Sunday, August 31, 2014

Donn Clendenon (#375)

Donn Clendenon had a 12-year career as a first baseman, spending the first 2/3 of his career with the Pirates, before moving on to other teams, including the 1969 Miracle Mets, where he was named the World Series MVP.

Donn was signed by the Pirates in 1957, and played five seasons in the minors as a first baseman and outfielder. He also pitched two games in 1957.

Clendenon made his major-league debut in September 1961. In 1962, Donn made 41 starts at first base (mostly in August and September) and 17 starts in left field. He finished 2nd in NL Rookie of the Year voting to Cubs’ 2nd baseman Ken Hubbs (19 votes to 1 vote).

After the 1962 season, the Pirates traded their long-time first-sacker Dick Stuart to the Red Sox for catcher Jim Pagliaroni, paving the way for Clendenon to play fulltime at 1B. He started 146 games there in 1963, and never played another position for the Bucs (save for 2 innings at 3rd base in 1965).

Donn was the Pirates’ regular 1st baseman for the next 6 years, hitting between 12 and 28 homers per season, but also leading the NL in strikeouts in ’63 and ’68.

With young first basemen like Al Oliver and Bob Robertson waiting in the wings, Clendenon was left exposed to the expansion draft after the 1968 season, and was selected by the Montreal Expos with the 11th pick. Three months later, he was flipped to the Astros with Jesus Alou for Rusty Staub. When Clendenon refused to report to the Astros (word is that he didn’t like ex-Pirates’ and current Astros’ manager Harry Walker), the Expos kept Staub and Clendenon, and sent pitchers Jack Billingham and Skip Guinn to complete the deal.

Topps issued 2 cards for Clendenon that year (both #208), in a forerunner to their "traded" subsets that would begin in 1972.

After a brief holdout, Clendenon rejoined the Expos in mid-April, then was traded to the Mets in mid-June for pitcher Steve Renko and 3rd baseman Kevin Collins. Talk about a lucky break! Donn went from an expansion team to the eventual World Champions. He alternated at 1st base with Ed Kranepool for the remainder of the season, and although he didn’t play in the NLCS, he hit .357 (5 for 14) with 3 homers and 4 RBI in 4 World Series games, and was named the Series MVP.

In 1970, Donn started 96 games at first base, with outfielder Art Shamsky starting another 55 (Kranepool missed several months). This would be Donn’s last season as a regular. Kranepool returned in 1971 and started 2/3 of the games, leaving 1/3 for Clendenon.

Donn was released by the Mets after the ’71 season, and was picked up by the Cardinals that December. He only started 31 games in his final season, mostly from May to July. His last game was on August 5th, and he drew his release 2 days later.

After his playing career, Clendenon earned a law degree and practiced law in Ohio. Later in life he battled drug addiction and leukemia. He passed away in September 2005 at age 70.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bert Campaneris (#175)

Bert Campaneris had a 19-year career (1964-83), and was the Athletics’ shortstop for his first 13 seasons.

Although he famously played all nine positions during one game in 1965, he was mostly a shortstop. He did play a few dozen games in the outfield during his first 2 seasons, and in his final 2 seasons was a backup at 3B and 2B, but otherwise was found at shortstop for 94% of his career 19,123 innings played.

Bert was signed by the Kansas City Athletics in 1961, and made his major-league debut with Kansas City in July 1964. "Campy" shared the shortstop job with Wayne Causey for the 2nd half of the season, while also starting 27 games in left field. Bert was named to the Topps All-Rookie team in 1964.

In 1965 he started 103 games at shortstop and 37 in left field. That year, Campaneris led the AL in triples (12) and stolen bases (51). In fact, he would lead the league in stolen bases for the '65, '66, '67, '68, '70, and '72 seasons. He stole a career-high 62 bases in both 1968 and 1969, and also led the league with 177 hits in 1968.

Campaneris made the AL all-star team 5 times with the Athletics ('68, '72 – '75). He also played in the post-season 5 consecutive years (1971-75).

Campy became a free agent after the 1976 season, and signed with the Rangers. He had a good first year in Texas, making the all-star team for the final time in his career. He began the 1978 season as the starting shortstop, but was relegated to the bench for the final 2 months.

In May 1979, he was traded to the Angels for infielder Dave Chalk. Campaneris played the next 3 seasons with the Angels, sharing the shortstop job with others for 2 seasons, then becoming the backup 3rd baseman for the 1981 season.

Bert was granted free agency after the 1981 season, but with no takers, he played the 1982 season in Mexico. He returned to the American League for his final season in 1983, dividing his time between the Yankees and their triple-A team.

Bert's cousin is outfielder Jose Cardenal.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

NL Rookies: Bart Shirley / Grant Jackson

Here is one of the multi-team rookie cards that Topps put in their 7th Series in the mid-to late 1960s. Normally, these rookie stars cards have 2 to 3 players from 1 team, but in the last series, Topps had these "catch all" cards to pick up random rookies not already featured. (The Rod Carew rookie card in 1967 is another example.)

Bart Shirley was a utility infielder briefly for the Dodgers in the 1960s. This is his rookie card, but he also appears on a Mets Rookies card in 1967 and on his own card (as a Dodger) in the 1969 set.

Shirley was signed by the Dodgers in 1961 and played every season from 1961-70 in their farm system, mostly at SS/2B. Bart had brief call-ups to LA for a dozen or so games in 1964 and 1966.

