Sunday, October 18, 2020

Tigers Rookies (#209)

This is a typical Rookie Stars card, where one of the two players chosen by Topps goes on to a long career, and one does not. 

Fritz Fisher is the "not" in this scenario. The sum of his major-league experience was one game for the Tigers in April 1964. He pitched 1/3 of an inning, and came away with a 108.00 ERA. He kicked around in Detroit's farm system for 5 years (1963-67) before hanging them up. 


In contrast, John Hiller pitched a few innings in '65 and '66, then had a solid career from 1967-80, all with the Tigers. (He missed the 1971 season after having a heart attack that January.) Hiller returned to the Tigers in 1972, and led the AL in games and saves in 1973. He also posted 17 wins (all in relief) in 1974.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Jimmy Stewart (#63)

Jimmy Stewart was a utility player for several teams (mostly the Cubs and Reds) from 1963 to 1973.

His cards almost always had him listed as "INF-OF", but his primary positions were left field, 2nd base, and shortstop. He also played some at the other outfield and corner infield spots, and even caught 2/3 of an inning in 1970.

Stewart was signed by the Cubs in June 1961 and made his major-league debut in September 1963. He played all of 1964 and 1965 with the Cubs, but split the 1966 season between the Cubs and their AAA team. His best season was 1964, when he played in 132 games and collected 33 RBI.

He was purchased by the cross-town White Sox in May 1967, but played most of that season with their triple-A team in Indianapolis. He appeared in 24 games with the Sox from mid-June to mid-July, almost always as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner.

Jimmy was in the minors for all of 1968, then was selected by the Reds in the Rule 5 draft after the season. Stewart was with Cincinnati for all of 1969-71, with most of his playing time coming in 1969, when he made 41 starts at various positions. He started less than 10 games the other 2 years.

After the 1971 season, he headed to the Astros, along with Lee May and Tommy Helms for Joe Morgan, Denis Menke, Jack Billingham, Cesar Geronimo, and Ed Armbrister. Stewart spent the last 2 years of his career as a reserve infielder for the Astros, making only 11 starts in '72 and 6 in '73.

After his playing career he worked for the Reds from 1980-91 as a minor-league manager and then a scout. He also scouted for the Phillies from 1992-2006.

Stewart passed away in 2012 at age 73.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Chico Salmon (#594)

Something I don’t often do is post images of cards that I don’t have. In the roughly 1200 cards I have posted across my baseball blogs, maybe 5 to 8 were cards I don’t have. (The 1965 cards of Jerry Fosnow and Dan Pleis come to mind. I posted internet images of them to complete my series of 1965 final cards.) 

This 1966 Chico Salmon card is another. I have Salmon's 1967-1970 cards, but in 1969 he is capless, and in 1970 he is shown as an Oriole, while I consider him mostly as an Indian. I also have many ’67 and ’68 cards remaining to post, but not so many '66 cards, so Chico has been assigned to the 1966 queue. (Besides, I noticed tonight that I also have Chico Ruiz and Chico Cardenas on this blog, so Salmon completes the trifecta.) 

Chico Salmon played every position but pitcher and catcher, although he didn’t play shortstop until 1966, with the Indians. He was signed by the (old) Washington Senators in 1959, and bounced around in the minors for several years - to the Giants in 1960, the Tigers in 1961, and the Braves in 1963.

After the 1963 season, the Braves traded him to the Indians for a player to be named later (Mike de la Hoz). Chico made his major-league debut with the Indians in June 1964. He started 39 games in right field over the 2nd half of the season, sharing the job with Tito Francona. He also started 2 dozen games at 2nd base.

In 1965 he played in 79 games but spent most of the season on the bench, only starting 16 games at 1st base and a handful elsewhere.

Things improved for him in 1966. He played all over the infield, mostly at shortstop where he started 57 games, including every game from 5/22 to 7/5. He also started another 47 games at 1B/2B/3B. The Tribe decided to use Larry Brown at shortstop for most of the 2nd half (and in subsequent seasons), so Chico returned to the bench for the remainder of his Indians' career, except for April/May 1968 when he was the starting 2nd baseman.

Salmon was selected by the Seattle Pilots in the expansion draft, but traded to the Orioles just before the start of the 1969 season for Gene Brabender. What luck for him! He moved from the Indians (a perennial 2nd-division team) to the Pilots (yecch), to the Orioles (the AL kings for much of 1966-1971).

