Sunday, October 6, 2013

Zoilo Versalles (#400)

So far, I've only posted one card with a number ending in '00'. Sandy Koufax (#100) was the first card posted to this blog. Today I have another of the five "hero cards" in this set.

Zoilo Versalles was the AL MVP in 1965, which explains why Topps assigned a "00" card number to a non-(future)-hall-of-famer. I didn't follow baseball in 1965, but in looking at Zoilo's stats, he led the AL with 122 strikeouts, despite hitting only 19 homers. He DID lead the AL in runs (126), doubles (45), triples (12), plate appearances (728), and at-bats (666), but only hit .273, and fell short of the magic 200 hits barrier with 182. It helped that his Twins were in the World Series that year.

Versalles was signed by the (old) Washington Senators in 1958, and played 3 seasons in the minors, while also playing a dozen or so games with the Senators in '59 and '60.

When the team moved to Minnesota in 1961, Zoilo became the starting shortstop from opening day, and started 126 games there as a rookie, backed up by José Valdivielso with 35 starts. (Hah! You probably thought "Zoilo Versalles" was going to be the most unusual name in this post!) Versalles remained the Twins' regular shortstop through the 1967 season, though he never duplicated his 1965 production.

In November 1967, he was traded to the Dodgers (with starting pitcher Jim Grant) for relievers Ron Perranoski and Bob Miller, and catcher John Roseboro. It looked like a win-win trade. Minnesota needed a catcher to replace the retired Earl Battey, and the Dodgers needed a shortstop to replace Maury Wills, who was traded away a year earlier.

After a poor season in LA (batting .196), Versalles was exposed to the expansion draft, and was selected by the Padres. To add further embarrassment, six weeks later the Padres traded Zoilo to the Indians for minor-league first baseman Bill Davis, he of FIVE Rookie Stars baseball cards in the 1960s.

After only 72 games with the Indians (where he was a part-time 2nd baseman and occasional 3rd baseman), the Tribe sold Versalles to the (new) Washington Senators, thereby making him one of only 8 players to have played for both the old and new Washington Senators. Zoilo finished out the year with the Senators, then was released the following April.

He played ball in Mexico from 1970 to 1974, although also appearing in 66 games for the Braves for the last 4 months of the 1971 season.

Versalles passed away on 6/9/1995 in Bloomington, MN at age 55.


sg488 said...

Odd note,he led the league in errors in that 1965 season ,and he still won the golden glove award.

Erik said...

Tony Oliva would have been a better choice to win the A.L. MVP. He led the A.L. in hits and batting average.

Kraft1963 said...

Zoilo's 1969 card and his 1970 card use the same photo.