Monday, February 18, 2013

Final Card: Gary Geiger

After being omitted from the 1968 set, Gary Geiger returns for one final card (#278). Geiger played outfield with the Red Sox from 1959-65, then finished his career with 2 seasons each with the Braves and Astros.

Geiger was signed by the Cardinals in 1954, and played 4 seasons in their minor-league system. After the 1957 season, he was selected by the Indians in the Rule 5 draft, and started 35 games as the backup center fielder to veteran Larry Doby.

After 1 year with the Tribe, Geiger was traded to Boston (with little- used 1st baseman Vic Wertz) for center fielder Jim Piersall, who had been a regular outfielder for the Sox since day 1 in 1953.

(Geiger is incorrectly listed as a right-handed batter on this card.)

In 1959, Gary split time in center field with Marty Keough, then moved to right field the next year, where he shared the position with Lou Clinton. Geiger took over as the every-day center fielder at the start of the '61 season, a post he held until 1963, when he shared center with Roman Mejias.

Gary only played 5 games in 1964, as he was recovering from ulcer-related surgery. He also missed most of the 1965 season, due to a broken hand. After the season, he was selected by the Braves in the Rule 5 draft.

Geiger spent the next 2 seasons in Atlanta, backing up center fielder Mack Jones. He spent all of 1968 with the Cardinals' AAA team, then (after his THIRD Rule 5 selection) made a comeback (of sorts) with the Astros in 1969, playing in 93 games as a backup corner outfielder and pinch-hitter.

Gary spent most of 1970 with the Astros' AAA team, but played his last 5 major-league games in late-June/early-July. He returned to the Cardinals' organization for his final pro season (1971), playing 100 games with double-A Tulsa.

Geiger passed away at age 59 on April 24, 1996.


Douglas said...

If Geiger appeared in 93 games in 1969, Topps should had a card for him. I had his 1963 card and thought he was pretty good player with his write up indicating speed and his stats showing some pop. His pose was cool too, but little did I know his next 3 cards appear to be from the same photo session.

Geiger is interesting to me because he is from Murphysboro, Illinois, a town I lived in 30 years ago. I can't beleive it, 30 years!!!

Jim from Downingtown said...

Although he played in 93 games, after July 10th he had no starts and only 13 at-bats, the rest being defensive replacements.

I guess the spotty late-season playing time, coupled with his age (33) led Topps to think he was done.

Steve Scott said...

Jim, it appears that the Astros cards have the city name "Houston" rather than the team name "Astros." I did a cursory glance at the set and it appears the Astros are the only team where this occurs.

Jim from Downingtown said...

Hi Steve,

Welcome back to these blogs. Hopefully we will be seeing some 1974 cards soon.

Topps removed "Astros" from all the 1968 and 1969 cards. I can't believe it has anything to do with the team's name change from "Colt .45s", because the '66 and '67 cards all said "Astros". Maybe they had a licensing issue with the team for those 2 years. (They also didn't issue any Astros' team cards during the 1960s.)