Sunday, December 27, 2020

Braves Rookies: Jim Beauchamp / Dick Kelley

This is the first (#84) of two Braves Rookies cards in the 1966 set. We already looked at the second Braves rookies card here.
Jim Beauchamp was signed by the Cardinals in 1958. He made his major-league debut with them in September 1963, then played parts of '64 and '65 with the Astros. He came to the Braves in May 1965 along with pitcher Ken Johnson in exchange for outfielder Lee Maye. 
Most of his Braves' tenure (1965-67) was spent in the minors, although he played 4 games for the Braves in 1965 and again in 1967. He also played for the Reds, Cardinals, and Mets from 1968-73.  
Dick Kelley was signed by the Braves in 1959, and after a cup of coffee in 1964, he played in parts of '65 and '66, and all of 1967-68 for the Braves. Drafted by the expansion Padres, he was their only left-handed starter in 1969, and after a year in the minors he returned to the Padres' bullpen for 1971.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Tigers Rookies: (Fritz Fisher / John Hiller)

This is a typical Rookie Stars card (#209), where one of the two players chosen by Topps goes on to a long career, and one does not. 

Fritz Fisher is the "not" in this scenario. The sum of his major-league experience was one game for the Tigers in April 1964. He pitched 1/3 of an inning, and came away with a 108.00 ERA. He kicked around in Detroit's farm system for 5 years (1963-67) before hanging them up. 


In contrast, John Hiller pitched a few innings in '65 and '66, then had a solid career from 1967-80, all with the Tigers. (He missed the 1971 season after having a heart attack that January.) Hiller returned to the Tigers in 1972, and led the AL in games and saves in 1973. He also posted 17 wins (all in relief) in 1974.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Jimmy Stewart (#63)

Jimmy Stewart was a utility player for several teams (mostly the Cubs and Reds) from 1963 to 1973.

His cards almost always had him listed as "INF-OF", but his primary positions were left field, 2nd base, and shortstop. He also played some at the other outfield and corner infield spots, and even caught 2/3 of an inning in 1970.

Stewart was signed by the Cubs in June 1961 and made his major-league debut in September 1963. He played all of 1964 and 1965 with the Cubs, but split the 1966 season between the Cubs and their AAA team. His best season was 1964, when he played in 132 games and collected 33 RBI.

He was purchased by the cross-town White Sox in May 1967, but played most of that season with their triple-A team in Indianapolis. He appeared in 24 games with the Sox from mid-June to mid-July, almost always as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner.

Jimmy was in the minors for all of 1968, then was selected by the Reds in the Rule 5 draft after the season. Stewart was with Cincinnati for all of 1969-71, with most of his playing time coming in 1969, when he made 41 starts at various positions. He started less than 10 games the other 2 years.

After the 1971 season, he headed to the Astros, along with Lee May and Tommy Helms for Joe Morgan, Denis Menke, Jack Billingham, Cesar Geronimo, and Ed Armbrister. Stewart spent the last 2 years of his career as a reserve infielder for the Astros, making only 11 starts in '72 and 6 in '73.

After his playing career he worked for the Reds from 1980-91 as a minor-league manager and then a scout. He also scouted for the Phillies from 1992-2006.

Stewart passed away in 2012 at age 73.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Chico Salmon (#594)

Something I don’t often do is post images of cards that I don’t have. In the roughly 1200 cards I have posted across my baseball blogs, maybe 5 to 8 were cards I don’t have. (The 1965 cards of Jerry Fosnow and Dan Pleis come to mind. I posted internet images of them to complete my series of 1965 final cards.) 

This 1966 Chico Salmon card is another. I have Salmon's 1967-1970 cards, but in 1969 he is capless, and in 1970 he is shown as an Oriole, while I consider him mostly as an Indian. I also have many ’67 and ’68 cards remaining to post, but not so many '66 cards, so Chico has been assigned to the 1966 queue. (Besides, I noticed tonight that I also have Chico Ruiz and Chico Cardenas on this blog, so Salmon completes the trifecta.) 

Chico Salmon played every position but pitcher and catcher, although he didn’t play shortstop until 1966, with the Indians. He was signed by the (old) Washington Senators in 1959, and bounced around in the minors for several years - to the Giants in 1960, the Tigers in 1961, and the Braves in 1963.

After the 1963 season, the Braves traded him to the Indians for a player to be named later (Mike de la Hoz). Chico made his major-league debut with the Indians in June 1964. He started 39 games in right field over the 2nd half of the season, sharing the job with Tito Francona. He also started 2 dozen games at 2nd base.

In 1965 he played in 79 games but spent most of the season on the bench, only starting 16 games at 1st base and a handful elsewhere.

Things improved for him in 1966. He played all over the infield, mostly at shortstop where he started 57 games, including every game from 5/22 to 7/5. He also started another 47 games at 1B/2B/3B. The Tribe decided to use Larry Brown at shortstop for most of the 2nd half (and in subsequent seasons), so Chico returned to the bench for the remainder of his Indians' career, except for April/May 1968 when he was the starting 2nd baseman.

Salmon was selected by the Seattle Pilots in the expansion draft, but traded to the Orioles just before the start of the 1969 season for Gene Brabender. What luck for him! He moved from the Indians (a perennial 2nd-division team) to the Pilots (yecch), to the Orioles (the AL kings for much of 1966-1971).

For the next 3 seasons Chico was the O’s top utility infielder, and played in the '69 and '70 post-season.

In 1972 rookie Bobby Grich took over the backup infield assignments, relegating Salmon to only 17 games, mostly pinch-hitting appearances. He was released in mid-August.

Salmon passed away in 2000 at age 59.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Final Card: Bob Sadowski

This is Bob Sadowski’s final card (#523).  In March 2018 I posted his 1965 card on my ’65 blog, but that was before I had this card. (I generally limit my 1965 blog to players’ final cards.)

Sadowski was signed by the Cardinals in 1958, and played in their farm systems for 5 1/2 seasons until his trade to the Braves in mid-June 1963 (Sadowski and Gene Oliver for Lou Burdette).

Bob was immediately brought up to the Braves and pitched 19 games over the second half, including 18 starts and 5 complete games. He posted a 5-7 record and 2.62 ERA in 116 innings pitched.

(That same yellow dome is seen on Tony Conigliaro's 1967 card.)

In 1964 he started 18 games again (along with 33 relief appearances), but his ERA soared to 4.59.

He started the final home opener for the Milwaukee Braves in April 1965. He posted a similar ERA (4.54) as the previous year, but in only 34 games.

In December 1965 Bob was traded to the Red Sox (with pitcher Dan Osinski) for pitchers Jay Ritchie and Arnold Earley, and outfielder Lee Thomas.

Sadowski was used very little by the Red Sox because of arm injuries, only appearing in 11 games (33 innings) by mid-season, his final major-league game coming on July 4th. With an ERA of 7.02 he was sent to the minors, where his troubles continued - pitching only 5 innings in the 2nd half.

He played the 1967 season for the Braves’ double-A team before retiring.

His brother Ed was a catcher for the Red Sox and Angels from 1960-63, and for the Braves in 1966. His brother Ted (Ed and Ted?) pitched for the Senators/Twins from 1960-62.

Another Bob Sadowski played for the Phillies, White Sox, and Angels from 1961-63.

Sadowski passed away in 2018 at age 80.