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 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.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Jimmie Hall (#190)

This is Jimmie Hall’s last card as a Twin. Following the 1966 season, he was traded to the Angels with 1st baseman Don Mincher and pitcher Pete Cimino for pitcher Dean Chance.

Hall was signed by the Washington Senators way back in 1956, and played 7 seasons in the minors before finally making the majors in April 1963. Hall never showed a lot of power in the minors, but in his first big-league season, he crashed 33 homers and picked up 80 RBI. He finished 3rd in the AL Rookie of the Year voting, after White Sox’ teammates Gary Peters and Pete Ward.

Jimmie was the team’s #3 outfielder, behind sluggers Bob Allison and Harmon Killebrew, and started 125 games as a rookie, mostly in center field.

For the next 2 seasons, Hall was the Twins’ regular center fielder, hitting 25 and 20 homers, and batting over .280 each year. He also made the All-Star team in those seasons.

In 1966 he also hit 20 homers, but his RBI total was down to 47 and his batting average plummeted to .239. He was the team’s #3 outfielder, splitting his time between center and left fields.

A change of scenery occurred in 1967, as Hall joined the perennially-crowded Angels’ outfield. After a season platooning in right field with Bubba Morton, Jimmie moved on to the Indians in May 1968 for outfielder Vic Davalillo.

He was acquired by the Yankees in the 2nd week of the 1969 season, and spent the next 5 months as the Yankees’ 4th outfielder, mostly backing up Bobby Murcer in right field. Hall was traded to the Cubs in mid-September.

Hall’s final season was 1970, and he was used sparingly both by the Cubs and by the Braves, who acquired him in June.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

1966 Custom Cards

A few years ago, John Hogan at the "Cards That Never Were" blog made a batch of custom baseball and football cards for me at my request.  I noticed that John did not include these images on his own blog, so I am posting them here so they can be appreciated by all. These are cards where the player was either missing, traded during the season, or just to upgrade a player from a Rookie Stars card to a solo card.

You may have already seen the 1967, 1968, and 1971 football cards or the 1967 baseball cards he made for me on the blogs for those sets. He also created some baseball cards in the '66, '68, and '69 style.

First, the missing cards:

Joe Adcock played for the Reds, Braves, Indians, and Angels from 1950-66. Although he was the Angels' regular 1st baseman through the 1966 season, he did not have a card from 1964-66.

Like Joe Adcock, Dick Hall had been a steady player for his team (Orioles) for many seasons, but did not get a Topps card from 1964-66.

Junior Gilliam was the Dodgers 2nd or 3rd baseman from 1953-66. The Dodgers released him after the 1964 season, but resigned him in the spring of 1965. The same thing happened the following year, which is why he doesn't have a card in the '65 or '66 set.

Bob Lillis was Houston's regular shortstop from 1962-65, until losing the job to rookie Sonny Jackson in 1966. He was a backup in 1966 (68 games) but had no card that year.

Ed Roebuck was a relief pitcher who played from 1955-1966. He played many seasons for the Dodgers, and wrapped up his career with the Phillies from 1964-66.

Frank Bolling was the Braves' regular 2nd baseman through the 1965 season and part of 1966, but his final card was in the '65 set.

Don Blasingame's story is the same as Frank Bolling's, except that he was traded to the Athletics midway through the '66 season.

Hawk Taylor was a backup catcher for the Braves and Mets from 1961-66, but spent most of 1965 in the minors.

Lou Clinton played all of 1962-66 in the majors, so it's a mystery why he was omitted from the '66 set. His final card was in the 1967 set.

Ozzie Virgil bounced between the majors and AAA ever since 1957.  1965 was his only full season in the majors, but since he only played in 39 games, maybe Topps was assuming he wouldn't be around in 1966.  He split '66 between the Giants and the minors.

Jerry McNertney was a backup catcher for the White Sox from 1964-68, then became the expansion Pilots' #1 backstop in 1969.

Joey Amalfitano was an infielder for the Cubs from 1963-66. He also began coaching for the Cubs, and was reactivated for a short time during the 1967 season.

Larry Elliot was a spare outfielder with the Mets for parts of 1964 and 1966, but played all of 1965 in the minors, ruining his chance for a card in the '66 set.

