Saturday, October 3, 2015

Nelson Briles (#243)

This is the first solo card for Nelson Briles (he also appeared on a Cardinals Rookies card in 1965). He pitched for 14 seasons – the first 6 with the Cardinals. I knew Briles had moved on to the Pirates, but until today did not know that he also played for 3 other teams.

After only one season in the minors, Briles made his debut with the Cardinals in April 1965. He was primarily a reliever during his rookie season, then became a spot starter the next year.

He began the 1967 season as a reliever, then moved into the rotation when Bob Gibson broke his leg in July. Nelson remained in the rotation upon Gibby’s return, fashioning a 14-5 record and leading the NL in winning percentage (.737). He also pitched a complete game in game #3 in the World Series – the only Cardinals’ pitcher not named Bob Gibson to do so.

Briles followed that up by winning 19 games in 1968, and was the team’s #2 starter behind Gibson, who won 22. Nelson won 15 games the following season, with Steve Carlton moving ahead of him in the rotation.

After a 6-7 season in 1970, Briles and outfielder Vic Davalillo were traded to the Pirates for outfielder Matty Alou and pitcher George Brunet. (Wow, I can’t believe I haven’t blogged somewhere already about the well-traveled Brunet! I’ll have to get on that.) Nelson was mostly a reliever for his first year in Pittsburgh, but won 14 games each in ’72 and ’73 as a starter. He also pitched in the post-season in ’71 and ’72.

After the 1973 season he was traded to the Royals, and 2 years later to the Rangers, but he never repeated the success he had with the Cardinals and Pirates. In late-September 1977 the Orioles purchased his contract, and he finished out the season and 1 more year with Baltimore, then was released in January 1979.

Briles passed away in 2005 at age 61.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Don McMahon (#133)

Don McMahon had Topps cards every season from 1958 to 1972 (also in 1973, if you count his appearance as a coach on the Giants’ manager’s card). This is his last card as an Indian, and his last card wearing a cap until the 1970 set. (McMahon began his career with 6 seasons with the Braves, and ended it with 6 seasons with the Giants, but in-between he bounced around to 5 other teams for about 1 ½ years in each location.)

He was signed by the Boston Braves in 1950, and made the Milwaukee club in 1957 at age 27. His one all-star appearance came in 1958. He also pitched in the ’57 and ’58 World Series for the Braves, finishing 3 games in each series.

In May 1962 McMahon was sold to the expansion Houston Colt .45s. This began a series of short-term stints with a number of clubs. On the final day of the 1963 season, he was sold to the Indians, where he remained until June 2, 1966. On that day he was traded to the Red Sox for reliever Dick Radatz, and on the same date in 1967 moved on to the White Sox for 2nd baseman Jerry Adair. He missed out on Boston’s appearance in the ’67 World Series, but the following July he was traded to the Tigers for pitcher Dennis Ribant, and so was able to play in the 1968 Fall Classic.

In August 1969 Don made his last move – a trade to the Giants. He manned the bullpen there until his release following the 1972 season.

Topps’ 1973 managers cards also feature thumbnails of the coaching staff, and Don was on the Giants’ card as their pitching coach. He was re-activated in late June, and released following the ’73 season. This process repeated itself in 1974, although he gained his final release in early July, just 5 weeks after being reactivated.

He retired at age 44 as the oldest player in the majors. Don pitched for 18 seasons (1957-74) and appeared in 874 games, all but 2 as a reliever. At that time, only Hoyt Wilhelm, Lindy McDaniel, and Cy Young had pitched in more games.

McMahon passed away in July 1987 at age 57.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Donn Clendenon (#375)

Donn Clendenon had a 12-year career as a first baseman, spending the first 2/3 of his career with the Pirates, before moving on to other teams, including the 1969 Miracle Mets, where he was named the World Series MVP.

Donn was signed by the Pirates in 1957, and played five seasons in the minors as a first baseman and outfielder. He also pitched two games in 1957.

Clendenon made his major-league debut in September 1961. In 1962, Donn made 41 starts at first base (mostly in August and September) and 17 starts in left field. He finished 2nd in NL Rookie of the Year voting to Cubs’ 2nd baseman Ken Hubbs (19 votes to 1 vote).

After the 1962 season, the Pirates traded their long-time first-sacker Dick Stuart to the Red Sox for catcher Jim Pagliaroni, paving the way for Clendenon to play fulltime at 1B. He started 146 games there in 1963, and never played another position for the Bucs (save for 2 innings at 3rd base in 1965).

