Monday, December 10, 2012

Billy Martin (#547)

Billy Martin. (Where do I begin?)

Martin played independent minor-league ball from 1946-1949, before being acquired by the Yankees prior to the 1950 season.

After splitting 1950 between New York and triple-A, he became a full-season major-leaguer in 1951. Billy was the Yankees' regular 2nd baseman from May 14, 1952 until June 2, 1957, except for missing all of 1954 and most of 1955 while in military service.

Martin was traded to the Athletics in mid-June 1957, and bounced around to Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and Minnesota until retiring after the 1961 season.

After retirement, Billy scouted for the Twins for a few seasons, then became the team's 3rd base coach for several years, until he was named as the Twins' manager for the 1969 season. He was fired after the season, due to an in-season fight with one of his players.

Martin managed the Tigers from 1971-73, and the Rangers from 1973-75.

Shortly after being fired by the Rangers, he began his first of FIVE managerial stints with the Yankees: 1975-78, 79, 83, 85, 88. In-between, he managed the Athletics from 1980-82. Billy won the AL pennant in 1976 and the World Series in 1977 while with the Yankees.

Martin was killed in a car accident (on his property) on Christmas Day 1989, at age 61.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Final Card: Ron Kline

This is the final card for 17-year veteran Ron Kline (#243).

Kline was signed by the Pirates in 1950. After 2 seasons in the minors, Ron made the Pirates at the start of the 1952 season. After dividing the season between the Pirates and their class-B team in Burlington, NC, Kline lost the ’53 and ’54 seasons to military service.

He returned in 1955, and for the next 5 seasons was one of the Pirates’ top 3 starters (along with Vern Law and Bob Friend). He missed out on the 1960 championship season, as he was traded to the Cardinals the previous winter.

After one season in St. Louis, Kline began the 1961 season as a starting pitcher for the expansion Los Angeles Angels. By mid-August, he was claimed off waivers by the Tigers. Ron spent the next season and a half with Detroit, and was converted to a reliever while with the Tigers.

Kline was sold to the Washington Senators during spring training 1963, and became the team’s top reliever for the next 4 seasons. He led the Sens’ staff in saves each year, topping out at 29 saves in 1965.

After the 1966 season he was traded to the Twins for pitcher Camilo Pascual and 2nd baseman Bernie Allen. Exactly 1 year later he returned to the Pirates in a trade for minor-league 1st baseman Bob Oliver (who would later star for the Kansas City Royals). In 1968 Kline compiled a 12-5 record and a 1.68 ERA in 56 relief appearances, pitching more innings than any season since 1961.

He split the 1969 season between the Pirates, Giants, and Red Sox, and was released by Boston before the 1970 season. The Braves signed Ron at the end of April, but after 5 relief appearances, he was released 2 months later. He spent most of 1970 pitching for the Angels’ AAA team in Hawaii before retiring.

Kline passed away in 2002 at age 70, in his hometown of Callery, PA a suburb of Pittsburgh.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Phillies Rookies: Larry Hisle / Barry Lersch

Here (#206) is one of three Phillies Rookies cards (1 of 3 1/3, if you count the NL Rookies card featuring Terry Harmon) in the 1969 set.

This is the "Barry Lersch" entry in my cross-blog series of Phillies players from 1966-69. (I was going to post his 1970 card on that blog, but I just realized that he doesn't HAVE a 1970 card.)

Larry Hisle appeared on an NL Rookies card in the '68 set, so this is not his rookie card. Hisle was handed the center field job in spring training 1968, but flopped before mid-April. He returned to the minors for the oft-described "seasoning", then had a great rookie season in 1969. He was the team's regular center fielder and a Topps all-rookie choice. More on Hisle here.

Barry Lersch was signed by the Phillies in 1964, and was a starting pitcher in their farm system from 1965-1968. He began the 1969 season with the Phillies, but after 10 relief appearances, he was sent down at the end of May.

Barry returned to the Phils in 1970, and worked out of the bullpen for 31 games, until he joined the starting rotation in early August. He made 11 starts for the remainder of the season, finishing with a 6-3 record with a 3.26 ERA.

Although he was the team's #2 starter in 1971, he compiled a 5-14 record, which was typical for all Phillies' pitchers not named Rick Wise. After 2 more seasons with the Phillies (including a demotion to the bullpen), Lersch was traded to the Braves in December 1973 along with shortstop Craig Robinson for pitcher Ron Schueler (advantage: Phillies).

After spending most of the '74 season pitching for the Braves' AAA team, he was sold to the Cardinals in mid-September. There, he pitched his last major-league game, a 1-inning stint with a 40.50 ERA. Lersch pitched for Cleveland's AAA team in 1975 before retiring.

Barry passed away on 10/4/2009 at age 65. His body was donated to medical science.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Final Card: Dennis Ribant

Here is the final card for pitcher Dennis Ribant (#463). This is the second Royals card posted to this blog, but the first one showing the new Royals' uniform (although Ribant never played for the team).

For most of the 1969 season, collectors were presented with a large number of capless or airbrushed cards, not only for the usual load of traded players, but because of the four expansion teams, as well as the recently relocated Oakland Athletics. By mid-season, we were rewarded with beautiful photos of players on the 4 new expansion teams, plus the Oakland A's.

Dennis Ribant was signed by the Braves in 1961, and was a combined 21-4 in his first season (17-4 in class D, 4-2 in double-A). He pitched 3 more seasons in the Braves' system, then was traded to the Mets on August 8, 1964.

