Monday, July 14, 2014

All-Star Cards

Here are the All-Star cards, those players selected as All-Stars in 1969 by The Sporting News. As with the 1968 and 1969 all-star cards, the players on the cards were not necessarily the starters in the game.

In the actual game, the NL had Steve Carlton and Cleon Jones starting at P and LF respectively. The AL lineup included Mel Stotlemyre, Sal Bando, and Frank Howard starting at P, 3B, and LF. Otherwise, the starters were those you see in the 2 large blocks of cards below. Reggie Jackson started out of position in center field.

The Sporting News selected a lefty and a righty in each league. Here are the lefthanders:

I thought it was odd that the AL roster only included 7 pitchers: Mel Stottlemyre, Denny McLain, Mickey Lolich, Sam McDowell, Dave McNally, John Odom, and Darold Knowles.

The NL brought 9 pitchers: Steve Carlton, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Phil Niekro, Bill Singer, Larry Dierker, and Grant Jackson (the Phillies' lone representative).

3 Orioles
2 Giants, Reds, Braves, Cubs, Tigers, Red Sox
1 Pirates, Mets, Twins, Athletics, Indians
0 Phillies, Cardinals, Astros, Dodgers, Yankees, Senators, White Sox, Angels


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Joe Torre (#190)

I posted Joe Torre's 1966 card previously, but a baseball lifer like Torre deserves better than the capless, lavender dreck that was the 1966 Braves (and Angels) cards. Here, Joe has a new team AND a new position.

Like his brother before him, Joe began his career with the Milwaukee Braves. Joe was the team's regular catcher for most of his time with the Braves, and was a 5-time all-star.

After the 1968 season, he was traded to the Cardinals for Orlando Cepeda. Torre played mostly 1st and 3rd base for St. Louis, as they had Tim McCarver (and later Ted Simmons) behind the plate. In 1971, Joe led the NL in hits (230), RBI (137), and batting average (.363) and won the MVP award. He also made another 4 all-star teams while with the Cards.

After the 1974 season he was trade to the Mets for pitchers Ray Sadecki and Tommy Moore. Joe played for the Mets for 2 1/2 seasons, then took over as the team's manager in June 1977.

Joe managed the Mets through the 1981 season, then managed his other 2 former teams (Braves from 1982 to 1984, Cardinals from 1990 to 1995).

His greatest success as a manager was with the Yankees. He managed there for 12 years (1996 to 2007), never finishing lower than 2nd place. During his tenure, the Yankees won the division 10 times, the AL pennant 6 times, and the World Series 3 times.

Torre managed the Dodgers from 2008 to 2010, and now works in the league office. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame (as a manager) in 2014.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Gil Hodges (#394)

Gil Hodges was the long-time slugging first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers. After his playing career, he managed the Senators and the Mets, including the Miracle Mets of 1969. Surprisingly, he is NOT in the Hall of Fame.

Hodges was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1943. He played only 1 game that season (the Dodgers’ final game), then lost 2 seasons while in military service. (He was an anti-aircraft gunner in the Pacific.) In 1946, he played his only season in the minors.

Gil joined the Dodgers in 1947, and was a backup first baseman and catcher that season. He began the 1948 season as the regular catcher, then on June 29th, he moved to first base (with rookie Roy Campanella taking over behind the plate) and the Dodgers had their 1st-sacker for the next decade plus. He was an 8-time all-star, and topped 40 homers twice.

After the 1961 season, the Mets selected Hodges from the Dodgers in the expansion draft. At age 38, Gil was a role player in New York. Hodges’ final game as a player was on May 5, 1963. Two weeks later he was traded to the Senators for outfielder Jimmy Piersall and retired to become Washington’s manager, replacing Mickey Vernon.

Hodges managed the Senators though the 1967 season (finishing 10th, 9th, 8th, 8th, and 6th in his 5 seasons there). In October 1967 he was traded to the Mets for pitcher Bill Denehy. (Does this make him the first manager traded TWICE for players? I know that Chuck Tanner was traded once for a player.)

Gil managed the Mets for 4 seasons, before his untimely death in 1972. Hodges had the good fortune of coming to the Mets at the start of the Tom Seaver-Jerry Koosman era, and guided the team to a World Series championship in 1969.

Hodges passed away following a heart attack suffered just after a round of golf with other Mets’ coaches during spring training 1972. He was 47.

Why is he not in the Hall of Fame?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Jim Qualls (#192)

Before researching Jim Qualls for this post, I assumed he was a 4th outfielder or possibly a platoon center fielder with the Cubs for a few seasons. What I found is that he played much less than that: a few months in 1969, and some cups of coffee in ’70 and ’72 for 2 other teams. If I hadn’t already scanned his card, I would have just moved on the the next guy. 

