Sunday, December 31, 2017

First Look - San Diego Padres

Here's the fourth in a 5-part series where we get the first look at a new team's uniforms.

Four teams were added in the 1969 expansion, and although the players for these teams appeared capless or airbrushed in the early series, by mid-summer we started to see players in their new uniforms.

Today - the San Diego Padres

The Padres had the fewest number of veterans' cards in their new uniforms of any of the 4 new teams, but made up for it with three rookie cards. (Plus, we have "Podres with the Padres", so there's that!)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

First Look - Seattle Pilots

Here's the third in a 5-part series where we get the first look at a new team's uniforms.

Four teams were added in the 1969 expansion, and although the players for these teams appeared capless or airbrushed in the early series, by mid-summer we started to see players in their new uniforms.

Today - the Seattle Pilots

Both Jack Aker and Jim Gosger were selected from the Athletics.

This is ex-Angel Marty Pattin's rookie card.

Jerry McNertney went from 3rd-string catcher with the White Sox to the Pilots' every-day backstop.

Gus Gil and John Kennedy both returned to the Topps set in 1969, after a 1-year hiatus.

Unlike all the other expansion teams, the Pilots had only 1 Rookie Stars card, and it was a capless job (featuring Lou Piniella's 3rd appearance on a Rookie Stars card!)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

First Look - Montreal Expos

Here's the second in a 5-part series where we get the first look at a new team's uniforms.

Four teams were added in the 1969 expansion, and although the players for these teams appeared capless or airbrushed in the early series, by mid-summer we started to see players in their new uniforms.

Today - the Montreal Expos

This is a weird distribution of positions in the late-series cards:
2 catchers and 3 outfielders, but no infielders.

But how cool is that Ron Brand card?!?

Monday, October 2, 2017

First Look - Kansas City Royals

Here's the first in a 5-part series where we get the first look at a new team's uniforms.

Four teams were added in the 1969 expansion, and although the players for these teams appeared capless or airbrushed in the early series, by mid-summer we started to see players in their new uniforms.

First up - the Kansas City Royals

The Royals had more (non-rookie-stars) player cards in their new uniforms than any of the other expansion teams.

Only one of the Rookie Stars cards was issued late enough to include players in the new uniforms.

(Wow, the "windbreaker look" is in high gear!) 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Final Card: Dooley Womack

Here is Horace Guy “Dooley” Womack – the oldest living player from 1966-70 that I have yet to feature on my blogs. We last saw Dooley here, sharing a rookie card with Bobby Murcer in 1966.

Womack's late-season card (#594) is one of the first Astros' cards to show the cap logo since the 1967 set.

Dooley was signed by the Yankees in 1958, and played a looooong time in the minors (8 years) before making his major-league debut in April 1966.

He started 1 game during his rookie season, but his other 192 games over a 5-year career were all in relief. 1967 was his best season, leading the Yankees with 18 saves (in 65 games).

In 1968 Dooley was back where he was in ’66 – just another Joe in the bullpen. After the 1968 season, Womack was traded to the Astros for backup outfielder Dick Simpson.

In late-August 1969, he was traded to the Seattle Pilots for ex-Yankees teammate Jim Bouton.  He was returned to the Astros after the 1969 season, but by December was traded to the Reds for outfielder Jim Beauchamp.

Womack played most of 1970 for the Reds’ AAA team, then was acquired by the Athletics in mid-August. He only appeared in 2 games over the final 6 weeks. That was the end of his short, 5-year career.

Womack played for Oakland’s triple-A team in 1971 before retiring due to a rotator cuff injury.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Glenn Beckert (#171)

Projects? I’ve got an endless list of projects: 
 - 1967 Team Reviews (8 more) 
 - 1969 Final Cards (18 more) 
 - 1969 and 1970 League Leaders cards 
 - 1967 Scrapbook series
 - Blockbuster Trades series
 - Born on the Same Day series
 - Players with the Same Last Name series

And my current priorities:
 - Players I haven’t blogged yet who are pushing their late-70s 
 - Remaining unblogged key pitchers (about 16 more) 
 - Remaining unblogged "Starting Eight" players (about 16 more) 

Here’s the top player from the last group on the above list: 

Glenn Beckert was signed by the Red Sox in 1962. (I did not know that!) After 1 season in Boston’s organization, he was selected by the Cubs in the minor-league draft, and played 2 seasons on their farm before making his MLB debut at the start of the 1965 season.

