Sunday, August 26, 2012

Final Card: Hector Valle

This is the final card for Dodgers' backup catcher Hector Valle (#314). Valle's only other card was a late-series Dodgers Rookies card in the 1965 set, which he shared with Jim Lefebvre and Mike Kekich.

Valle was signed by the Dodgers in 1960, and caught in their farm system for over 5 seasons before making it to the majors. Only during the 1962 and 1964 seasons did he play full-time.

Valle's major-league career consisted of 9 games for the Dodgers during the 1965 season. He played in 6 games in June (2 starts), and 3 later in the season, including starting the final game of the season. With John Roseboro and Jeff Torborg combining for 159 starts in 1965, there just wasn't much need for a 3rd-string catcher.

Hector played in the Dodgers' system through 1967, then after one season in the Mets' chain, he caught for the Tigers' AAA Toledo team for 2 1/2 seasons, and finished up the 1971 season with the AAA Omaha Royals.

Valle played in the Mexican League off and on from 1973 to 1981.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Final Card: Ernie Bowman

[Winding down the "Final Card" series for the 1966 set. After today's card, there's just 5 more to go. (Actually, there's 13 more, but I don't have 8 of them.) In any case, none of the remaining cards are a Twins' manager this time.]

Here's the last of three cards for infielder Ernie Bowman (#302). His rookie card was in the 1962 set, where he appeared on a full card as a member of the Giants. On that card, he looks like a pitcher in the stretch position, ready to fire a fastball plateward.

Bowman was signed by the New York Giants in 1956, and played the next 5 seasons as a 2nd baseman and shortstop in their farm system. As a first-year player in St. Cloud, MN, one of his teammates was Orlando Cepeda.

Bowman made his major-league debut with the Giants in April 1961, and spent most of the year with San Francisco as a utility infielder, while spending most of May and June back in triple-A. Ernie remained with the Giants for all of the next 2 seasons in a bench role.

His final major-league game came in September 1963, although Bowman continued in the minors for another 6 seasons. In January 1964, he was sent to the Braves as the player to be named later in the 7-player Felipe Alou trade.

After 2 seasons, the Braves sent Ernie and infielder Lou Klimchock to the Mets for outfielder Billy Cowan. A year later, he was traded to the Indians (again with his traveling partner Klimchock) for pitcher Floyd Weaver.

After playing regularly from 1964-66, his playing time continued to decrease from 1967-69, as he bounced around the triple-A teams for the Indians, Pirates, Braves, Reds, and Red Sox.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Final Card: Jack Cullen

This is the last of 2 Topps cards for Jack Cullen (#31). Cullen's rookie card was in the 1963 set, a 4-player Rookie Stars card that also featured future NBA star Dave DeBusschere.

Jack was signed by the Yankees in 1959, and pitched 8 seasons (1959-66) as a starter in their farm system. Cullen won in double figures for his first 4 seasons in the minors, and had a 2-game cup of coffee with the Yanks in September 1962.

After two off-years (1963-64), he bounced back in '65 with a 14-5 record, which earned him a 2-month stay with New York at the end of the '65 season. He made 9 starts and 3 relief appearances with the Yankees that season.

Cullen made 5 relief appearances for the Yankees in April and early May 1966, but spent the remainder of that year back in triple-A. After the season, he was traded to the Dodgers for 3rd baseman John Kennedy.

Jack never made it back to the majors. Although always a starter in the Yankees' farm system, the Dodgers converted him to a reliever, and he spent 2 seasons with their triple-A club in Spokane before wrapping up his career with 2 seasons (1969-70) as a member of the Braves' triple-A team in Richmond, VA.