Sunday, February 24, 2013

Rico Petrocelli (#298)

Rico Petrocelli was selected as the Topps all-rookie shortstop for 1965.

Petrocelli was signed by the Red Sox in 1961, and played 3 seasons in the minors (1962-64) as a shortstop. His major-league debut was a 1-game cup of coffee in September 1963, but he wouldn't return until the start of the 1965 season. From there, he would play his entire 12-year career with the Red Sox.

Rico began the 1965 season as the starting shortstop, replacing the veteran Ed Bressoud, who had started 158 games at short in 1964. Petrocelli started 93 games as a rookie, to Bressoud's 69 starts.

In 1966, Petrocelli was the fulltime shortstop, although he was sidelined for the 2nd half of August. The next season, Boston was in the World Series for the first time in 20 years, and Rico hit 2 home runs against the Cardinals. He made the AL All-Star team in 1967 and 1969, and uncharacteristically hit 40 homers in 1969. (His previous high was 18 dingers.) His power surge lasted two more seasons, hitting 29 and 28 homers in '70 and '71, before he settled back in the mid-teens.

The Sox acquired Luis Aparicio in 1972, moving Rico over to 3rd base, where he would stay until the end of his career in 1976. Petrocelli wrapped up his last season as a full-time regular by hitting .308 in the 1975 World Series.

Rico began the 1976 as the starting 3rd baseman, but by the end of June, rookie Butch Hobson took over the position, starting 76 of the last 96 games at 3rd.

Petrocelli managed in the White Sox' farm system from 1986-88, and managed the Red Sox' AAA team in 1992. He was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1997.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Joe Morgan (#195)

General blog note: Yesterday, I found a 1952 Topps baseball card blog. Check it out by scrolling down to my vintage year blogroll!

Joe Morgan was the Topps all-rookie 2nd baseman in 1965. A year later, the Astros would beef up the other side of their double-play combo.

Morgan was signed by the expansion Houston Colt .45s in November 1962 (wow, that's really late in the season!). He played 2 seasons in the minors (getting brief call-ups each season).

In 1965, Joe was installed as the regular 2nd baseman at the start of the season. He started 155 games there as a rookie, led the NL with 97 walks, and finished 2nd in NL Rookie of the Year voting to Dodgers' 2nd baseman Jim Lefebvre. (I wonder why Topps didn't choose Lefebvre?)

Except for missing most of the 1968 season with injuries, Morgan was a fixture at 2nd base for the Astros from 1965 to 1971, making the all-star team in '66 and '70.

After the 1971 season, Joe was traded to the Cincinnati Reds (with pitcher Jack Billingham, infielder Denis Menke, and outfielders Cesar Geronimo and Ed Armbrister) for 1st baseman Lee May, 2nd baseman Tommy Helms, and utility infielder Jimmy Stewart. The rest is Big Red Machine history.

Morgan and the Reds went to the post-season 4 times in his first 5 years with the Reds, winning the World Series in '75 and '76. Joe was an all-star every season from 1972-79, and won the NL MVP award in '75 and '76.

Joe left the Reds via free agency after the 1979 season, and played 5 more seasons, with the Astros, Giants, Phillies, and Athletics. In 1982, he won his only silver slugger award (at age 38).

In 1983, he was reunited in Philadelphia with former Reds' teammates PETE ROSE and Tony Perez, as the Phillies went to the World Series, only to lose to the Orioles.

Morgan played 22 seasons, and was his team's regular 2nd baseman right up to the end of his career.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Tony Perez (#72)

Tony Perez was the Topps All-Rookie 3rd baseman in 1965, just another in a long line of Cincinnati Reds:

1963 - Pete Rose 2B, Tommy Harper OF
1964 - Bill McCool P
1965 - Tony Perez 1B
1966 - Tommy Helms 3B
1967 - Lee May 1B
1968 - Johnny Bench C
(When Lee May came along 2 years later, Perez simply moved over to 3rd base.)

Perez was signed by the Reds in 1960, and played 5 seasons (1960-64) in the minors. He was a 3rd baseman until his final minor-league season, when he divided his time between 1st and 3rd.

Tony made his major-league debut in 1964, playing in 11 games from late-July to late-August, and one final game on Sept. 30th. He made the Reds for good on opening day 1965, and platooned at 1st base with veteran Gordy Coleman. Perez started 66 games, mostly against left-handers.

Tony's playing time decreased slightly in 1966. He played in 99 games, but only 62 starts at 1st base. (Coleman started 63 games, while rookie call-up Lee May started most of the games for the last 3 weeks of the season.)

1967 was the beginning of Perez' prime-time. He played 150+ games in 7 of the next 8 seasons, and became an RBI machine. In the '67 All-Star game, he hit the game-winning home run in the 15th inning.

From 1967-71, he was the regular 3rd baseman, before moving back to 1st base in 1972 after Lee May's trade to Houston. Tony was an all-star for the Reds 7 times between 1967 and 1976, and played in the post-season in '70, '72, '73, '75, and '76, including a 10-for-28 showing against Oakland in the 1972 World Series.

After the 1976 season, he was traded to the Expos. His all-star days were over, but he was the team's regular 1st baseman for 3 seasons.

Free agency landed him in Boston after the 1979 season, where he was the regular 1st-sacker for a year, then slipped into a part-time role in 1981-82.

In 1983, he joined ex-Reds' teammates Pete Rose and Joe Morgan in Philadelphia, as the "Wheeze Kids" made a run to the World Series.

After the season, he was sold to the Reds, and spent his final 3 seasons as the backup 1st baseman behind Dan Driessen, then Pete Rose.

After his playing career, Tony coached for the Reds, then managed the team during the first 2 months of 1993. He was also the interim manager for the Florida Marlins for the last 144 games in 2001.

Perez was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.

Also check out his 1967 card.