Jim Qualls was signed by the Cubs in 1964, and worked his way up the minor-league ladder for 5 seasons before making his major-league debut in April 1969. He made a few pinch-hitting appearances, then was sent down in mid-April.

He returned to the Cubs in June, and was the starting center fielder for most of July, taking over for rookie Don Young. By August, Young had regained the starting role, and Qualls was on the bench. He didn’t play at all after August 22nd.

The following spring he was traded to the Expos for infielder Garry Jestadt. Qualls spent most of the season in the minors, only getting 9 at-bats over 9 games with Montreal in April and May 1970.

In March 1971 he was traded to the Reds, but spent the entire season in the minors. Qualls’ final card is in the 1971 set, as a Cincinnati Red. I’m wondering why he got a card, since he only had 9 at-bats in the previous season.

In December the Reds traded him to the White Sox, and again, he saw limited action (11 games) in April and May 1972 before another trip to the minors.

Qualls wrapped up his career in Japan from 1972-73.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ike Brown (#152)

Here is Ike Brown’s rookie card. He also appeared in the 1971 to 1974 sets.

One thing that I learned about Ike a few years ago while researching somebody for these blogs (maybe Elston Howard or Ernie Banks) was that Ike Brown also played in the Negro Leagues. This surprised me, because although I had his 1972 card back in the day, I knew he wasn’t in the 1967 to 1969 Topps sets, so I assumed he would have been too young.

Brown is the last player from the Negro Leagues to have made it to the major leagues. To recap, in addition to the well-known alumni to have played in the majors in the 1960s (Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Elston Howard, Minnie Minoso), others were Junior Gilliam, George Altman, John Wyatt, Sam Bowens, Al Smith, and Ike Brown.

After Brown played for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1961, he was signed by the Detroit Tigers in 1962 and spent 7 ½ years in their farm system as a shortstop and third baseman, before making his major-league debut in June 1969.

Brown remained with the Tigers for the rest of the 1969 season, and all of 1970 to 1973. In ’69 and ’70, he was the team’s backup 2nd baseman (behind Dick McAuliffe). After 1970, he was primarily used as a pinch-hitter.

1974 was Brown’s last season in baseball. He played 2 games with the Tigers in early spring, then spent the rest of the season in the minors.

When he retired after 1974, only Aaron remained among active ex-Negro League players.

Brown passed away in May 2001 from cancer, at age 59.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Final Card: Paul Edmondson

Here is the only Topps baseball card for pitcher Paul Edmondson (#414). By the time this card was issued, Edmondson was already deceased, a victim of an automobile accident.

Paul Edmondson was signed by the White Sox in 1965 out of Cal State Northridge. He pitched in the low minors in 1965, then missed the 1966 season while in military service.

Paul returned to the Sox in 1967, pitching in the low minors, including the Florida Instructional League. In 1968, Paul was pitching in the FIL, but also in double-A and triple-A.

He began the 1969 in the minors, but was promoted to the White Sox in June, making his major-league debut against the Angels on June 20th. What a debut! He pitched a 2-hitter, winning 9-1. Edmondson pitched in 14 games during his rookie season, making 13 starts.

On Friday February 13, 1970, Edmondson was driving in the rain along the California coast near Santa Barbara, when his car crashed into oncoming traffic, killing him and his passenger. He was 27.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Pilots Team (#713)

Today we will take a closer look at the Seattle Pilots' team card, which I first posted as part of my Pilots Team Review on my 1969 blog back in January.

I got this card last Fall, the first baseball card I acquired in about 2 years (except for some 1964 Topps Giant cards). After accumulating all the 1970 Phillies cards sometime in the 1980s, I began collecting the full 1970 Topps set in 2010, and now need about 40 to complete the set. Like most of the remaining 40, this Pilots Team card is in the high-numbered last series.

The team only played in Seattle for the 1969 season. In the off-season, the team was put up for sale, which was not finalized until sometime in March. They went to spring training 1970 as the Pilots, and broke camp as the Milwaukee Brewers. For continuity, Topps showed all the players as members of the Seattle Pilots, even cards that went to press after the move.

The statistical leaders of the team were:

Don Mincher - Slugging 1st-sacker from the Angels, who was the Pilots' only all-star representative. He was the Pilots' first selection in the expansion draft.

Tommy Harper - Drafted from the Indians with their 2nd pick, this ex-Reds' corner outfielder split his 1969 season between 2B and 3B.

Tommy Davis - Selected from the White Sox with their 8th pick, but traded away in the closing weeks of the season.

Gene Brabender - He was acquired from the Orioles a few days before the start of the season, and topped most pitching categories.

