Thursday, March 28, 2019

50 Years Ago - 1969 Opening Day Lineups (AL)

Here are the opening day lineups from half a century ago. Teams are shown in order of their 1969 finish.

East Division:

After a 2-year hiatus (because of injuries to the pitching staff and Frank Robinson) the Orioles are once again kings of the American League.

The 1968 World Champs finished in second place the next year. By mid-season, Mickey Stanley was back in the outfield.

Opening Day was Tony C’s first game since getting beaned in August 1967.

The Senators had Ted Williams at the helm in 1969. At least he got Ed Brinkman to hit over .200.

The Yankees embarked on their first season without Mickey Mantle since 1950. This was Bobby Murcer’s rookie season. By mid-season, they settled on Jerry Kenney at 3B, with Murcer in the outfield.

Topps never made a baseball card for Tony Horton. This custom card is by John Hogan at the Cards That Never Were blog.

West Division:

Graig Nettles split the Twins’ left field job with Bob Allison. The next season Nettles was traded to the Indians and began a long career as a third baseman.

This was the Athletics’ second year in Oakland. Once again, the Topps photographers were caught napping.

After 2 years in Japan, Dick Stuart returned to the States to play for the Angels. After playing 22 games in the first 2 months, his career was over.

In their infinite wisdom, the American League put both expansion teams in the West division, guaranteeing that at least 1 of the 4 new teams would not finish last. The Royals' one bright spot was Lou Piniella, who won AL Rookie of the Year.


Jim Bouton’s favorite team! By mid-season, Tommy Harper moved to 3B, John Donaldson was at 2B, and rookie Wayne Comer was playing center field.  In Spring training the Pilots traded disgruntled rookie Lou Piniella to the other expansion team. (That’ll teach him to be an upstart! heh heh) All he did was win the ROY. Just one of many bad moves by the Pilots.

NL Opening Day lineups are here.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

50 Years Ago - 1969 Opening Day Lineups (NL)

Here are the opening day lineups from half a century ago. Teams are shown in order of their 1969 finish.

East Division:

The Mets finished in 10th place five times and 9th place twice in their first 7 seasons, then jumped to World Series champions in their 8th season. Looks like RF Ron Swoboda had the day off.

The Cubs were in first place until the Mets passed them on September 10th.  After 3 seasons with Adolfo Phillips in center field, rookie Don Young started just over half the games there in 1969.

The Pirates started rookies at the infield corners in 1969 (rookie Al Oliver was the primary 1st baseman), and 2nd-year man Fred Patek took over for veteran Gene Alley.

The Cards were NL Champs in '67 and '68.  They replaced 1st baseman Orlando Cepeda with Joe Torre and RF Roger Maris with Vada Pinson, but finished in 4th place.

The Phillies started three rookies in 1969 (Don Money, Ron Stone, and Larry Hisle).  Money and Hisle had All-Rookie seasons.  Stone?  Not so much. The best month of his career was March 1969.  (Yes, it was Spring Training.)

Surprise!  The expansion Expos finished in last place, 48 games back but only 11 games behind the Phillies. Naturally they were mostly a collection of castoffs, but acquired Rusty Staub in a pre-season trade.

 West Division:

The Braves traded long-time catcher Joe Torre to the Cardinals for 1st baseman Orlando Cepeda, and used rookie catcher Bob Didier for most of the season. Left fielder Rico Carty missed all of 1968 with tuberculosis, but regained his starting job in June 1969 and hit .342.

The Giants' lineup was overflowing with sluggers (Mays, McCovey, Bonds, Hart).

The classic pre-Big Red Machine lineup. Pete Rose and Bob Tolan switched positions in late-June.

In his final season, Don Drysdale made his first Opening Day start since 1965. Regulars Wes Parker (1B) and Willie Davis (CF) were not in the lineup on day 1.

Unlike their fellow 1962-expansion Mets, the 1969 expansion did not help the Astros, as they finished in their customary next-to-last position. This was their regular lineup, except that Jim Wynn started 148 games in center field, with Miller and Alou on the corners.

The Padres brought up the rear.  5-time Topps Rookie Stars selection Bill Davis FINALLY made it to a starting major-league position, but it was temporary.  After 2 weeks as the starting 1st baseman, rookie Nate Colbert took over and Davis rarely played again.

AL Opening Day lineups are here.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Jim French (#199)

A few weeks ago I started watching Netflix, and now every time I get on the computer I get detoured by one show or another, and my card blogging has suffered. With the new season less than a week away, I am making an effort to get back into it. 

Jim French was a backup catcher for the Senators from 1965-71 (but mostly from 1968-70).

French was signed by the Nats in 1963, and spent part of every season from 1963-71 in the minors except for ’69 and ’70. He made his major-league debut in September 1965, but his extended MLB playing time began in late-June 1968.

 (Topps even included his stats from 1956!  LOL)

Jim played 59 games over the second half of 1968, starting 47 of them when regular catcher (and 1967 All-Star) Paul Casanova was given some rest.

French was with the Senators for all of 1969-70, and started 56 and 52 games those seasons as Casanova’s backup.

Jim started 13 games over the first month of 1971, but was sent down to the minors by late-May. Rookie Dick Billings eventually took the starting catcher’s job from Casanova by mid-season, so French was the odd man out.

He played the remainder of that year in AAA for the Nats and Braves, and was released during the last week of September.

French became an attorney after his playing days.