Dennis made his major-league debut with the Mets on the next day, and made 14 appearances (7 starts) for the remainder of the season. Ribant split the 1965 season between the Mets' bullpen and triple-A, then had a good season in 1966, winning 11 games for the hapless Mets.

After the '66 season, Ribant was traded to the Pirates for pitcher Don Cardwell. In November 1967, it was on Detroit for pitcher Dave Wickersham. The Tigers traded him to the White Sox in July 1968, then re-acquired him after the season (causing him to miss out on the 1968 World Series).

The expansion Royals purchased his contract in December 1968, but by the end of spring training in 1969, he moved on to the Cardinals. Ribant spent most of 1969 in the minors, first in the Cards' organization, then with the Reds after a mid-season trade. His final major-league games was on September 27th.

Ribant pitched in the minors from 1970-73, with the Pirates, Padres, and Phillies.

Also check out Ribant's 1967 card.

I thought I only had one more "final card" after this one (Mickey Mantle), but I found another 40 while going through my 1969 binder recently, including 17-year veteran Ron Kline.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

1968 World Series

Here are the cards highlighting the 1968 World Series (coincidentally won by the Detroit Tigers). After a 4-game sweep in the '66 series, the Fall Classic went the distance for the next 2 seasons.

Several of the story lines during that time were:

1) Tigers' manager Mayo Smith putting centerfielder Mickey Stanley at shortstop, having never played there prior to late September. This kept weak-hitting Ray Oyler OUT of the lineup, while keeping outfielders Willie Horton, Jim Northrup, Al Kaline, and Stanley all IN the lineup.

2) Bob Gibson and his non-existent ERA leading the charge in the Year of the Pitcher.

3) The Tigers' Denny McLain becoming the first 30-game winner in decades.

The key for me was Smith's handling of his starting pitchers. With the 3-man post-season rotation back then, Gibson and McLain started games 1 and 4, with Gibson winning both. Detroit's #2 starter Mickey Lolich won games 2 and 5 against lesser Cardinals' pitching.

Instead of having McLain face Gibson in game 7, Smith brought McLain back on short rest for game 6, where he finally picked up a win against a lesser Cardinals pitcher, as the Tigers blew out the Cardinals by a 13-1 score.

This positioned Lolich for a game 7 match-up with Gibson, which paid off for the Tigers.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Final Card: Bobby Klaus

This is the final card for Bobby Klaus (#387). He has a card in this set, even though his last major-league appearance was in 1965.

Klaus was signed by the Reds in 1959, and played in their minor-league system for 5 seasons, the last two with the Reds' triple-A San Diego Padres.

Bobby made his major-league debut in April 1964 with the Reds, but was traded to the Mets in late July. He played for the Mets through the end of the 1965 season. Those 2 years (64-65) were to be his only time in the big leagues.

In February 1966, Klaus and catcher Jimmie Schaffer were traded to the Phillies for 1st baseman Dick Stuart. After 2 seasons in the bigs, Bobby was back with the triple-A San Diego Padres, now part of Philadelphia's farm system. He would remain there through the 1968 season.

After the fall 1968 expansion draft, the (major-league) San Diego Padres selected him in the Rule 5 draft (explaining why he has this card). Before the '69 season started, he was traded to the Pirates with outfielder Ron Davis for pitcher Tommie Sisk and catcher Chris Cannizarro. Klaus played that season with the Pirates' AAA team in Columbus before retiring.

Bobby's brother Billy was an infielder with the Red Sox, Orioles, Senators, and Phillies from 1956-63.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Let's Go O's!

Here's some old-school mojo to help get the Birds past the evil empire.

Here's their first foray into the post-season.

In 13 seasons with the Orioles, Dave McNally compiled a 184-119 record in 424 games. He was a 20-game winner every year from 1968-71, and tied teammate Mike Cuellar for the AL lead with 24 wins in 1970.

Jim Palmer pitched 19 seasons, all with the Orioles. His career record was 268-152 in 558 games. Jim won 20 or more every season from 1970-73, and 75-78.

Wally Bunker was 44-27 during his 6 seasons with the O's, and won 19 games as a rookie in 1964, while finishing 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting. He shut out the Dodgers in game 3 of the 1966 World Series.

After Bunker was lost to the Royals in the post-1968 expansion draft, Baltimore traded for Mike Cuellar. His record as an 8-year Oriole was 144-88 in 290 games. Cuellar won 23 games and the Cy Young award in 1969. The next season, he (and McNally) co-led the AL with 24 wins, while also leading the league with 21 complete games. In the next 4 seasons, he won 20 or more games twice and 18 twice.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Jerry Johnson (#253)

Here is Jerry Johnson's rookie card. It's also his only card as a Phillie. Johnson was traded to the Cardinals after the '69 season in the Richie Allen/Curt Flood deal.

Jerry was signed by the Mets in 1963, and pitched 5 seasons in their farm system. A reliever in his first 4 seasons, he became a starter in 1967, compiling a 10-13 record in 26 starts for double-A Williamsport. After the season, the Phillies selected him in the minor-league draft.

Jerry began the 1968 season in triple-A, but with a 7-1 record and 1.95 ERA after 10 starts, he was summoned to the big club, making his debut with a relief appearance on July 17th against the Cubs. He made 11 starts in the second half of the season, and wound up with a 4-4 record.