After the '66 season he was selected by the Mets in the Rule 5 draft, but after 6 games with New York, he was returned to the Dodgers in mid-May. He was immediately assigned to the minors, and only saw major-league action again during the last 2 months of the 1968 season, playing in 39 games.

This is also Grant Jackson's rookie card, but unlike Bart Shirley, Jackson went on to a long career with the Phillies, Orioles, and Pirates. He appeared on a Phillies Rookies card in the 1967 set, then had his own card in every set from 1968 to 1982.

Jackson made his major-league debut with the Phillies in September 1965. After 2 games in 1966, he made the Phillies for good at the start of 1967. After long stints with the Orioles and Pirates, he played briefly with the Expos and Royals before retiring after the 1982 season.

You can read more about Jackson here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Jesus Alou (#242)

Jesus Alou is the youngest of the 3 Alou brothers. He was the last to join, and to leave the Giants. He played for 15 seasons, mostly for the Giants and Astros.

Alou was signed by the Giants in 1958, and made his major-league debut in September 1963. Since his oldest brother Felipe left the Giants after the 1963 season, there was only 1 game where Jesus, Felipe, and Matty all played in the same outfield.

Jesus played 5 full seasons with the Giants (1964-68) and was always the #2 or #3 outfielder (behind Willie Mays) in terms of playing time. In his first 2 seasons he was the primary right fielder. In his final 3 seasons, he split his time between right and left field, as the Giants also worked in 3rd baseman Jim Ray Hart in left, and Ollie Brown (and in 1968, Bobby Bonds) in right.

After the 1968 season Alou was selected by the Expos in the expansion draft, and two months later was forwarded to the Astros (with Donn Clendenon) for Rusty Staub.

For 3 seasons (1969-71) things continued the same as in San Francisco: Alou was the #2 outfielder, and split his time between the 2 corners.

Things began to change during the 1971 season with the addition of outfielders Bob Watson and Cesar Cedeno. Those two, combined with long-time Astro Jimmy Wynn resulted in a reduced role for Alou.

In 1972 Alou was relegated to a bench role, starting just 14 games that season. He was sold to the Athletics in July 1973, and was a part-time player with them through the end of 1974. Jesus also played in the and World Series in ’73 and ’74.

Alou was released by Oakland during spring training 1975, but was signed by the Mets in mid-April. He rode the bench for New York in 1975, and was released the following spring.

Jesus was out of baseball in 1976 and 1977, then re-signed with the Astros in November 1977. He played for Houston for the next 2 years, and was a player-coach in 1979.

After retiring following the 1979 season, Alou became a scout for the Expos. He later headed up the Marlins’ Dominican operations, and since 2002 has held the same post with the Red Sox.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dean Chance (#340)

Here is Dean Chance’s last card as a member of the California Angels, complete with wax or gum residue at no extra charge.

Dean’s best season was 1964, when he won the Cy Young award (back then there was only 1 award, not 1 per league) and led the AL in wins (20), ERA (1.65), shutouts (11), complete games (15), and innings pitched (278). He also had 207 strikeouts.

Chance was also an all-star in 1964 and in 1967, his first season with the Twins. In ’67 he won 20 games and was the league leader in starts (39), complete games (18) and innings pitched (283).

Chance was signed by the Orioles (I did not know that) in 1959, then after 2 seasons in their low minors, he was selected by the expansion Washington Senators in the December 1960 draft. That same day he was flipped to the expansion Angels for reserve outfielder Joe Hicks. Dean pitched for the Angels’ AAA team in Dallas-Fort Worth in 1961, and made his major-league debut on 9/11/61.

In 1962, the 21-year-old rookie led the 2nd-year Angels with 14 wins, remarkable since he spent most of May and all of July in the bullpen. Chance finished 3rd in the AL Rookie of the Year voting behind the Yankees’ Tom Tresh and Angels’ teammate Bob Rodgers.

Dean won 13 games in 1963, then had his monster season in 1964, as described above. After 2 more seasons at the top of the Angels’ rotation (15 and 12 wins), Chance was traded to the Twins after the 1966 season for 1st baseman Don Mincher, pitcher Pete Cimino, and outfielder Jimmie Hall. (The Angels later sent shortstop Jackie Hernandez to the Twins to complete the trade.)

After his big season in 1967, he leveled off at 16-16 in 1968. In 1969 Chance missed all of June and July with a back injury, and finished with a 5-4 record in only 88 innings (20 games) in his final season with the Twins.

In December 1969 he was traded to the Indians (with 3rd baseman Graig Nettles, pitcher Bob Miller, and outfielder Ted Uhlaender) for pitchers Luis Tiant and Stan Williams. Dean was 9-8 for Cleveland while starting 19 of his 45 games, then was sold to the Mets in mid-September.

The Mets traded him to the Tigers during spring training 1971, and his spent his final season as a swing man for Detroit, compiling a 4-6 record in 31 games (14 starts) in only 89 innings.

After his retirement, he formed a company that operated games of chance (!) booths at carnivals and state fairs in the 1970s and 1980s. In the 1990s, he started a boxing association and managed several fighters.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Jim Perry (#283)

Jim Perry pitched for 17 years (1959-75), mostly for the Indians and Twins. His best season was 1970, when he led the league with 24 wins and won the Cy Young award.

