Monday, December 10, 2018

Art Shamsky (#119)

Here is young Art Shamsky, with all of 96 major-league at-bats under his belt.

Shamsky was signed by the Reds in 1959, and played in the minors from 1960-64 until making his major-league debut in April 1965.

As a rookie, he was the Reds' 4th outfielder, but when the first 3 are named Vada Pinson (159 starts), Tommy Harper (156), and Frank Robinson (154), there's not much for you to do. 46 of his 64 games were as a pinch-hitter only.

With the trade of Robinson to the Orioles, Art saw his playing time increase somewhat in 1966. Not too much, as Deron Johnson took most of the outfield time left behind by Robby, with Shamsky making 63 starts.

By 1967, Pete Rose and even Lee May were in the outfield mix, so Art found less playing time than in '66. That November, the Reds traded him to the Mets for utility infielder Bob Johnson.

Shamsky jumped onboard the Mets' train 1 year before the Miracle 1969 season. He played in over 100 games in each of the next 3 seasons. Sure, the Mets had Cleon Jones, Tommie Agee, and Ron Swoboda, but in 1968 Shamsky started 64 games in left field, and another dozen each in right field and first base.

In 1969 he split right field with Swoboda, starting 61 times to Swoboda's 70. Art also filled in at 1B and LF occasionally. He hit .538 (7 for 13) in the NLCS, but was 0-for-6 in the World Series.

In 1970 he started 55 games at first base in relief of Donn Clendenon (Ed Kranepool having been sent to the minors), along with another 49 starts in right field.

Art's career began to fade in 1971, as he was demoted to 6th outfielder, playing only half the games he did in '70. He was traded to the Cardinals in October 1971, but released just before the '72 season.

He soon hooked on with the Cubs, but after 15 games in 2 months he was sold to the Athletics at the end of June 1972. He was released 3 weeks later, having only made 8 pinch-hitting appearances

After his playing career, Shamsky was (among other things) a Mets broadcaster and a New York sports radio host.

In the TV show "Everybody Loves Raymond", Ray Barone's brother Robert has a dog named Shamsky. Art even even made an appearance on the show.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Astros Rookies (#244, #539, #596)

Here are the 1966 Astros Rookie Stars cards. The first one is card #244 featuring Chuck Harrison and Sonny Jackson. Both photos are airbrushed nightmares, using techniques also found on the next card: a poorly-painted logo and fading cap edge, and the other photo looks like someone scribbled over the cap logo with a black sharpie. Both players would have much better cards in the 1967 set.

There were two other Astros Rookie Stars cards in the 1966 set, both in the high-numbered 7th series. I don't have these 2 cards, but for completeness I am including images of the card fronts I found on the internet.

Looks like the same guy was in charge of airbrushing this card (#539). ("Air-brushing" may be too generous a term, because it looks like this was done with a dime-store paintbrush.) Bill Heath looks a lot like fellow Astros' catcher John Bateman here. Heath would get a better card in the 1967 set, then disappear until having one last card in the 1970 set as a Cub.

Carroll Sembera also has a good-looking card in the 1967 set, then falls victim to the disaster inflicted on all the 1968 Astros cards. He also has a final card in the 1969 set as a capless Montreal Expo.

Ahh! A decent-looking rookies card (#596). After this card, Nate Colbert vanishes until resurfacing in the 1969 set as a San Diego Padre. This is Greg Sims' only baseball card.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Ken Henderson (#39)

Ken Henderson played outfield for 16 seasons from 1965-1980. His first 8 seasons were with the Giants, then he spent the last half of his career with 6 teams, most notably the White Sox.

I will always remember him as a Giants' spare outfielder, because that was his status when I started collecting cards, but he finally won a full-time job with the Giants from 1970-72, and the White Sox and Braves from 1974-76.

Henderson was signed by the Giants in June 1964, and made his major-league debut at age 18 in April 1965. Ken spent all of 1965 as the Giants' 5th outfielder, but played most of 1966-68 back in the minors.