Donn was the Pirates’ regular 1st baseman for the next 6 years, hitting between 12 and 28 homers per season, but also leading the NL in strikeouts in ’63 and ’68.

With young first basemen like Al Oliver and Bob Robertson waiting in the wings, Clendenon was left exposed to the expansion draft after the 1968 season, and was selected by the Montreal Expos with the 11th pick. Three months later, he was flipped to the Astros with Jesus Alou for Rusty Staub. When Clendenon refused to report to the Astros (word is that he didn’t like ex-Pirates’ and current Astros’ manager Harry Walker), the Expos kept Staub and Clendenon, and sent pitchers Jack Billingham and Skip Guinn to complete the deal.

Topps issued 2 cards for Clendenon that year (both #208), in a forerunner to their "traded" subsets that would begin in 1972.

After a brief holdout, Clendenon rejoined the Expos in mid-April, then was traded to the Mets in mid-June for pitcher Steve Renko and 3rd baseman Kevin Collins. Talk about a lucky break! Donn went from an expansion team to the eventual World Champions. He alternated at 1st base with Ed Kranepool for the remainder of the season, and although he didn’t play in the NLCS, he hit .357 (5 for 14) with 3 homers and 4 RBI in 4 World Series games, and was named the Series MVP.

In 1970, Donn started 96 games at first base, with outfielder Art Shamsky starting another 55 (Kranepool missed several months). This would be Donn’s last season as a regular. Kranepool returned in 1971 and started 2/3 of the games, leaving 1/3 for Clendenon.

Donn was released by the Mets after the ’71 season, and was picked up by the Cardinals that December. He only started 31 games in his final season, mostly from May to July. His last game was on August 5th, and he drew his release 2 days later.

After his playing career, Clendenon earned a law degree and practiced law in Ohio. Later in life he battled drug addiction and leukemia. He passed away in September 2005 at age 70.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bert Campaneris (#175)

Bert Campaneris had a 19-year career (1964-83), and was the Athletics’ shortstop for his first 13 seasons.

Although he famously played all nine positions during one game in 1965, he was mostly a shortstop. He did play a few dozen games in the outfield during his first 2 seasons, and in his final 2 seasons was a backup at 3B and 2B, but otherwise was found at shortstop for 94% of his career 19,123 innings played.

Bert was signed by the Kansas City Athletics in 1961, and made his major-league debut with Kansas City in July 1964. "Campy" shared the shortstop job with Wayne Causey for the 2nd half of the season, while also starting 27 games in left field. Bert was named to the Topps All-Rookie team in 1964.

In 1965 he started 103 games at shortstop and 37 in left field. That year, Campaneris led the AL in triples (12) and stolen bases (51). In fact, he would lead the league in stolen bases for the '65, '66, '67, '68, '70, and '72 seasons. He stole a career-high 62 bases in both 1968 and 1969, and also led the league with 177 hits in 1968.

Campaneris made the AL all-star team 5 times with the Athletics ('68, '72 – '75). He also played in the post-season 5 consecutive years (1971-75).

Campy became a free agent after the 1976 season, and signed with the Rangers. He had a good first year in Texas, making the all-star team for the final time in his career. He began the 1978 season as the starting shortstop, but was relegated to the bench for the final 2 months.

In May 1979, he was traded to the Angels for infielder Dave Chalk. Campaneris played the next 3 seasons with the Angels, sharing the shortstop job with others for 2 seasons, then becoming the backup 3rd baseman for the 1981 season.

Bert was granted free agency after the 1981 season, but with no takers, he played the 1982 season in Mexico. He returned to the American League for his final season in 1983, dividing his time between the Yankees and their triple-A team.

Bert's cousin is outfielder Jose Cardenal.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

NL Rookies: Bart Shirley / Grant Jackson

Here is one of the multi-team rookie cards that Topps put in their 7th Series in the mid-to late 1960s. Normally, these rookie stars cards have 2 to 3 players from 1 team, but in the last series, Topps had these "catch all" cards to pick up random rookies not already featured. (The Rod Carew rookie card in 1967 is another example.)

Bart Shirley was a utility infielder briefly for the Dodgers in the 1960s. This is his rookie card, but he also appears on a Mets Rookies card in 1967 and on his own card (as a Dodger) in the 1969 set.

Shirley was signed by the Dodgers in 1961 and played every season from 1961-70 in their farm system, mostly at SS/2B. Bart had brief call-ups to LA for a dozen or so games in 1964 and 1966.

