Thursday, March 25, 2010

Final Card: Bobby Richardson

Bobby Richardson (#490) was the regular 2nd baseman for the Yankees during the end of their golden era (1959-1966).

After losing back-to-back World Series in 1963 and 1964, the grand old Yankees began dropping parts like a junker losing its transmission: Tony Kubek after 1965, Richardson, Clete Boyer, and Roger Maris after 1966, Whitey Ford retiring in May 1967, Elston Howard later in 1967, and finally, Mickey Mantle after 1968.

Richardson was signed by the Yankees in 1953 and played 4 seasons in their farm system, while also making brief appearances in New York in 1955 and 1956.

Bobby made the Yankees to stay in 1957. After a few starts in April and May, he took over the starting 2nd base job from Billy Martin on June 4th. (2 weeks later, Martin was traded to Kansas City.)

In 1958, Richardson was relegated to a backup 2B-3B role, but bounced back the following season as the #1 second baseman, a job he would hold until retiring after the 1966 season. From 1961 to 1965 he was a workhorse, starting 160, 161, 150, 156, and 157 games at 2nd base.

In his final 1966 season, Bobby played more games (149) than any other player also in their final season that year. (Willie Kirkland (124) and Harvey Kuenn (89) were the closest to him.) Richardson played his last game on October 2, 1966.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Final Card: Robin Roberts

Here is the final baseball card for 19-year veteran pitcher Robin Roberts (#530). I just received this card a few days ago, filling a prominent gap near the top of my list of retiring veterans.

Roberts was signed by the Phillies in 1948, and after only 11 games in the minors, he was brought up to the Phillies on June 18th. He ended up being the #4 starter in his rookie season, and by 1950 he was the team's ace, a position he held through the 1960 season.

Roberts led the Phillies to the 1950 World Series, and won 20 or more games every year from 1950 to 1955. This was quite a feat, since most of those Phillies teams had so-so records.

In Robin's final season with the Phillies (1961), he dropped off to a 1-10 record, and was sold to the Yankees after the season. By the following May, the Yankees released him, but he was picked up by the Orioles.

Roberts was in Baltimore's starting rotation during the years when Wally Bunker and Dave McNally were getting their start.

He was released in July 1965, and picked up by the Astros a week later. Robin started 10 games in 1965 and 12 games in 1966 before getting his release on July 4th, 1966. He played the remainder of that season with the Cubs, and in 1967 with the Phillies' double-A team in Reading, PA before retiring.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mailbox Bonanza!

In the past few days, the following guys have shown up in my mailbox (along with some late-80s/early-90s Phillies in tow):

I have now completed these sets:
1967 NFL Football
1969 Baseball
1969 Deckle-edge insert set
All Phillies from 1964 to 1993 (except Schmidt rookie)
2 key additions to my "1966-was-their-final-card" series on this blog (Roberts, Richardson).

I added the Bart Starr card to my 1967 Packers post a few days ago, and Roberts & Richardson will be the next 2 posts on this blog.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Final Card: Dick Stigman

Dick Stigman (#512) spent 6 season in the Cleveland Indians' farm system before making his major-league debut On April 22, 1960. He made 41 appearances for the Indians that season, mostly in relief.

The following season, his playing time tapered off to 22 games. He was the 9th man on a 10-man staff. Just before the 1962 season, Stigman and Vic Power were traded to the Twins for pitcher Pedro Ramos.

Dick had more success in Minnesota. In 1962, he started 15 games and relieved in 25 others. His 142 innings pitched were 4th-most on the team. With a record of 12-5, his .706 winning percentage was tops in the American League.

In 1963, Stigman's wins (15) and innings pitched (241) were more than all other starters except Camilo Pascual (who went 21-9). 1964 was an off-year for Dick (6-15), as he was passed by Jim Kaat and Jim Grant in the Twins' rotation.

In 1965, Stigman found himself occupying the Twins' bullpen. One week before the start of the 1966 season, he was traded to the Red Sox for catcher Russ Nixon and 2nd baseman Chuck Schilling.

Stigman appeared in 34 games for the Red Sox, mostly in relief. His final major-league game was on September 10, 1966. After the season, he was sent to the Cincinnati Reds to complete an earlier trade. He spent the 1967 season with the Reds' and Phillies' triple-A teams.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Final Card: Tracy Stallard

Here we have the final baseball card for Tracy Stallard (#7), looking very determined, 5 seasons and 2 teams removed from his date with baseball history!

Stallard was signed by the Boston Red Sox in 1956, and spent 5 seasons in their farm system, before making his major-league debut on September 14, 1960. He pitched 4 games in relief (a total of 4 innings) for the Sox that year.

In 1961, Tracy was Boston's #5 starter (14 starts), but also pitched 29 games in relief. Stallard's career spanned 7 seasons and 183 games, with a record of 30-57, but he is infamously known for his 1-0 loss on the last day of the 1961 season.

Did that event negatively affect him? He spent the entire 1962 season with Boston's triple-A team in Seattle, except for pitching 1 inning for the Red Sox. After the season, he was traded to the Mets (along with infielder Pumpsie Green) for 2B-SS-3B-OF Felix Mantilla. (I hesitate to label him INF-OF, because that usually means "scrub".)

Stallard spent 2 seasons with the Mets, but because this was the Mets, his winning percentage never rose above .333. After the 1964 season, he was traded to the Cardinals, where he rebounded in 1965 with an 11-8 record, while starting 26 games and relieving in 14 others.

In 1966 he appeared in 20 games, but with a 1-5 record, he was sent to the minors after his last appearance on July 24th. He spent the remainder of 1966 and all of 1967 playing in the minors for the Cardinals and Cubs.  

July 2013 EDIT: After being out of baseball in 1968, Stallard was a non-roster invitee for the expansion Royals in 1969, and spent that season in their farm system. He also played in Mexico from 1971-73.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Final Card: Don Heffner

Don Heffner's (#269) major-league managing career consisted of managing the Reds for the first 83 games of the 1966 season. Prior to this, the picture on his card indicates that he was the coach of the "Blue Team". (Was this a semi-pro team in Flushing, NY?)

At the time of his firing, the Reds were in 8th place with a 37-46 record (15 games back). There didn't seem to be any lineup adjustments made by the new manager (Dave Bristol), and the team finished the season in 7th place (76-84, 18 games back).

Friday, March 5, 2010

Final Card: Dom Zanni

Continuing the all-Cincinnati Reds theme tonight, here we have the final card for Dom Zanni (#233). Zanni had a 7-year career with the Giants, White Sox, and Reds.

He was signed by the New York Giants in 1951, and spent 11 seasons in their minor-league system, with brief call-ups in '58, 59, and '61. After the 1961 season, Dom was traded to the White Sox (along with pitcher Eddie Fisher and 2 others) for pitchers Don Larsen and Billy Pierce.

The next 2 seasons were good ones for Dom. They were the only seasons he stayed out of the minor leagues. With the White Sox in 1962, he appeared in 44 games, all but 2 in relief.

After 5 relief appearances in 1963, Zanni was traded to the Reds on May 5th. He pitched in 31 games for Cincinnati that season.

What happened after that? Maybe an old-school Reds' fan could recall the reasons, but Zanni pitched the 1964-67 seasons with the Reds' triple-A teams, making only a few appearances with the big club in 1965 and 1966.