After starting outfielders Ollie Brown and Jesus Alou were lost in the expansion draft, Henderson stuck with the Giants for good at the start of 1969. Although he was the team's #2 outfielder in terms of total innings played that season, he was a corner-outfield swing man, backing up Bobby Bonds in right field and splitting the left field starts with Dave Marshall.

Marshall was traded to the Mets after the 1969 season, enabling Henderson to be the team's primary left fielder for the next 3 seasons.

After the 1972 season, he was traded to the White Sox. Ken was a backup outfielder in 1973, but became the every-day center fielder for the next 2 years, starting 159 games there in '74 and 136 games in '75. (This is news to me!) 

After that it was on to the Braves, where he spent 1 season as their right fielder, having been exchanged for Ralph Garr.

The rest of Henderson’s career was a series of whistle stops as a bench player: 1977 with the Rangers, 1978 with the Mets and Reds, 1979 with the Reds and Cubs, and then wrapping up his career in 1980 with the Cubs, until getting his release in July.

I'm really surprised that Henderson played any seasons as a regular. 1974 was his career year with 602 at bats, 76 runs, 176 hits, 35 doubles, 5 triples, 20 home runs, 95 RBI, 66 walks, and a .292 batting average in 162 games.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Phil Gagliano (#418)

Phil Gagliano was a utility infielder who played for 12 seasons (1962-74), mostly with the Cardinals.

He played in the minors for 3 seasons before making his major-league debut in April 1963. After playing in only 10 games by early-May, he was sent to the minors for the rest of the season.

Phil also began the 1964 season with the Cards but was sent down in July, and missed the World Series that year.

He returned to the majors for good at the start of the 1965 season, and received the most playing time of his career, starting 90 games that year, including 48 at 2nd base (with regular 2nd baseman Julian Javier limited to 77 games that year). Phil also started 17 games at 3B and 23 games in right field. He tallied 53 RBI in 411 plate appearances.

All good things must come to an end, and Gagliano settled back into his utility role beginning in 1966. For the rest of his time with St. Louis, he was their go-to sub at 2B and also at 3B. (Although the team also had backup Ed Spiezio through the 1968 season, Ed was rarely used as a defensive replacement, but mostly as a pinch-hitter, while starting a few games at 3B each season.) 

Gagliano also played in the ’67 and ’68 World Series, and remained with the Cardinals until his late-May 1970 trade to the Cubs for pitcher Ted Abernathy.

Being a backup infielder with the Cubs in those years meant you didn’t get ANY playing time. After the season he was traded to the Red Sox for 3rd baseman Carmen Fanzone. Phil played for the Sox for 2 seasons (mostly as a pinch-hitter) then was traded to the Reds during Spring Training in 1973.

He played his final 2 seasons with Cincinnati, including 3 games in the ’73 NLCS. Gagliano was released by the Reds after the 1974 season.

He passed away in 2016 at age 74.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Two Guys Named Dick Ellsworth?

Only one of these guys can be Dick Ellsworth, right?

One card was made by Topps in 1966, featuring someone other than Ellsworth.

The other is a custom card by John Hogan at the Cards That Never Were blog (who, oddly enough has not posted for 10 months) .

John had corrected this UNBELIEVABLE error by Topps a few years back.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Cal Koonce (#278)

Cal Koonce pitched for the Cubs, Mets, and Red Sox from 1962 to 1971. He was a starter for his first few seasons, but by 1966 onward was almost exclusively a relief pitcher.

Koonce was signed by the Cubs in May 1961, and made his major-league debut with the Cubbies the following April. Cal started 30 games as a rookie in ’62 and at age 21 posted a 10-10 record, 2nd best on the team after veteran Bob Buhl’s 12 wins.

He had an off-year in 1963, spending most of June and July in the minors after his early-season work left him with an ERA over 6.00. Recalled in August, he finished up at 2-6.

