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).

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Ron Hunt (#360)

As I said at the top of my multi-blog checklist post, there were over 880 players who played from 1966-1970. I liked many of those players and followed their on-field exploits. Some others I was ambivalent to, either because they were non-descript or that they played for (usually American league) teams I didn’t follow.

There are less than a half-dozen of these 880+ players I have little or no respect for, and for various reasons. At the top of that list is Ron Hunt. (In December I composed a blog post of my top 10 all-time annoying players, but shelved it because I thought it was too negative. Maybe I will trot it out after the season is under way.) 

By all accounts, Hunt was a decent player. He was the runner-up for the 1963 Rookie of the Year award, and by virtue of his All-Star selections in 1964 and 1966 was probably the Mets' best player in their early years.


But something happened to Ron Hunt once he got to the Giants in 1968. Always among the league leaders in HBP (except for 1965 when he missed many games), in '68 he started a streak of leading the league for 7 years, often more than doubling the total of the second-place guy.

Behold the stats:

In 1971 he was hit FIFTY times! The next highest total belonged to Rusty Staub, all the way down at 9. What, NL pitchers were only wild when Hunt came to the plate? No, this joker found a way to get on base without having to hit.

He's like that kid in "The Bad News Bears" that coach Walter Matthau orders to step into the pitch to get hit, because he can't hit but they need a baserunner to allow the next batter (their best hitter) to get to the plate. On second thought, I have more respect for that kid, because at least he didn't want to get hit on purpose.


The rules state that the batter needs to make an attempt to get out of the way. I'm just surprised that the umpires allowed this travesty to go on year after year, especially when he made it so obvious in 1971.

Ron Hunt, you have earned this blogger's Top Chump award.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Rene Lachemann (#157)

This is Rene Lachemann’s first solo card. It’s one of a handful of 1966 cards that appear to have been painted, rather than photographed. It’s also the same picture Topps used on the 4-player Athletics Rookies card in the 1965 set.

I much prefer his 1967 card (below), but this 1966 blog was short on Athletics, so here he is.

Wow, I am REALLY surprised to see how little major-league playing time Lachemann had! 92 games in 1965, only 7 games in 1966, NO games in 1967, and 19 games in 1968. Even having 4 new expansion teams in 1969 couldn’t keep him in the majors.


After working as the Dodgers' batboy from 1959-63, Rene was signed by the Athletics in 1964, and played in the minors every season from 1964-72. Early on, he was mostly a catcher, but during his 1969-72 stint with Oakland’s AAA club in Iowa, he was primarily a 1st baseman while also playing 3B, outfield, and a few games behind the plate.

He started 54 games as a rookie in 1965 (playing behind Bill Bryan), but it was all downhill after that. Was it his .227 batting average? His 57 strikeouts in 216 at-bats? Still, he hit 9 homers and collected 29 RBI – not bad for a part-time rookie catcher.


Lachemann began his managing career in 1973. After stints in the minors with the Athletics and Mariners from 1973-80, he managed the Mariners from 1981-83, the Brewers in 1984, and the Marlins from 1993-96. He also managed the Cubs for 1 game in 2002. His final skipper’s job was with the Rockies’ AAA team in 2009.

Lachemann’s brother Marcel was a pitcher for the Athletics from 1969-71, and managed the Angels from 1994-96.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Art Shamsky (#119)

Here is young Art Shamsky, with all of 96 major-league at-bats under his belt.

Shamsky was signed by the Reds in 1959, and played in the minors from 1960-64 until making his major-league debut in April 1965.

As a rookie, he was the Reds' 4th outfielder, but when the first 3 are named Vada Pinson (159 starts), Tommy Harper (156), and Frank Robinson (154), there's not much for you to do. 46 of his 64 games were as a pinch-hitter only.

With the trade of Robinson to the Orioles, Art saw his playing time increase somewhat in 1966. Not too much, as Deron Johnson took most of the outfield time left behind by Robby, with Shamsky making 63 starts.


By 1967, Pete Rose and even Lee May were in the outfield mix, so Art found less playing time than in '66. That November, the Reds traded him to the Mets for utility infielder Bob Johnson.

