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.