In 1969, Johnson moved up to #4 starter after Chris Short missed the final 95% of the season with a bad back. He compiled a 6-13 record in 33 games, and was thrown into the off-season trade with the Cardinals. After leaving the Phillies, Johnson was primarily a reliever for the rest of his career.

Jerry split the 1970 season between the Cardinals, their AAA team in Tulsa, and the San Francisco Giants. In 1971, he bounced back with a 12-9 record and 18 saves in 67 relief appearances as the Giants' closer, and finished 6th in the Cy Young voting!

After another season with the Giants, Johnson pitched a year each in Cleveland and Houston, followed by 2 seasons in San Diego. He also spent significant time in the minors while with the Astros and Padres.

Johnson wrapped up his career in 1977 with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Final Card: Ron Davis

This is the 3rd and final card for outfielder Ron Davis (#553). Never on a Rookie Stars card, Davis had solo cards as a Houston Astro in the '67 and '68 sets.

Davis was signed by the Houston Colt .45s in 1961, and played minor league ball from 1961-66. Although he had a 6-game cup of coffee in early August 1962, he didn't make the majors to stay until August 1966.  Then, he started 47 of the final 54 games in center field while filling in for the injured Jim Wynn.

Davis moved over to left field in 1967, starting 59 games there while sharing the position with rookie Norm Miller.

In 1968, he started 52 of the first 58 games in center field (with Wynn moving to left), until he was traded to (escaped to?) the defending World Champion Cardinals. With Lou Brock in left, Curt Flood in center, and Roger Maris and Bob Tolan sharing right field, Davis was relegated to bench duty for the remainder of the season.

Shortly after the expansion draft, Davis was traded to the Padres (with 3rd baseman Ed Spiezio) for pitcher Dave Giusti. In spring training, the Padres flipped him and infielder Bobby Klaus (who we will see here 2 posts after this one) to the Pirates for catcher Chris Cannizzaro and pitcher Tommie Sisk.

After backing up all 3 outfield positions in 1969, Davis played the next 2 seasons for the Pirates' triple-A team before retiring.

He passed away on 9/5/1992 at age 50.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Back on Topps' Radar: Billy Cowan

This is Billy Cowan's first card (#643) since the 1965 set. Cowan's career spanned 1963-1972, but he only had 5 cards during that time. Billy appeared as a Cub in the 1964 and 1965 sets, as a Yankee in the 1969 set, and an Angel in the '71 and '72 sets.

A member of the Phillies' organization from 1966 to 1968, he spent most of that time (except for the 2nd half of 1967) in the minors, effectively eliminating his chance for a card in the 1966-1968 Topps' sets.

Cowan was signed by the Cubs in 1961, and spent the next 3 seasons in the minors, finally making his major-league debut on 9/9/63. He made a half-dozen starts, spelling Billy Williams in LF, Lou Brock in RF, and a host of center fielders.

In 1964, Cowan was the Cubs' regular center fielder (I didn't know that until today), starting 127 games between Williams in left and Brock in right (with Len Gabrielson taking over after Brock's trade to St. Louis). Billy hit .241 with 19 home runs, but rarely started during September.

Before the '65 season, he was traded to the Mets for ex-Cub outfielder George Altman. In 1965, Cowan was a frequent center fielder for the Mets, until his early-August trade to the Milwaukee Braves (for infielders Ernie Bowman and Lou Klimchock).

Billy was traded back to the Cubs in late April 1966 for future Yankees' 3rd baseman and Braves' manager Bobby Cox. Two months later he was traded to the Phillies, and spent the rest of '66 with the Phillies' AAA San Diego club.

Cowan began the '67 season in San Diego, but a roster spot with the Phils opened up in late June, after the team sold Dick Groat to the Giants. With 4 of the Phillies' 5 outfielders (Johnny Callison, Tony Gonzalez, John Briggs, Doug Clemens) all batting from the left side, Cowan was called up to provide a right-handed bat off the bench.

In 1968, the Phillies' Richie Allen became the regular left fielder, creating a logjam in the outfield. As such, Cowan spent the entire season back in triple-A.

After the season, the Yankees selected him in the Rule 5 draft, marking the end of Cowan's days in the minor leagues. He split the 1969 season between the Yankees and Angels, and played for the Angels for the '70 and '71 seasons. Primarily used as a pinch-hitter, he was also a backup outfielder and occasional 1st baseman.

Cowan was released by the Angels on May 2nd, 1972, having only played 3 games that season.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Cookie Rojas (#507)

As usual, playing catch-up on the weekend...

This is the last card for Cookie Rojas as a Phillie. After the season, he would be traded to the Cardinals (with Dick Allen and pitcher Jerry Johnson) for Curt Flood, Tim McCarver, ace reliever Joe Hoerner, and backup outfielder Byron Browne.

After rotting on the St. Louis bench for 2 months, Cookie was traded to the Royals in mid-June, and had a 2nd career as the regular 2nd baseman for the upstart Royals, until the position was transitioned to Frank White during the 1975 season.

Rojas was born in Havana Cuba in 1939, and signed with the Cincinnati Reds in 1956. He played 7 seasons in the Reds' minor-league system, including two (1959-60) with his hometown Havana Sugar Canes. Some of his teammates on the Havana squad included future major-leaguers Mike Cuellar, Vic Davalillo, Chico Cardenas, Joe Azcue, Orlando Pena, and future Phillies' teammate Tony Gonzalez. During the 1960 season, the team was relocated out of Cuba to Jersey City, NJ.