The older brother of Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry was signed by the Indians in 1956, and after 3 seasons as a starting pitcher in the low minors, he skipped double-A and triple-A ball to make his major-league debut with the Tribe in April 1959.

Although Jim’s debut on April 23rd was a starting assignment, he spent most of his rookie season in the bullpen, until joining the rotation in late-July. He made 12 more starts that year, finished up with a 12-10 record and a 2.65 ERA, and was a distant 2nd place to Bob Allison in the Rookie of the Year voting.

Perry had a monster sophomore campaign, taking over as the Indians’ ace and leading the American League in wins (18), starts (36), and shutouts (4). The following season he made his first of 3 all-star squads.

Jim was traded to the Twins straight-up for pitcher Jack Kralick in May 1963, and joined Camilo Pascual, Dick Stigman, and Jim Kaat in the starting rotation. (In a few years, almost the entire staff would be named Jim.)

With the Twins’ acquisition of ex-Indians’ teammate Jim "Mudcat" Grant in 1964, Perry spent the entire season in the bullpen. He returned to the rotation in 1965, and posted double-figure wins in both ’65 and ’66. Jim also pitched 2 games in the 1965 World Series, with no decisions.

Perry had 2 off-years, then made a comeback in 1969 by winning 20 games and finishing 3rd in the Cy Young balloting behind Mike Cuellar and Denny McLain. The following season he won a league-best 24 games, and claimed the Cy Young award. Perry pitched in the ’69 and ’70 ALCS, and made the ’70 and ’71 all-star teams.

After winning 17 games in 1971 and 13 in 1972, Perry was traded to the Tigers prior to the ’73 season. He played only 1 year in Detroit, then moved back to the Indians in March 1974 as part of a 3-team trade involving the Yankees.

Jim spiked up to 17 wins in his return to Cleveland, but it would be his last good season. He began the 1975 season with the Indians, but with his record at 1-6, he was traded to the Athletics on May 20th (with pitcher Dick Bosman) for pitcher John "Blue Moon" Odom. Perry pitched in 15 games for Oakland before he was released on August 13th.

In 17 seasons, he compiled a 215-174 record with 1576 strikeouts.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Camilo Pascual (#305)

A few months ago, I found a page on listing the 100 oldest living ex-players. Within the scope of the 1966 to 1970 card sets, the only names listed there were 3 managers. I decided yesterday to find out who were the oldest living ex-players from that time period that I haven’t yet featured on my blogs. 

As best as I can determine, they are pitchers Orlando Pena and Camilo Pascual (both 80), outfielder Russ Snyder (turning 80 next week), 1B-OF Felipe Alou (79), and pitchers Bob Humphreys and Jim Perry (both 78). Nine others are 77, with Fred Gladding, Vic Davalillo, and J.C. Martin turning 78 later this year. 

Camilo Pascual had an 18-year career from 1954 to 1971, primarily as a starting pitcher for the Washington Senators and Minnesota Twins. Late in his career, he was traded back to the (new) Washington Senators, making him one of a very few who played for both Senators’ franchises.

In 1951, Pascual played for several unaffiliated teams in the low minors, then was signed by the Washington Senators in 1952. He played 2 seasons for their class-B teams, then made his big-league debut in April 1954.

Camilo was primarily a reliever for his first 2 seasons, before becoming a starter for the bulk of his career, before converting back to relief in his final 2 seasons.

After 5 losing seasons, Pascual had a breakout year in 1959, winning 17 games and leading the AL in complete games (17) and shutouts (6). He made his first all-star appearance that season, and would also be an all-star in 4 of the next 5 seasons.

Camilo and the rest of his team moved to Minnesota in 1961, becoming the Twins. He punched out over 200 batters each season from 1961 to 1964, leading the league in the first 3 of those seasons. Pascual also led the AL in shutouts in ’61 and ’62, and in complete games in ’62 and ’63 (18 each season). He also had his only 20-win seasons in ’62 and ’63.

Pascual’s career began to decline after that. After winning 15 games in 1964, he slipped to 9-3 in the Twins’ pennant-winning 1965 season, and missed all of August. In 1966, he missed most of the 2nd half, and finished at 8-6.

After the season he was traded back to Washington (along with 2nd baseman Bernie Allen) for pitcher Ron Kline. Camilo was rejuvenated with his return to Washington, and won in double figures for his first 2 seasons there.

Midway through the 1969 season, he was sold to the Reds. In April 1970, Pascual was released by the Reds and signed by the Dodgers on the same day, only to be released at season’s end.

In his final season (1971), Camilo was signed by the Indians, traded to the Padres, returned to the Indians, and released all in the season’s first 2 months. He finished up with a record of 174-170 (not bad considering the teams he played for), with 2167 strikeouts.

After his playing career he was a pitching coach for a short time, before becoming an international scout for several teams. Among the players he signed were Jose Canseco and Alex Cora.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Johnny Podres (#468)

“Hey! What gives? Your 'on-deck' sidebar said that Dean Chance was next in the rotation!” 

Yes that’s true, but I got wind that the "$30 a Week Habit" blog was going to link here tomorrow for his ’59 vs. ’66 card set faceoff, so I wanted to put my best foot forward, in a shameless attempt to curry favor with the voters. (Sorry, Commish!)