After the '66 season he was selected by the Mets in the Rule 5 draft, but after 6 games with New York, he was returned to the Dodgers in mid-May. He was immediately assigned to the minors, and only saw major-league action again during the last 2 months of the 1968 season, playing in 39 games.

This is also Grant Jackson's rookie card, but unlike Bart Shirley, Jackson went on to a long career with the Phillies, Orioles, and Pirates. He appeared on a Phillies Rookies card in the 1967 set, then had his own card in every set from 1968 to 1982.

Jackson made his major-league debut with the Phillies in September 1965. After 2 games in 1966, he made the Phillies for good at the start of 1967. After long stints with the Orioles and Pirates, he played briefly with the Expos and Royals before retiring after the 1982 season.

You can read more about Jackson here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Jesus Alou (#242)

Jesus Alou is the youngest of the 3 Alou brothers. He was the last to join, and to leave the Giants. He played for 15 seasons, mostly for the Giants and Astros.

Alou was signed by the Giants in 1958, and made his major-league debut in September 1963. Since his oldest brother Felipe left the Giants after the 1963 season, there was only 1 game where Jesus, Felipe, and Matty all played in the same outfield.

Jesus played 5 full seasons with the Giants (1964-68) and was always the #2 or #3 outfielder (behind Willie Mays) in terms of playing time. In his first 2 seasons he was the primary right fielder. In his final 3 seasons, he split his time between right and left field, as the Giants also worked in 3rd baseman Jim Ray Hart in left, and Ollie Brown (and in 1968, Bobby Bonds) in right.

After the 1968 season Alou was selected by the Expos in the expansion draft, and two months later was forwarded to the Astros (with Donn Clendenon) for Rusty Staub.

For 3 seasons (1969-71) things continued the same as in San Francisco: Alou was the #2 outfielder, and split his time between the 2 corners.

Things began to change during the 1971 season with the addition of outfielders Bob Watson and Cesar Cedeno. Those two, combined with long-time Astro Jimmy Wynn resulted in a reduced role for Alou.

In 1972 Alou was relegated to a bench role, starting just 14 games that season. He was sold to the Athletics in July 1973, and was a part-time player with them through the end of 1974. Jesus also played in the and World Series in ’73 and ’74.

Alou was released by Oakland during spring training 1975, but was signed by the Mets in mid-April. He rode the bench for New York in 1975, and was released the following spring.

Jesus was out of baseball in 1976 and 1977, then re-signed with the Astros in November 1977. He played for Houston for the next 2 years, and was a player-coach in 1979.

After retiring following the 1979 season, Alou became a scout for the Expos. He later headed up the Marlins’ Dominican operations, and since 2002 has held the same post with the Red Sox.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dean Chance (#340)

Here is Dean Chance’s last card as a member of the California Angels, complete with wax or gum residue at no extra charge.

Dean’s best season was 1964, when he won the Cy Young award (back then there was only 1 award, not 1 per league) and led the AL in wins (20), ERA (1.65), shutouts (11), complete games (15), and innings pitched (278). He also had 207 strikeouts.

Chance was also an all-star in 1964 and in 1967, his first season with the Twins. In ’67 he won 20 games and was the league leader in starts (39), complete games (18) and innings pitched (283).

Chance was signed by the Orioles (I did not know that) in 1959, then after 2 seasons in their low minors, he was selected by the expansion Washington Senators in the December 1960 draft. That same day he was flipped to the expansion Angels for reserve outfielder Joe Hicks. Dean pitched for the Angels’ AAA team in Dallas-Fort Worth in 1961, and made his major-league debut on 9/11/61.

In 1962, the 21-year-old rookie led the 2nd-year Angels with 14 wins, remarkable since he spent most of May and all of July in the bullpen. Chance finished 3rd in the AL Rookie of the Year voting behind the Yankees’ Tom Tresh and Angels’ teammate Bob Rodgers.

Dean won 13 games in 1963, then had his monster season in 1964, as described above. After 2 more seasons at the top of the Angels’ rotation (15 and 12 wins), Chance was traded to the Twins after the 1966 season for 1st baseman Don Mincher, pitcher Pete Cimino, and outfielder Jimmie Hall. (The Angels later sent shortstop Jackie Hernandez to the Twins to complete the trade.)

After his big season in 1967, he leveled off at 16-16 in 1968. In 1969 Chance missed all of June and July with a back injury, and finished with a 5-4 record in only 88 innings (20 games) in his final season with the Twins.

In December 1969 he was traded to the Indians (with 3rd baseman Graig Nettles, pitcher Bob Miller, and outfielder Ted Uhlaender) for pitchers Luis Tiant and Stan Williams. Dean was 9-8 for Cleveland while starting 19 of his 45 games, then was sold to the Mets in mid-September.

