Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Freddie Patek (#219)

Here is the rookie card for Pirates' shortstop Freddie Patek. (Often referred to back in the day as "Pint-sized Freddie Patek", since he was five-foot-six). Wait, there's also "He put the 'short' in shortstop", and... ok, that's enough.

Patek was signed by the Pirates in 1965, and played in the minors during the '66 and '67 seasons, and the first part of 1968. Although incumbent Pirates' shortstop Gene Alley made his 2nd consecutive all-star appearance in 1968, his stats had dropped significantly from 1965-67. Patek was called up in early June, and started 49 games at shortstop over the rest of the season, including most of the games in August and September. He also played some in the outfield.

In 1969, Patek became the full-time shortstop, starting 141 games. (Alley assumed a utility role, starting 20 games at SS, 47 games at 2B, and 4 at 3B.) Patek never missed more than 2 consecutive starts all season, except for the stretch between 5/25 and 6/11.

1970 was just the opposite, with Alley regaining his old position (105 starts), leaving Patek with just 57 starts, the bulk of them coming in May. (Although Freddie had played a little outfield during his rookie season, he played nowhere but shortstop for the rest of his career, until his final season in 1981.)

After the 1970 season, Patek was traded to the Royals (with pitcher Bruce Dal Canton and catcher Jerry May) for pitcher Bob Johnson, catcher Jim Campanis, and shortstop Jackie Hernandez. Patek held down the Royals' shortstop job from opening day 1971, until he was replaced by U.L. Washington at the end of August 1979. Along the way, he teamed with 2nd basemen Cookie Rojas (1971-75) and Frank White (1976-79), and was a 3-time all-star.

Patek was granted free agency after the 1979 season, and signed on with the Angels, where he shared the starting shortstop job with Bert Campaneris in 1980, and was a little-used infield reserve in 1981.

Patek was released by the Angels on opening day 1982, ending his 14-year career.

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