Dean Chance was a good pitcher, but the capless/airbrushed 1966 Angels cards are atrocious to look at, so I’m trotting out Pods to save the day. Even though I have already featured his 1967 and 1969 cards on my other blogs, I’ll justify this post by mentioning that this is his final card as a Dodger.

This is my favorite of my 3 Johnny Podres cards, maybe because his sad-dog look is more evident than on his ’67 and ’69 cards, or maybe just because he is pictured as a Dodger. (Podres retired after the 1967 season, and wasn’t in the 1968 set.)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Ken Berry (#127)

Ken Berry played 9 seasons for the White Sox (including starting gigs from 1965 to 1970), followed by 3 seasons with the Angels, then wrapped up his career with a season each with the Brewers and Indians.

Berry was signed by the White Sox, and played 4 seasons (1961-64) in their farm system. During his last 3 minor-league seasons, he played a few games with the White Sox during his September call-ups.

Ken made the Sox in 1965, taking over the starting center field job from longtime incumbent Jim Landis, who was traded to the Athletics. Berry started 142 games in center during his rookie season, and played in another 15 games as a pinch-hitter and defensive replacement. He also hit a career-high 12 home runs, although only batting .218.

(I was going to make some kind of comment about the Ken Berry from the "Mayberry RFD" and "F Troop" TV shows, but here, Berry looks like Anthony Perkins in "Fear Strikes Out")

With the arrival of soon-to-be AL Rookie of the Year Tommie Agee in 1966, Berry was initially left without a position for the first 2 months. After Danny Cater was traded to the Athletics, Berry became the primary left fielder for the final 4 months of the season, while also getting some starts in right field. At the plate, Ken raised his batting average to .271, 53 points higher than his rookie year.

1967 saw another veteran outfielder (Floyd Robinson) leaving Chicago, so Berry replaced him in right field for the first 2 months. After spending most of June bouncing between left and right, Ken played in center field for most of July, while Agee was out of the lineup. The Sox had acquired Rocky Colavito at the end of July, and he pulled most of the right field starts over the final 2 months, which relegated Berry to the bench upon Agee’s return in early August.

Prior to the 1968 season, Agee was traded to the Mets, which allowed Berry to slide back to the center field position he held down as a rookie. Ken started 137 games as the center gardener, between new wingmen Tommy Davis (LF) and a committee-of-5 in right field. Ken continued as the Sox’ regular center fielder for the next 2 seasons, although he was out of the starting lineup for much of June and July 1969.

After the 1970 season, he was part of a 6-player trade with the Angels, which sent Jay Johnstone to the White Sox. After 3 seasons as the Angels’ center fielder, he was traded to the Brewers (with pitchers Steve Barber and Clyde Wright) for pitcher Skip Lockwood, catcher Ellie Rodriguez, and outfielders Ollie Brown and Joe LaHoud.

In his one season with Milwaukee, Ken was a backup center fielder and pinch-hitter. Following his post-season release, he was up by the Indians, where he played 25 games until he was released in early June.

In his career, Berry made one all-star team (1967) and won 2 Gold Gloves (’70, ’72).

After his playing career, Ken was a minor-league manager off-and-on from 1982 to 1997.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Bill Freehan (#145)

Bill Freehan was the Tigers’ starting catcher from 1963 to 1976. During those 14 seasons, he made the all-star team every season except the his first and last (when he shared the starting job) and 1974 (when he spent 3 months as the team’s 1st baseman.

Freehan was signed by the Tigers in 1961, and spent that season in class-C and class-A ball. He also played in 4 games for the Tigers in September. Bill played at the triple-A level for all of 1962, catching and playing 1st base.

He made the Tigers’ squad at the start of 1963, and made 40% of the starts, behind veteran Gus Triandos.

Freehan assumed the fulltime starter’s job in 1964, and except for June to August 1974 when he was the every-day 1st baseman, held on to his catching job through the 1975 season. Bill won 5 gold gloves for his mitt work during that stretch, and handled Denny McLain and Mickey Lolich in their prime.

He played in the 1968 World Series, and despite his .083 post-season batting average, he was the MVP runner-up that season. Freehan’s only other post-season action was in the 1972 ALCS.

1967 and 1968 were the high point of his career in terms of playing time. He played in 155 games both seasons, and led the AL both times in being hit by a pitch.

In 1974, veteran 1st-sacker Norm Cash was winding down his long career. Cash was the starter through the end of May, then Freehan moved out to 1st base, starting almost every game until rookie call-ups arrived on September 1st.

After another all-star season (1975) behind the plate, Freehan wrapped up his career in 1976, sharing the catching job with John Wockenfuss and rookie Bruce Kimm.

When his playing career was over, he spent a few seasons in broadcasting, then was the head baseball coach at the University of Michigan from 1989 to 1995.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Sonny Siebert (#197)

Sonny Siebert was one of the top starting pitchers in the American League for a few seasons in the mid-1960s.

Siebert was signed by the Indians in 1958, and spent 6 seasons (1958-63) in their farm system. Although usually a starting pitcher, he played exclusively in the outfield (hitting 5 homers and collecting 45 RBI in 61 games) during his 1959 season with the Tribe’s class-C team in Minot, North Dakota.

In 1960 Siebert returned to the mound, and eventually made his major-league debut with the Indians in April 1964.

