Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ray Culp (#4)

This is Ray Culp's last Phillies card. He spent 4 years with the Phillies (1963-66), and made the all-star team as a rookie. Although primarily a starter, he made quite a few relief appearances in 1964 and 1966.

After the 1966 season, he was traded to the Cubs for lefthanded pitcher Dick Ellsworth. (I recently learned that Culp pretty much talked his way out of Philadelphia after the 1966 season.)

After one season in Chicago, he was traded to the Red Sox, where he spent his final six seasons (the first 4 as one of Boston's top starting pitchers).

Friday, October 30, 2009

Final Card: Hector Lopez

Hector Lopez (#177) was signed by the then-Philadelphia Athletics, and played in their farm system from 1951 to May 1955. His major-league debut was on May 12, 1955 with Kansas City. From 1955 to 1959, he played 3rd base and some 2nd base.

In May 1959, he was traded to (naturally) the New York Yankees. (Fellow Athletics' teammate Roger Maris would follow him at the end of the season.) Beginning in 1960, Lopez played exclusively in the outfield, usually in left field.

For those of you who never heard of Hector Lopez (and I was among them, before poking around on a few years ago), here's how he fit into the Yankees outfield (click to enlarge):

(I used 1966 as the cutoff, because Maris and Lopez left after 1966, and Mantle moved to 1st base in 1967.)

Lopez was released by the Yankees following the 1966 season. He played 2 more seasons with the Senators' triple-A team in Hawaii (1967) and Buffalo (1968).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bo Belinsky (#506)

Bo Belinsky was probably more famous for his off-field exploits with the ladies (especially during his 3 years with the Los Angeles Angels) than for his baseball prowess. How fitting that the back of his card lists "Hollywood" as his home.

After kicking around the Pirates and Orioles farm systems for 6 years, the Angels picked him in the rule 5 draft after the 1961 season. He spent 3 years with them before being traded to the Phillies.

Bo was with the Phillies for all of 1965 and part of 1966 (spending most of '66 in triple-A). Following the 1966 season, he was again a rule 5 draft pick, this time by the Houston Astros. (In May 1967, the Phillies purchased pitcher Turk Farrell from the Astros, so this was basically a Belinsky-for-Farrell wash.)

Belinsky spent all of 1967 with the Astros, but was in the minors for most of 1968-1970, with a few major-league appearances in 1969 and 1970. Along the way, he found himself in his THIRD rule 5 draft, following the 1968 season.

Pedro Ramos (#439)

For the next several days, my 3 card blogs will take on a Phillies and Yankees flavor, as we gear up for the World Series.

Pedro Ramos played for both the Yankees and the Phillies toward the end of his career. He began his career with the (old) Washington Senators in 1955. At that time, he was primarily a starter.

After 7 seasons, the Twins traded him to the Indians for 1B Vic Power and P Dick Stigman. During his 2 3/4 seasons in Cleveland (1962-64) he was used more and more as a reliever, so that by the time he was sold to the Yankees in early September 1964, he was strictly a relief pitcher, and remained so for the rest of his career.

Following the 1966 season, Ramos was traded to the Phillies for pitcher Joe Verbanic. The Phillies saw enough of him in 2 months to give him his release in late May 1967, and replace him with organizational yo-yo John Boozer. He spent the rest of 1967 and 1968 in the minors, was up and down during 1969, and finished his major-league career with the (new) Washington Senators in April 1970. After 2 more seasons in the minors, he hung up his glove.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Final Card: Chuck Dressen

Time for a manager's card!

Back in the day, I had heard the name Charlie Dressen (probably from listening to Richie Ashburn and By Saam ramble on during Phillies' broadcasts), but since he wasn't managing in 1967 (my first year of collecting baseball cards), I didn't know anything about him, other than he was one of the "old-time" managers (like Jimmie Dykes, Birdie Tebbetts, Leo Durocher, Danny Murtaugh, etc).

Earlier this year, I began collecting 1966 cards, and bought some from This card was among the bunch:

Since he was the Tigers' manager in 1966, and the Tigers finished the '66, '67, and '68 seasons in 3rd, 2nd, and 1st place respectively, I wondered "Why would the Tigers replace Dressen prior to the 1967 season?" I learned that he had a heart attack prior to the 1965 season, and a second one during the 1966 season. Dressen passed away in August of 1966.

