Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Final Card: Joe Christopher

Joe Christopher (#343) was signed by the Pirates in 1955, and played in the minors from 1955 to 1959. During part of 1957, he also played in the Mexican League.

Joe made his major-league debut in late May 1959, and played 15 games for the Pirates, mostly as a pinch-hitter.

In 1960 he was used mainly as a pinch-hitter, but also as a 5th outfielder. The Pirates' starting outfield was Bob Skinner, Bill Virdon, and Roberto Clemente. Whatever playing time was leftover was usually scooped up by 4th outfielder Gino Cimoli.

In 1961 Joe saw more action, starting about 25% of the games in left field, as Bob Skinner's playing time was reduced. After the season Christopher was drafted by the Mets in the expansion draft.

In 1962, Joe, Richie Ashburn, and Jim Hickman were the primary starters in center and right field. Ashburn had seen enough losing, and retired after the season. However, in 1963 Duke Snider, Jim Piersall, and rookie Ed Kranepool would join the team and clutter the outfield picture, taking playing time away from Christopher.

Things would be different after that, as Joe's ship finally came in. In 1964 he was the #1 right fielder, starting 127 games there. The following season he started 110 games in the outfield, although his starts were split between left and right.

After the 1965 season he was traded to the Red Sox for shortstop Ed Bressoud. He didn't stay in Boston long. His last major-league game was on June 9th 1966. A week later he was traded (along with pitcher Earl Wilson) to Detroit for outfielder Don Demeter and pitcher Julio Navarro. Joe finished the season in the minor leagues.

He would play 2 more seasons in the minors before retiring after the 1968 season.

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