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.