Cal was back in the minors for most of 1964, only appearing in 6 games for the Cubs during a September call-up. It looks like he saved his career that month: winning 3 games, compiling an ERA of 2.03, and punching his ticket for a full 1965 season in Chicago!

In 1965 Koonce appeared in 38 games (23 starts) for the Cubs – his largest big-league workload to date, and his first full season in the majors since 1962.

Cal started the 1966 season with the Cubs, but with an ERA over 15.00 by the end of April, he earned a 6-week trip to the minors to get sorted out.  He returned in mid-August and appeared in 45 games that season, all but 5 in relief.

Koonce matched his 45 appearances again in 1967, but they were split between 2 teams. In August he was purchased by the Mets, and became the 4th player (also Bob Hendley, Rob Gardner, and John Stephenson) to have spent time with both the Cubs and Mets that season.

Cal pitched for the Mets until halfway through the 1970 season. Surprisingly, he did not play in the 1969 post-season, as the Mets only used 7 pitchers in the NLCS and World Series (starters Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman and Gary Gentry, and relievers Ron Taylor, Don Cardwell, Nolan Ryan, and Tug McGraw).

In mid-June 1970 he was sold to the Red Sox, where he worked as a reliever until he was released in August 1971.

After his playing career, he was the head baseball coach at Campbell University in North Carolina (his alma mater) for 7 seasons, then scouted for the Texas Rangers.

Koonce passed away in 1993 at age 52.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Dalton Jones (#317)

Here is Dalton Jones' 1966 card, where he is a third-year player still considered to be the team's "second baseman of the future". He appeared to be headed that way after his first 2 seasons, but was then derailed into utility status.

Jones was signed by the Red Sox in June 1961, and played 2 ½ seasons in their farm system. He was a shortstop in 1961-62, and a 2nd baseman in 1963.

Dalton made the Red Sox from the outset of the 1964 season, and for the next 2 years collected over 400 plate appearances each season, starting 78 games at 2nd base in '64 and 76 games at 3rd base in '65.

His career took a detour beginning in 1966. George Smith was acquired from the Tigers and started over 100 games at 2nd base for the Sox in his final season, leaving only 49 starts for Jones.

The following year, rookie Mike Andrews arrived on the scene, becoming the regular 2nd sacker. Jones started 23 games at 3rd base that year. (Dalton had averaged 114 games played every season from 1964 through 1969, except for the Sox’ Dream Season of 1967, when he only got into 89 games.) He hit a career-high .289 in 1967, and started the first 4 games of the World Series at 3rd base.

In 1968, Jones found a new position – he started 54 games at 1st base, when George Scott was out of the lineup for much of the second half of the season. In 1969 Scott moved over to third base, with Jones becoming the primary starter at 1st base (74 starts).

After the 1969 season, Jones was traded to the Tigers for infielder Tom Matchick (hardly equitable compensation for a 74-game starter in 1969!) Jones started about half the games in his 2-year stint with the Tigers, filling in at 2B, 3B, and left field.

In May 1972 he was traded to the Rangers, and played his final MLB season as a 2B/3B backup for Texas. Released in January 1973, he played for the Expos' AAA team that year before retiring.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

John Buzhardt (#245)

I already reviewed the dope on John Buzhardt when I posted his 1968 card here, but that card is such a mess that I decided to post another one of his cards (like I did for Larry Sherry and Turk Farrell).

Fun fact about John Buzhardt: While with the Phillies in 1961, two of his 6 wins were the games just before and just after the Phillies' infamous 23-game losing streak.

Fun fact #2: On a team that also included Gary Peters, Joe Horlen, and Tommy John, Buzhardt was the White Sox' opening day starter in 1967!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Senators Rookies (#11, #333, #549)

The Senators had THREE Rookie Stars cards in the 1966 set. (Topps would make up for that extravagance by having no Senators Rookies cards in the 1969 set!)

