Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Final Card: Pete Charton

This is the final card for Pete Charton (#329) who pitched one season in the majors (1964). He also appeared on the Red Sox Rookies card in the 1964 set.

There seems to be an unusually large number of players in the 1966 set with their own card, while having only 1 season of prior major-league experience. Why Charton has a card in the 1966 set is puzzling, as he spent the entire '65 season in the minors, after pitching 25 games with the Sox in 1964.

On top of all that inactivity, Pete missed the entire 1966 season, then pitched 13 games in double-A ball in 1967 before his career was over.

Why Topps, why?

 Here is an interview with Pete Charton on another blog.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Final Card: Chris Krug

Chris Krug (#166) played 10 seasons in the minors, but spent very little time in the Show. His 60 games with the Cubs in 1965 enabled him to score a card in Topps' 1966 set.

Krug was signed by the Cardinals in 1958, and caught in their minor-league system for 7 seasons. In all that time, he only played 10 games at the triple-A level. After the '64 season, the Cubs selected him in the minor-league draft.

He split the '65 season between the Cubs and their double-A team in Dallas-Ft Worth. Making his major-league debut on May 30th, Chris alternated at catcher with Vic Roznovsky and Ed Bailey.

That was his only significant playing time in the majors, as he was back in the minors for all but 10 games in 1966. In November he was traded to the Angels, who assigned him to their triple-A Seattle team until releasing him in June 1967.

Krug was out of baseball in 1968, but resurfaced for 8 games with the expansion San Diego Padres in April and May 1969, before getting his final release.

Monday, June 11, 2012

American League Batting Leaders (#216, 218, 220)

Here are the American League batting leaders for the prior season. Tony Oliva and Willie Horton each appear twice, and there are two Red Sox players, and (surprising to me) two Indians. In addition to Horton, the Tigers are also represented by 1st baseman Norm Cash, so only 4 of the 10 AL teams are represented.

These were the only three AL players to hit .300 or better. Tony Oliva won the 2nd of his 3 AL batting crowns in 1965. Carl Yastrzemski was getting warmed up for his triple crown 1967 season. (Why did Topps take a photo of Yaz with his chin up? Did they really think he might be traded?) Vic Davalillo hit .301 in 1965. (I would never have guessed he appeared on a leaders card.)

Tony Conigliaro won the AL home run title in his 2nd season, breaking Harmon Killebrew's 3-year reign at the top. Tony's 32 homers were well off the normal league-leading pace in the upper-40s. Tiger teammates Cash and Horton rounded out the top 3.

Indians' slugger Rocky Colavito led the league with 108 RBI. This was his only RBI crown, although he collected over 100 six times, including 140 in 1961. (Some guy named Maris led the AL that year with 141.) Rocky won the home run title in 1959 with 42 dingers. Horton finished 2nd, with Oliva in 3rd place. (I always knew Oliva was a hitting guru, but never thought of him as a power guy, so I was a little surprised to see him here.)


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Alex Johnson (#104)

Yikes! I realized a few days ago that I had posted Harvey Kuenn's final card here twice, and with two different sets of copy. (That's an hour of my life I'll never get back.) Anyway, it's been 3 months since we've seen a Phillies' player, so:

This is Alex Johnson's last card as a Phillie, as he was traded in the previous off-season to the Cardinals. A few months later, the Phillies would let go of another of their young outfielders.

Johnson was signed by the Phillies in 1961, and began his pro career in 1962 with the Miami Marlins, the Phillies' class-D team in the Florida State League.

Alex made his major-league debut with the Phillies in late July 1964. He made 33 starts in left field for the remainder of that season, platooning with veteran Wes Covington. That arrangement continued in 1965, except that Tony Gonzalez also made 40 starts in left, which along with Covington's 60 starts, left Johnson with just 56 starts.

In October 1965, Johnson was packed up with pitcher Art Mahaffey and rookie catcher Pat Corrales, and shipped to the Cardinals for 1st baseman Bill White, shortstop Dick Groat, and catcher Bob Uecker, as the Phillies went about acquiring veterans to get them over the hump.

Alex played most of 1966 in the minors, but was with the Cardinals for all of 1967. It was the right season to be there, as the Cards won the World Series, with Johnson serving as Roger Maris' backup in right field. Somewhere along the way, Johnson picked up the label of troublemaker/malcontent, and was shipped out to the Reds for outfielder Dick Simpson.

Johnson finally became a regular in his first season with Cincinnati. He hit .312 and .315 in his 2 seasons there and was the everyday left fielder, before (in what was becoming an every-2-year pattern) he was traded to the Angels after the 1969 season with infielder Chico Ruiz for pitchers Pedro Borbon and Jim McGlothlin.

Alex led the AL in batting with a .329 average in his first season with the Angels, and also made his only all-star appearance. True to form, after 2 years with the Angels, he was off again - this time a one-year stay in Cleveland (1972), followed by 2 seasons with the Rangers, one with the Yankees (where he was a little-used spare part), before wrapping up his career as the Tigers' everyday leftfielder in 1976.