Rookies without cards in the 1966 set: 

Dick Lines made his major-league debut with the Senators in 1966, pitching in 54 games.

Rick Wise played briefly with the Phillies in 1964, but spent all of 1965 in the minors before returning in 1966.

Darold Knowles was featured in the 1966 set on an Orioles Rookie Stars card. He was traded to the Phillies prior to 1966 and became their bullpen ace in his rookie season. Foolishly, the Phillies traded him to the Senators after the season for (the soon to be washed-up) Don Lock.

Jackie Hernandez and Jay Johnstone both made their major-league debuts in 1966.

Joe Verbanic (pictured in a hat, for once!) and John Morris made their debuts in 1966, but were both traded for veteran relievers after the season.

After earlier cups of coffee, Ron Davis and Ken Holtzman got their big breaks in 1966.

Veteran backup catcher Jim Schaffer toiled for the Phillies' AAA team in San Diego during the '66 and '67 seasons, and got a September callup in both years. His final card was in the 1968 set. (Dick Stuart had a card in the 1966 set.)

That's Just Topps Being Topps:

Dick Ellsworth had a card in the 1966 set, but it has a photo of Ken Hubbs, the Cubs' young 2nd baseman who was killed in a plane crash several years earlier. Nice going, Topps!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

National League Pitching Leaders (#221, 223, 225)

Here are the NL pitching leaders for 1965. Of course Sandy Koufax is a lock for these cards. There's the expected appearances by Juan Marichal and Don Drysdale, but there are also a few surprises.

Dodgers' ace Sandy Koufax leads in all 3 categories (as he also did the following year).  Ten points behind him is the Giants' Juan Marichal, with Vern Law rounding out the top 3.  No one else is even close.  (Frank Linzy actually has the best ERA of anyone.  His 1.43 is well ahead of Koufax, but Linzy is relegated to the relievers' category.)

There were seven 20-game winners in 1965.  Koufax led with 26 wins. The Braves' Tony Cloninger (in the team's final season in Milwaukee) notched 24 wins and appears on this card - a neighborhood normally reserved for Koufax, Drysdale, Marichal, and Bob Gibson. Big D is right behind him at 23.  Marichal and Gibson broke the 20-win mark, but not by enough to score a slot on this card.

Aside from Koufax, Gibby, and Marichal, there's usually a whole 'nother group of pitchers among the strikeout leaders (as opposed to wins).  Guys like Bob Veale, Jim Bunning, Chris Short, and Jim Maloney.

LOOK AT KOUFAX' TOTAL! One hundred and six more strikeouts than the 2nd-place guy! The Bobs check in at #2 and #3, with Jim Bunning right behind them.  The next grouping of Maloney, Marichal, and Short are 20+ behind them.

I'm really sorry I didn't catch the baseball bug until a few months AFTER Koufax retired!  :(

Dodgers - 4
Pirates - 2
Giants - 1
Cardinals - 1
Braves - 1

Monday, August 8, 2016

Roger Repoz (#138)

Here is Yankees’ outfield prospect Roger Repoz. Thanks to him hitting 20 and 23 homers in the minors in 1963 and 1964 respectively, he became one of several outfielders dubbed "The Next Mickey Mantle".

Repoz was signed by the Yankees in 1960, and worked his way up the ladder for the next 5 years from Class D to C to A to AA. After making his debut in September 1964, he split the 1965 season between the Yankees and their AAA team in Toledo.

So much for "The Next Mantle". A 79-game audition in 1965 and 37 games in 1966 were enough for the Yankees to bid him farewell, shipping him to the Athletics in mid-June (with pitchers Bill Stafford and Gil Blanco) for pitcher Fred Talbot and backup catcher Bill Bryan.

Roger spent the remainder of the ’66 season as Kansas City’s 5th outfielder and 3rd-string 1st baseman.

With Rick Monday's and Reggie Jackson's arrival in 1967, the expendable Repoz was traded to the Angels in June for veteran pitcher Jack Sanford, who at age 38 was in his final season. Roger took his place among the 8 other outfielders in the Angels’ employ, starting 45 of the team’s final 81 games (all but 5 of the starts in center field).

In 1968 he was the team’s primary center fielder for the first half of the season, then moved over to right field where he shared the starting assignments with a few others. Repoz continued to get significant playing time in center and right fields (and the occasional stint at 1st base) through the 1971 season.

