Sunday, September 29, 2019

Ted Kubiak (#281)

Ted Kubiak was a utility infielder for 10 seasons (1967-76), mostly with the Athletics. He had a card in every set from 1968 to 1977.

I am most familiar with his 1968 card, which denoted his position as “INFIELD”. So when I saw this 1969 card naming him as a shortstop, I was all ready to rip Topps for promoting him to one position, until I checked into his record today (see chart below).

Kubiak was signed by the Kansas City Athletics in 1961 and made his major-league debut in April 1967. Early in his career he was mostly a fill-in at 2nd base and shortstop.

Why did the Topps airbrushers use BLACK on many of the Athletics' caps in 1968 and 1969? Was green not available?

In December 1969 he was traded to the Brewers for pitcher Diego Segui and shortstop Ray Oyler.

1970 was Ted’s only year as a full-season regular. He started 156 games, playing almost every game at shortstop until moving over to 2nd base in mid-June.

Kubiak also started 77 of the first 104 games in 1971. Beginning at 2nd base, he moved back over to shortstop in early June. By the end of July he was traded to the Cardinals in a 5-player deal that saw Jose Cardenal and Dick Schofield head to Milwaukee.

Ted finished up the season with St Louis but was traded to the Rangers in November for pitcher Joe Grzenda. By mid-season in 1972 he was heading back to Oakland. As he bounced from team-to-team, he never again saw the regular playing time he had in 1970 and early 1971.

His final move was in May 1975, dealt to the Padres for pitcher Sonny Siebert. Ted was primarily a 3rd baseman with San Diego, a position he had rarely played previously. He played every day for his first month with the Padres, then returned to a utility role until retiring following the 1976 season.

Except for the transition from 1968 season to 1969 card, Topps was pretty accurate with the positions on Kubiak’s cards:

Monday, September 23, 2019

Final Card: Jose Herrera

This is the only card for Expos' outfielder Jose Herrera (#378). He had a very brief career (essentially just a few dozen games in '68 and '69). If I wasn’t on a mission to feature all the "final cards" in the 1969 set I probably would have passed over him.

Herrera was signed by the Houston Colt .45s in 1964. After 5 seasons in the minors (he did play 5 games in 1967 and 27 games in Aug/Sept 1968 for the Astros), the Expos selected him in the expansion draft.

Jose did not make the fledgling Expos' squad at the start of the 1969 season, but did play 47 games with them over the 2nd half of the season. This included 30 starts in the outfield and some pinch-hitting appearances.

1970 was a bust for him. He got one at-bat on Opening Day, then spent the rest of the season in the minors. In mid-June he was traded to the Brewers for pitcher John O'Donoghue.

In May 1971 Milwaukee shipped him out to the Tigers (with pitcher John Gelnar) for pitcher Jim Hannan. Herrera finished out the '71 season with the Tigers' AAA Toledo Mud Hens.

He wrapped up his career playing in Mexico from 1972-75.

Although he only had one Topps card, I found this custom card today on Pinterest:

Friday, September 13, 2019

Bob Watson (#562)

This is Bob Watson’s rookie card. It’s his only card that includes “catcher” as a position. (The back tells us he is transitioning from a catcher to an outfielder.)

Watson was signed by the Astros in 1965, and played 2 seasons (1965-66) in class-A ball as a catcher/outfielder. In 1967 and 1968, he played first base and outfield for the Astros’ AA and AAA teams. It’s surprising to see now that his card describes him as a C-OF, since he did no catching in either 1967 or 1968. 

Watson played 1 game with the Astros in 1966 and 6 games in 1967, but didn’t get significant playing time with the Astros until playing 45 games from mid-May to the end of July 1968, mostly as the starting left fielder.

Then it was back to AA and AAA ball for the rest of 1968 and most of 1969, where he was primarily a catcher. He did get into a few games in April 1969, and again during a September call-up.

Bob made the team at the outset of the 1970 season, but didn’t get regular playing time until mid-June, when he took the regular 1st base job away from Joe Pepitone. Watson started about 2/3 of the remaining games at 1st base, with rookie John Mayberry starting the rest.

Watson was a regular for all of 1971, except for missing a few weeks in July. He started half the games in left field, and a few dozen more at 1st base.

With the acquisition of Lee May from the Reds, Watson was strictly the left fielder from 1972-74. After May's departure, Bob moved back to 1st base permanently beginning in 1975.

During his time with the Astros, Bob made two All-Star teams ('73, '75) and hit a career-high 22 home runs in 1977.

Watson's last start for the Astros was on May 25, 1979. A few weeks later he was traded to the Red Sox for 2 minor-league pitchers. He played the remainder of that season with Boston, and after being granted free agency at season's end, signed with the Yankees.

Bob played 2 seasons (1980-81) as the Yankees' 1st baseman, including a combined 17 games in the post-season. In April 1982 he was traded to the Braves for a minor-leaguer, and played his final 3 seasons as a backup 1st baseman for Atlanta.

After retiring, he was a hitting coach, and then the GM for the Astros and Yankees from 1993-97. He then worked in the commissioner’s office until 2010.