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 Baseball-Almanac.com 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.