The Cubs had been in need of a 2nd baseman since their 1962 Rookie-of-the-Year Ken Hubbs was killed in a plane crash just before Spring Training in 1964. Beckert won the job at the start of the 1965 season, and didn’t let go until the final months of the 1973 season.

As a fielder, Glenn led the NL with 494 assists as a rookie in 1965, and won a Glove Glove Award in 1968.

Batting-wise, he led the league with 98 runs in 1968, and reached a career-high .342 batting average in 1971. He also hit over .290 in ’68 and ’69.

Beckert was an All-Star for 4 consecutive seasons (1969-72). He was the team’s regular 2nd baseman for 9 seasons (except for missing the final month of 1971, the final 2 months of 1973, and a few weeks in 1972), teaming with shortstop Don Kessinger for the entire 9-year run.

After the 1973 season, he was traded to the Padres, where he backed up 2nd baseman Derrel Thomas during the 1974 season. Beckert was released after the first month of 1975, ending his 11-year career.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Dissecting the 1969 Set

Continuing the series I started with the 1967 set and 1968 set, here is similar information about the 1969 set. 

The 1969 Topps set had 664 cards, but since there were two distinct versions of the C Clay Dalrymple and 1B Donn Clendenon cards (not just printing errors), the actual set size is 666. (Those 2 players have been counted twice in this exercise.)

For the first time in many years, the set did not include any team cards. There are 25 manager cards (2 for the Senators), 52 rookie stars cards (none for the Senators), 20 all-star cards, 12 league leaders, 8 World Series cards, 4 multi-player cards, and 7 checklists. There are also 538 cards of individual players.

Here is the position breakdown of the 538 player cards:

219 cards for "Pitcher"
52 cards for "Catcher"
24 cards for "1st Base"
27 cards for "2nd Base"
25 cards for "Shortstop"
24 cards for "3rd Base"
17 cards for "Infield"
106 cards for "Outfield"

That's a total of 494 cards. The remaining 44 cards featured players at more than 1 position. Below is a sample of each position:

After several years as a "1B-C" for the Cubs, John Boccabella has a new team and a new position! He is joined at C-1B by Jack Hiatt (of course) and Don Pavletich. Boccabella's old job as the lone 1B-C in the Topps set is filled by Joe Torre.

With Tom Satriano now strictly a catcher and Ozzie Virgil retired, there are no C-3B or 3B-C players in the set. The new trend is combining C and OF. Bob Watson's rookie card shows him as the lone C-OF. George Thomas and the Pirates' Gary Kolb are the OF-C cards.

Ken Harrelson leads the group of five 1B-OF, along with Tommie Aaron, Tom McCraw, Mike Hegan, and the Giants' Bob Burda.
Frank Howard is 1 of 4 players at OF-1B (with Tito Francona, Jim Beauchamp, and Art Shamsky).

Don Buford is the lone representative for 2B-OF. Hank Allen and the Expos' Jose Herrera have the opposite position.

In my 1968 post, I lamented Topps' decision to portray Gary Sutherland as INF-OF, instead of the more accurate SS-OF. In the 1969 set, that combination appears, but only for these 2 cards.

Longtime Tigers' center fielder Mickey Stanley played shortstop in the 1968 World Series, and for the first part of the 1969 season, until he returned to center field when the Tigers acquired.... Tom Tresh!

For the 2nd time in 3 years, Bob Bailey is labelled as 3B-OF. This year he is joined by Cesar Tovar and Pete Ward. Bob Aspromonte is the only OF-3B in the set.