The 27-year-old rookie spent most of his 1st season in the Tribe’s bullpen, behind veterans Don McMahon and Ted Abernathy. Meanwhile, the starting rotation featured veterans Dick Donovan and Pedro Ramos, a young Luis Tiant, and a pair of 21-year-olds named Sam McDowell (already in his 4th season) and Tommy John. Sonny started 14 of his 41 games that season.

In 1965, John was traded to the White Sox, so Siebert joined McDowell and Tiant in giving Cleveland a solid top-3 in the starting rotation. Sonny had a great sophomore season, finishing 3rd in the AL in ERA, and missing 3rd place in strikeouts by just one K. (His teammate McDowell finished 1st in both categories.) Sonny also notched 16 wins, 5th-best in the league and one behind McDowell for the team lead.

Siebert won 16 games again in 1966, 4th-best in the league. His 2.80 ERA was also in the top 10, though well behind the 2.48 posted by teammate Steve Hargan. Sonny no-hit the Senators on June 10th, and made his first of two all-star teams in ’66.

In 1967 his record dropped to 10-12, but he also lowered his ERA to 2.38, which returned him to the #3 slot on Topps’ ERA leaders card he occupied two years earlier.

Siebert’s ERA shot up to 2.97 in 1968. That sounds respectable, but in the Year of the Pitcher, that was only 22nd-best in the AL. Too bad – if he had snared 3rd-place again, the Indians would have nailed the trifecta on Topps’ ERA leaders card that also featured Tiant and McDowell. Anyway, he reversed his won-lost record to 12-10, but that would be his last full season with the Indians.

In mid-April 1969, Sonny was traded to the Red Sox (with catcher Joe Azcue and pitcher Vicente Romo) for veteran pitchers Dick Ellsworth and Juan Pizarro, and outfielder Ken Harrelson. Siebert spent the next 4 seasons in the Sox’ rotation, and made his final all-star team in 1971.

After 4 seasons in Boston, Sonny was on the move again. In May 1973 he was traded to the Rangers, then moved on to the Cardinals for the 1974 season. His final season (1975) was split between the Padres and Athletics. Although he bounced around a lot in those last 3 seasons, he remained a starting pitcher until the end.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Braves Rookies: Herb Hippauf / Arnie Umbach

As cool as it is seeing Tommy Harper's thumbnail next to Vada Pinson's 1967 thumbnail on the sidebar, it's time to move on. 

Here is the 2nd Braves Rookie Stars card in the set (#518). Since it was in the last series, it is one of only 4 Braves cards showing the players in their new "Atlanta" caps (along with Hank Aaron, pitcher Chi-Chi Olivo and manager Bobby Bragan) All other Braves' cards are capless, but more than that, have ridiculous-looking poses. (Google Clay Carroll 1966 Topps for an example!)

Topps swung and missed with these two players:

Herb Hippauf's major-league career consisted of 3 games between 4/27 and 5/3/1966. Did Topps jump on his bandwagon with this late-season card? I doubt it. His ERA over those 3 games was 13.50. After 6 seasons (1960-65) in the minors, the Braves promoted him to the big club. After his poor showing, he spent the remainder of 1966 in the minors, then was out of baseball.

After his playing career, Herb was a scout for the Astros, Braves, Expos, and Rockies. Hippauf passed away from cancer in 1995 at age 56. The Rockies have an annual award bearing his name, given to the person who best exemplifies loyalty, dedication, etc toward the Rockies.

Arnie Umbach's playing career was marginally better than Hippauf's. Umbach pitched in the Braves' system from 1961-66, and made brief appearances with the Braves in 1964 (1 game) and 1966 (22 games).

After the 1966 season, he was included in the trade that sent 3rd baseman Eddie Mathews and 2nd baseman Sandy Alomar to the Astros for pitcher Bob Bruce and outfielder Dave Nicholson. After pitching for the Astros' AAA team in 1967, he pitched 2 games for their AA Dallas-Fort Worth team in 1968, and was done.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tommy Harper (#214)

Tommy Harper played in the major leagues for 15 seasons (1962-76). He spent his first 6 seasons with the Reds, then played for 6 American League teams over the rest of his career.

Harper was signed by the Reds in 1960, and played 2 seasons as a 2nd baseman with their class-B Topeka team in the Three-I League.

He began the 1962 season as the Reds’ starting 3rd baseman, but after batting .174 after 6 games, he was sent down to their triple-A San Diego Padres for the rest of the 1962 season.

Harper returned to Cincinnati to start the 1963 season. He was a starting outfielder from the get-go, but to my surprise (tonight!), he was the team’s primary RIGHT fielder, with Frank Robinson shifting over to left field, replacing the previous year’s tandem of Wally Post and Jerry Lynch. For 2 weeks in late-April/early-May, Harper inexplicably started 19 consecutive games in center field, while the regular CF Vada Pinson started those same 19 games in right field. After that stint in center, Tommy was out of the starting lineup for 2 months, relegated to pinch-running and the occasional start in right field, before regaining his right field job in mid-July.

 In 1964, Harper only played in 100 games (80 starts in left field). It appears that he was with the team for the entire season, because there are no large gaps in his playing time (indicating time on the DL) nor was he in the minors.

