Sunday, October 18, 2015

Don Buford (#478)

At age 78 years 8 months, Don Buford is the oldest living player from the 1966-70 era that I have not yet featured on one of my blogs.

He played his first 5 seasons as the White Sox’ 2nd or 3rd baseman, but may be better known for his 5 years as the Orioles’ left fielder during their late-60s/early-70s glory years.

Buford was signed by the ChiSox in November 1959, and played 4 seasons in the minors before making his major-league debut with the Sox in September 1963. He started the final 8 games at 3rd base, replacing Pete Ward, who had started every game at 3rd up to that time.

Don began the 1964 season starting 15 of the first 17 games at 3rd base, then moved over to 2nd base, where he split the job evenly with Al Weis. Both Weis and Buford were switch-hitters, so I don’t know what determined who was starting on a given day.

1965 started out the same as the previous season (splitting 2B with Weis, with a few starts at 3rd base), but Buford was the 2nd baseman for every game from July 17th onward.

Don played 2nd base for the first 2 months of 1966, but in June the White Sox acquired veteran 2nd basemen Jerry Adair and Wayne Causey, moving Buford over to 3rd base for 115 of the final 127 games (including 67 consecutive starts – surprising given how many mix-and-match infielders the Sox had!)

In his final season in Chicago (1967) Don started only 94 games at 3rd, and 39 at 2nd base. The Sox had acquired veteran 3rd-sacker Ken Boyer from the Mets in mid-season, and were also auditioning rookie Dick Kenworthy at the hot corner.

In November 1967, Buford and pitchers Bruce Howard and Roger Nelson were traded to the Orioles for shortstop Luis Aparicio and outfielder Russ Snyder. The O’s already had Brooks Robinson at 3rd base and Dave Johnson at 2nd base, so Buford rode the bench for 2 months in 1968 until finally working his way into the lineup with frequent starts at 2nd base, center field, or left field.

He was the team’s regular left fielder for his final 4 seasons (1969-72). Buford played in the post-season in ’69, ‘70, and ’71, hitting a combined 5 homers with 11 RBI. Although his ALCS batting average was .357, his World Series average was only .207.

After his February 1973 release he played in Japan for 4 years, retiring after the 1976 season.

His son Damon Buford was an outfielder for several teams from 1993-2001.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Dave Marshall (#464)

Since I previously posted the Topps All-Star Rookie outfielder Bobby Bonds, today I’m wrapping up this subset with outfielder Dave Marshall. 

Marshall had a 6-year major-league career (7 years, if you count one pinch-running appearance in 1967), mostly for the Giants and Mets. Dave was signed by the Los Angeles Angels in 1963, and played 3 seasons in their farm system before he was traded to the Giants in April 1966 for minor-league shortstop Hector Torres. Marshall worked his way up the Giants’ minor-league ladder for 2 seasons, then made the Giants’ squad at the start of the 1968 season.

Marshall was the Giants’ 6th outfielder in 1968 (having the misfortune of joining the team the same year as rookie Bobby Bonds). The following season, he was promoted to 4th outfielder. (Actually, the Giants had lost Jesus Alou and Ollie Brown in the expansion draft.)

In December 1969 Dave was traded to the Mets (with pitcher Ray Sadecki) for outfielder Jim Gosger and infielder Bob Heise. [WHAT were the Giants THINKING? Surely Sadecki alone was worth more than those 2 players.] Marshall was a bench player for the Mets for 3 seasons (1970-72), missing both the World Championship 1969 season and the NL Championship 1973 season. He never moved above #5 on the outfield depth chart, and was shipped out to the Padres after the ’72 season.

Dave split the 1973 season between the Padres and the minors, a place he hadn’t seen since 1967. In late September he was sold to the White Sox, but never played for them, and retired after the ’73 season.