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.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ray Washburn (#399)

Ray Washburn pitched in the Cardinals’ rotation during the 1960s, first in the shadow of Curt Simmons and Bob Gibson, and later behind Gibson, Steve Carlton, and Nelson Briles.

Washburn was signed by the Cardinals in 1960, and made his major-league debut in September 1961. Ray had a good rookie season in 1962, compiling a 12-9 record in 34 games (25 starts).

After a few injury-filled seasons (when he also pitched a few games in the minors in ’63 and ’64), Washburn returned to double-figures in wins for ’66 (11-9), ’67 (10-7), and ’68 (14-8).

After missing a month with injuries in 1967, he returned just in time to pick up the slack when Gibson broke his leg in July (causing him to miss almost 2 months during the Cardinals’ march to the NL pennant). Ray relieved in 2 games in the 1967 World Series vs. Boston, and was 1-1 in 2 starts in the ’68 Fall Classic against the Tigers.

1968 was his best season, reaching career best in wins (14), ERA (2.26), and strikeouts (124). He also pitched a no-hitter against the Giants in September, one day after the Giants’ Gaylord Perry had no-hit the Cards.

After going 3-8 in 1969, Washburn was traded to the Reds for pitcher George Culver. Washburn was the #4 man in the Reds’ bullpen during his final season of 1970, which ended with a 1-game appearance in the World Series vs. the Orioles.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

50 Years Ago - 1966 Opening Day Lineups (AL)

Here are the American League opening day starters from half a century ago. Teams are shown in order of 1966 finish.




White Sox:


                        (Jackie Warner was the right fielder)



Red Sox:
       Tony Horton (the man Topps forgot) was the 1st baseman.


Here are the 1966 NL lineups.

Also check out the 1967 opening day starters:
NL batters
AL batters

Monday, April 4, 2016

50 Years Ago - 1966 Opening Day Lineups (NL)

This is my version of a "heritage card post" - the opening day lineups from half a century ago. Teams are shown in order of 1966 finish.






                    (The 1st baseman was George Kernek.) 



Mets (out of 10th place for the very first time):


Next time: The AL lineups.

Also check out the 1967 opening day starters:
NL batters
AL batters

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Ron Taylor (#174)

Ron Taylor pitched 9 full seasons (1963-71) for the Cardinals, Astros, and Mets. He also pitched a few games for the Indians in 1962 and the Padres in 1972. I knew of him only as a Mets’ reliever, as he spent 1967-71 with them.

Taylor was signed by the Indians in 1956, and pitched in their farm system for 7 years (1956-62), almost exclusively as a starter.

He played in 8 games for the Tribe in April and May 1962, but was sent back down in late May. After the ’62 season, Ron was traded to the Cardinals for 1st baseman Fred Whitfield.

Taylor compiled a 9-7 record in 1963, starting 9 of his 54 games, but also leading the team with 11 saves. The following season, he worked out of the bullpen in all but 2 of his 63 appearances. He pitched in 2 games in the 1964 World Series, picking up a save in game #4.

In June 1965, Ron and pitcher Mike Cuellar were traded to the Astros for pitchers Hal Woodeshick and Chuck Taylor. He spent 1 ½ seasons in the Astros ‘pen, working behind Claude Raymond and Jim Owens.

Ron was sold to the Mets in February 1967 and spent the next 5 seasons as a reliever in the Big Apple, never starting another game for the remainder of his career. Taylor led the Mets in saves for his first 4 seasons. In 1969, he pitched in 2 NLCS games and 2 World Series games, saving game #2 in the Fall Classic.

In 1971, he dropped to 10th man on the pitching staff, as Tug McGraw and Danny Frisella had taken over as bullpen aces. Ron was released by the Mets sold to the Expos after the 1971 season (who then released him during spring training in 1972), and was signed by the Padres in late-April. He pitched only 5 innings over 4 games for San Diego, the last on May 14th.

After baseball he became a doctor, and spent time as the team physician for his hometown Toronto Blue Jays.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Pete Ward (#25)

Pete Ward played from 1962 to 1970. Primarily a 3rd baseman, he also played some outfield and 1st base. Until tonight, I thought he had only played for the White Sox, but he was with the Orioles for his first season, and the Yankees for his last.

Ward was signed by the Orioles in 1958 and played five seasons in the minors before making his big-league debut in September 1962 with 8 games for the Orioles.

Prior to the 1963 season he was traded to the White Sox with pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm, shortstop Ron Hansen, and outfielder Dave Nicholson for shortstop Luis Aparicio and outfielder Al Smith.

Pete won the 3rd base job as a rookie, starting the first 154 games at the hot corner (with September rookie all-up Don Buford starting the final 8 games). Ward finished with 22 HR, 84 RBI and a .295 average, and finished 2nd in the AL Rookie of the Year voting, behind teammate Gary Peters.

In 1964, he nearly duplicated his rookie batting feats (23/94/.282), but his power and average faded in 1965 and he never reached his 63-64 numbers again. Ward was the regular 3rd baseman again in ’64 and ’65, but only played 84 games (including 57 starts in the outfield) in 1966.

He returned to full-time status in 1967, but was the team’s primary left fielder. He started 71 games in left and 35 games at 1st base, but only 13 starts at 3B.

