Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Final Card: Al Lopez

Here is the final card (#527) for White Sox manager Al Lopez. It looks like this photo was taken during the same session as his 1965 card. He also had a card in the 1953 set as the Indians’ manager, and in the 1961 to 1965 sets as the White Sox' manager.

Lopez was a catcher and played in the minors from 1925 to 1929. He had a 3-game cup of coffee with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1928, before returning to the minors the following season.

Al was the Dodgers' catcher from 1930-35, and made the All-Star team in 1934. He played for the Boston Braves from 1936-40, and the Pirates from 1940-46, although his last 2 seasons with Pittsburgh were as a backup. Al made his 2nd and last All-Star team in 1941.

He played his last big-league season (1947) with the Indians. Retiring after the '47 season, his 1,918 career games caught was a record that stood until Bob Boone broke it 40 years later.

Lopez was a minor-league manager from 1948-50, also serving as his team's backup catcher in 1948.

He managed the Indians from 1951-56, winning the AL pennant in 1954.

Lopez was also the White Sox manager from 1957 to 1965, and won the AL pennant in 1959. His 2 pennants (’54, ’59) were the only times the Yankees DIDN’T win the AL pennant from 1949-64.

After the '65 season he was kicked upstairs to the front office, but returned as field general after Eddie Stanky's firing during the 1968 season.

Soon after that he became ill, forcing him to miss much of the remainder of the '68 season. He returned as manager at the end of the season, managing a total of 47 games in his 2 stints that year. He began the 1969 season as the team's manager, but failing health forced him to retire after 17 games.

Al was inducted into HOF as a manager in 1977.

He passed away in October 2005 at age 97, five days after the White Sox won the World Series (their first championship in 88 years). Lopez was the last living MLB player from the 1920s.

Monday, December 12, 2016

AL / NL Rookie Stars (#598, 624, 641, 658)

In the 2nd-half of the 1960s, Topps set aside a few Rookie Stars cards in the high-numbered 7th Series where players from different teams were shown on the same card. There were either "AL Rookies", "NL Rookies", or "Major-League Rookies" (if they couldn't find 2 players from the same league).

It has always been my contention (although not having definite information) that these were ad hoc cards, where the subjects were not firmed up until the season already began. Then Topps would see which productive rookies they overlooked in their already-formatted Series 1 to 6. (How else to explain Norm Gigon's inclusion in the 1967 set, while players like Gary Nolan and Don Wilson were nowhere to be found?)

By far, the jewel in this dozen is Rollie Fingers. Pitched in 944 games over 17 seasons, Cy Young and MVP winner, and Hall of Famer.

Bob Floyd?  Played parts of 7 seasons as a backup with the Orioles and Royals.  Even less for Larry Burchart - 29 games with the Indians in 1969, then he was done.

After Fingers, Tom Hall is the only other player here with a decent career.  10 seasons with the Twins/Reds/Mets/Royals.  Most of his 358 games were in relief.

Bill Burbach pitched for the Yankees in 1969 and parts of the next 2 seasons.  I sure hope he wasn't touted as "The Next Whitey Ford". Jim Miles pitched 13 games over parts of 2 seasons with the Senators.

In 1970, the Reds had to decide if Darrel Chaney or Dave Concepcion was going to be their shortstop.  They made the right choice. Chaney was a backup for 7 years in Cincinnati and 4 in Atlanta.

Duffy Dyer's extremely big head reminds me of those costumed marchers in the Mardi Gras parade.  (Or those fools providing between-inning entertainment at Milwaukee Brewers' games.)

Terry Harmon was the Phillies' utility infielder from 1969-77. Harmon is one of only 3 Phillies (with Mike Schmidt and Larry Christensen) to play at least 10 years and only for the Phillies.

Looks like this was almost a "Dodgers Rookies" card! Bobby Darwin was a minor-league pitcher for the Angels, Orioles, and Dodgers from 1962-69. He was converted to an outfielder in 1971 and played for the Twins, Brewers, and Red Sox from 1972-77.

John Miller played 6 games for the Yankees in September 1966, and 23 games for the Dodgers in 1969 (mostly as a pinch-hitter).

Tommy Dean played 12 games for the Dodgers in September 1967, then resurfaced in 1969 as the Padres' shortstop.  He played 2 more seasons as a backup with San Diego.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Mike Hershberger (#655)

Mike Hershberger was a starting outfielder for the White Sox and Athletics through most of the 1960s. On Opening Day 1968, Mike lost his starting job to Reggie Jackson, and would be a backup for his final 4 seasons.