The Mets traded him to the Tigers during spring training 1971, and his spent his final season as a swing man for Detroit, compiling a 4-6 record in 31 games (14 starts) in only 89 innings.

After his retirement, he formed a company that operated games of chance (!) booths at carnivals and state fairs in the 1970s and 1980s. In the 1990s, he started a boxing association and managed several fighters.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Jim Perry (#283)

Jim Perry pitched for 17 years (1959-75), mostly for the Indians and Twins. His best season was 1970, when he led the league with 24 wins and won the Cy Young award.

The older brother of Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry was signed by the Indians in 1956, and after 3 seasons as a starting pitcher in the low minors, he skipped double-A and triple-A ball to make his major-league debut with the Tribe in April 1959.

Although Jim’s debut on April 23rd was a starting assignment, he spent most of his rookie season in the bullpen, until joining the rotation in late-July. He made 12 more starts that year, finished up with a 12-10 record and a 2.65 ERA, and was a distant 2nd place to Bob Allison in the Rookie of the Year voting.

Perry had a monster sophomore campaign, taking over as the Indians’ ace and leading the American League in wins (18), starts (36), and shutouts (4). The following season he made his first of 3 all-star squads.

Jim was traded to the Twins straight-up for pitcher Jack Kralick in May 1963, and joined Camilo Pascual, Dick Stigman, and Jim Kaat in the starting rotation. (In a few years, almost the entire staff would be named Jim.)

With the Twins’ acquisition of ex-Indians’ teammate Jim "Mudcat" Grant in 1964, Perry spent the entire season in the bullpen. He returned to the rotation in 1965, and posted double-figure wins in both ’65 and ’66. Jim also pitched 2 games in the 1965 World Series, with no decisions.

Perry had 2 off-years, then made a comeback in 1969 by winning 20 games and finishing 3rd in the Cy Young balloting behind Mike Cuellar and Denny McLain. The following season he won a league-best 24 games, and claimed the Cy Young award. Perry pitched in the ’69 and ’70 ALCS, and made the ’70 and ’71 all-star teams.

After winning 17 games in 1971 and 13 in 1972, Perry was traded to the Tigers prior to the ’73 season. He played only 1 year in Detroit, then moved back to the Indians in March 1974 as part of a 3-team trade involving the Yankees.

Jim spiked up to 17 wins in his return to Cleveland, but it would be his last good season. He began the 1975 season with the Indians, but with his record at 1-6, he was traded to the Athletics on May 20th (with pitcher Dick Bosman) for pitcher John "Blue Moon" Odom. Perry pitched in 15 games for Oakland before he was released on August 13th.

In 17 seasons, he compiled a 215-174 record with 1576 strikeouts.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Camilo Pascual (#305)

A few months ago, I found a page on listing the 100 oldest living ex-players. Within the scope of the 1966 to 1970 card sets, the only names listed there were 3 managers. I decided yesterday to find out who were the oldest living ex-players from that time period that I haven’t yet featured on my blogs. 

As best as I can determine, they are pitchers Orlando Pena and Camilo Pascual (both 80), outfielder Russ Snyder (turning 80 next week), 1B-OF Felipe Alou (79), and pitchers Bob Humphreys and Jim Perry (both 78). Nine others are 77, with Fred Gladding, Vic Davalillo, and J.C. Martin turning 78 later this year. 

Camilo Pascual had an 18-year career from 1954 to 1971, primarily as a starting pitcher for the Washington Senators and Minnesota Twins. Late in his career, he was traded back to the (new) Washington Senators, making him one of a very few who played for both Senators’ franchises.

In 1951, Pascual played for several unaffiliated teams in the low minors, then was signed by the Washington Senators in 1952. He played 2 seasons for their class-B teams, then made his big-league debut in April 1954.

Camilo was primarily a reliever for his first 2 seasons, before becoming a starter for the bulk of his career, before converting back to relief in his final 2 seasons.

After 5 losing seasons, Pascual had a breakout year in 1959, winning 17 games and leading the AL in complete games (17) and shutouts (6). He made his first all-star appearance that season, and would also be an all-star in 4 of the next 5 seasons.

Camilo and the rest of his team moved to Minnesota in 1961, becoming the Twins. He punched out over 200 batters each season from 1961 to 1964, leading the league in the first 3 of those seasons. Pascual also led the AL in shutouts in ’61 and ’62, and in complete games in ’62 and ’63 (18 each season). He also had his only 20-win seasons in ’62 and ’63.