4 hits, and 2 misses - which is about average.

Brant Alyea played a few games in 1965, but primarily played for the Senators (1968-69), and Twins (1970-71), before wrapping up his career with 2 teams in 1972.

Let's add Pete Craig to the list of guys who appeared on 3 or more Topps Rookie Stars cards ('65, '66, '67).  His major-league career was 6 games, spread across 1964-66).

Joe Coleman had the best career of this 6-pack. He played for 15 seasons, for the Senators (1965-70), Tigers (1971-76), and 5 other teams from 1976-79.

Jim French was the Senators' backup catcher from 1965-71, and started a career-high 56 games in 1969.

Al Closter was a Yankees' farmhand from 1965-73, but also played 1 game for the Senators in 1966.  His only other big-league action was 14 games for the Yankees in 1971, and a game or 2 for the Yanks and Braves from 1972-73.

Casey Cox pitched 7 years for the Senators/Rangers (1966-72), before finishing up with the Yankees in 1973.  He was primarily a reliever, except for 1970.


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Jeff Torborg (#257)

Jeff Torborg was a backup catcher for the Dodgers (1964-70) and the Angels (1971-73).  He never had more than 200 at-bats in a season until his final year. That was also the only season when he played in more than 76 games (102).

Torborg was signed by the Dodgers in 1963 and played only 1 season in the minors before making his debut with LA in May 1964 at age 22. (He had played college ball at Rutgers.) That year he was the team’s #3 backstop behind John Roseboro and Doug Camilli.

After the 1964 season, Camilli was shipped off to the Senators, leaving Torborg as the Dodgers’ #2 catcher for the next 6 seasons, backing up Roseboro from ’65-’67, and Tom Haller from ’68-’70. During that time, he caught Sandy Koufax’ perfect game in 1965 and a no-hitter by Bill Singer in 1970.

Jeff made no starts behind the plate after August 1970, since 3rd baseman Bill Sudakis was converting to catcher, and made all the starts when Haller took a day off.

In March 1971 Torborg was sold to the Angels. He backed up starting catcher John Stephenson in ’71 (Say what? Stephenson was once a team’s #1 catcher? How sad must that team have been?) 

In 1972 Jeff split the starting assignments with rookie Art Kusnyer. Torborg made a career-high 93 starts in his final season, this time with Stephenson and Kusnyer as HIS backups. In May, he caught the first of Nolan Ryan’s seven no-hitters.

After the 1973 season Jeff was traded to the Cardinals, but was released in spring training 1974.

Torborg’s 2nd career was as a manager. He piloted the Indians (1977-79), White Sox (1989-91), Mets (1992-93), Expos (2001), and Marlins (2002-03). Between his Indians’ and White Sox’ jobs, he coached for the Yankees from 1979-88.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Gerry Arrigo (#357)

Gerry Arrigo was a spot starter for the Reds from 1966 to 1969. Prior to that he pitched for the Twins. What I didn’t realize until today was that Gerry began the ’66 season with the Reds, was sold to the Mets in May, and returned to the Reds 3 months later.

Arrigo was signed by the White Sox 1960, but the selected by the Twins in the first-year draft after that season. He pitched in the Twins’ farm system from 1961-63, also making a few appearances each year for the Twins.

In 1964 he spent a full season with Minnesota, appearing in 41 games. His 12 starts ranked him 6th among the Twins’ starting pitchers that season.

After the season he was traded to the Reds for prospect Cesar Tovar. It appears he played most of the 1965 season with the Reds, except for the month of August when he pitched 9 games for their triple-A team.

As mentioned earlier, Gerry played the bulk of the 1966 season (essentially) on loan to the Mets. He pitched 42 innings over 17 games for New York, and only 3 games for the Reds.

In 1967 Arrigo appeared in 32 games, as the #4 man in the Reds’ bullpen (well behind closer Ted Abernathy).