I read my brother's copy of Ball Four during a cross-country trip in the summer of 1971.  Last year I found an updated edition, which I began reading but haven't picked up for several months.  Now that the Phillies' season is going down the chute, I may get back into that book so that I can find some baseball entertainment this summer.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Carlos May (#18)

I have already posted the center fielder for the 1969 Topps All-Rookie team, so I’m skipping ahead to the final player on the 1969 All-Rookie Team, Carlos May.

Topps failed to include the All-Rookie Team trophy on this card, just like they did in 1968 with Rick Monday, Dick Hughes, and Rich Nye.

Carlos is the younger brother of Reds’ first baseman Lee May (who was a member of the Topps 1967 All-Rookie Team). During his stay with the White Sox, Carlos wore #17, thereby advertising his birthday ("MAY 17").

May was a 1st-round draft pick by the White Sox in 1966. He played 3 seasons in the minors (none higher than class-A) before making his major-league debut in September 1968. Carlos started the final 14 games of the 1968 season, including the last 12 in left field, replacing veteran Tommy Davis.

In 1969, he started 76 of the first 85 games in left field, then moved over to right field, where he started 20 games in July and early August. May also made his first of 2 all-star appearances. After starting both games of the August 8th doubleheader, Carlos missed the rest of the season, having blown off part of his thumb in a mortar accident while in the Marine Reserves. Still, his 18 homers and 62 RBI propelled him to third place in the Rookie of the Year voting. He was also named the Rookie of the Year by The Sporting News.

May returned at the start of the 1970 season, starting 141 games in left field while batting .285 with 12 homers and 68 RBI in his first full season. He moved to first base for the final 7 games of the 1970 season, and remained there for most of 1971. In addition to his 123 starts at 1st base, he started 9 games in left field.

With the arrival of Dick Allen in 1972, May was back in left field, making 144 starts at his usual post. He also started 2 consecutive games at 1st base in late June, with Allen inexplicably moving over to 3rd base. Carlos primarily played left field for the next few years, then split his time between left and 1B in 1975, with Allen having been unloaded traded away to the Braves for backup catcher Jim Essian.

In May 1976, Carlos was traded to the Yankees for pitcher Ken Brett. He saw his only post-season action that year in the ALCS and World Series. Carlos also played for the Yankees for most of 1977, until moving on to the Angels for the final 2 weeks of the season.

May finished his career by playing in Japan from 1978 to 1981.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Lou Piniella (#321)

I’ve posted the Topps All-Rookie shortstop and 3rd baseman earlier, so let’s skip ahead to the left fielder, Lou Piniella.

Piniella was signed by the Indians in 1962, and played in the minors for 6 seasons (1962-68). After one season in the Indians’ chain, he was drafted by the Senators and spent all of ’63 and part of ’64 with them until he was traded to the Orioles for pitcher Buster Narum. Prior to the 1966 season, the O’s traded him back to the Tribe for catcher Cam Carreon. Lou appeared in a few games for the Orioles in ’64 and the Indians in ’68.

In October 1968 the Seattle Pilots selected him from Cleveland in the expansion draft. This is Piniella’s first solo card. He previously appeared on Rookie Stars cards in 1964 (Senators), 1968 (Indians), and 1969 (Pilots).

Piniella showed up at the Pilots spring training camp in 1969, but (according to Jim Bouton in “Ball Four”) he had a chip on his shoulder, and instead of keeping his yap shut like most rookies, he let it be known that if he was sent down to the minors he wouldn’t report, so the Pilots may as well just trade him.

Pilots’ management decided they didn’t need this young hothead telling them what to do, so on April 1st they traded him to the other AL expansion team, the Kansas City Royals, for pitcher John Gelnar and outfielder Steve Whitaker.

All Piniella did that season was win the AL Rookie-of-the-Year award! He started 122 games in left field, and hit .282 with 68 RBI and 11 homers.

Lou was the Royals’ regular left fielder through the end of the 1973 season. In 1972 he led the AL with 33 doubles, and made his only all-star appearance. After the ’73 season, he and pitcher Ken Wright were traded to the Yankees for veteran reliever Lindy McDaniel.

Piniella spent the remainder of his career (1974-84) with the Yankees. He was the regular left fielder in 1974, but lost that job to veteran Yankee Roy White for the next 3 seasons.

Lou reclaimed the left field job from 1978-80, then finished out his career as a role player (although he frequently DH-ed in 1982). His final game was on June 16th, 1984.

Piniella played in the post-season for the Yankees in '76, '77, '78, '80, and '81.

After his playing career, Lou managed the Yankees (1986-88), Reds (1990-92), Mariners (1993-2002), Devil Rays (2003-05), and Cubs (2007-10). His 1990 Reds won the World Series, while the Mariners won their division 3 times, and the Cubs twice under his watch.

Former Mets’ 1st baseman Dave Magadan is Lou’s cousin.