Saturday, November 30, 2013

Al Ferrara (#487)

Here is Al Ferrara's 1966 card. I have already reviewed his career when I posted his 1967 card, so I won't go into much of that here.

I usually don't post multiple cards of the same player, but this card has such a great pose, one usually reserved for catchers watching a pop-up (sometimes referred to as "looking up to God").

Maybe Al is trying to determine if today's game will be rained out. Or maybe he's saying "Hey Skip, the Giants have sent a surveillance blimp over our practice field!" 

Ferrara played in the Dodgers farm system from 1959-65, and for the Dodgers for part of 1963, and again from 1965-68.  After missing all but 2 games in '68 with a broken leg, he was selected by the expansion Padres, and was a regular for them from 1969-70. He split the 1971 season between the Padres and the Reds, before retiring.

Al currently works in the Dodgers' community relations department.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dave McNally (#193)

Here is Dave McNally, months before leading the Orioles to their first-ever World Series championship, a 4-0 sweep of the defending champion Dodgers. In his 4th full season, McNally led the ’66 starting rotation in starts, innings pitched, and strikeouts, while compiling a 13-6 record. (2nd-year man Jim Palmer edged him out with 15 wins.)

Dave was signed by the O’s in 1960, and made his major-league debut at age 19 during the last week of September 1962, with a complete-game shutout of the Kansas City Athletics.

In 1963, McNally began the season in the bullpen, but in mid-June was promoted to the starting rotation that included veteran Robin Roberts, as well as Steve Barber, Milt Pappas, and Mike McCormick. Dave replaced Chuck Estrada, who had compiled a 9-17 record in the previous season.

McNally and Barber both had off-years in 1964, each winning only 9 games, while Roberts, Pappas, and rookie Wally Bunker all won in double figures (with 19 wins for Bunker).

In 1965 Dave won 11 games, as every starter but Roberts (who, at age 38, compiled a 5-7 record and was released at the end of July) was having a good season.

Jim Palmer joined the rotation in 1966, replacing Pappas (who was traded to the Reds for Frank Robinson). McNally, Palmer, Bunker, Barber, and closer Stu Miller, along with the batting of Frank and Brooks Robinson, propelled the Orioles to the World Series. Dave started games 1 and 4 in the '66 Series.

Here are 2 famous photos of McNally from the Series:

After an injury-filled 1967, Dave bounced back and won 20 or more games each season from 1968-71, including a league-leading 24 in 1970. He also made 3 all-star teams during that stretch, and pitched in the '69, '70, and '71 World Series, as well as the '73 and '74 ALCS.

McNally pitched for the Orioles through the 1974 season, then was traded to the Montreal Expos. He played the 1975 season without a contract, then after the season he and Angels’ Dodgers' pitcher Andy Messersmith challenged baseball’s reserve clause (as Curt Flood had done 6 years earlier). This time, McNally and Messersmith were granted free agency, the first to achieve that. However, McNally had not intended to continue playing, and retired. This story is told in more detail by blogger CommishBob near the end of this post.

Dave finished 2nd among Orioles’ starting pitchers of his era in games, innings pitched, and wins:

McNally retired to his hometown of Billings, Montana, and passed away in 2002 from lung cancer at age 60.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Don Mincher (#388)

Don Mincher began his career with the White Sox (I learned something new today!) in 1956. After 4 seasons on the Sox’ farm (where he hit a total of 60 home runs), Don was traded to the (old) Washington Senators (with catcher Earl Battey) for veteran 1st-sacker Roy Sievers on April 4, 1960.

Mincher started the first 20 games for the Senators in 1960, but with his batting average in the .230s by mid-June, he was sent down to the minors for the rest of the season, returning only for the last 2 weeks in September.

The Senators became the Minnesota Twins in 1961, and “Minch” was with them to start the season. This time, he only made it to the Memorial Day doubleheader before he and his .188 batting average were demoted to triple-A Buffalo.

Don returned to the big leagues to stay in 1962, although he only played in half the Twins’ games in ’62 and ’63. He was used primarily as a pinch-hitter in 1962, but started 20 games at 1st base when Vic Power needed a break. In 1963, he only made 2 starts during the first half, but started 55 of the final 75 games at first base.

In 1964, Power only started 7 games (and was shipped out in June), but Mincher had to contend with ex-rightfielder Bob Allison, who set up shop at first base in ’64 when rookie Tony Oliva joined the team as the everyday right fielder. Don only managed 65 starts to Allison’s 90, but appeared in another 55 games as a pinch-hitter or defensive replacement.

Don began to establish himself in 1965. Although he only started 5 games before mid-June (Harmon Killebrew was this year’s first baseman), Mincher started most of the games after that, when Killebrew began alternating between 1st and 3rd, then Harmon missed all of August and half of September with an injury. Mincher was the team’s primary 1st baseman, although with only 89 starts. In the ’65 World Series, Don only hit .130 while playing in all 7 games.

Don’s last year with the Twins was 1966, when he set new personal highs in games played (139), games started (118), hits (108), and doubles (30), although his homer total dipped below 20. After the season, he was traded to the Angels (with pitcher Pete Cimino and outfielder Jimmie Hall) for 1964’s Cy Young Award winner Dean Chance, and reserve shortstop Jackie Hernandez.

Mincher spent 2 seasons with the Angels. In 1967, he rebounded in most offensive categories, and made his first of 2 all-star appearances. He slumped the following season, and was left unprotected in the expansion draft.

The Seattle Pilots made him their 2nd pick in the expansion draft, and he was their regular 1st baseman. He was also the clean-up batter until late-July, when he was dropped to the #5 slot. Don was the Pilots’ only all-star game representative.

In January 1970, he was traded to the Oakland Athletics for pitchers Lew Krausse and Ken Sanders, catcher Phil Roof, and outfielder Mike Hershberger. Mincher was Oakland’s first baseman for 1970 and the first month of 1971. In early May, he was traded to the Senators for 1st baseman Mike Epstein. Mincher was back in Washington, making him one of only 8 players to have played for both Washington Senators franchises.

In July 1972, Don’s team (now the Texas Rangers) traded him back to Oakland for infielders Vic Harris and Marty Martinez. With Epstein entrenched as the regular, Mincher was mostly used to pinch-hit, and got 2 at-bats in the 1972 post-season. He retired after the season.

In March 2012, Mincher died at age 73, in his birthplace of Huntsville, Alabama.