Tim Cullen reprises his 1968 position, also with Al Weis, Paul Popovich, and Tom Matchick. Denis Menke and Roberto Pena are the two with SS-2B.

Paul Schaal and Jim Lefebvre are the two cards showing 2B-3B. Kevin Collins is by himself at 3B-2B.

Here's another new combo - SS-1B! These are the only 2 cards for these positions, and there are none for the opposite combo.

Ken Boyer heads up a list of 5 players with the 3B-1B position (tied for the most with 1B-OF).  Also George Scott and Dalton Jones (BOTH on the Red Sox), Harmon Killebrew, and Deron Johnson. (There are no cards for 1B-3B.)

And last (but not least), the INF-OF position. Woodie Held makes his 3rd consecutive appearance at this position (maybe more - I haven't checked the '66 set yet), and is joined again by Frank Kostro and this time also by Chuck Hinton.

A few weeks ago I realized there was no Rookie Stars card for the Senators. During my research for this post, I discovered that there are only 6 pitchers for the Expos and 7 for the Padres and Athletics. (Most teams have 9 to 11 pitchers.) Also, there is only 1 catcher for the Braves, Padres, and Red Sox, and only 3 outfielders for the Cardinals.

Another oddity is that aside from 1st baseman Wes Parker, the Dodgers had no other infielders with just one position on their card.

When looking at total cards per team, the Phillies and Padres only had 19 cards (2nd year in a row that the Phillies had the least number of cards!), and the Red Sox only had 20, while most teams had 23 to 25 cards.

The post for the 1966 and 1970 sets will follow soon, but since I am missing several dozen cards from each set, I will need to use something else for reference, like this.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Joe Azcue (#176)

Here is Indians' #1 catcher Joe Azcue. I didn’t realize until looking at the back of the card today that Joe played for the Reds and Athletics before joining the Tribe. (Odd that uses a photo of Joe in an A’s cap. He played 594 games with Cleveland, while only 74 with Kansas City.) 

Azcue was a catcher in the Reds' farm system from 1956 to 1960, also playing 14 games with Cincinnati in the final 2 months of 1960. He was purchased by the Braves in December 1960, but spent the entire '61 season in the minors.

One year after coming to the Braves, he moved on to the Athletics (with 3rd baseman Ed Charles and outfielder Manny Jimenez) for pitcher Bob Shaw and infielder Lou Klimchock.

Azcue shared the Athletics' starting catcher job with veteran Haywood Sullivan in 1962, then was traded to the Indians in May 1963 (with shortstop Dick Howser) for catcher Doc Edwards and $100,000.  
Wait… Azcue AND Howser for DOC EDWARDS? Who was the Athletics' GM? No wonder they were so bad for so long!

Joe was the Indians' top catcher for the next 6 seasons (1963-68). For most of that time he platooned with Johnny Romano (and later Duke Sims), but managed to start more games than any other catcher each year. He made the All-Star team in 1968, his last full season with Cleveland.

With rookie Ray Fosse transitioning into a starting role in 1969, Azcue was traded to the Red Sox two weeks into the season. The Indians obtained pitchers Dick Ellsworth and Juan Pizarro, and 1B/OF Ken Harrelson in exchange for Azcue and pitchers Sonny Siebert and Vicente Romo.

After only 2 months (and 19 games) with Boston, Joe was flipped to the Angels for backup catcher Tom Satriano. Azcue replaced the tandem of Satriano and Tom Egan as the team's #1 catcher, starting 75 of the remaining 108 games in 1969.

In 1970 he started 2/3 of the games, to Egan’s 1/3. After sitting out the entire 1971 season with a contract dispute, he returned in 1972 but by then the Angels had moved on to John Stephenson.  
(Oh please… I’m trying to keep a straight face as I typed that!) Azcue only played 3 games with the Angels in 1972, while spending most of that season’s first half in the minors.

