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.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bobby Murcer (#657)

This is the first full card for Bobby Murcer. He previously appeared on Yankees Rookies cards in the 1966 and 1967 sets. Bobby was signed by the Yankees in 1964, and played 3 full seasons in the minors (with some late-season cups of coffee in '65 and '66) before losing the '67 and '68 seasons while in the Army.

The back of this card says that Mickey Mantle was Bobby's idol, and that both came from Oklahoma. Another similarity is that they both began their minor-league careers as shortstops. Murcer played only shortstop in the minors, while Mantle switched to outfield for his last season on the farm.

[An aside about Mickey Mantle and Oklahoma: In the summer of 2009, my son and I were driving from Pennsylvania to Arizona. While in Missouri and Oklahoma, we would occasionally get off the interstate and check out some sights on old Route 66. As we entered the extreme northeast corner of Oklahoma, we decided to get off the interstate and drive the half-mile up into Kansas (just to say we were in Kansas). When we picked up Route 66 and drove back into Oklahoma, the first town we entered was Commerce. Driving down the main street, they have banners hanging from the street lights proclaiming it as the hometown of Mickey Mantle. What an unexpected treat, and completely by accident!]

After the army, Murcer rejoined the Yankees for the 1969 season. He began the season as the everyday 3rd baseman. (The Yankees had been trying to patch the 3B hole ever since Clete Boyer was traded after the '66 season. They experimented with converting Roy White to a 3rd baseman in early 1967, then moved on to Charlie Smith, Jerry Kenney and Bobby Cox, before settling on Murcer in 1969.) In mid-May he moved out to right field, and on August 29th, he made his first start at his dream job: Mickey Mantle's heir to the Yankees' centerfield job.

Bobby remained as the Yankees' centerfielder until late-May 1974, when he moved over to right field for the remainder of that season. After 6 full seasons in New York, he was traded to the Giants for Bobby Bonds. After 2 seasons as the Giants' rightfielder, it was on to the Cubs in February 1977.

In June 1979, Bobby was traded back to the Yankees, where he played as a part-time outfielder and DH until the Yankees released him in late-June 1983.

The final similarity between Mantle and Murcer is that they both passed away in their early 60s. Murcer's family was on-field for the closing ceremonies at old Yankee Stadium.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Final Card: Johnny Podres

Podres on the Padres? That beats Jose Cardenal on the Cardinals!

This is Johnny Podres' final card (#659). After a long career with the Dodgers, and 2 years with the Tigers, he retired after the 1967 season. Now he's back for 1 last season with the expansion Padres. Whatever for?

Podres was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951, and spent 2 seasons in the minors as a starter, the last with the triple-A Montreal Royals, where his teammates included future luminaries such as Jim Gilliam, Don Hoak, Tommy Lasorda, and Ed Roebuck.

Johnny made the Dodgers in 1953, and was in Brooklyn's rotation from 1953-57, except for missing the 1956 season for military service. Podres pitched in the 1953 World Series as a rookie, but he is probably best remembered for shutting out the Yankees in game 7 of the 1955 World Series, giving Brooklyn their only world championship, while he picked up the World Series MVP award.

After the team moved to Los Angeles in 1958, Pods continued as one of the Dodgers top starters from 1958-63, and 1965 along with Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and "the other guy" (which at various times was Stan Williams, Bob Miller, or Claude Osteen). In May 1966, the Dodgers dealt him to the Tigers, where he pitched until the end of the 1967 season. He retired after the season, but came back with the expansion Padres in 1969. His final game for the Padres was on June 21st of that year.

After retirement, Johnny was a pitching coach for several teams through the '70s, '80s, and '90s, finishing up with the Phillies during Jim Fregosi's tenure as manager.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ted Williams (#650)

Today we have Ted Williams' rookie card (as a manager). This is the 2nd Senators' manager card in the 1969 set. Jim Lemon's card appeared earlier in the set, but he had been fired before the start of the season, after a 10th place finish in 1968, his only season as a manager. (Topps had also issued 2 manager cards for the Houston Astros in 1966.)

After a long career with the Red Sox (1939-1960), Teddy Ballgame had been out of baseball for several years. (I seem to recall he was a spokesman for fishing gear - maybe for Sears.) In 1969, the Senators came calling, and Williams spent 4 seasons as their manager, including the team's first season as the Texas Rangers. The team finished in 4th, 5th, and 6th during his tenure, an improvement over 1968's 10th-place finish.

Williams is also credited with imparting his hitting knowledge to his players, most notably to perennial weak-hitting shortstop Ed Brinkman. Brinkman routinely batted below the Mendoza line during his career up through 1968. In his 2 seasons under Williams' guidance, he batted above .260. After Ed was traded to the Tigers in 1971, he reverted back to his previous lackluster batting averages for the remainder of his career.

Williams was replaced for 1973 by Whitey Herzog, who didn't make it to the end of the season.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bobby Bonds (#630)

Welcome to the re-booted 1969 Topps Baseball Card blog! This blog was started by Pack Addict back on 3/13/2009, but has been inactive for quite some time. Today, he turned it over to me, so I will be posting some of my 1969 cards that have been burning a hole in their binder for all these years. I will be starting with several stars from the hard-to-find 7th series' high numbers.

Thanks, Pack Addict! Yours is the first blog I found in Google Blogger, about a week before I jumped aboard in late September 2009.

This is Bobby Bonds' rookie card. Although Bonds had been tearing up the minor leagues for several seasons, Topps somehow forgot to include him in the 1968 set. In fact, they forgot a Giants Rookies card altogether. Thankfully, Steve at WhiteSoxCards has rectified that problem.

Bonds began his career in 1965 with the Giants' class-A team at Lexington, NC, and made his major-league debut on June 25, 1968. He took over the Giants' right field job immediately, and also made 23 starts in center field when Willie Mays was given a day off. This RF/CF arrangement continued until May 1972, when Mays was traded to the Mets and Garry Maddox took over the center field job.

Bobby played for the Giants for his first 7 seasons. After the 1974 season he was traded to the Yankees for outfielder Bobby Murcer. The last 7 seasons of his 14-year career were spent playing for 7 different teams. By the time he played his last game on October 4, 1981, he had amassed 332 home runs, 1024 RBI, and 461 stolen bases.

Bonds played in several dozen triple-A games in 1981 and 1982 before hanging up his glove.