Shamsky jumped onboard the Mets' train 1 year before the Miracle 1969 season. He played in over 100 games in each of the next 3 seasons. Sure, the Mets had Cleon Jones, Tommie Agee, and Ron Swoboda, but in 1968 Shamsky started 64 games in left field, and another dozen each in right field and first base.

In 1969 he split right field with Swoboda, starting 61 times to Swoboda's 70. Art also filled in at 1B and LF occasionally. He hit .538 (7 for 13) in the NLCS, but was 0-for-6 in the World Series.

In 1970 he started 55 games at first base in relief of Donn Clendenon (Ed Kranepool having been sent to the minors), along with another 49 starts in right field.

Art's career began to fade in 1971, as he was demoted to 6th outfielder, playing only half the games he did in '70. He was traded to the Cardinals in October 1971, but released just before the '72 season.

He soon hooked on with the Cubs, but after 15 games in 2 months he was sold to the Athletics at the end of June 1972. He was released 3 weeks later, having only made 8 pinch-hitting appearances

After his playing career, Shamsky was (among other things) a Mets broadcaster and a New York sports radio host.

In the TV show "Everybody Loves Raymond", Ray Barone's brother Robert has a dog named Shamsky. Art even even made an appearance on the show.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Astros Rookies (#244, #539, #596)

Here are the 1966 Astros Rookie Stars cards. The first one is card #244 featuring Chuck Harrison and Sonny Jackson. Both photos are airbrushed nightmares, using techniques also found on the next card: a poorly-painted logo and fading cap edge, and the other photo looks like someone scribbled over the cap logo with a black sharpie. Both players would have much better cards in the 1967 set.



There were two other Astros Rookie Stars cards in the 1966 set, both in the high-numbered 7th series. I don't have these 2 cards, but for completeness I am including images of the card fronts I found on the internet.

Looks like the same guy was in charge of airbrushing this card (#539). ("Air-brushing" may be too generous a term, because it looks like this was done with a dime-store paintbrush.) Bill Heath looks a lot like fellow Astros' catcher John Bateman here. Heath would get a better card in the 1967 set, then disappear until having one last card in the 1970 set as a Cub.

Carroll Sembera also has a good-looking card in the 1967 set, then falls victim to the disaster inflicted on all the 1968 Astros cards. He also has a final card in the 1969 set as a capless Montreal Expo.


Ahh! A decent-looking rookies card (#596). After this card, Nate Colbert vanishes until resurfacing in the 1969 set as a San Diego Padre. This is Greg Sims' only baseball card.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Ken Henderson (#39)

Ken Henderson played outfield for 16 seasons from 1965-1980. His first 8 seasons were with the Giants, then he spent the last half of his career with 6 teams, most notably the White Sox.

I will always remember him as a Giants' spare outfielder, because that was his status when I started collecting cards, but he finally won a full-time job with the Giants from 1970-72, and the White Sox and Braves from 1974-76.

Henderson was signed by the Giants in June 1964, and made his major-league debut at age 18 in April 1965. Ken spent all of 1965 as the Giants' 5th outfielder, but played most of 1966-68 back in the minors.


After starting outfielders Ollie Brown and Jesus Alou were lost in the expansion draft, Henderson stuck with the Giants for good at the start of 1969. Although he was the team's #2 outfielder in terms of total innings played that season, he was a corner-outfield swing man, backing up Bobby Bonds in right field and splitting the left field starts with Dave Marshall.

Marshall was traded to the Mets after the 1969 season, enabling Henderson to be the team's primary left fielder for the next 3 seasons.

After the 1972 season, he was traded to the White Sox. Ken was a backup outfielder in 1973, but became the every-day center fielder for the next 2 years, starting 159 games there in '74 and 136 games in '75. (This is news to me!) 

After that it was on to the Braves, where he spent 1 season as their right fielder, having been exchanged for Ralph Garr.

The rest of Henderson’s career was a series of whistle stops as a bench player: 1977 with the Rangers, 1978 with the Mets and Reds, 1979 with the Reds and Cubs, and then wrapping up his career in 1980 with the Cubs, until getting his release in July.

I'm really surprised that Henderson played any seasons as a regular. 1974 was his career year with 602 at bats, 76 runs, 176 hits, 35 doubles, 5 triples, 20 home runs, 95 RBI, 66 walks, and a .292 batting average in 162 games.