In late July 1972 he and infielder Syd O'Brien were traded to the Brewers for catcher Paul Ratliff and infielder Ron Clark. Joe only appeared in 11 games for the Brewers in the season's final 2 months, then played for the Indians’ double-A team in 1973 before retiring.

Friday, July 28, 2017

No Senators Rookie Stars?

I just realized today that there are no Senators Rookie Stars cards in the 1969 Topps set.

It took me 42 years of owning the 1968 set to realize there were no Giants rookies cards in that set. I have owned the 1969 set for 48 years, so I am clearly not learning from my mistakes!

Why no Senators Rookie Stars cards? Maybe Topps blew their Senators' allotment on having multiple manager cards and a miscellaneous card:

Or maybe there were no prospects worthy of a card (NOT LIKELY, given some of the schmoes Topps has featured on "Rookie Stars" cards!)  Let's see who they had to work with:

Steve Jones had some good stats in 1968, but he was selected by the Royals in the expansion draft. Surely catcher Dick Billings and pitcher Jan Dukes rated a Rookie Stars card, based on their 1968 stats.  They wouldn't get cards until 1971 and 1970, respectively.

Topps whiffed on this one.

Monday, July 24, 2017

George Brunet (#645)

Here is George Brunet’s 1969 card (using the same photo as his 1967 card). Brunet played for NINE teams during his major-league career, and switched teams so often that from the 1963 to 1970 sets, he only appeared wearing a cap in the 1968 set, and THAT one was airbrushed!

He did play for the California Angels from 1965-69, so there doesn’t seem to be any excuse why Topps couldn’t get a decent photo of him in an Angels’ cap from 1967 to 1969.

Brunet began his career in 1953 with the Shelby (NC) Clippers in the Tar Heel League. After 5 seasons in the minors, he made his major-league debut with the Kansas City Athletics with a few games in September 1956. Brunet was back in the minors for most of ’57, all of ’58, and most of ’59.

George began the 1960 season with the Athletics, but by mid-May was traded to the Braves. In May 1962, Brunet was traded to the Houston Colt .45s, 6 weeks into their inaugural season.

He must have felt like a yo-yo, because in July 1963 he was sold to the Orioles, who returned him to Houston the following May. Before he could get settled in back with the Colt .45s, he was sold to the Los Angeles Angels in August 1964. I am surprised today to see that George pitched part of each season from 1960 to 1964 in the minors.

Brunet’s longest stint anywhere was with the Angels, from August 1964 to July 1969. It was also with the Angels that he managed to stay with the big club for the entire season, every season.

From 1965-68 George was a workhorse for the Angels, pitching in 41, 41, 40, and 39 games per season, most of them starts. The Angels were a bad team back then, so he did lead the AL with 19 losses in ’67 and 17 losses in ’68. Still, he remained in the lineup, so I have to think it wasn’t him.

Brunet began the 1969 season in the Angels’ rotation, but was sold to the expansion Pilots at the end of July. He never made it to Milwaukee the following season, as the team traded him to the Senators in December for pitcher Dave Baldwin.

George split the 1970 season between Washington and Pittsburgh, then was traded to the Cardinals before the 1971 season (with outfielder Matty Alou) for pitcher Nelson Briles and outfielder Vic Davalillo. Brunet appeared in only 7 games for the Cards, and was released in early-May 1971.

He played the remainder of the 1971 season, and all of ’72 for the Padres’ AAA team in Hawaii. In 1973 he pitched for the Phillies’ AAA team.

While some American players go to Japan to extend their career, Brunet went to Mexico. He played in Mexico from 1974 to 1989, finally retiring at age 54, having pitched professionally for 36 years.

Brunet died in 1991 at age 56. In 1999 he was elected to the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Don Kessinger (#225)

Don Kessinger was one of the best shortstops in baseball during the late-1960s and early-1970s, making 6 All-Star teams in a 7-year span.

Kessinger made his pro debut with the Cubs' double-A team in 1964, and made his major-league debut that same year with 4 games in September.