For the next 2 seasons, he was an everyday regular for the Reds. In 1965 he played 159 games, and led the NL with 126 runs scored, with a slash line of 18 HR/64 RBI/.257, and followed that up with 5/31/.278 in 1966. After starting 153 games in left in ’65, with the trade of Frank Robinson he moved over to right field in 1966 and started 90 games there, along with a few dozen starts at the other 2 spots.

In Tommy’s last season with the Reds (1967), he missed 7 weeks in June and July, but was otherwise the team’s regular right fielder. After the season, Harper was traded to the Indians for pitcher George Culver and 1st baseman Fred Whitfield.

In his only season with the Indians, he was the #2 outfielder behind Jose Cardenal. Harper split his time between the 2 corners, with Lee Maye, Lou Johnson, and Russ Snyder filling in around him.

After the ’68 season, Harper was drafted by the expansion Seattle Pilots, and became a regular infielder for the first time since his minor-league days. He began the season at 2nd base, but moved to 3rd base midway through the year. Although he lead the league with 73 stolen bases, he also led by being thrown out 18 times.

He stayed with the team for 2 more seasons after their move to Milwaukee, and was the Brewers’ 3rd baseman in ’70 and 3B-LF in ’71. He made his only all-star appearance in 1970.

After 1971, it was on to Boston, as Harper was part of the 10-player trade that sent George Scott, Jim Lonborg and 4 others to the Brewers for Harper and pitchers Lew Krausse and Marty Pattin.

Tommy was a starting outfielder with the Red Sox for 2 seasons, then split the ’74 season between left field and DH. He also won his 2nd AL stolen base crown in 1973 by swiping 54 bases.

After the 1974 season he was traded to the Angels to open up some outfield spots for rookies Jim Rice and Fred Lynn. All the Sox got in return was utility infielder Bob Heise :(.

Harper DH’ed for the Angels for part of 1975, then finished up the season as a bench player with the Athletics. He spent his last season (1976) on the Orioles’ bench.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tommy Davis (#75)

Here is Tommy Davis’ final card as a member of the Dodgers. This is the same photo that Topps used on his 1965 card. (Topps used the same capless photo of Davis on his 1967 and 1969 cards.)

Davis was signed by the Dodgers in 1956, and played in their farm system from 1956-1959, making his major-league debut with 1 game in September 1959.

Davis made the Dodgers out of spring training 1960, and by late-July, he took over the starting center field job from long-time Dodger Duke Snider. Tommy started 52 games in center to Duke’s 44 starts.

By the 2nd week of September, Tommy moved over to left field to make room for another Davis in center field: rookie September call-up Willie Davis. [Until a few years ago, I thought those 2 were brothers.] Tommy finished 5th in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. (His teammate Frank Howard won.)

In 1961, Tommy began the season as the team’s 3rd baseman, playing 57 games there, mostly in the first 2 months. After that, he floated around the outfield, starting 31 games as Willie’s backup in center, as well as a few dozen games in the corners.

1962 and 1963 were Davis’ best seasons. He made the all-star team twice, and led the NL in batting twice (.346, .326). In 1962 he also led the league in hits (230) and RBI (153), and hit 27 homers. Davis started 100 to 120 games in left and about 30 games at 3rd base in both seasons.

In 1964 he was primarily the left fielder, starting 148 games there, and another 10 in center. He started the first 16 games in left field in 1965, then a broken leg caused him to miss the rest of the season, except for a pinch-hitting appearance in the season’s final game.

Davis was never the same after the leg injury. He played one last season with the Dodgers in 1966, but not as an everyday player.

After 8 seasons with the Dodgers, Davis spent his final 10 seasons playing for 10 different teams. He was traded to the Mets prior to the 1967 season for 2nd baseman Ron Hunt and outfielder Jim Hickman. A year later, it was on to the White Sox (with pitcher Jack Fisher) for center fielder Tommie Agee and infielder Al Weis.

The upstart Seattle Pilots selected him in the expansion draft prior to the 1969 season. He played there until late August, when he was traded to the Astros. Davis played for THREE teams in 1970 (Astros / Athletics / Cubs), then made return trips to the A’s (all of 1971) and Cubs (part of 1972).

His longest stint with any one team (post-Dodgers) was with the Orioles from August 1972 to February 1976. His 3 full seasons as Baltimore’s DH (1973-75) was his most playing time since 1969.

After his release by the Orioles, Davis was signed by the Yankees prior to spring training 1976, but they released him 2 days before the season started. In early June, he was signed by the Angels, who passed him on to the Royals with 2 weeks remaining in the season. A January 1977 release ended his 18-year career.

Davis appeared in the ’63 and ’66 World Series with the Dodgers, the 1971 ALCS with the A’s, and the ’73 and ‘74 ALCS with the Orioles.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Jim Kaat (#445)

Jim Kaat pitched for 25 seasons (1959-83), as a starting pitcher through the 1978 season, before converting to a reliever. His first 15 seasons were with the Minnesota Twins and their predecessor, the original Washington Senators. He was the last active player from the “old” Senators.

Kaat was signed by the Washington Senators in 1957, and pitched in the minors for the next 4 seasons. Jim also played for the Senators in 1959 (3 games) and 1960 (13 games).

When the team moved to Minnesota in 1961, Kaat became a full-time major-leaguer. He struggled at first, leading the AL in hit batters and wild pitches in his first 2 seasons.

Kaat hit his stride in 1962, winning in double figures for the next 15 seasons. He was also a great-fielding pitcher, winning 16 consecutive Gold Glove awards (1962-77).