For the next 3 seasons Chico was the O’s top utility infielder, and played in the '69 and '70 post-season.

In 1972 rookie Bobby Grich took over the backup infield assignments, relegating Salmon to only 17 games, mostly pinch-hitting appearances. He was released in mid-August.

Salmon passed away in 2000 at age 59.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Final Card: Bob Sadowski

This is Bob Sadowski’s final card (#523).  In March 2018 I posted his 1965 card on my ’65 blog, but that was before I had this card. (I generally limit my 1965 blog to players’ final cards.)

Sadowski was signed by the Cardinals in 1958, and played in their farm systems for 5 1/2 seasons until his trade to the Braves in mid-June 1963 (Sadowski and Gene Oliver for Lou Burdette).

Bob was immediately brought up to the Braves and pitched 19 games over the second half, including 18 starts and 5 complete games. He posted a 5-7 record and 2.62 ERA in 116 innings pitched.

(That same yellow dome is seen on Tony Conigliaro's 1967 card.)

In 1964 he started 18 games again (along with 33 relief appearances), but his ERA soared to 4.59.

He started the final home opener for the Milwaukee Braves in April 1965. He posted a similar ERA (4.54) as the previous year, but in only 34 games.

In December 1965 Bob was traded to the Red Sox (with pitcher Dan Osinski) for pitchers Jay Ritchie and Arnold Earley, and outfielder Lee Thomas.

Sadowski was used very little by the Red Sox because of arm injuries, only appearing in 11 games (33 innings) by mid-season, his final major-league game coming on July 4th. With an ERA of 7.02 he was sent to the minors, where his troubles continued - pitching only 5 innings in the 2nd half.

He played the 1967 season for the Braves’ double-A team before retiring.

His brother Ed was a catcher for the Red Sox and Angels from 1960-63, and for the Braves in 1966. His brother Ted (Ed and Ted?) pitched for the Senators/Twins from 1960-62.

Another Bob Sadowski played for the Phillies, White Sox, and Angels from 1961-63.

Sadowski passed away in 2018 at age 80.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Final Card: Dick Bertell

I already posted Dick Bertell's 1965 card, so I will dispense with the usual write-up.

I recently acquired his final card (#587) and have moved several cards closer to completing the 1966 set.

Although this is his last card, he played a few games for the Cubs in early-1967 before retiring.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Final Card: Chi-Chi Olivo

This is the first and last card for Chi-Chi Olivo, a reliever for the Braves from 1964-66. It's one of only three 1966 Braves cards showing the new Atlanta cap.

Olivo was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1955 (by then already 27 years old), but didn’t make his major-league debut until June 1961 at age 33. He pitched a total of 2 innings across 3 games, then headed back to the minors until 1964.

Chi-Chi pitched 38 games for the Braves during the 2nd half of 1964, but it wasn’t enough to secure a long-term job with the club. After 2 games in April 1965, he was sent back down until returning in September for another 6 games.

Olivio’s final season with the Braves was 1966. He stayed with the Braves for most of the season, picking up 7 saves in 47 games. He also spent 6 weeks in the minors in August and September.

After the 1966 season he was traded to the Yankees with outfield prospect Bill Robinson for 3rd baseman Clete Boyer. He pitched in triple-A all season before retiring.

Olivio made a brief comeback in the Mexican League in 1971 and 1972.

He passed away in 1977 at age 48.

His brother Diomedes Olivo pitched for the Pirates and Cardinals in 1962 and 1963.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

National League Batting Leaders (#215, 217, 219)

Hall of Famers abound!!!

Here are the National League batting leaders for the prior season. Willie Mays appears 3 times, (unfortunately only in the 1st position for home runs).

I just got this card a few weeks ago, enabling this 3-card post to complete the 1966 league leaders set. Roberto Clemente hit .329, well ahead of the pack at .310 to .318.  Hank Aaron has his Milwaukee cap on, but the caption has been switched to "Atlanta" already. (Meanwhile, Frank Robinson's caption on the RBI card was not updated to "Baltimore Orioles".)

(Did they really need to fill up the card back? Batting .245 is hardly among the league leaders!)

Mays led the league with FIFTY-TWO homers! Teammate Willie McCovey was 2nd, but a distant 13 dingers behind. Billy Williams hit 34 homers, one more than his teammate Ron Santo.

Hey look!  Dick Stuart led the league in grand slams, but was so bad defensively that the Phillies sent him packing after just one season.