He began the 1965 season in triple-A, but was recalled in mid-June, starting 104 of the final 115 games at shortstop. (Journeyman Roberto Pena had started the first 49 games there.)

Kessinger was the Cubs' regular shortstop from mid-June 1965 through the end of the 1975 season. Along the way, he was named to the All-Star team every season from 1968-72 and again in 1974. Although his highest batting average was .274 and had virtually no power, he was very good defensively, winning the Gold Glove award in '69 and '70.

After just over a decade with the Cubs, Don was traded to the Cardinals after the '75 season for reliever Mike Garman. Kessinger started 105 games at shortstop in his first season with the Cards, but in early August that job was turned over to rookie Garry Templeton.

Don slid over to 2nd base, starting 29 games there during August, until other rookies were given late-season tryouts at THAT position. In 1977, Kessinger hung on as a utility player until he was traded to the White Sox in August for a minor-leaguer.

Don got his feet wet in the AL by backing up Alan Bannister at SS and Jorge Orta at 2B for the remaining 2 months, then in 1978 he put in a full season (almost) as the ChiSox' regular shortstop. After starting 117 games through the first week of September, he once again fell victim to the "September prospect tryout", this time it was someone named Harry Chappas.

In 1979 Kessinger was named player-manager for the Sox. He managed the team to a 46-60 record, then was fired at the start of August, replaced by Tony LaRussa. Not surprisingly, that was also the end of Don’s playing career.

Kessinger managed the University of Mississippi baseball team for 6 seasons in the 1990s.

His son Keith played briefly for the Reds in 1993.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Ex-players with cards

Awhile back, I posted the players having 1967 cards whose MLB career was already over before that season, either through retirement or a return to the minor leagues.

Here are the 10 players in the 1969 set who did not play in the majors after 1968:

Signed by the Cardinals in 1958, Dick Hughes labored in the minors for many years before finally making the Cardinals' squad in 1967 at age 29. After 2 seasons (and 2 World Series), his career was over.

Dave Adlesh kicked around in the Astros' chain from 1963-68, while also playing some games with Houston every season. Traded to the Cardinals in the Fall of 1968, he was subsequently traded to the Braves (March '69) and Angels (April '69) but played all of 1969 and 1970 in the minors before retiring.

Lee Elia was a farmhand for the Phillies (1959-64), White Sox (1965-67), and Cubs (1967-69), whose MLB career consisted of 80 games for the ChiSox in '66 and 15 games for the Cubs in '68.

Rollie Sheldon pitched for the Yankees from 1961-64 and Yankees-West (Kansas City Athletics) from 1965-66, but played all of 1967 to 1970 in the minors.

Dave Nicholson was a starting outfielder for the White Sox in 1963-64. He then bounced to the Astros ('66) and Braves ('67), but played most of '67 and all of 1968-69 in the minors.

Jon Warden's only major-league experience was 28 games in relief for the Tigers in 1968. Selected by the Royals in the expansion draft, he played 1969-71 in the minors.

Jesse Gonder played for the Mets from 1963-65, and was their #1 catcher in 1964. He was with the Pirates in 1966-67, his last major-league appearance coming in June 1967. He retired after 2 more seasons in the minors.

Minnie Rojas was a Giants' farmhand in the early 1960s, then played in Mexico from 1964-65. After 3 seasons with the Angels (1966-68) he returned to the Mexican League.

Wayne Causey was a starting infielder for the Kansas City Athletics from 1961-65, and the White Sox from 1966-67. He split the 1968 season between the White Sox, Angels, and Braves.

Saving the best for last!

This may be Topps' first intentional "career-capper" card. Mickey Mantle retired during spring training in 1969. Since this was a late-series card, there was time to add a footnote to the back of his card. Nice that they didn't replace this card with that of another current player.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Dal Maxvill (#320)

Dal Maxvill was a shortstop for 14 seasons, primarily the Cardinals starting SS from 1962-72. He appeared in 3 World Series with the Cardinals (’64, ’67, ’68) and 1 with the Athletics (’74). He also played in the ALCS in ’72 and ’74.