Hershberger was signed by the White Sox in 1959, and after 3 seasons in the minors was called up to the Sox in September 1961.

In 1962 Mike started 106 games as a rookie, mostly in right field. He shared the starting job there with Floyd Robinson, who was the starter in 1961. (Robinson played mostly left field in ’62, replacing the departed Minnie Minoso.)

In ’63 and ‘64 he was one of the Sox’ top 3 outfielders in terms of starts and playing time, but since he split his time between center and right fields, Baseball-Reference.com shows him as a non-starter.

In January 1965 he was traded to Kansas city in a 3-team, 8-player trade, and was the Athletics’ starting right fielder for the next 3 seasons, rarely playing the other 2 spots in those years.

Reggie Jackson joined the Athletics during the 1967 season, and was installed as the starting right fielder at the start of the 1968 season, relegating Hershberger to spot-start duty for a few dozen games in right and left field.

With Rick Monday and Jackson established in center and right fields, and Rule 5 pickup Tommie Reynolds starting half the games in left field, there was even less playing time for Mike in 1969 than in the previous year.

The following January he was traded to the Brewers (with pitchers Lew Krausse and Ken Sanders, and catcher Phil Roof) for 1st baseman Don Mincher and infielder Ron Clark. Mike lasted only 1 season in Milwaukee, filling the dubious role of 7th outfielder.

He was released after the 1970 season, and hooked on with the White Sox for 1971. He played more in his final season than he had since 1968, starting 25% of the games in center field behind Jay Johnstone.

Hershberger passed away in 2012 at age 72.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Final Card: Larry Miller

Here is the final card (#323) for Larry Miller, who I just discovered a few days ago to be the oldest living player (at age 79) having a card from 1966-70 not yet appearing on one of my blogs.

He is also "Back on Topps' Radar", with his first card since the 1965 set. (Miller spent most of '66 and all of 1967-68 in the minors.)

Miller was signed by the Dodgers in 1959, and played in their organization for 3 ½ seasons (plus a 2-year break for military service) before making his major-league debut in 1964. He pitched in 16 games over the second half of the season. He was 4-8 in 14 starts.

After the season he was traded to the Mets for OF-1B Dick Smith. Miller split the 1965 season between the Mets and their AAA team in Buffalo.

Larry was back in AAA for the 1966 season, followed by 4 late- September appearances for the Mets.

He was in triple-A for all of 1967-69, and was traded to the Giants' organization in mid-1967. Since his last big-league game was in 1966, I'm wondering "Why does he have a card?"

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Born on the Same Day - 12/17/1936

Recently I started a new series called "Born on the Same Day", featuring players who were born on the same day (!) and year. The scope of this exercise is those players (or managers) who have cards in the 1965-1970 sets (because that's what I dooze). Ideally, I should also have their cards. 

In researching this, I found 51 pairs and 2 trios. In a few pairs both are stars, some pairs have 1 star, and other pairs are just 2 guys named Joe. In a few cases, these players were also teammates. 

I am going to post these in chronological order, and distribute them across my 1966-1970 blogs depending on which cards I have for who. The series began on my 1968 blog

This is post #8 in the series, and the first on the 1969 blog: Jerry Adair and Roland Sheldon - both born on 12/17/1936.

Jerry Adair played for the Orioles, White Sox, Red Sox, and Royals from 1958 to 1970, and was the Orioles' regular 2nd baseman from 1961-65.

Rollie Sheldon went 11-5 as a rookie for the 1961 Yankees. He played for New York until midway through 1965, then made stops with the Athletics and Red Sox. He was in the Seattle Pilots' training camp in 1969 but did not make the team.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Wait, What?

Congratulations to Paul, David, and Cubs fans everywhere!

"The Giants Cubs win the pennant Series!"
"The Giants Cubs win the pennant Series!"
"The Giants Cubs win the pennant Series!"
"The Giants Cubs win the pennant Series!"

Sunday, October 23, 2016

1969 Stamp Albums

Five years ago, I blogged about my Topps 1969 stamp collection here and here. It was on my 1968 blog because at the time, this 1969 blog was run by someone else.

In those posts, I wondered:

"I have 76 of these stamps from various teams, mostly Phillies, Pirates, Cubs, Twins, and Athletics. I wonder why out of 76 stamps, I have none from the Red Sox, Yankees, Orioles, Angels, Cardinals, Expos, Astros, or Reds?" 


"It's weird that I have no stamps from the 2-time NL champion Cardinals, nor the Yankees, Reds, Dodgers, Braves, Red Sox, Orioles, Angels, Astros, Expos, Royals, or Pilots." 