Roger began the 1972 season in the minors, and after 3 games with the Angels in early June he was traded to the Orioles in June for infielder Jerry DaVanon. Repoz was assigned to the Orioles’ AAA team and never played in the majors again.

He played in Japan from 1973 to 1977.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Final Card - Bob Purkey

A few years ago I wrapped up my “Final Cards” series on this blog, with a recap post of all the cards, with a footnote that I was missing 9 of the cards (including Bob Purkey). A few months ago, I acquired Purkey’s final card (#551), so we can consider this a “bonus track”.

Bob Purkey finished up his career in 1966 in the same place it began 12 years earlier – with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bob was signed by the Bucs in 1948 and pitched 3 seasons in the low minors before missing the 1951-52 seasons while in military service.

After another year (1953) in the minors, Bob played all of 1954 with the Pirates, pitching in 36 games (11 starts), logging 131 innings. He spent part of ‘55 and most of ‘56 back in the minors, but appeared with the Pirates in both seasons.

Bob was back in Pittsburgh for all of 1957, compiling a record of 11-14 in 48 games (21 starts). That was his last season with the Pirates for a long while, as he was traded to the Reds in December ’57 for pitcher Don Gross.

The knuckle-balling Purkey was a mainstay in the Reds’ rotation for the next 7 seasons. He made the All-Star team 3 times (’58, ’61, ’62) and had his best season in 1962, compiling a 23-5 record with a league-leading .821 winning percentage. He also finished 3rd in the Cy Young voting and 8th in MVP voting that year.

Bob’s 1963 and 1964 seasons were not up to the level of his previous five seasons, and after the ’64 season he was traded to the Cardinals for pitcher Roger Craig and reserve outfielder Charley James. Purkey lasted 1 year in St. Louis. He compiled a 10-9 record in 32 games (17 starts), but was sold to the Pirates one week before the 1966 season. At age 35, I guess the Cards were “going in another direction”, presumably making room for youngsters Nelson Briles and Larry Jaster.

Bob pitched sparingly for the Pirates in his final season, appearing in 4 games in April, 4 in May, and 2 in July, before getting his release in early August.

He finished his 13-year career with a record of 129-115, and was elected to the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1974.

Purkey passed away in March 2008 at age 78.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Bob Locker (#374)

Bob Locker pitched in 576 games over a 10 year period (1965-73, 75), all in relief. The first half of his career was with the White Sox.

Locker was signed by the Sox in 1960, and pitched 2 seasons in the minors before missing the ’62 and ’63 seasons while in military service. He returned to the minors for the 1964 season. Although he was a starting pitcher in ’61 and ’64, he would never start again after 1964.

Bob made his major-league debut with the White Sox in April 1965. He was the #3 man in the bullpen during his rookie season, behind Eddie Fisher and Hoyt Wilhelm. It appears that the ChiSox mostly used just 8 pitchers that year. (Besides the 3 primary relievers, starters Tommy John and Bruce Howard made occasional relief appearances.)

Fisher was traded to the Orioles midway through the 1966 season, so Locker became the team’s closer, leading the team with 12 saves while compiling a 9-8 record and 2.46 ERA.

He was the bullpen ace again in 1967 (picking up 20 saves), as he and Wilhelm were joined by newly-acquired relievers Wilbur Wood and Don McMahon.

Wood became the team’s closer in 1968, but Locker and Wilhelm each pitched in 70 games, and all 3 reached double figures in saves.

Bob pitched in 22 innings over 17 games for the White Sox in early 1969, then in mid-June was traded to the Seattle Pilots for pitcher Gary Bell. Bob pitched in 51 games for Seattle that season.

In June 1970 the Brewers sold him to the Oakland Athletics. Bob pitched for Oakland through the end of the 1972 season as the #2 reliever behind Rollie Fingers. He appeared in the post-season in ’71 and ’72.

Locker was traded to the Cubs before the 1973 season and had a good year as the Cubs’ closer, picking up 18 saves and 10 wins. He was traded back to Oakland after the season, but missed all of 1974 after surgery for bone chips.

Bob returned to the Cubs for 1975, in exchange for outfielder Billy Williams. He pitched in 22 games and retired after the season.