Thursday, May 31, 2018

Elrod Hendricks (#277)

Here is Orioles’ catcher Elrod Hendricks’ rookie card. Hendricks played from 1968 to 1979. Although mostly an Oriole (in 3 separate stints), he also spent some time with the Cubs and Yankees.

Hendricks was initially signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1959, but was released after the 1960 season. More than a year later, the Cardinals signed him, but also released him in June 1963. After a stint in the Mexican League, Ellie found his way into the Angels' organization in August 1966.

After the 1967 season, the Orioles selected him in the Rule 5 draft. As a Rule 5 pick, Hendricks was guaranteed a spot on the major-league roster, and made his big-league debut in April 1968. He started 45 games behind the dish as the #2 catcher, working with incumbent Andy Etchebarren and OF-C Curt Blefary.


With Blefary traded away in the off-season, Ellie became the #1 catcher for the next 3 seasons, starting half the games, while Etchebarren and Clay Dalrymple divvied up the rest. Hendricks played in 17 post-season games for the O's from 1969-71, including 6 in the '71 World Series.

Rookie Johnny Oates joined the team in 1972 and caught most of the games that year. In August, Hendricks was traded to the Cubs for Tommy Davis, but after the season was returned to the Orioles.

1973-74 saw Hendricks relegated to #3 catcher behind Earl Williams (acquired in the off-season for Oates) and Etchebarren.

In 1975 Rod moved up a notch to #2 catcher, starting 64 games – 2 dozen less than newly-acquired Dave Duncan.

Hendricks alternated with Duncan for the first 6 weeks of the 1976 season, but was part of a 10-player trade in June that saw pitchers Ken Holtzman, Grant Jackson, and Doyle Alexander accompany him to the Yankees in return for catcher Rick Dempsey and pitchers Scott McGregor, Tippy Martinez, Rudy May, and Dave Pagan.

After a season and a half of inactivity (the Yankees DID have someone named Munson catching!), including much of '77 in triple-A, Hendricks was granted free agency and signed with ….. the Orioles!

Hendricks only saw action in 12 games in 1978 (mostly as a pinch-hitter), and was released the following Spring.

He was the Orioles' bullpen coach for 28 years (1978-2005), and was activated for 1 at-bat in September 1979.

Hendricks passed away in 2005 at age 64. Since his death, no Oriole has worn his #44.

I think it's comical that Baseball-Reference.com lists him as a "catcher and relief pitcher". Over his 12-year career, he caught 4573 innings, played 1st base for 36 innings, and pitched only 2 innings. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Dick Green (#515)

Dick Green was the Athletics’ starting 2nd baseman from 1964 to 1974. He played for 12 years – all for the Athletics. I really like these 1969 Athletics’ cards – quite a change from the 1968 models! 

Green was signed by the Kansas City Athletics before the 1960 season, and played 4 years in their farm system. In 1960 he played shortstop for the Sanford (FL) Greyhounds in the class-D Florida State League. For the next 2 seasons he was primarily a third baseman.

In 1963 he switched to 2nd base while playing a full season in AAA ball, followed by a September call-up to Kansas City. He played a few games for the A’s at SS and 2B in the closing weeks of 1963.


With the off-season trade of incumbent 2nd baseman Jerry Lumpe to Detroit, Green became the starting 2nd baseman from Opening Day 1964, and would hold that job through the end of the 1974 season, except for a time during 1967-68.

Dick began the 1967 season as the starter, but by mid-June rookie John Donaldson had taken over the starting job. Green rode the bench for a while, but then started most games at 3rd base in July and August. Once rosters were expanded in September, he lost that job to rookie call-up Sal Bando.

With Donaldson still entrenched at 2B in 1968, Green was used mostly as a pinch-hitter for the first half of the season (while also missing the entire month of June), but then regained his old 2nd base job in early August.

After playing in only 76 games in 1968, it was smooth sailing for Green for the next 3 years, playing more than 130 games in each season while nailing down the 2nd base job.

1972 was the low point of Dick’s career. He started the first 7 games of the season, then was out with injuries until mid-August. The Athletics filled in with Larry Brown, Tim Cullen, Dal Maxvill, and Ted Kubiak during that time. Green only started 15 of the 50 remaining games after his return, with Maxvill making most of the starts by then.

Dick regained a starting job for the 1973 season, but 1974 was a different story. He started 95 games at 2B in ’74 (50 more than the next guy), but most of them were in June to August.

Rookie Phil Garner would be taking over the 2nd base job in 1975, so Green was released in early-March, ending his 12-year career.

Green played 36 post-season games for the Athletics from 1971-74, but hit a composite .155.

I remember for a few games in the early 70’s, when the Athletics were the visiting team, their starting lineup would consist of the 8 other players, and another good hitter in the lineup, nominally as the "2nd baseman". This batter (a DH-type, I think maybe Gonzalo Marquez) would bat in the top of the 1st inning, then when the A’s took the field in the bottom of the first, Green would enter the lineup as the 2nd baseman. The whole scheme was to get the light-hitting Green one less at-bat per game.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Born on the Same Day - 9/29/1941

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

This is post #21 in the series: Jeff James and Rich Reese - both born on 9/29/1941.

(Although the backs of their cards show them as born exactly a year apart, I'm going with the more accurate Baseball-Reference.com information.)


Jeff James pitched for the Phillies in 1968 and in September 1969. He began as a starter, but as other players joined the team (notably Jerry Johnson), James was moved to a relief role, and then back to the minors for all of 1969 except for a September call-up. He had cards in the 1969 and 1970 sets.

Rich Reese joined the Twins in 1967, essentially filling the role previously manned by the traded Don Mincher - which was to play 1st base whenever Harmon Killebrew was moved over to third base. Reese was a regular player for the Twins from 1968 to 1972, then finished up in 1973 with the Tigers (and back to the Twins for a month).

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Born on the Same Day - 6/29/1941

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

This is post #20 in the series: John Boccabella and Larry Stahl - both born on 6/29/1941, one day after Al Downing and Fred Talbot.


John Boccabella played for 12 seasons, mostly as a 3rd-string catcher and backup 1st baseman.  After 6 seasons wth the Cubs (1963-68), he joined the expansion Montreal Expos, and played 5 seasons in Canada.  In 1973 he was the team's primary catcher, starting over 100 games for the only time in his career.  He wrapped up with the Giants in 1974.

Larry Stahl played for the Athletics, Mets, Padres, and Reds from 1964-73.  Most of his major-league playing time came in 1966 (with the Athletics) and 1971-72 (with the Padres), the only 3 seasons he managed to stay out of the minor leagues.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Rick Reichardt (#205)

Rick Reichardt was an outfielder for the Angels, White Sox, and others from 1964 to 1974.

Reichardt was a baseball and football star at the University of Wisconsin, and played in the 1963 Rose Bowl. After a bidding war, the Angels signed him in June 1964 for a then-record $200,000. That was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, leading to the institution of the player draft in 1965.

Rick made his major-league debut in September 1964. He played most of the 1965 season in triple-A, but saw action in 20 games for the Halos.


In 1966 he made the big club for good, and was the starting left fielder for most of the season, but missed all of August and September.

Rick was the Angels’ regular left fielder during the 1967 to 1969 seasons, starting most of the games there while up to 7 other outfielders swirled around the other 2 spots.

Before the 1970 season, the Angels acquired Alex Johnson to play left field, and by late April Reichardt was traded to the Senators for 3rd baseman Ken McMullen. He was the 4th outfielder for the Senators, playing left field for the few dozen games when Frank Howard moved in to first base, and occasionally playing center field.

After the season he was traded to the White Sox for suspect pitcher Gerry Janeski. Rick regained a starting job with Chicago, once again manning left field, and playing alongside his former Angels’ teammate Jay Johnstone.

In 1972 he shared the center field job with Johnstone, while Carlos May took over the left field duties.

Reichardt began the 1973 season on the bench, and only saw steady playing time during the second half of May. He was released at the end of June, having only played in 46 games to that point.

He was signed by the Royals 2 weeks later, and played mostly as a designated hitter for the remainder of that season. After only 1 at-bat in 1974, he was released on April 9th, ending his 11-year career.


Hey, wait a minute...

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Final Card: Bart Shirley

Bart Shirley (#289) was a career minor-league infielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers, having played for one of their farm teams every season from 1961 to 1970.

Along the way, he played in 18 games for the Dodgers in September 1964 and 12 games in early-1966.


After the 1966 season, the Mets selected him in the Rule 5 draft, which was the sole reason for this appearance:


After playing only 6 games for the Mets in April 1967, he was returned to the Dodgers in mid-May, and was promptly assigned to the minors.

Shirley resurfaced one last time for the Dodgers during the final 2 months of the 1968 season, appearing in 39 games (24 starts) at SS or 2B. It was to be his last major-league action, but was enough to have Topps issue his 1969 card, the only solo card during his career.

Bart played 2 more seasons for the Dodgers’ AAA team, then wrapped up his career in Japan in ’71 and ’72.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Tug McGraw (#601)

At last, we get to Frank “Tug” McGraw, the bullpen ace for 2 world championship teams (1969 Mets, 1980 Phillies). This is Tug’s high-numbered 1969 card – issued just a month or 2 before the Mets’ amazing World Series victory.

Tug was signed by the Mets in June 1964, and made his major-league debut the following April (not just a cameo September call-up). He pitched in 37 games as a rookie, making 9 starts.

The following season he played part of the season in the minors, but did pitch in 15 games for the Mets, mostly as a starter. He also spent some time in the National Guard.

He spent most of 1967 and all of 1968 in triple-A, only seeing action in 4 games for the Mets in ’67, while compiling a 0-3 record with a 7.79 ERA.


Tug was back with the Mets full-time in 1969, and was the go-to lefthander in the bullpen, pitching 100 innings (tops among relievers) over 42 games, with a 2.24 ERA. His 12 saves were 1 less than Ron Taylor's 13. He picked up a post-season save in 1969, and 2 more in 1973.

He was a One-Man Army in the Mets' bullpen from 1972-73, collecting 27 and 25 saves in those years. Tug also made his first of 2 All-Star teams in 1972.

After an off-year in 1974, he was traded to the Phillies for outfielder Del Unser and catching prospect John Stearns.

McGraw anchored the Phillies' bullpen from 1975 through 1981. He made his 2nd All-Star team in his first season in Philly ('75) and in 1980 collected his Phillies’-career-high 20 saves, to go with his career-low 1.46 ERA. Tug also had 4 saves in the 1980 post-season.


Tug pitched for the Phillies through the 1984 season, but his final 3 seasons were in a reduced role, behind relievers like Ron Reed and Al Holland.

I just learned today that he made a comeback (of sorts) years later, pitching 1 game in each of the 1989 and 1990 seasons for the single-A Gastonia Rangers.

While working as a Spring Training instructor for the Phillies in 2003, McGraw was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After surgery he was diagnosed as "cured" but it was later learned the surgery was incomplete. The cancer spread and he died in January 2004 at age 59.

In September 2003 he attended the closing ceremonies at Veterans Stadium (which I watched on TV and recorded) along with long-time Phillies’ GM Paul Owens, who also died in the same '03/'04 off-season.

Country music singer Tim McGraw is Tug’s son.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

First Look - Oakland Athletics

Here's the last in a 5-part series where we get the first look at a new team's uniforms.

Not an expansion team this time, but the recently-relocated Athletics. They moved from Kansas City after the 1967 season, but it took Topps 1 1/2 years to catch up with new player photos.

Included below are the rookie cards for Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi, and Ed Sprague.


The multi-player card shown above was also posted to this 1969 blog in August 2009 by the blog's previous owner. That is the first blog post I found (not even realizing that Google Blogger existed at that time). A few days later I created an account, and here we are 7+ years later!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

First Look - San Diego Padres

Here's the fourth in a 5-part series where we get the first look at a new team's uniforms.

Four teams were added in the 1969 expansion, and although the players for these teams appeared capless or airbrushed in the early series, by mid-summer we started to see players in their new uniforms.

Today - the San Diego Padres


The Padres had the fewest number of veterans' cards in their new uniforms of any of the 4 new teams, but made up for it with three rookie cards. (Plus, we have "Podres with the Padres", so there's that!)


Sunday, December 10, 2017

First Look - Seattle Pilots

Here's the third in a 5-part series where we get the first look at a new team's uniforms.

Four teams were added in the 1969 expansion, and although the players for these teams appeared capless or airbrushed in the early series, by mid-summer we started to see players in their new uniforms.

Today - the Seattle Pilots


Both Jack Aker and Jim Gosger were selected from the Athletics.

This is ex-Angel Marty Pattin's rookie card.

Jerry McNertney went from 3rd-string catcher with the White Sox to the Pilots' every-day backstop.

Gus Gil and John Kennedy both returned to the Topps set in 1969, after a 1-year hiatus.

Unlike all the other expansion teams, the Pilots had only 1 Rookie Stars card, and it was a capless job (featuring Lou Piniella's 3rd appearance on a Rookie Stars card!)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

First Look - Montreal Expos

Here's the second in a 5-part series where we get the first look at a new team's uniforms.

Four teams were added in the 1969 expansion, and although the players for these teams appeared capless or airbrushed in the early series, by mid-summer we started to see players in their new uniforms.

Today - the Montreal Expos


This is a weird distribution of positions in the late-series cards:
2 catchers and 3 outfielders, but no infielders.

But how cool is that Ron Brand card?!?