Well, a few months ago I learned why that was. I found 12 of the stamp albums that were issued with the stamps. Apparently for those teams, I had pasted all my stamps into the team albums, so they were not with the glassine envelopes where I kept all my non-album stamps all these years.

Each album has 8 pages (including front and back covers), with 2 stamps per inside page for a total of 10 stamps (page 2 is a Table of Contents page). The back cover has an area containing all 10 autographs.

So, to the 76 stamps already accounted for in previous posts, I have 75 more stamps in these albums, for a total of 151 stamps. I now also know that there are 10 stamps per team, for a total set size of 240.

At some later time, I will scan and post the insides of these albums.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

1969 Custom Cards

A few years ago, John Hogan at the "Cards That Never Were" blog made a batch of custom baseball and football cards for me at my request.  I noticed that John did not include these images on his own blog, so I am posting them here so they can be appreciated by all. These are cards where the player was either missing, traded during the season, or just to upgrade a player from a Rookie Stars card to a solo card.

You may have already seen the 1967, 1968, and 1971 football cards or the 1966, 1967, and 1968 baseball cards he made for me on the blogs for those sets.

Tony Horton played for the Red Sox from 1964-67, and for the Indians from 1967-70. Topps never made a card for Horton, despite the fact that he was the Indian's regular first baseman and top slugger from mid-1967 until his retirement in August 1970.

After 5 minor-league seasons, Dave Watkins finally made the majors as the Phillies' backup catcher. It was to be his final pro season.

Lowell Palmer and Al Raffo debuted with the Phillies in 1969. "Shades" Palmer pitched for the Phils from 1969-71, and also with the Cardinals ('72) and Padres ('74). Raffo led the team in saves, but never played in the majors after '69, and never had a Topps card.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Ron Hansen (#566)

Ron Hansen was the White Sox’ starting shortstop from 1963 to 1967. After spending the first 4 months of 1968 with the Senators, he returned to the Pale Hose in August, this time as a utility infielder. 
(I was intending to post his 1966 card instead, but this photo was more interesting, though the card depicts him as a utility player.)

Hansen was signed by the Orioles in 1956. He played in the minors from 1956-59 (missing the ‘57 season because of sciatica).

Ron took over the Orioles’ starting shortstop job on Opening Day 1960, starting 149 games and winning the AL Rookie of the Year award. He also made his only All-Star team that season. He was Baltimore’s starting shortstop the following season also, but missed much of the 1962 season while in military service.

In January 1963, Hansen was traded to the White Sox (along with pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm, 3rd baseman Pete Ward, and outfielder Dave Nicholson) for shortstop Luis Aparicio and outfielder Al Smith. Hansen replaced Aparicio in the Sox’ lineup, manning the SS position from 1963 to 1967 (although he missed all but the first 4 weeks of the 1966 season due to back surgery).

The White Sox re-acquired Aparicio from the Orioles after the 1967 season, so Hansen was dealt to the Washington Senators in February 1968 (with pitchers Dennis Higgins and Steve Jones) for pitchers Bob Priddy and Buster Narum, and infielder Tim Cullen.

After starting 77 of the first 101 games for the Nats, Ron was returned to the White Sox in exchange for Cullen. The trade occurred just TWO WEEKS after Hansen pulled off the first unassisted triple play in 41 years! (Thanks for nuttin’)

With Aparicio still on board, Hansen was relegated to utility infielder status with the Sox for the remainder of 1968 and all of 1969, occasional starting games at 2nd base or 3rd base.

Ron was sold to the Yankees in February 1970, and was a role player with them for 2 seasons, getting his release in February 1972. He caught on with the Royals in early April, but was released in late-June, having only played in 16 games during the first 3 months of the season.

After his playing career, Hansen was a coach, minor-league manager, and scout.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Aurelio Rodriguez (#653)

Here is the rookie card for Angels’ 3rd baseman Aurelio Rodriguez. More accurately, it is the rookie card for Angels’ batboy Leonard Garcia, as Topps committed their biggest blunder since featuring Ken Hubbs (the Cubs’ former 2nd baseman who had been deceased for 2 years) on Dick Ellsworth’s 1966 card.

Blogger/custom-card-maker John from the "Cards That Never Were" blog has done what Topps failed to correct, with not only a card picturing the original A-Rod, but also the same card below with the batboy’s name.

This Angels’ post is going to break up the string of Pirates cards on my sidebar which I recently noticed, and which was entirely coincidental. (I thought about making a Pirates post to my 1970 blog before this new 1969 post, but then it wouldn’t have been all coincidental.)