Deron Johnson is the only one of these 7 players not in the Hall of Fame. He had 17 more RBI than teammate Frank Robinson.  Also amazing is that Robby was in the top 4 in HR and RBI while batting .296, yet still was traded to the Orioles that off-season.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Final Card: Dave Roberts

I just got this card a few weeks ago, and along with a few others, I can wrap up some loose ends in the 1966 Final Cards subset.

Dave Roberts had a very brief major-league career, appearing in 16 games for the 1962 expansion Colt .45s and 14 games for the 1966 Pirates. He also played 61 games for the Colt .45s in 1964.

However, he had a very long professional career, playing 15 years in the minors (1952-66) and 7 seasons in Japan (1967-73).

After playing independent ball in '52 and '53, he was in the Orioles' organization from 1954-57, the Braves from 1957-60, the Cubs in 1961, the Colts/Astros from 1962-65, and finally the Pirates in 1966.

As mentioned, 1964 was the high point of his career. Although mostly used as a pinch-hitter, he started 18 games at 1st base for the Colt .45s in June.

After the 1965 season, the Pirates selected him from the Astros in the Rule 5 draft. He played 14 games in 1966 (all during the first 6 weeks of the season), mostly as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner. He spent most of the season with the Pirates' AAA team, so I guess the Astros didn't want him back.

Although the Orioles purchased his contract in September 1966, he played the next 7 seasons in Japan.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

New Acquisitions

In the past few months, I was running out of 1966 cards to feature on this blog. Sure, I had a lot of cards left, but they are either for players I already posted for another year, or capless Braves and Angels who I am tired of looking at.

But reinforcements have arrived! Last month I bought eleven 1966 cards on eBay, my first "new" baseball cards since I binge-purchased a bunch of 1965 cards in 2015. (Since then, I only bought football cards to complete my 1964 to 1966 Eagles, and some of the giant 1964 Topps cards.)

For me, the prize is the NL Batting Leaders card, with its 3 Hall of Famers.  There's a full-height crease just to the left of Willie Mays, but that's ok, I didn't want to pay an arm and a leg for this one. Now I can post the 3 NL Batting/HR/RBI cards for 1966, completing the 48-card run from 1966 to 1969.

Low Numbers:

High Numbers:
Coming up in the next several posts, I will also take an in-depth look at these final cards for Chi Chi Olivo, Dick Bertell, Dave Roberts, and Bob Sadowski.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Mickey Mantle (#50)

It's always a good day for a Mickey Mantle card! (Even a reprint.)

I got this card (and the 1965 Mantle reprint) on the same day I snagged a 1967 Brooks Robinson high-number in 2016.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Pirates Rookies (#123, #498)

Topps included 3 pitchers and a catcher in their 1966 Pirates Rookies Stars.

First up is Frank Bork, Topps apparently lost track of what they were doing with Bork, putting him on a Rookie Stars card 1 year after giving him his own card. Nice...

Jerry May was the Pirates' #1 catcher in 1967 and 1968, then backed up Manny Sanguillen from 1969-70. He also played for the Royals from 1971-73.

Luke Walker appeared on a Pirates Rookies card in '66, '67, and '68. (Can anyone say Lou Piniella?) After a 2-game debut in September 1965, he played 10 games in April and September 1966, then not again until the start of the 1968 season.

Woody Fryman was named to the Topps All-Rookie team in 1966 after posting a 12-9 record. After 2 seasons with the Bucs, he was traded to the Phillies (with 3 others) for pitcher Jim Bunning. He pitched 16 more seasons with the Phillies, Expos, and others.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Final Card: Gary Kroll

For some reason, I thought Gary Kroll was a Pirates' outfielder, but I must have been thinking of Gary Kolb.

This is Kroll's final card (#548), and is one of the few 1966 cards I don't have, so swiped internet images will have to do.

Kroll was signed by the Phillies in 1959, and played in their organization until his August 1964 trade to the Mets. (That appears to be Phillies' pinstripes he's wearing on the card.)

He made his major-league debut with the Phillies in late-July 1964, but after only 2 games he was traded to the Mets for slugger Frank Thomas, as the Phillies geared-up for their pennant drive.

Gary pitched 32 games (10 starts) for the Mets in 1965, but that was his only full season in the majors. He played minor-league ball from 1966-71, with only brief stints in the majors (10 games with the Astros in '66 and 19 games with the Indians in '69, all as a reliever).

He finished up his career with triple-A assignments for the Angels (1970) and Cardinals (1971).