 1962 to 1964, and for the Tigers in '64 and '65. He also appeared in 1 game for the Tigers in 1966, and thanks to his 3 earned runs allowed in zero innings, he had an ERA of "Infinity", something I've never seen on someone's record! After 3 seasons in the minors, he resurfaced with the Braves in 1970.


Ralph Terry pitched for the Athletics and Yankees from 1956 to 1964. (Some would say that was the same organization!) Terry's best season was 1962, when he led the AL with 23 wins and 298 innings pitched. He was named the World Series MVP that season, fashioning a 2-1 record and a 1.80 ERA.

He played for the Indians in 1965 before winding up his career with the Mets from 1966-67.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Born on the Same Day - 12/13/1935

Another installment in my "Born on the Same Day" series, featuring players who were born on the same day (!) and year. 

This is post #6 in the series: Joe Christopher and Lindy McDaniel - both born on 12/13/1935.

Christopher played for the Pirates from 1959-61, the Mets from 1962-65, and 12 games for the Red Sox in early 1966. He was the Mets' regular right fielder in 1964, and also saw a lot of playing time in '62 and '65.


McDaniel was the classic veteran reliever (like Hoyt Wilhelm and Stu Miller). He played in 987 games over 21 seasons (1955-75), and although primarily a starter in '57 and '58, he only started 15 games after 1959.

Lindy played 8 years with the Cardinals, 3 with the Cubs, 2 1/2 with the Giants, 5 1/2 with the Yankees, and finished up with 2 seasons with the Royals. All those years with St. Louis and New York, and I remember him primarily as a Giant (my first card for him).

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Born on the Same Day - 5/13/1934

Another installment in a new series called "Born on the Same Day", featuring players who were born on the same day (!) and year. 

This is post #5 in the series: Don LeJohn and Leon Wagner - both born on 5/13/1934.


LeJohn played in the Dodgers' farm system for 15 seasons (1954-68). His MLB time amounted to 34 games for LA during the 2nd half of 1965.

"Daddy Wags" was much more successful, playing 12 seasons from 1958-1969 (mostly for the Angels and Indians). He was an All-Star in '62 and '63, and although hitting more than 20 homers every season from 1961 to 1966 (including 37 in '62 and 31 in '64), his numbers plummeted after '66. He was a non-factor in his final 2 seasons.

This is the first player duo in this series where their birth dates on the card backs are both correct.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Born on the Same Day - 5/17/1932

Yesterday I started a new series called "Born on the Same Day", featuring players who were born on the same day (!) and year. The scope of this exercise is those players (or managers) who have cards in the 1965-1970 sets (because that's what I dooze). Ideally, I should also have their cards. 

In researching this, I found 51 pairs and 2 trios. In a few pairs both are stars, some pairs have 1 star, and other pairs are just 2 guys named Joe. In a few cases, these players were also teammates. 

I am going to post these in chronological order, and distribute them across my 1966-1970 blogs depending on which cards I have for who. The series began on my 1968 blog


This is post #3 in the series, and the first on the 1966 blog:
Billy Hoeft and Ozzie Virgil - both born on 5/17/1932.


Billy Hoeft played from 1952-1966, mostly with the Tigers and Orioles. In his final season, he played for the Cubs until finishing up with the Giants in the season's final month.

The back of Virgil's card shows his birth year as 1933, but Baseball-Reference.com and Wikipedia both have 1932, so I'm going with that instead of Topps' old information. Ozzie didn't have a card in the 1966 set, but John from the Cards That Never Were blog has made a custom 1966 Virgil card.

Hoeft and Virgil were teammates with the Tigers in 1958, the Orioles (during Virgil's brief call-up in April 1962), and with the Giants in September 1966.