In the early-to-mid 1960s, Kaat was part of a formidable starting rotation that included Camilo Pascual, Jim Perry, and Jim Grant. By 1967, Pascual was out, replaced by Dean Chance.

The Twins were competive every season from 1962-67 (except for a slump in 1964). They won the AL Pennant in 1965, with Kaat tallying 18 wins (along with Grant’s 21). In 1966 Kaat led the AL with 25 wins (his only 20-win season with the Twins).

In August 1973, Kaat was claimed off waivers by the White Sox. He won 21 and 20 games in his 2 full seasons with Chicago. Surprisingly, after winning 20 games in 1975, he was traded to the Phillies for so-so pitcher Dick Ruthven (coming off a 2-2 season) and SS/OF prospect Alan Bannister. [One of you White Sox fans need to investigate how the Sox allowed this trade to happen!]

As a Phillies fan, I thought this trade was great. From 1972 to 1976, the Phillies methodically replaced “pitchers” Billy Champion, Lowell Palmer, Barry Lersch, Billy Wilson, and Ken Reynolds with Steve Carlton (’72), Jim Lonborg (’73), Ken Brett (’73), Tug McGraw (’75), Jim Kaat (’76), and Ron Reed (’76)!

Kaat was a starter for the Philles from 1976-78. In 1979 he was replaced by ex-Met Nino Espinosa, and was sold to the Yankees in May. From mid-May 1979 to late-April 1980, Jim appeared in 44 games (1 start) for the Yankees.

Kaat was purchased by the Cardinals on April 30, 1980, and played with St. Louis until getting his release in July 1983. He was a starter and reliever in ’80, but pitched mostly out of the ‘pen in his last 3 seasons.

Kaat LEGITIMATELY played in 4 decades, unlike those gimmicky frauds Tim McCarver and Minnie Minoso.

After retirement, Kaat was the Reds’ pitching coach from 1984-85, then broadcast Yankees and Twins games for 22 seasons. Since 2009, he has broadcast games for the MLB Network.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Julian Javier (#436)

When my brother and I started collecting cards in May 1967, Julian Javier was one of the few names we got wrong. As it turns out, he didn’t use the English pronunciation for his first name, nor did he pronounce his last name JAY-vee-er.

The others we missed on were Al Ka-LINE, Hank A-gwire (Aguirre), and Pete SIM-in-o. Also, until I got Tony Cloninger’s baseball card late in 1967, I thought he and Tony Conigliaro were the same person. (Until last year, I also thought Orioles’/Senators’ pitcher Frank Bertaina’s last name was Bertainia.)

Julian Javier was the 2nd baseman for the Cardinals throughout the 1960s, including the ’64, ’67, and ’68 World Series.

Javier was signed by the Pirates in 1956, and played in the minors until his May 28, 1960 trade to the Cardinals for pitcher Vinegar Bend Mizell. He was thrust into the starting lineup that day, and started the remaining 119 games at 2nd base in his rookie season.

Except for missing 65 consecutive games from mid-June to late-August in 1965, Javier had a hammerlock on the Cardinals’ 2nd base job from May 1960 until mid-June 1971, when Ted Sizemore took over the position. He never won any gold gloves, but he was an all-star in 1963 and 1968, and hit a career-high 14 homers in 1967.

After the 1971 season, Julian was traded to the Reds for pitcher Tony Cloninger. He started 17 games that season as the Reds’ backup 3rd baseman (behind Denis Menke), and had several dozen pinch-hit appearances.

Javier was released after the season, ending his 13-year career.

His son Stan (named for teammate Stan Musial) was an outfielder for 8 teams from 1984-2001, most notably with the Athletics and Giants.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Harry Walker (#318)

Harry “The Hat” Walker managed the Pirates from the start of the 1965 season until midway through the 1967 season. He then managed the Astros from the 2nd half of 1968 until mid-August 1972, when he was replaced by Leo Durocher.

Walker’s baseball career began in 1937, when he was signed by the Phillies. After 3 seasons as an outfielder in their farm system, he was traded to the Cardinals, and played 2 seasons in their system, including a few games each year with the big club.

Harry played the entire ’42 and ’43 seasons with the Cardinals, as a reserve in 1942, and as the everyday center fielder in 1943. He made the all-star team in ’43, and played in the World Series both years against the Yankees.

Walker missed the 1944 and 1945 seasons while in military service, then returned to the Cardinals in 1946, where he hit .412 in the World Series vs. the Red Sox.

Harry was traded to the Phillies in May 1947, and went on to win the NL batting title with a .363 average that season. He also chipped-in a league-leading 16 triples.

Walker began the ’48 season in center field, but lost the job to rookie Richie Ashburn in early May. He spent the remainder of that season as the backup CF/LF, and pinch-hitting. He also caught 4 straight games in late-August, including both ends of a doubleheader.

He was traded to the Cubs after the 1948 season, then quickly bounced to the Reds and Cardinals.

Walker became a player-manager in the Cardinals’ minor-league system from 1951 to 1958, but also managed the Cardinals for the 2nd half of 1955 on an interim basis

After a 4-year gap, Harry returned as the Cardinals’ AAA manager for ’63 and ’64, then moved on to his 2 big-league managing gigs from 1965-72 as mentioned above.