Maxvill was signed by the Cardinals in 1960, and played 2 ½ seasons in the minors before making his major-league debut in June 1962. He alternated with incumbent starter Julio Gotay for a while, then became the primary shortstop in the season’s closing months.

Before the 1963 season, the Cardinals acquired veteran shortstop Dick Groat from the Pirates. Groat started 157 games in ’63, while Maxvill only managed 51 at-bats in 53 games as the backup. He started 5 games at short and 4 at 2nd base.

Dal returned to the minors for most of 1964, but was back in the majors for good to start the 1965 season. With Groat established at shortstop, Maxvill actually played more at 2nd base in ’65, but started very few games at either keystone position.

Good news for Maxvill in 1966! Groat was traded to the Phillies in the off-season, opening up a starting position. Dal was the Cardinals’ regular shortstop from April 1966 until the end of August 1972. He also won a Gold Glove in 1968.

Maxvill was traded to the Oakland Athletics at the end of August 1972, just in time to make their post-season roster. He had 8 at-bats in 5 games against the Tigers in the ALCS.

Dal began the 1973 season with the A’s, but was sold to the Pirates in July, then started 73 of the final 80 games for the Bucs at SS. The following April he was released, and picked up by the A’s a month later. He played 60 games in ’74 and 20 games in ’75 as the backup to Bert Campaneris.

After his playing career, he was a coach for the A’s, Cardinals, Mets, and Braves. He was also the Cardinals’ GM from 1985-1993.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Born on the Same Day - 2/25/1940

Another installment in my "Born on the Same Day" series, featuring players who were born on the same day (!) and year. 

This is post #14 in the series: Ron Santo and Danny Cater - both born on 2/25/1940.

Ron Santo was the Cubs' regular 3rd baseman from 1960 to 1973. Along the way, he finished 4th in ROY voting, was an All-Star in 9 of his final 11 seasons with the Cubs, won 4 Gold Gloves, led the NL in walks 4 times and triples once, topped 30 homers 4 times, and 100 RBI 4 times.

He played his final season (1974) for the White Sox, dividing his time between DH and backing up 2B and 3B.

Danny Cater began his career with the Phillies in 1964 as a part-time left fielder and pinch-hitter. He was a regular for the next 6 seasons with the White Sox (1965-66), Athletics (1966-69), and Yankees (1970). In 1971 Cater divided his time between 1B and 3B for the Yankees, backing up John Ellis and Jerry Kenney.

He moved on to the Red Sox for 3 more seasons, before wrapping up with the Cardinals in 1975. Cater's last significant playing time came in 1972, when he started 82 games at 1st base (essentially whenever Carl Yastrzemski moved out to left field). That role would be filled by youngster Cecil Cooper beginning in 1973.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Final Card: Jim Weaver

Here is the final card for Angels' pitcher Jim Weaver (#134). The Angels had a lot of young pitchers come up in 1967, but unlike Clyde Wright, Marty Pattin, Tom Burgmeier, and Rickey Clark (all ultimately with longer careers than Weaver), Topps managed to include Weaver in a card set prior to 1969. He shared an Angels' Rookies card in the 1968 set.

Weaver was signed by the Indians in 1958, and pitched in their minor-league system from 1958-66 (missing the '62 and '63 seasons while in military service).

In 1967 he was traded twice, first to the Astros in January (with catcher Doc Edwards and outfielder Jim Landis) for outfielder Lee Maye and catcher Ken Retzer. After 24 starts for Houston's AAA team, in August he was sent to the Angels for shortstop Hector Torres. Weaver made his major-league debut with the Angels in August 1967. He appeared in 13 games (2 starts).

Jim split the 1968 season between the Angels and their AAA team. He pitched in 14 games (all in relief), the last coming on June 29th. That was his last game in the bigs.

The back of his card indicates he was assigned to the minors in November 1968, where he would play the entire 1969 season. He also played for a double-A team in 1970 before retiring.