Rodriguez began his professional career in the Mexican League in 1965, and was purchased by the Angels in 1966. He made his major-league debut at age 19 with the Angels in September 1967.

In 1968, incumbent 3rd baseman Paul Schaal started 56 of the first 58 games at 3rd (1 start by Rodriguez), but was beaned on June 13th and missed the rest of the season. Aurelio started 61 of the final 104 games at the hot corner, himself missing the entire month of August.

Schaal was lost to the Royals in the expansion draft, so Rodriguez became the team’s full-time 3rd baseman until late April 1970, when he and outfielder Rick Reichart were traded to the Senators for 3rd baseman Ken McMullen.

After the 1970 season, he was flipped to the Tigers in an 8-player trade, with shortstop Ed Brinkman and pitchers Joe Coleman and Jim Hannan accompanying him to Detroit in exchange for pitchers Denny McLain and Norm McRae, 3rd baseman Don Wert, and outfielder Elliot Maddox. A-Rod was the Tigers’ regular 3rd-sacker for the next 9 seasons, winning his only Gold Glove in 1976. (Hmm… I’m somewhat surprised to learn today that he was never on an All-Star team.)

He spent the last 4 seasons of his career (1980-83) bouncing around to the Padres, Yankees, Blue Jays (never playing for Toronto), White Sox, Orioles, and back to the White Sox. He was primarily a bench player in those years, with his only significant playing time coming with the White Sox in 1982.

Rodriguez was granted free agency after the 1983 season, but there were no takers. He returned to the Mexican Leagues as a player from 1984-85, and as a manager from 1985-99.

Like the only other two major league players named Aurelio, Rodriguez was killed in a car accident. He was struck by a car while walking the streets of Detroit in 2000, at age 52.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Bob Moose (#409)

Here is Bob Moose on his first solo card (having appeared on a Pirates Rookies card in the 1968 set).

Moose was signed by the Pirates in 1965, and pitched in the minors for 3 seasons before making his major-league debut for the Pirates with 2 games in September 1967.

Bob joined the staff at the start of 1968, splitting his appearances between starting and relieving for his first two seasons with the Bucs. The Pirates had moved on from long-time starters Bob Friend and Vern Law in recent years, and would soon say goodbye to Tommie Sisk and Al McBean, before settling on a younger rotation of Steve Blass, Dock Ellis, Moose, and the not-so-young Bob Veale.

Moose compiled a 14-3 record in 1969 (leading the league with a .824 winning percentage. He also notched a 2.91 ERA and no-hit the eventual World Champion Mets that season.

Bob was primarily a starter from 1970-73, collecting 11, 11, 13, and 12 wins over that time. He pitched in the NLCS in ’70, ’71, and ’72, and pitched in 3 games in the 1971 World Series (although with no decisions).

In 1974 he was limited to 7 games due to a blood clot that required surgery and the removal of a rib.

Moose played full seasons in ’75 and ’76, but was almost exclusively a reliever during those years. He led the team with 10 saves in 53 games in 1976.

Moose was killed in a car accident one week after the end of the 1976 season (on his 29th birthday).

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Final Card: Lee Elia

It’s been awhile since I’ve featured a player’s final card on this blog, and there are about 20 more to go. (The “Final Card” series has long been finished on my 1966, 1967, and 1968 blogs.) 

Lee Elia (#312) had a brief and uneventful playing career in Chicago (1966 with the Sox, and 1968 with the Cubs).

Elia was signed by his hometown Phillies in 1958, and played 6 seasons (1959-64) in their farm system (the last 3 years at the AAA level). After the 1964 season he and outfielder Danny Cater were traded to the White Sox for veteran pitcher Ray Herbert.

Lee spent another season in the minors, then made his major-league debut in late-April 1966 with the White Sox. Although playing some games in the minors that season, he was with Chicago for most of the year, and made 64 starts at shortstop, including 48 consecutive starts from 5/28 to 7/9. (Ron Hansen began the season starting the first 23 games at short, then didn’t play again for the rest of the season because of a back injury. The team filled in with Al Weis, then Elia, and then for the final 3 months, mostly Jerry Adair with a few starts by Elia.)

With Hansen back in the saddle in 1967, Elia was back in the minors for the entire season, playing shortstop first for Indianapolis, then following his purchase by the Cubs, for Tacoma.

Lee’s 2nd and final season in the majors was a non-factor, as he played in 15 games scattered throughout the 1968 season, mostly as a pinch-hitter. He also played in triple-A that year.

He played only 20 games in the minors in 1969 for the Cubs and Yankees, then didn’t play again until 16 games in 1973 for the Phillies’ AAA team. That would be his final season as a player.

