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.


sg488 said...

Nice post,I noticed you only used the 1969 rookie Bob Robertson, Robles, and Davis cards. Alot of other players had 1969 rookie cards but you went with their 1970 card.

Mark Hoyle said...

A lot of talent in the NL that yr

Jim from Downingtown said...

I didn't have their 1970 cards. It's easier to scan full cards, then I don't have to worry about the overlapped rookie cards shifting when I close the scanner lid.

Jim from Downingtown said...

AL cards tomorrow!

Brett Alan said...

Indeed, a lot of talent--I count 17 Hall of Famers! I wonder how many will take the field in the NL tomorrow.

bbcardz said...

Seeing these 9-card groups of (mostly) 1969 cards reminds me of my 1969 Topps binder where I have my cards organized by teams. Awesomeness!

Jim from Downingtown said...

That's how my cards are organized too. I'll never understand why some folks organize their cards by number.