Rojas began the 1962 season with the Reds, alternating at 2nd base with veteran Don Blasingame until late May, when Rojas was relegated to the bench. Cookie was sent down to triple-A in mid-July, and returned in September. After the season he was traded to the Phillies for pitcher Jim Owens.

Cookie was in the majors to stay in 1963. He played in 64 games primarily as a pinch-hitter and backup 2nd baseman. From 1964-66, Rojas primarily played outfield and 2nd base (with his games at 2B increasing as time went on), but he played other positions as well. He filled in as the team's emergency catcher, and also pitched in a game in 1967, completing his 9-position resume.

By 1967, he was almost exclusively the Phillies' regular 2nd baseman, having won the job away from long-time regular Tony Taylor. Rojas continued as a fixture at 2B through the 1969 season, although missing several stretches of playing time in 1969.

After the 1969 season, the Phillies continued with their roster turnover, parting ways with Rojas, Allen, Johnny Callison, and Turk Farrell. Rojas soon found himself in Kansas City, stabilizing the infield for the 2nd-year Royals, and made the all-star team 4 times while in KC.

Cookie remained the starting 2nd baseball for Kansas City until Frank White joined the team and shared the 2B job in 1975. He played 2 more seasons with the Royals as a backup infielder, retiring after the 1977 season.

After his playing career, Rojas coached for several teams, and managed the Angels in 1988. He is currently the Marlins' Spanish-language broadcaster. His son Victor was an anchor on the MLB Network for several seasons.

Monday, September 3, 2012

John Morris (#111)

Here is the first Seattle Pilots' card to be featured on this blog. John Morris was one of several pitchers who came up through the Phillies' farm system in the mid-1960s, but only got a cup of coffee there before being shipped elsewhere. (Guys like Morris, Joe Verbanic, and Fergie Jenkins - you know, pitchers of that ilk!)

Morris was signed by the Phillies back in 1960, and was a starting pitcher in their farm system for 5 seasons (missing the '63 season with injuries). In 1966 he was converted to a reliever, and made his major-league debut in July that season.

John appeared in 13 games (for 13 innings) during the second half of the season, then it was back to triple-A San Diego for the entire 1967 season. On 12/15/67, Morris was sent to the Orioles as the player to be named later for pitcher Dick Hall, who was acquired by the Phillies one year to the day earlier.

John languished in triple-A for the 1968 season, then was taken by the Pilots as the 52nd pick in the expansion draft. He pitched in 6 games for Seattle in April, but still was evidently not ready for prime time, and spent most of the season at double-A Indianapolis. Morris spent the entire 1970 and 1971 seasons with the (by now) Milwaukee Brewers, and was one of the team's top 3 relief pitchers in '71.

After the '71 season, John was traded to the Giants for 2 minor-leaguers. He spent the next 3 seasons up and down (mostly down) with the Giants and their AAA team in Phoenix. The Giants released him in March 1975, ending his career.

Morris also had cards in 1971 (Brewers) and 1975 (Giants).

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Final Card: Bob Chance

As with my 1966 and 1968 blogs, I'm down to the last half-dozen (+/-) players whose final card is in this set.

Bob Chance (#523) was a 1st baseman for the Indians and Senators in the mid-1960s. After being out of the majors (and Topps' lineup) in 1968, he returned in 1969, playing 5 games with the Angels.

Chance was was signed by the Giants in 1961, and played outfield for their class-D team in El Paso. After the season, he was selected by the Indians in the minor-league draft. Bob played 1st base and outfield for the next 2 seasons with the Tribe's Charleston WV team, which was class A in '62 and double-A in '63. He made his big-league debut on 9/4/63, and started 14 games in right field that month.

He made the jump from AA to the majors at the start of the 1964 season. This was Bob's only full season in the majors, and he made the most of it. After starting most of the games in right field during the month of June, he moved to 1st base and started most of the games there for 2nd half of the season, replacing the incumbent Fred Whitfield.

After the season, Bob and utilityman Woodie Held were traded to the Senators for outfielder Chuck Hinton. Chance spent the next 3 seasons alternating between Washington and the minors (was there a difference?).

In '65, he split the 1st base duties with veteran Joe Cunningham for the 1st half of the season, until he was replaced by Dick Nen, and sent to the minors for July and August. In 1966, Bob was Nen's backup, but after the Senators acquired 1st baseman Ken Harrelson in late June, Chance was back to the minors for the rest of the season.

His 1967 resume with the Senators included only the first month, and then again in September. He spent all of 1968 in the minors, then was selected by the Angels in the Rule 5 draft. Bob's last major-league games was on April 29, 1969. The next day, he was traded to the Braves for catcher Dave Adlesh.

The remainder of the '69 season was split between the Braves' AAA team and the Japanese League. He also played in Japan during 1970.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Johnny Callison (#133)

This is the last card for Johnny Callison as a member of the Phillies. The team's long-time right fielder was traded to the Cubs after the season for pitcher Dick Selma and outfield prospect Oscar Gamble. The Phillies later sent minor-league pitcher Larry Colton to the Cubs to complete the deal. Callison was one of my favorite Phillies' players in the 1960s (although I missed out on his 1964-65 exploits).

Johnny was signed by the White Sox in June 1957. He played the remainder of that season at class-C Bakersfield, then jumped to AAA Indianapolis in 1958. Recalled by the White Sox in September, he started the final 18 games in left field for the Sox.