The card back alludes to a long playing and managing career, but obviously can only skim the surface. I'll let this Wikipedia page tell the story (where we also learn he was an NFL quarterback in 1920).

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Final Card: Roy McMillan

Roy McMillan (#421) began playing pro baseball in 1947. As with many long-time veterans, Topps has omitted McMillan's minor-league stats from the card back.

He made his major-league debut in 1951 with the Reds. In his first year, he was the backup SS/3B. In 1952, he took over the shortstop position, and was one of two Reds players to play in all 154 games. McMillan continued as the Reds starting shortstop for nine years. A durable player, starting in 1952, he played in 150 or more games in 7 of the next 10 years.

After 1960, he was traded to the Braves for pitchers Joey Jay and Juan Pizarro. After 3 years as the Braves regular shortstop, he was traded to the Mets in early 1964 for pitcher Jay Hook. Once again, McMillan was the regular shortstop for the Mets during 1964 and 1965.

Before the 1966 season, the Mets acquired shortstop Ed Bressoud, and the 2 players shared the shortstop job fairly evenly in 1966. McMillan was released by the Mets following the 1966 season, although his last game was in early August.

Roy also managed the Mets during the 2nd half of 1975.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Final Card: Dick Stuart

Dick Stuart (#480) was a good-hit, no-field first baseman who primarily played for the Pirates and Red Sox.

In 1956 he hit 66 homers in the minors. He came up to the Pirates in 1958, and was the Pirates' first baseman in the 1960 World Series.

After the 1964 season, he was traded to the Phillies for pitcher Dennis Bennett. After one year, the Phillies saw enough of Dr. Strangeglove, and shipped him to the Mets prior to the 1966 season. (Actually, he became unnecessary for the Phillies after they acquired Bill White following the 1965 season.)

In 1966, Stuart played 30-plus games each for the Mets and Dodgers. He played in Japan in 1967 and 1968, but made a brief comeback in 1969 with the Giants' triple-A team in Phoenix, and with the Angels.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Final Card: Joey Jay

Joey Jay (#406) arrived in the majors in 1953 with the Milwaukee Braves. He pitched for them through the 1960 season (the last two as a regular starter).

After the 1960 season, he was traded to the Reds for shortstop Roy McMillan. Jay won 21 games in each of his first 2 years with Cincinnati (leading the league in 1961), and was a mainstay in the Reds rotation through 1965. Midway through the 1966 season, he was traded to Atlanta. The Braves released him after the season, ending his major-league career.

In most record books, this is the end of Joey Jay's story.

As I said in my 1960s blog, my introduction to major-league baseball was attending a Phillies game in early 1967. At that game, I bought a Phillies yearbook (and over the rest of that season, probably memorized it!) I was sure that I recalled a Joey Jay page in that book.

Only in the last few months have I found the minor-league statistics pages. There (and elsewhere) I learned that Joey Jay did indeed get a non-roster tryout with the Phillies in the 1967 pre-season, but didn't make the team. He spent the year with the Phillies single-A club in Tidewater, VA before retiring after the season.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Final Card: Del Crandall

What I find most interesting about Del Crandall (#339) is that he is one of the last few active players who played major-league baseball in the 1940s, and he played for the Boston Braves.

Del was the Milwaukee Braves regular catcher from 1953 to 1960. His last season was 1966, when he caught about 25% of the Indians' games. (Joe Azcue caught 50%, and Duke Sims the other 25%.)

After Del's playing career, he began managing in the minors in 1969, and managed the Brewers from 1972-75, and the Mariners in 1983 and 1984.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Final Card: Sandy Koufax

What better way to start off this blog than with the best player from 1966? (Take that, F. Robby!)

Koufax retired at age 30, following the Dodgers' appearance in the 1966 World Series. In his final season, he compiled a 27-9 record, with 27 complete games, while pitching 323 innings!

As a testament to Koufax's final season, I offer exhibits A, B, and C: