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?!?

Monday, October 2, 2017

First Look - Kansas City Royals

Here's the first 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.

First up - the Kansas City Royals

The Royals had more (non-rookie-stars) player cards in their new uniforms than any of the other expansion teams.

Only one of the Rookie Stars cards was issued late enough to include players in the new uniforms.

(Wow, the "windbreaker look" is in high gear!) 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Final Card: Dooley Womack

Here is Horace Guy “Dooley” Womack – the oldest living player from 1966-70 that I have yet to feature on my blogs. We last saw Dooley here, sharing a rookie card with Bobby Murcer in 1966.

Womack's late-season card (#594) is one of the first Astros' cards to show the cap logo since the 1967 set.

Dooley was signed by the Yankees in 1958, and played a looooong time in the minors (8 years) before making his major-league debut in April 1966.

He started 1 game during his rookie season, but his other 192 games over a 5-year career were all in relief. 1967 was his best season, leading the Yankees with 18 saves (in 65 games).

In 1968 Dooley was back where he was in ’66 – just another Joe in the bullpen. After the 1968 season, Womack was traded to the Astros for backup outfielder Dick Simpson.

In late-August 1969, he was traded to the Seattle Pilots for ex-Yankees teammate Jim Bouton.  He was returned to the Astros after the 1969 season, but by December was traded to the Reds for outfielder Jim Beauchamp.

Womack played most of 1970 for the Reds’ AAA team, then was acquired by the Athletics in mid-August. He only appeared in 2 games over the final 6 weeks. That was the end of his short, 5-year career.

Womack played for Oakland’s triple-A team in 1971 before retiring due to a rotator cuff injury.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Glenn Beckert (#171)

Projects? I’ve got an endless list of projects: 
 - 1967 Team Reviews (8 more) 
 - 1969 Final Cards (18 more) 
 - 1969 and 1970 League Leaders cards 
 - 1967 Scrapbook series
 - Blockbuster Trades series
 - Born on the Same Day series
 - Players with the Same Last Name series

And my current priorities:
 - Players I haven’t blogged yet who are pushing their late-70s 
 - Remaining unblogged key pitchers (about 16 more) 
 - Remaining unblogged "Starting Eight" players (about 16 more) 

Here’s the top player from the last group on the above list: 

Glenn Beckert was signed by the Red Sox in 1962. (I did not know that!) After 1 season in Boston’s organization, he was selected by the Cubs in the minor-league draft, and played 2 seasons on their farm before making his MLB debut at the start of the 1965 season.

The Cubs had been in need of a 2nd baseman since their 1962 Rookie-of-the-Year Ken Hubbs was killed in a plane crash just before Spring Training in 1964. Beckert won the job at the start of the 1965 season, and didn’t let go until the final months of the 1973 season.

As a fielder, Glenn led the NL with 494 assists as a rookie in 1965, and won a Glove Glove Award in 1968.

Batting-wise, he led the league with 98 runs in 1968, and reached a career-high .342 batting average in 1971. He also hit over .290 in ’68 and ’69.

Beckert was an All-Star for 4 consecutive seasons (1969-72). He was the team’s regular 2nd baseman for 9 seasons (except for missing the final month of 1971, the final 2 months of 1973, and a few weeks in 1972), teaming with shortstop Don Kessinger for the entire 9-year run.

After the 1973 season, he was traded to the Padres, where he backed up 2nd baseman Derrel Thomas during the 1974 season. Beckert was released after the first month of 1975, ending his 11-year career.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Dissecting the 1969 Set

Continuing the series I started with the 1967 set and 1968 set, here is similar information about the 1969 set. 

The 1969 Topps set had 664 cards, but since there were two distinct versions of the C Clay Dalrymple and 1B Donn Clendenon cards (not just printing errors), the actual set size is 666. (Those 2 players have been counted twice in this exercise.)

For the first time in many years, the set did not include any team cards. There are 25 manager cards (2 for the Senators), 52 rookie stars cards (none for the Senators), 20 all-star cards, 12 league leaders, 8 World Series cards, 4 multi-player cards, and 7 checklists. There are also 538 cards of individual players.

Here is the position breakdown of the 538 player cards:

219 cards for "Pitcher"
52 cards for "Catcher"
24 cards for "1st Base"
27 cards for "2nd Base"
25 cards for "Shortstop"
24 cards for "3rd Base"
17 cards for "Infield"
106 cards for "Outfield"

That's a total of 494 cards. The remaining 44 cards featured players at more than 1 position. Below is a sample of each position:

After several years as a "1B-C" for the Cubs, John Boccabella has a new team and a new position! He is joined at C-1B by Jack Hiatt (of course) and Don Pavletich. Boccabella's old job as the lone 1B-C in the Topps set is filled by Joe Torre.

With Tom Satriano now strictly a catcher and Ozzie Virgil retired, there are no C-3B or 3B-C players in the set. The new trend is combining C and OF. Bob Watson's rookie card shows him as the lone C-OF. George Thomas and the Pirates' Gary Kolb are the OF-C cards.

Ken Harrelson leads the group of five 1B-OF, along with Tommie Aaron, Tom McCraw, Mike Hegan, and the Giants' Bob Burda.
Frank Howard is 1 of 4 players at OF-1B (with Tito Francona, Jim Beauchamp, and Art Shamsky).

Don Buford is the lone representative for 2B-OF. Hank Allen and the Expos' Jose Herrera have the opposite position.

In my 1968 post, I lamented Topps' decision to portray Gary Sutherland as INF-OF, instead of the more accurate SS-OF. In the 1969 set, that combination appears, but only for these 2 cards.

Longtime Tigers' center fielder Mickey Stanley played shortstop in the 1968 World Series, and for the first part of the 1969 season, until he returned to center field when the Tigers acquired.... Tom Tresh!

For the 2nd time in 3 years, Bob Bailey is labelled as 3B-OF. This year he is joined by Cesar Tovar and Pete Ward. Bob Aspromonte is the only OF-3B in the set.

Tim Cullen reprises his 1968 position, also with Al Weis, Paul Popovich, and Tom Matchick. Denis Menke and Roberto Pena are the two with SS-2B.

Paul Schaal and Jim Lefebvre are the two cards showing 2B-3B. Kevin Collins is by himself at 3B-2B.

Here's another new combo - SS-1B! These are the only 2 cards for these positions, and there are none for the opposite combo.

Ken Boyer heads up a list of 5 players with the 3B-1B position (tied for the most with 1B-OF).  Also George Scott and Dalton Jones (BOTH on the Red Sox), Harmon Killebrew, and Deron Johnson. (There are no cards for 1B-3B.)

And last (but not least), the INF-OF position. Woodie Held makes his 3rd consecutive appearance at this position (maybe more - I haven't checked the '66 set yet), and is joined again by Frank Kostro and this time also by Chuck Hinton.

A few weeks ago I realized there was no Rookie Stars card for the Senators. During my research for this post, I discovered that there are only 6 pitchers for the Expos and 7 for the Padres and Athletics. (Most teams have 9 to 11 pitchers.) Also, there is only 1 catcher for the Braves, Padres, and Red Sox, and only 3 outfielders for the Cardinals.

Another oddity is that aside from 1st baseman Wes Parker, the Dodgers had no other infielders with just one position on their card.

When looking at total cards per team, the Phillies and Padres only had 19 cards (2nd year in a row that the Phillies had the least number of cards!), and the Red Sox only had 20, while most teams had 23 to 25 cards.

The post for the 1966 and 1970 sets will follow soon, but since I am missing several dozen cards from each set, I will need to use something else for reference, like this.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Joe Azcue (#176)

Here is Indians' #1 catcher Joe Azcue. I didn’t realize until looking at the back of the card today that Joe played for the Reds and Athletics before joining the Tribe. (Odd that uses a photo of Joe in an A’s cap. He played 594 games with Cleveland, while only 74 with Kansas City.) 

Azcue was a catcher in the Reds' farm system from 1956 to 1960, also playing 14 games with Cincinnati in the final 2 months of 1960. He was purchased by the Braves in December 1960, but spent the entire '61 season in the minors.

One year after coming to the Braves, he moved on to the Athletics (with 3rd baseman Ed Charles and outfielder Manny Jimenez) for pitcher Bob Shaw and infielder Lou Klimchock.

Azcue shared the Athletics' starting catcher job with veteran Haywood Sullivan in 1962, then was traded to the Indians in May 1963 (with shortstop Dick Howser) for catcher Doc Edwards and $100,000.  
Wait… Azcue AND Howser for DOC EDWARDS? Who was the Athletics' GM? No wonder they were so bad for so long!

Joe was the Indians' top catcher for the next 6 seasons (1963-68). For most of that time he platooned with Johnny Romano (and later Duke Sims), but managed to start more games than any other catcher each year. He made the All-Star team in 1968, his last full season with Cleveland.

With rookie Ray Fosse transitioning into a starting role in 1969, Azcue was traded to the Red Sox two weeks into the season. The Indians obtained pitchers Dick Ellsworth and Juan Pizarro, and 1B/OF Ken Harrelson in exchange for Azcue and pitchers Sonny Siebert and Vicente Romo.

After only 2 months (and 19 games) with Boston, Joe was flipped to the Angels for backup catcher Tom Satriano. Azcue replaced the tandem of Satriano and Tom Egan as the team's #1 catcher, starting 75 of the remaining 108 games in 1969.

In 1970 he started 2/3 of the games, to Egan’s 1/3. After sitting out the entire 1971 season with a contract dispute, he returned in 1972 but by then the Angels had moved on to John Stephenson.  
(Oh please… I’m trying to keep a straight face as I typed that!) Azcue only played 3 games with the Angels in 1972, while spending most of that season’s first half in the minors.

In late July 1972 he and infielder Syd O'Brien were traded to the Brewers for catcher Paul Ratliff and infielder Ron Clark. Joe only appeared in 11 games for the Brewers in the season's final 2 months, then played for the Indians’ double-A team in 1973 before retiring.