Callison began the 1959 season as Chicago's starting left fielder, starting 10 of the first 12 games there. For the month of May, he was replaced by former Phillie Del Ennis, but returned to the starting lineup on May 27th and started 14 of the next 21 games in left. Johnny was sent back to triple-A at the end of June, but returned for a few games with the Sox at the end of September.

After the 1959 season, Callison was traded to the Phillies for 3rd baseman Gene Freese. Johnny spent the next 10 full seasons in the Phillies outfield. He played all 3 positions in 1960, logging the 3rd-most innings among Phillies' outfielders. The next year he played more than any other Phillies outfielder, while splitting time 70/30 between left and right.

In 1962, he became a fixture in right field, starting 146 games there, with only 1 start in left field. Johnny's big years were 1962-1965, as he made 3 all-star appearances during that time (winning the '64 game with a walk-off homer), and led the league in triples in 1962 and 1965. Callison finished 2nd in the 1964 MVP voting to the Cardinals' Ken Boyer.

His production (but not playing time) began to slip in 1966, with his home runs dropping from 32 to 11, although he led the NL with 40 doubles. His game tailed off in the 2nd half of 1968, as he was platooned in right field with Don Lock for the month of July, and only made 11 starts after August 7th. Callison missed 3 weeks in July 1969, but managed to play 134 games in right field, putting up similar numbers to 1968, although he raised his batting average 20 points to .265.

After the season he was shipped to the Cubs, and was their regular right fielder for 1 1/2 seasons. By mid-1971, he was sharing the position with Jim Hickman. Johnny was traded to the Yankees in January 1972, and shared the Yankees' right field job with Rusty Torres (1972) and Matty Alou (1973) until he was released on August 18th.

Callison played 1886 games over 16 years, never making it to the post-season. After baseball, he ran a bowling alley in suburban Philadelphia for many years. He passed away on October 12, 2006.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

1969 Topps Decals

Here are some of my 1969 Topps decals, that were inserted in several series during the year. It looks like I mounted AL players on one side of the page, and NL players on the other side.

I have another several dozen decals that back in the day I mounted each on half of a 3x5 card (and even made a checklist card!), but I didn't realize that I had this large card of decals until unpacking stuff after my recent move. Here's some more old stuff I found recently.

I haven't determined yet if I have a complete set of the decals from among this large group and all the individual cards. (Nor can I remember why I left gaps between certain decals here.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Final Card: Bill Short

This is the final card for Bill Short (#259). He had a card each year from 1960-62, then again from 1967-69. In 6 cards, he was featured on 5 teams. That's a journeyman!

Bill pitched in 6 seasons between 1960 and 1969, mostly a few games here and there, except for his 34-game stint with the Mets in 1968. Short (no relation to Chris Short, or to Dale Long, for that matter) was signed by the Yankees in 1955, and pitched in the minor leagues every season from 1955 to 1967.

For his first 7 seasons, he was the property of the Yankees, and was on the farm the entire time except for making 10 starts for New York in 1960. After the 1961 season, the Orioles selected him in the Rule 5 draft, but he only played 5 games for Baltimore in 1962, and 6 games in 1966. In-between, it was 5 more seasons pitching in triple-A (on top of his final 3 seasons in the Yankees chain stuck in triple-A).

In mid-August 1966, the Red Sox purchased his contract and kept him on the big club, where he made 8 relief appearances for the next month and a half. He was sold to the Pirates in the off-season, and found himself back in the minors for most of 1967, save for 6 games with Pittsburgh.

For the 2nd straight off-season, Bill's contract was sold - this time to the Mets. Short found himself in the majors for the entire 1968 season (the only year that would occur). He worked 34 games out of the bullpen for the Mets as their #10 pitcher on a 10-man staff, but at least he stayed out of the minors.

It wasn't enough to keep him in New York though, as in December he went to the Reds in the Rule 5 draft. After 4 relief appearances, Bill and his 15.43 ERA were sent down to Indianapolis, where he spent the remainder of the 1969 season before retiring from baseball.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Grant Jackson (#174)

[I was going to feature Johnny Callison here today, but I can't find his card on my computer. That's ok, this card has a red, white & blue look to it.]

Grant Jackson began his career with 4 full seasons in Philly, before moving on to the Orioles, Pirates, and others.

Jackson was signed by the Phillies in 1961, and was a starting pitcher for 5 seasons (1962-66) in the minors. He pitched in 6 games for the Phillies in September 1965, and 2 games in 1966 before making the majors to stay at the start of the 1967 season.

During his true rookie season of 1967, Grant was the only lefty in a bullpen headed up by veterans Turk Farrell and Dick Hall. Jackson made 43 appearances (including 4 starts), striking out 83 batters in 84 innings. His role was the same in 1968. Although his record was 1-6, his ERA was below 3.00. Jackson was a switch-hitter, with 3 hits in 10 at-bats in 1968.

In 1969, veteran ace Chris Short missed all but 2 games with a back injury. Jackson slid into Short's spot in the starting rotation and became the workhorse of the staff, pitching 253 innings and collecting 180 strikeouts while compiling a 14-18 record and a 3.34 ERA. He was also selected to his only all-star game that season.

