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.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Phil Gagliano (#418)

Phil Gagliano was a utility infielder who played for 12 seasons (1962-74), mostly with the Cardinals.

He played in the minors for 3 seasons before making his major-league debut in April 1963. After playing in only 10 games by early-May, he was sent to the minors for the rest of the season.

Phil also began the 1964 season with the Cards but was sent down in July, and missed the World Series that year.

He returned to the majors for good at the start of the 1965 season, and received the most playing time of his career, starting 90 games that year, including 48 at 2nd base (with regular 2nd baseman Julian Javier limited to 77 games that year). Phil also started 17 games at 3B and 23 games in right field. He tallied 53 RBI in 411 plate appearances.

All good things must come to an end, and Gagliano settled back into his utility role beginning in 1966. For the rest of his time with St. Louis, he was their go-to sub at 2B and also at 3B. (Although the team also had backup Ed Spiezio through the 1968 season, Ed was rarely used as a defensive replacement, but mostly as a pinch-hitter, while starting a few games at 3B each season.) 

Gagliano also played in the ’67 and ’68 World Series, and remained with the Cardinals until his late-May 1970 trade to the Cubs for pitcher Ted Abernathy.

Being a backup infielder with the Cubs in those years meant you didn’t get ANY playing time. After the season he was traded to the Red Sox for 3rd baseman Carmen Fanzone. Phil played for the Sox for 2 seasons (mostly as a pinch-hitter) then was traded to the Reds during Spring Training in 1973.

He played his final 2 seasons with Cincinnati, including 3 games in the ’73 NLCS. Gagliano was released by the Reds after the 1974 season.

He passed away in 2016 at age 74.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Two Guys Named Dick Ellsworth?

Only one of these guys can be Dick Ellsworth, right?

One card was made by Topps in 1966, featuring someone other than Ellsworth.

The other is a custom card by John Hogan at the Cards That Never Were blog (who, oddly enough has not posted for 10 months) .

John had corrected this UNBELIEVABLE error by Topps a few years back.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Cal Koonce (#278)

Cal Koonce pitched for the Cubs, Mets, and Red Sox from 1962 to 1971. He was a starter for his first few seasons, but by 1966 onward was almost exclusively a relief pitcher.

Koonce was signed by the Cubs in May 1961, and made his major-league debut with the Cubbies the following April. Cal started 30 games as a rookie in ’62 and at age 21 posted a 10-10 record, 2nd best on the team after veteran Bob Buhl’s 12 wins.

He had an off-year in 1963, spending most of June and July in the minors after his early-season work left him with an ERA over 6.00. Recalled in August, he finished up at 2-6.

Cal was back in the minors for most of 1964, only appearing in 6 games for the Cubs during a September call-up. It looks like he saved his career that month: winning 3 games, compiling an ERA of 2.03, and punching his ticket for a full 1965 season in Chicago!

In 1965 Koonce appeared in 38 games (23 starts) for the Cubs – his largest big-league workload to date, and his first full season in the majors since 1962.

Cal started the 1966 season with the Cubs, but with an ERA over 15.00 by the end of April, he earned a 6-week trip to the minors to get sorted out.  He returned in mid-August and appeared in 45 games that season, all but 5 in relief.

Koonce matched his 45 appearances again in 1967, but they were split between 2 teams. In August he was purchased by the Mets, and became the 4th player (also Bob Hendley, Rob Gardner, and John Stephenson) to have spent time with both the Cubs and Mets that season.

Cal pitched for the Mets until halfway through the 1970 season. Surprisingly, he did not play in the 1969 post-season, as the Mets only used 7 pitchers in the NLCS and World Series (starters Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman and Gary Gentry, and relievers Ron Taylor, Don Cardwell, Nolan Ryan, and Tug McGraw).

In mid-June 1970 he was sold to the Red Sox, where he worked as a reliever until he was released in August 1971.

After his playing career, he was the head baseball coach at Campbell University in North Carolina (his alma mater) for 7 seasons, then scouted for the Texas Rangers.

Koonce passed away in 1993 at age 52.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Dalton Jones (#317)

Here is Dalton Jones' 1966 card, where he is a third-year player still considered to be the team's "second baseman of the future". He appeared to be headed that way after his first 2 seasons, but was then derailed into utility status.

Jones was signed by the Red Sox in June 1961, and played 2 ½ seasons in their farm system. He was a shortstop in 1961-62, and a 2nd baseman in 1963.

Dalton made the Red Sox from the outset of the 1964 season, and for the next 2 years collected over 400 plate appearances each season, starting 78 games at 2nd base in '64 and 76 games at 3rd base in '65.

His career took a detour beginning in 1966. George Smith was acquired from the Tigers and started over 100 games at 2nd base for the Sox in his final season, leaving only 49 starts for Jones.

The following year, rookie Mike Andrews arrived on the scene, becoming the regular 2nd sacker. Jones started 23 games at 3rd base that year. (Dalton had averaged 114 games played every season from 1964 through 1969, except for the Sox’ Dream Season of 1967, when he only got into 89 games.) He hit a career-high .289 in 1967, and started the first 4 games of the World Series at 3rd base.

In 1968, Jones found a new position – he started 54 games at 1st base, when George Scott was out of the lineup for much of the second half of the season. In 1969 Scott moved over to third base, with Jones becoming the primary starter at 1st base (74 starts).

After the 1969 season, Jones was traded to the Tigers for infielder Tom Matchick (hardly equitable compensation for a 74-game starter in 1969!) Jones started about half the games in his 2-year stint with the Tigers, filling in at 2B, 3B, and left field.

In May 1972 he was traded to the Rangers, and played his final MLB season as a 2B/3B backup for Texas. Released in January 1973, he played for the Expos' AAA team that year before retiring.