In 1968 Pete returned to 3rd base, making 73 starts at there until Bill Melton took over the position in September. Like the year before, Ward was also Tom McCraw’s backup at 1st base.

After batting only .216 in 1968, Ward lost a starting position in 1969, getting only 199 at-bats in 105 games, his lowest totals since his 1962 cup of coffee.

Pete was traded to the Yankees for pitcher Mickey Scott after the 1969 season, and was used mostly as a pinch-hitter in 1970. He was released during Spring Training in 1971.

He managed in the Yankees’ system from 1972-77, and for other teams in ’80 and ’81.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Jack Aker (#287)

Nicknamed “The Chief” due to his American Indian heritage, Jack Aker was signed by the Kansas City Athletics as an outfielder in 1959, and after 1 season was converted to a pitcher.

He made his major-league debut in 1964, but played part of that season and the next in the minors before returning permanently to the bigs in July 1965. Jack pitched for 11 seasons, and pitched every one of his 495 games in relief.

In 1966 he led the AL with 32 saves, and in games finished with 57. Aker was the Top Dog in the A’s bullpen for 3 seasons (1966-68), then at age 27, was inexplicably left unprotected in the expansion draft, and was selected by the Seattle Pilots.

Jack began the 1969 season with the Pilots, but in May was traded to the Yankees for pitcher Fred Talbot. (This reunited Talbot with his old Yankees’ teammate Jim Bouton, providing fodder for Bouton’s book “Ball Four”.) 

Aker teamed up with the veteran Lindy McDaniel and others in the Yankees’ bullpen for the next 3 seasons. In May 1972, he was traded to the Cubs for outfielder Johnny Callison. After 1 ½ seasons with the Cubs, Aker split his final season (1974) between the Braves and the Mets.

He managed in the minor leagues after his retirement, and was the Indians' pitching coach in the mid-1980s. For 20 years beginning in 1988 he ran a youth baseball camp.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Tommie Sisk (#441)

Tommie Sisk played for 9 years (1962-70), mostly as a starting pitcher for the Pirates.

Sisk was signed by the Pirates in 1960, and was a starting pitcher in their farm system for 3 seasons. He also played a few games with the Pirates in late July, and again in late-September 1962.

In 1963 and 1964, Tommie worked out of the Bucs’ bullpen, along with Al McBean and the veteran Elroy Face. Sisk appeared in 57 and 42 games over that span.

He began the 1965 season in the bullpen, but by late-July Sisk was moved to the starting rotation, replacing Joe Gibbon. His final 12 games that season were all starts.

Tommie was primarily a starting pitcher for his final 3 seasons in Pittsburgh. By this time, veterans Bob Friend and Vern Law were winding down, and Bob Veale had taken over as the staff ace. Veale, Sisk, Steve Blass, and rookie Woodie Fryman formed the core of the rotation. Sisk won 10 games in ’66 and 13 in ’67 (with 11 complete games), but an off-year in 1968 probably made him expendable, and the following March he was traded to the expansion San Diego Padres.

After 1 season in the Padres’ bullpen, Sisk was traded to the White Sox. He played in 17 games with the ChiSox through mid-June, then was traded to the Indians for pitchers Bob Miller and Barry Moore.

Tommie’s last major-league action was with the Sox, as the Indians assigned him to their triple-A team for the rest of the season. Sisk pitched for the Expos’ AAA team in 1971 before retiring.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Dick Schofield (#474)

Here is Giants’ shortstop Dick Schofield. Back in the day, he went by the nickname “Ducky”. Current Washington Nationals’ outfielder Jayson Werth simply calls him “Grandpa”. (Many grandfathers try to impress kids by pulling a quarter out of someone’s ear. Schofield takes it to the next level by pulling a baseball out of his ear.)

Schofield played for 19 seasons (1953-71), mostly as a backup shortstop although he was his team’s regular SS from 1963 to 1965.

Dick was signed by the Cardinals in 1953 as a bonus baby, requiring him to stay on their roster for the entire season. He was with the Cards for all of ’53 and ’54, but seldom saw playing time. Schofield spent the bulk of the ’55 and ’56 seasons in the minors, getting the all-important “seasoning”.

He returned to the Cardinals in 1957, and finally got enough playing time to lose his rookie eligibility. Schofield was the team’s backup shortstop, behind Alvin Dark.

In June 1958 Schofield was traded to the Pirates for 3rd baseman Gene Freese and SS-P Johnny O’Brien. Dick spent the next 4 ½ seasons backing up Bill Mazeroski at 2B and Dick Groat at SS.

After the ’62 season the Pirates traded Groat, opening a full-time job at short for Schofield. Dick began a 3-year string as the starting shortstop – 2 seasons with the Pirates, and following a May 1965 trade to the Giants for infielder Jose Pagan, a 3rd season, which would be his last year as an every-day player.

Schofield began the 1966 season with the Giants, then played 4 months with the Yankees until winding up with the Dodgers for the season’s final 2 weeks. The following year he and another ex-Pirate (Gene Michael) alternated at shortstop as the Dodgers tried to find a way to replace the departed Maury Wills.

The Dodgers released him after the ’67 season, then he bounced from the Cardinals (1968) to the Red Sox (1969-70) before winding up his career in 1971 with the Cardinals and Brewers.

Besides his grandson Jayson Werth, his son Dick Schofield played shortstop for the Angels (and others) from 1983-96.