Jackson remained in the Phillies' starting rotation in 1970, but had an off-year. Short had returned from injury, the team re-acquired Jim Bunning, and Rick Wise emerged as the #1 starter, leaving Jackson at #4. His record fell to 5-15 while his ERA ballooned to 5.25. After the season he was traded to the Orioles for outfield prospect Roger Freed.

Grant worked out of the O's bullpen for 5 1/2 seasons, and appeared in the post-season in '71, '73, and '74. In June 1976 he was part of a 10-player trade, going to the Yankees with catcher Elrod Hendricks and pitchers Doyle Alexander, Ken Holtzman, and Jimmy Freeman for catcher Rick Dempsey and pitchers Scott McGregor, Tippy Martinez, Rudy May, and Dave Pagan.

Jackson remained with the Yankees only for that season, but pitched in three games in the post-season. In November 1976 he was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the expansion draft, who traded him to the Pirates a month later for shortstop Craig Reynolds.

Jackson spent the next 5 seasons in the Pirates' bullpen, and faced his old Orioles team in the 1979 World Series.

In September 1981, he joined the Expos during their playoff push, but was shipped out to the Royals in January. Jackson was released by Kansas City in July 1982, and was picked up by the Pirates on September 8th. He pitched his last game that day, and was released following the season.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Roberto Pena (#184)

Here's journeyman Roberto Pena, airbrushed out of his Pirates uniform. Pena was selected from the Phillies in the expansion draft following the 1968 season.  This is his first Topps card since 1966, and his first card I had. (A few years ago, I got his 1970 card.)

He had unexpectedly spent the '68 season as the Phillies' regular shortstop. The Phillies had high hopes for their shortstop prospect Don Money that season, but after a handful of games, it was clear that he wasn't ready for the big time, so weak-hitting veteran Bobby Wine took over, Money was sent down, and Pena was recalled from their triple-A team (in San Diego, no less). A few weeks later, Wine injured his back and was lost for the season, thrusting Pena (who had spent all of 1967 in the minors) into the starting role.

(No respect! After 138 games as the Phillies' starting shortstop, and now on a team starting from scratch, Topps still saddles him with a utility position)

Pena was signed by the Pirates in 1960. After 5 seasons as a minor-league shortstop, he was traded to the Cubs for infielder Andre Rodgers in December 1964. Roberto made his major-league debut in April 1965, and played 51 games with the Cubs as Don Kessinger's backup at shortstop. He also played 80+ games in the minors that season, as well as the bulk of the '66 season.

The Phillies drafted him in November 1966, and he spent the '67 season stashed at the Phillies' halfway house for ex-big leaguers (a/k/a the AAA San Diego Padres), where he was the PCL all-star shortstop.

As mentioned above, after a season as the Phillies' #1 shortstop,  he (along with the Phillies' other two shortstops Bobby Wine and Gary Sutherland) was lost in the expansion draft. Pena split the shortstop job with Tommy Dean in the Padres' inaugural season, then it was on to the Athletics in a March 1970 trade for 1st baseman Ramon Webster.

Two months later he was shipped out to the Brewers for 2nd baseman John Donaldson. Pena shared the shortstop job with Ted Kubiak (wow, lots of ex-Athletics orbiting around Roberto Pena!) in 1970, and moved over to 1st base in 1971 (with some playing time at SS and 3B). His last game was in September 1971.

Roberto played in Mexico from 1972-74 before hanging up his spikes. He died in July 1982 at age 45.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Final Card: Chuck Cottier

This is the final card for infielder Chuck Cottier (#252), who looks more like an early-1960s' test pilot or astronaut than a baseball player. Chuck was last seen in the 1964 Topps set; perhaps thanks to expansion, he's back for one more year.

Cottier was signed by the Orioles in 1954, and played 5 seasons as a 2nd baseman in the minors before making his big-league debut with the Milwaukee Braves in April 1959. He played most of the season at triple-A Louisville, and split the 1960 season between Louisville and Milwaukee. With the Braves in '60, he shared the 2nd base job with veteran Red Schoendienst.

After the 1960 season, he was traded to the Tigers, but after playing in only 10 games for Detroit in 1961, he was flipped to the Senators in June for pitcher Hal Woodeshick.

Chuck was Washington's regular 2nd baseman from June 9, 1961 to June 25, 1963, losing his starting job when the Sens acquired veteran Don Blasingame from the Reds. Cottier hung on with the Senators in 1964 as the backup 2nd baseman, then spent the 1965 to 1967 seasons in the minors, switching to the Angels' organization at the start of the '67 season.

In 1968 he spent most of the season in triple-A, then was recalled by the Angels in early August, playing 33 games for the remainder of the season. 1969 was the end of the line for Cottier. He had 2 at-bats that season (4/30 and 5/9) before calling it a career.

Chuck later managed the Seattle Mariners from late 1984 through early 1986.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dick Allen (#350)

This is Dick Allen's final card from his first stint with the Phillies. After winning the NL Rookie of the Year award in 1964, and finishing among the league leaders in homers and RBI several times, Allen wore out his welcome in Philly and was traded after the 1969 season in a 7-player deal that also included Curt Flood and Tim McCarver. After a season each with the Cardinals and Dodgers, Allen had several great seasons with the White Sox before returning to Philadelphia for '75 and '76.

Allen was a high school baseball and basketball star in western Pennsylvania, and was signed by the Phillies in 1960. (The team also signed his brother Hank the same year. Hank would go on to play outfield for the Washington Senators, among others.)