Walker passed away in August 1999 at age 82.

Harry’s brother Dixie Walker was a starting outfielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940s, and played for other teams during the 1930s.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Athletics Team (#492)

Here is the Athletics Team card. Shown on the card is the 1965 team, the not-so-proud owners of a 59-103 record, which put them 43 games behind the AL champion Twins, and 3 games behind the 9th-place Red Sox.

The '66 Athletics improved to 74-86 (7th place), but the entire league improved that season. The last-place Yankees were 70-89, 26 games behind the Orioles.

SEVENTEEN PITCHERS! That's what happens when you stink. Rollie Sheldon and Fred Talbot led the team with 10 wins each, but they would be gone by the next year.

The A's were making some headway though. Young starting pitchers Catfish Hunter, Jim Nash, Lew Krausse, John Odom, and Chuck Dobson were gaining experience. Soon, Rick Monday, Sal Bando, and Reggie Jackson would be joining the team, and in a few years they would have a dynasty.

Unfortunately for the fans of Kansas City, that dynasty would be located in Oakland, and Kay-Cee would have to endure the growing pains of the the expansion Royals for another 7 years.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Willie Horton (#20)

Willie Horton was signed by the Tigers in 1961, and played for 3 seasons (1962-64) in the minors. He made his major-league debut in September 1963, starting 9 of the final 11 games.

Horton began the 1964 season as the Tigers’ starting left fielder, but by mid-May he was sent back down, returning in September.

Willie made the starting lineup at the beginning of the 1965 season, and was the team’s regular left fielder from 1965 through 1974 (although he missed significant playing time in ’70, ’72, and ’74).
He hit .304 with 1 home run in the 1968 World Series.

Horton became the Tigers’ designated hitter beginning in 1975, replacing long-time PH/DH Gates Brown. After 2 seasons as the DH, Willie was traded to the Rangers in April 1977 for pitcher Steve Foucault. He played with Texas for only one season.

1978 was a whirlwind for Horton. In February he was traded to Cleveland. In July the Indians released him, and he was soon signed by the Athletics. In mid-August Oakland traded him to the Blue Jays for outfielder Rico Carty. In December, Horton was granted free agency.

Willie DH’ed for the Mariners in ’79 and ’80, playing his last major-league game on Oct 5, 1980. In December, he was traded back to the Rangers in an 11-player deal that also included Rick Honeycutt and Richie Zisk. For Willie, it was all moot, as the Rangers released him on 4/1/81.

In May 1981, Horton was signed by the Pirates, and played 2 seasons with their AAA team in Portland, OR, then wrapped up his career in 1983 playing in the Mexican League.

Willie finished with 325 home runs. My recollection is that he was a prolific power hitter (though not in the same tier as Harmon Killebrew or Frank Howard). I was surprised today to learn that he never hit more than 25 in a season.

After his playing career, he coached for the Yankees and White Sox. He is one of six Detroit Tigers with a statue outside their ballpark (the others are Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg, Al Kaline, Hal Newhouser, and Charlie Gehringer). Horton is credited as having been a calming influence on the public during the 1967 race riots in Detroit.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Lindy McDaniel (#496)

Here’s Lindy McDaniel’s card – a near mirror-image of the Joe Gibbon card we just looked at below. Giants’ pitcher? Check! Solid blue background? Check!

Lindy McDaniel pitched for 21 seasons (1955-75) for 5 teams. I identify him as a Giant because that’s where he was when I started collecting cards in 1967 and 1968, but he was only with San Francisco for 3 of his 21 seasons.

McDaniel was primarily a reliever during his career, starting only 74 of his 987 career games. He also collected 172 career saves. Lindy’s years as a starting pitcher were 1957 and 1958. After that, the bullpen was his home. From 1963 to 1972, he made only 3 starts.

McDaniel was signed by the Cardinals in 1955 as a bonus baby, and as such he went directly to the majors. He only appeared in 4 games that first season (all in September), but in 1956 he appeared in 39 games, compiling a 7-6 record.

Lindy joined the starting rotation in 1957 and fashioned a 15-9 record. He struggled in 1958, and was sent to the minors from late-August to early-September – his only time on the farm.

After starting his first 4 games in 1959 (and posting a 1-3 record), McDaniel returned to the bullpen, where he would stay for the rest of his career (except for the occasional spot start). He appeared in over 60 games each in 1959 and 1960, and led the NL in saves both years. Lindy also finished 3rd in the Cy Young voting in 1960.

After the 1962 season, he was traded to the Cubs (with pitcher Larry Jackson and catcher Jimmie Schaffer) for pitcher Don Cardwell, outfielder George Altman, and catcher Moe Thacker. Lindy led the league with 22 saves in his first season in Chicago, but was not as successful in ’64 and ’65.

The Cubs traded him to the Giants after the ’65 season (with outfielder Don Landrum) for pitcher Bill Hands and catching prospect Randy Hundley. McDaniel spent 2 ½ seasons by the Bay until he was traded to the Yankees in July 1968 for pitcher Bill Monbouquette.

Lindy was a workhorse during his 5 ½ seasons in Yankee pinstripes, posting an ERA under 3.00 in four of those seasons. He went 12-6 in his last season with the Yankees.

After the 1973 season, he was traded to the Royals for outfielder Lou Piniella. He wrapped up his long career with 2 seasons in Kansas City.