Saturday, June 29, 2013

Jose Cardenal (#505)

Jose Cardenal was the centerfielder for the Topps 1965 All-Rookie team. He is one of 3 Angels' rookies (along with Marcelino Lopez and Paul Schaal) to make the squad.

Never an all-star or a league leader, Jose was a steady regular outfielder for several teams from 1965-1976, and played through the end of the 1980 season.

Jose started 125 games as a rookie in center for the Halos, including 116 of the first 131 games. He only started 2 games after September 12th, while the Angels gave a look-see to September call-ups Rick Reichardt and Dick Simpson.

Born in Cuba in 1943, Cardenal was signed by the Giants late in 1960, and played in their farm system from 1961-64, while also playing a few games with San Francisco in April and September 1963, and in September 1964.

After the 1964 season, he was traded to the Angels for C/1B Jack Hiatt. He assumed the starting center fielder's job from opening day 1965, and held it for 2 full seasons. In 1967, he shared the post with Jay Johnstone for the first half, and with Roger Repoz for the second half. Jose also made some starts at both corner fields.

Jose was traded to the Indians in November 1967 for outfielder Chuck Hinton. Cardenal was Cleveland's regular center fielder for 2 seasons, pushing incumbent Vic Davalillo over to a right field mix with several others. Jose started a career-high 142 games in center in 1968.

Cardenal was traded to the Cardinals after the '69 season for outfielder Vada Pinson, then moved on to Milwaukee in July 1971.

His longest stint with any one team was 1972-77 with the Chicago Cubs. After 3 seasons as the right fielder and 2 in left field, Jose became a role player in his last season in Chicago.

He moved on to the Phillies in 1978, backing up 1st baseman Richie Hebner, while occasionally playing in the outfield. In August 1979, he was dealt to the Mets (his EIGHTH team). By this time, Cardenal was mainly a pinch-hitter.

Released by the Mets the following August, he caught on with the Royals a week later, and played in 4 games in the 1980 World Series before retiring after the season.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Curt Blefary (#460)

Curt Blefary was one of the three outfielders on the Topps 1965 All-Rookie team.

He made more starts (131) in the O's outfield than any other player, as he split his time between left and right. Curt also hit 22 home runs, and was named AL Rookie of the Year in 1965.

The following season the Orioles acquired Frank Robinson to play right field, and Boog Powell became the regular first baseman, so Blefary moved to left field full-time. (He also started 11 games at 1st base.)

Blefary was signed by the Yankees prior to the 1962 season. In late April 1963 he was drafted by the Orioles, and spent 2 seasons in their farm system. His 31 homers in 1964 earned him a spot with the Orioles in 1965.

Curt spent 4 seasons in Baltimore, hitting 22, 23, 22, and 15 homers per season. He was the O's regular left fielder in the 1966 World Series, although he only got 1 hit in 15 at-bats.

In 1967, Blefary split his playing time between left field (84 starts) and 1st base (48 starts), as the Orioles tried several ways to keep his bat in the lineup, despite his defensive shortcomings. (Frank Robinson dubbed him "Clank".)

During Curt's last season in Baltimore, he started 38 games behind the plate and 40 in right field during the first half of the season. He returned to left field for the 2nd half of the season.

After the '68 season, Blefary was traded to the Astros for pitcher Mike Cuellar and shortstop Enzo Hernandez. Exactly one year later, he went to the Yankees for Joe Pepitone.

Curt split 1971 between the Yankees and Athletics, and 1972 between Oakland and San Diego. After his release by the Padres, he was signed by the Braves in 1973, but played for their triple-A team before retiring.

Blefary passed away in 2001 at age 57, with his ashes scattered over the Memorial Stadium demolition site in Baltimore.