Dick began his minor-league career as a 2nd baseman, and switched to outfield in 1962. After a 2nd full season as an outfielder, he made his major-league debut on September 3rd for the Phillies. Allen played 10 games for the Phillies that season.

Allen moved to 3rd base at the start of 1964, having never played there professionally (except for 1 inning the previous September). He started every game at 3rd in his rookie season, and won the NL Rookie of the Year award. He also led the league in runs, triples, and strikeouts, while hitting 29 homers and collecting 91 RBI. Dick also started 160 games at 3rd base in 1965. Although his home run output dropped to 20, he made his first of 3 consecutive all-star appearances.

1966 started to break up the routine. Allen started 91 games at 3rd base, but (never a great defensive player) also played 47 games in left field. He played 20 fewer games than in 1965, but doubled his home run output with 40 dingers. Dick also led the NL with a .632 slugging percentage. In 1967 he was back exclusively at 3rd, that is, until he sliced up his wrist and missed the last 6 weeks of the season.

Allen returned to full-time status in '68, but this time as the Phillies' left fielder. Only 10 of his 150 games were at his former position. Although he hit 30 homers, his batting average fell to .263, after batting over .300 in his first 4 seasons. He wouldn't finish above .300 until moving to Chicago in 1972.

Because of his defensive liabilities, he moved to 1st base for the 1969 season. That year he also missed a month in mid-season while suspended by the team. Over the years, Allen's relationship with Phillies' management (and fans) deteriorated, and it contributed to the firing of the manager in both 1968 and 1969, and culminated in his trade to the Cardinals after the 1969 season. The Cardinals acquired Allen, 2nd baseman Cookie Rojas, and pitcher Jerry Johnson for relief pitcher Joe Hoerner, catcher Tim McCarver, and outfielders Curt Flood and Byron Browne. Famously, Flood refused to report to the Phillies.

After a stopover in Los Angeles, Allen was traded to the White Sox, where he won the AL MVP award in 1972, while also leading the league in home runs and RBI, and finishing 3rd with a .308 batting average. He also made the all-star team in all three of his seasons with the Sox.

Allen returned to the Phillies midway through the 1975 season, after holding out for several months. In 1976 his bat helped propel them to their first post-season appearance since 1950. Another disagreement with management sent him on his way after the season, this time to Oakland, where he started 50 of the first 61 games at 1st base before the team released him in mid-June.

6/16/2012 EDIT: Here's an excerpt from Allen's Wikipedia page that I just found.  It's a quote from the Philadelphia Inquirer, reviewing a concert that Allen and his musical group had during halftime at a 76ers game in the mid-1960s:

Rich Allen, the most booed man in Philadelphia from April to October, when Eagles coach Joe Kuharich takes over, walked out in front of 9,557 people at the Spectrum last night to sing with his group, The Ebonistics, and a most predictable thing happened. He was booed. Two songs later though, a most unpredictable thing happened. They cheered Rich Allen.

Joe Kuharich - LOL!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Final Card: Dave Nicholson

This is the final card for outfielder Dave Nicholson (#298). Topps added pink to their color spectrum in 1969 for the Royals and Expos (and brown for the Padres and Pilots).

Nicholson never played for the Royals, and had played his last major-league game on October 1, 1967. Because he spent all but 10 games of the 1967 season, and all of 1968 in the minors, he was left out of the 1968 Topps set.

Dave was signed by the Orioles in 1958, and played 2 full seasons in the minors.  After 18 games with triple-A Miami in 1960, he made his major-league debut with the Orioles on May 24th. After another full season in the minors in 1961, Dave returned to Baltimore in 1962 as a backup outfielder.

In January 1963, Nicholson was traded to the White Sox (with pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm and infielders Pete Ward and Ron Hansen) for shortstop Luis Aparicio. Dave was the Sox' regular left fielder in 1963, and shared the job with others in 1964. With newly-acquired Danny Cater taking over left field, Dave was relegated to the bench for all of 1965.

Nicholson was traded to the Astros in December 1965 for pitcher Jack Lamabe, and a year later he was shipped to the Braves with pitcher Bob Bruce for 3rd baseman Eddie Mathews and infielder Sandy Alomar.

After spending most of the next 2 seasons with the Braves' AAA team in Richmond, Dave was purchased by the expansion Royals in October 1968. He spent his final professional season (1969) pinch-hitting for the expansion Royals' triple-A team in Omaha, Nebraska.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Final Card: Vic Roznovsky

This is the final card for backup catcher Vic Roznovsky (#368). Vic's major-league career consisted of 200 games over a 5-year period, playing for the Cubs, Orioles, and Phillies.

He was signed by the Pirates in 1958, and played 2 seasons of class-D ball in their organization. Before the 1960 season he was dealt to the Giants, and spent the next 4 seasons in their farm system, as a catcher-outfielder (along with 29 games at 3rd base in 1963).

In December 1963 the Cubs selected him in the minor-league draft, and after spending some time in triple-A, Vic made his major-league debut on June 28, 1964. He played in 35 games (15 starts) as the 3rd-string catcher behind Dick Bertell and Jimmie Schaffer.

It looks like the Cubs used the catcher-by-committee system in 1965. Bertell began the season as the starter, but was traded to the Giants in late May for catcher Ed Bailey and others. Meanwhile, Roznovsky and rookie Chris Krug were getting a lot of starts. The final tally behind the plate: Roznovsky - 44 starts, Krug - 46, Bailey - 45, Bertell - 29 (yes, they played 164 games that year).