After his playing career Elia managed in the Phillies’ organization for a few seasons, then was the Phillies’ bench coach from 1980-81. He followed Dallas Green to Chicago after the 1981 season and managed the Cubs in 1982 and 1983. Returning to the Phillies as a coach for 1985-87, he also managed the team in ’87 and ’88. He subsequently held various coaching and scouting jobs with the Phillies and others.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Mack Jones (#625)

I first knew of Mack Jones as the Braves’ center fielder in 1967. That would be his last season with the Braves however. He was traded to the Reds prior to 1968, and moved on to the Expos in 1969. His card is in the 7th series, so he is photographed in the new Montreal duds.

Jones was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1958, and played all of 1958-60 in the minors, while also playing parts of 1961-63 with the Braves.

He made his major-league debut in July 1961, starting 19 straight games in center field. He stuck around with Milwaukee until mid-August, when he was returned to the minors.

In 1962 he was the Braves’ starting right fielder for 84 of the first 86 games (moving Hank Aaron over to center field). After another week as the starting center fielder, he was returned to the minors for the remainder of the season.

Mack was the opening-day left fielder in 1963, then spent several weeks on the bench until becoming the starting center fielder for much of May and June. He rode the bench for all of July, then it was back to the minors at the start of August.

Inexplicably, Jones played all of 1964 with the Tigers’ AAA team in Syracuse, NY. While there, he batted .317 with 15 doubles, 18 triples, 39 home runs and 102 RBI. He also set a still-standing Syracuse record with 111 runs scored. His outfield mates that season were future Tigers’ stars Willie Horton and Jim Northrup.

Jones returned to the Braves at the start of the 1965 season, and was their starting center fielder for the next 3 seasons, playing between Aaron and Rico Carty. In 1965 Jones (31 HR) teamed up with Aaron (32), Eddie Mathews (32), Joe Torre (27), Felipe Alou (23), and Gene Oliver (21) to give the Braves six players with 20+ home runs in one season, an NL record.

After the 1967 season, Jones was traded to the Reds (along with pitcher Jay Ritchie and outfielder Jim Beauchamp) for slugging IF-OF Deron Johnson. The Reds had also acquired outfielder Alex Johnson from the Cardinals in the same off-season, and with Alex having his first of 3 consecutive .300+ seasons, plus Pete Rose and Vada Pinson all manning the outfield, Jones never found a spot in his lone season with Cincinnati. He only started 40+ games in the outfield (mostly in early-July and mid-August) and was used mainly as a pinch-hitter that season.

As a veteran spare part, Jones was left unprotected in the expansion draft following the 1968 season, and was the Expos’ 2nd draft pick (behind outfielder Manny Mota). He was Montreal’s starting left-fielder in 120 games – pretty good considering the revolving door most expansion teams are in their first season. He also hit a career-high .270 in 1969.

Jones played for the Expos for another 1 ½ seasons. He was the starting left fielder for 70 games in 1970 (mostly in the first half), and for 24 of the first 65 games in 1971. He played his final game on July 1st and was released a week later.

Jones died of cancer in 2004 at age 65.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Back on Topps' Radar: George Thomas

Outfielder George Thomas (#521) rejoined the Topps baseball set in 1969, after a 1-year absence. George had cards every year from 1961 to 1971, except for ’68 and ’70.

Most of his cards list him only as an outfielder. This is the only card that added “catcher” to his repertoire. Not sure why – Thomas had been in the majors continuously from 1961 to 1967, and only caught 3 innings in ’66 and 4 innings in ’67 during that time.

George was signed by the Tigers in August 1957 as a bonus baby. He remained on Detroit’s roster for the remainder of the season, getting only 1 at-bat.

Thomas returned to the minors for 1958 and remained down on the farm through the end of the 1960 season. He began the ’61 season with the Tigers, but was sold to the Los Angeles Angels in June. He shared the right field job with Albie Pearson, and also started 3 dozen games at third base.

George was the team’s 4th outfielder in 1962, playing mostly in right field. In June 1963 he was traded back to the Tigers, where he remained as an extra man for the next year and a half.

In October 1965, Thomas and George Smith were traded to the Red Sox for pitcher Bill Monbouquette. He played 2 seasons with the Sox (including 2 at-bats in the ’67 World Series) then played most of the 1968 season in the minors.

Thomas played 3 more seasons in a greatly-reduced role before calling it a career. He was released by Boston in late-June 1971. The Twins picked him up on the same day, and he finished out the season with Minnesota until his release in October.

He played 12 seasons, and appeared at every position except pitcher.