Pascual’s career began to decline after that. After winning 15 games in 1964, he slipped to 9-3 in the Twins’ pennant-winning 1965 season, and missed all of August. In 1966, he missed most of the 2nd half, and finished at 8-6.

After the season he was traded back to Washington (along with 2nd baseman Bernie Allen) for pitcher Ron Kline. Camilo was rejuvenated with his return to Washington, and won in double figures for his first 2 seasons there.

Midway through the 1969 season, he was sold to the Reds. In April 1970, Pascual was released by the Reds and signed by the Dodgers on the same day, only to be released at season’s end.

In his final season (1971), Camilo was signed by the Indians, traded to the Padres, returned to the Indians, and released all in the season’s first 2 months. He finished up with a record of 174-170 (not bad considering the teams he played for), with 2167 strikeouts.

After his playing career he was a pitching coach for a short time, before becoming an international scout for several teams. Among the players he signed were Jose Canseco and Alex Cora.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Johnny Podres (#468)

“Hey! What gives? Your 'on-deck' sidebar said that Dean Chance was next in the rotation!” 

Yes that’s true, but I got wind that the "$30 a Week Habit" blog was going to link here tomorrow for his ’59 vs. ’66 card set faceoff, so I wanted to put my best foot forward, in a shameless attempt to curry favor with the voters. (Sorry, Commish!)

Dean Chance was a good pitcher, but the capless/airbrushed 1966 Angels cards are atrocious to look at, so I’m trotting out Pods to save the day. Even though I have already featured his 1967 and 1969 cards on my other blogs, I’ll justify this post by mentioning that this is his final card as a Dodger.

This is my favorite of my 3 Johnny Podres cards, maybe because his sad-dog look is more evident than on his ’67 and ’69 cards, or maybe just because he is pictured as a Dodger. (Podres retired after the 1967 season, and wasn’t in the 1968 set.)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Ken Berry (#127)

Ken Berry played 9 seasons for the White Sox (including starting gigs from 1965 to 1970), followed by 3 seasons with the Angels, then wrapped up his career with a season each with the Brewers and Indians.

Berry was signed by the White Sox, and played 4 seasons (1961-64) in their farm system. During his last 3 minor-league seasons, he played a few games with the White Sox during his September call-ups.

Ken made the Sox in 1965, taking over the starting center field job from longtime incumbent Jim Landis, who was traded to the Athletics. Berry started 142 games in center during his rookie season, and played in another 15 games as a pinch-hitter and defensive replacement. He also hit a career-high 12 home runs, although only batting .218.

(I was going to make some kind of comment about the Ken Berry from the "Mayberry RFD" and "F Troop" TV shows, but here, Berry looks like Anthony Perkins in "Fear Strikes Out")

With the arrival of soon-to-be AL Rookie of the Year Tommie Agee in 1966, Berry was initially left without a position for the first 2 months. After Danny Cater was traded to the Athletics, Berry became the primary left fielder for the final 4 months of the season, while also getting some starts in right field. At the plate, Ken raised his batting average to .271, 53 points higher than his rookie year.

1967 saw another veteran outfielder (Floyd Robinson) leaving Chicago, so Berry replaced him in right field for the first 2 months. After spending most of June bouncing between left and right, Ken played in center field for most of July, while Agee was out of the lineup. The Sox had acquired Rocky Colavito at the end of July, and he pulled most of the right field starts over the final 2 months, which relegated Berry to the bench upon Agee’s return in early August.

Prior to the 1968 season, Agee was traded to the Mets, which allowed Berry to slide back to the center field position he held down as a rookie. Ken started 137 games as the center gardener, between new wingmen Tommy Davis (LF) and a committee-of-5 in right field. Ken continued as the Sox’ regular center fielder for the next 2 seasons, although he was out of the starting lineup for much of June and July 1969.

After the 1970 season, he was part of a 6-player trade with the Angels, which sent Jay Johnstone to the White Sox. After 3 seasons as the Angels’ center fielder, he was traded to the Brewers (with pitchers Steve Barber and Clyde Wright) for pitcher Skip Lockwood, catcher Ellie Rodriguez, and outfielders Ollie Brown and Joe LaHoud.

In his one season with Milwaukee, Ken was a backup center fielder and pinch-hitter. Following his post-season release, he was up by the Indians, where he played 25 games until he was released in early June.

In his career, Berry made one all-star team (1967) and won 2 Gold Gloves (’70, ’72).

After his playing career, Ken was a minor-league manager off-and-on from 1982 to 1997.