Playing in 71 games in 1965 was the high point of Roznovsky's career, as the Cubs acquired Randy Hundley in the off-season and sent Vic packing to the Orioles for outfielder Carl Warwick. There, he backed up rookie Andy Etchebarren for most of the season, while also finding himself back in triple-A for 19 games. 1967 was a repeat of 1966, except that Roznovsky swapped slots in the pecking order with 1966's 3rd-string catcher Larry Haney.

Things got worse for Vic in 1968, as he spent the entire season at triple-A Rochester, rescued only by an April 1969 trade to the Phillies, who sent their '68 third-string backstop John Sullivan to the O's for Roznovsky. (There's some debate as to which was the better team - the 1969 Phillies or the AAA Rochester Red Wings.)  :D

Vic wrapped up his career gathering dust on the Phillie bench, as he was on the team for the entire season, but only played 13 games (14 plate appearances) and caught a grand total of 4 innings as the 3rd-stringer behind Mike Ryan and rookie Dave Watkins.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Jake Gibbs (#401)

Here's Jake Gibbs, entering the downside of his career.

Gibbs was an All-American QB at the University of Mississippi, and was drafted by both the Cleveland Browns and the Houston Oilers in 1961. Instead, he signed with the Yankees, and played 4 1/2 seasons in the minors. He was an infielder during his first 2 seasons before switching to catcher in 1963.

Although he had a few "cups of coffee" in '62, '63, and '64, his first extended big-league playing time came in 1965, when he made 15 starts behind the plate as the 3rd-string catcher behind Elston Howard and Doc Edwards.

In 1966, Jake moved up to #2 catcher, and he began the 1967 season alternating with Howard. When the veteran Yankee catcher was traded to Boston in early August, Gibbs took over as the regular.

1968 was the high point of his career, as he started 111 games behind the plate (and completed all but 1 of them). Gibbs' playing time began to decrease in 1969 as 2nd-year man Frank Fernandez split the catching duties with him - that is, until September arrived. Rookie catcher Thurman Munson took over at the beginning of September, sending Gibbs to the bench and Fernandez to Oakland.

Jake was relegated to backing up Munson for his final 2 seasons. His last game was on September 29, 1971.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mickey Stanley (#13)

Here's Mickey Stanley, fresh off his adventures at shortstop during the 1968 World Series. Topps has updated his position accordingly.

Mickey's career spanned 15 years (1964-1978), all with the Tigers. He was signed by Detroit in 1961, and played 5 years in the Tigers' farm system (although he played a few games with the big club in 1964 and 1965).

Stanley made the Tigers for good at the start of the 1966 season. As a rookie, he split the starting center field job with veteran Al Kaline. (In '65 and '66, Kaline played center field instead of his customary right field.) The following season, Mickey was the innings leader in center field (with 100 more than Jim Northrup) although Northrup (the swing man for all 3 outfield positions) started more games in center than Stanley.

Stanley became the Tigers' regular center fielder from June 1967 until the final week of the 1968 season, when he moved to shortstop (in preparation for the '68 World Series) and stayed there until late-June 1969. When the Tigers acquired Tom Tresh from the Yankees, Stanley returned to his customary post in center until August 1st, 1974, when Ron LeFlore took over the position.

Mickey won gold gloves in '68, '69, '70, and '73. In his final 4 seasons, he was a spare outfielder/1st baseman, and even saw some action at 2B and 3B. He was never the DH, as the Tigers had Willie Horton, then Rusty Staub around for that.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Clay Dalrymple (#151)

Clay Dalrymple had two cards in the 1969 set - both #151. Unlike Donn Clendenon, who also had 2 cards in 1969, Dalrymple's cards used different photographs.

Clay began playing minor-league ball in 1956. He played 4 seasons in the minors, mostly with the unaffiliated Sacramento Solons in the Pacific Coast League. In 1959, Sacramento became part of the Milwaukee Braves farm system. After the 1959 season, the Phillies selected him in the Rule 5 draft.

As a Rule 5 pick, he remained on the roster for the entire 1960 season as the 3rd-string catcher behind fellow rookie Jimmie Coker and journeyman Cal Neeman.

Clay took over the starting job from day 1 of the 1961 season, making 107 starts behind the plate (88 more than the #2 catcher). He also started 107 games in 1962, and increased his playing time in 1963 (135 starts). Clay's best offensive seasons were 1962 and 1963. After that, his playing time and production would begin to taper off, then plummet in his last 2 seasons in Philadelphia.

The Phillies acquired veteran catcher Gus Triandos in the Jim Bunning trade prior to the 1964 season. Triandos had been the Orioles' regular catcher from 1955-61, and started 1/3 of the Phillies games in 1964, leaving 2/3 of the starts to Dalrymple.

Clay lost more playing time in 1965, as rookie catcher Pat Corrales joined the team as the #2 catcher. Eventually, Dalrymple was platooned, with Bob Uecker in 1966 and the start of 1967, with Gene Oliver for the 2nd half of 1967, and with the newly-acquired Mike Ryan in 1968. Ryan was a great defensive catcher who barely hit .200, but by that time Dalrymple's average had dropped to the Mendoza line as well.

In January 1969, Clay was traded to the Orioles for rookie outfield prospect Ron Stone. He would play for 3 seasons as Baltimore's 3rd-string catcher, and went 2-for-2 in the 1969 World Series. He retired after the 1971 season.