Gerry found himself in the Reds' starting rotation for all of 1968, the only season where he was primarily a starter. He fashioned a 12-10 record in 205 innings while starting 31 games (all career highs).

1969 would be his last season with Cincinnati. He started 16 of his 20 games, but only played 1 game prior to June 1st that season.

After the ’69 season he was traded to the White Sox (also learned THAT today) for outfielder Angel Bravo. He played for the Sox during the first 2 months of 1970, but spent the rest of the season with their AAA team.

Arrigo retired after pitching the 1971 season for the Braves’ AAA team.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Ed Kranepool (#212)

Here’s an Original Met. Well, not from day 1, but from year 1.

Ed played 18 seasons (1962-79), all with the Mets. His career home run total of 118 (in 1853 games) was atypical for a corner infielder.

Kranepool was signed by the Mets in late-June 1962, and fast-tracked his way through the organization (20 games in Class D, 7 in Class A, and 14 in triple-A), making his major-league debut with 3 games against the Cubs in the final week of the season (at age 17).

Ed began the 1963 season with the Mets (playing mostly as a right fielder) but by early-July was sent down to triple-A Buffalo, returning to New York in September.

In 1964 Ed took over as the regular 1st baseman on May 31st and started 101 of the final 119 games (replacing the trio of Tim Harkness, Dick Smith, and Frank Thomas).

On the last day before his call-up, he played both ends of a doubleheader for triple-A Buffalo (18 innings). The following day he played both games of a doubleheader for the Mets. Game #2 went 23 innings, and Ed was in the lineup for the entire 2 games. In 2 days he played a total of 50 innings!

Ed continued as the regular 1st baseman from 1964-69, although he was platooned quite a bit in 1968, and gave way to Donn Clendenon for most of the final 2 months in 1969. He made his only All-star team in 1965.

1970 was an off-year for Kranepool. He was sent down to AAA in late-June due to his .118 batting average. He returned 2 months later, but only played 43 games for the Mets that season. He was back in 1971, starting 2/3 of the games to Clendenon’s 1/3.

Ed only started half of the games at 1st base in 1972. The remaining games saw a mix of 6 other players starting there, including Willie Mays for 9 games.

The final 7 years saw Kranepool in a backup role, starting a few dozen games at 1B and a few dozen in the outfield each year. However, he was the team’s primary 1st baseman from 1975-76, starting less than half the games, but just a bit more than Dave Kingman (’75) and Joe Torre (’76).

Kranepool retired after the 1979 season, and was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1990.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Born on the Same Day - 10/14/1940

Another installment in my "Born on the Same Day" series, featuring players who were born on the same day (!) and year. 

This is post #18 in the series: Tommy Harper and Billy Sorrell - both born on 10/14/1940.

Tommy Harper came up with the Reds in 1962 and was a starting corner outfielder for them from 1963 to 1967 (leading the NL with 127 runs scored in 1965).

After 1 year in Cleveland, he was selected by the Seattle Pilots in the expansion draft and was their starting 2B/3B in 1969. That season he led the AL in stolen bases (and also in times caught stealing).
He played 2 more seasons with the Brewers as their starting 3rd baseman (although by July 1971 he had moved back to the outfield).

Harper was a starting outfielder for the Red Sox from 1972-74, then strangely enough was traded to the Angels after the season for a utility infielder! He bounced to the Athletics and Orioles in late-75 and 1976 before retiring.

Billy Sorrell had a much shorter career. After playing in the Phillies' farm system from 1960-66, the Giants selected him in the Rule 5 draft (snaring Sorrell a spot on the 1967 Giants Rookie Stars card), but returned him to Philadelphia after a few weeks.

The Mets picked him up in 1968 for AAA depth, and he also played for the Royals' AAA team from 1969-71. Sorrell managed to see action in 57 games for the Royals in 1970, which is why this card exists. He finished up with 2 years in Japan (1972-73).