Tuesday, May 21, 2019

#90 Bobby Avila

Bobby Avila  Milwaukee Braves

Career: He played 11 seasons with the Indians and in their pennant-winning year of 1954 he won the AL batting title and finished third in the MVP voting. He struggled at the plate in the series against the Giants with just two hits in 15 at bats. He was a three-time All-Star. He played his final big league season with three clubs, the Orioles, Red Soxm and Braves. He finished with a .281 average for his career.

In 1960: Avila was farmed out in the spring of 1960 and wound up playing one final season, with the Mexico City Tigers. He helped that club with the pennant with a .333 average and he set a record for runs scored. After the season he began the next phase of his life by abecoming the president of Mexico's Vera Cruz League. 

Off The Charts: He's a member of Mexico's baseball Hall of Fame, has had two stadiums named for him, and served in Mexico's Congress and as the mayor of Vera Cruz.

The Card: This is a terrific card. Beautiful Braves classic uni with Connie Mack Stadium as the backdrop.

Monday, May 20, 2019

#89 Hal Brown

Hal Brown  Baltimore Orioles

Career: The bulk of his 14-year major league career came with the Orioles. He began in the Red Sox chain but came under the wing of Paul Richards in Seattle and he followed Richards to Chicago to make his debut. The knuckleballer was traded to Boston and then and later to the Orioles where he was reunited with Richards. He was primarily a starter but worked quite a bit out of the bullpen over the years. He finished his career with two games as a Yankee and a couple of seasons as a Colt .45 in Houston.

In 1960: He was the vet among the Baby Birds staff that featured four others aged 22 or under. He had 12 wins (a career high) and just five losses in 20 starts (30 appearances overall). His WHIP led the league although nobody would have known that stat had you asked around back then. He easily had the best K/W ratio on the staff fanning three hitters for each walk allowed. 

Off The Charts: From his SABR bio... In early 1943 he learned that he was about to be drafted, so he enlisted in the Army Air Force. He served as a gunner on bombers based in England. During one attack on Nazi submarine bases in France, his plane took heavy fire. “We got hit and didn’t make it back to England,” Brown said. “We had to bail out. They picked us up after a few hours in the (English) Channel."

The Card: Great color combo, old school logo, Yankee Stadium photo, highlights list and cartoon.  What a 1960card should be.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

#88 John Roseboro

John Roseboro   Los Angeles Dodgers

Career: He spent 11 seasons with the Dodgers before finishing his career with the Twins and Senators. He was a four-time All-Star and twice was awarded a Gold Glove. He played in four World Series with the Dodgers and won three rings. His outstanding career is sometimes overshadowed by the publicity he received stemming from the Juan Marichal 'bat incident' of 1965

In 1960: He was sidelined for chunks of June and July and played the fewest games of any season during his stretch as the Dodgers' #1 catcher. His .213 average was the lowest of his career for a full season.

Off The Charts: Wikipedia sez..."After several years of bitterness over their famous altercation, Roseboro and Marichal became friends in the 1980s. Roseboro personally appealed to the Baseball Writers' Association of America not to hold the incident against Marichal after he was passed over for election to the Hall of Fame in his first two years of eligibility. Marichal was elected in 1983, and thanked Roseboro during his induction speech..."

The Card: Memorial Coliseum lurks ghost-like in the background. Topps opted for the capless shot even though they must have had others to use showing Roseboro in Dodgers gear. It wasn't like he'd been recently traded. He shares a special card, Dodger Backstops, with Joe Pignatano in this set. I featured it in 2015.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

#87 John Romanowski

John Romonosky  Washington Senators

Career: Romonosky pitched in 32 major league games, debuting with two starts in 1953 for the Cardinals. After two years in the service, he re-emerged with the Senators in 1958 and pitched in parts of that season and the next. He had a career mark of 3-4 in just over 100 innings. He finished his career in the minors in 1961.

In 1960: He was released by the Senators in April. about the time this card was being found in packs. He spent 1960 in the Yankees organization at the AAA and then AA levels.

Off The Charts: There is (was?) a high school pitching award named for him given out by a Central Ohio baseball booster organization.

The Card: This is one of two Topps card he had, the other being his 'rookie' card in the 1959 set. Another Yankee Stadium photo, this time with some early arriving fans (or reporters) populating the background. A pleasant color combo on this one.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

#86 Dick Gernert

Dick Gernert  Chicago Cubs

Career: He played eight seasons for the Boston Red Sox as a 6’3″ first baseman-outfielder and then finished his 11-year career with short stints for the Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds, and Houston Colt .45s. He had a few seasons as the BoSox regular first baseman but more frequently he shared the job. He twice had 20 or more dingers and his .291 in 1956 was a career high. He had four pinch-hit appearances in the 1961 Series with Cincy.  He was a Colt .45s expansion draft pick but was released in May which spared him the misery of the Houston summer and mosquitos.

In 1960: He started the year as a brand new Cubbie but was traded to the Tigers with a month to go in the season. His power numbers were down with just one homer in 160+ trips to the plate.

Off The Charts: Per Wikipedia..."He was involved in the first interleague trade without waivers in baseball history on November 21, 1959, when Boston shipped him to the Cubs for first baseman Jim Marshall and pitcher Dave Hillman"

The Card: Pink is a plus, as is the Yankee Stadium facade. He got a Jack Davis cartoon and the 'last entry is a trade note' treatment. Overall, not a bad card.

Friday, April 19, 2019

#85 Frank Lary

Frank Lary  Detroit Tigers

Career: Frank Lary came to the Tigers after a couple years in the service and in their farm system. He was a double-digit winner from 1955 through 1961. He was a workhorse who led the league in starts and innings on several occasions and in wins with 21 in 1956. He was a two-time All-Star, a Gold Glove winner and he finished third in the Cy Young voting in his 23-win-season of 1961.  A leg injury he suffered on Opening Day in 1962 led to arm woes that killed his effectiveness and he finished his career scrambling for wins with the Mets, Braves and White Sox before his retirement. 

In 1960: He finished 15-15 but a lot of that was due to the Tigers poor season. The numbers show that he was much better than his W/L and he made the All-Star team.

Off The Charts: He was called 'The Yankee Killer' due to his dominance over the Bronx crew. I once asked my father if he hated Lary and another guy with a reputation of beating the Yanks, Charlie Maxwell. He said 'No, it just means the Yanks are good. Nobody cares who kills the Senators.' Point taken. BTW...he was 28-13 against New York. That is by far his best record against any opposing team. 

The Card: this dugout photo could be from almost any AL stadium. Odds are it's NY but that is by no means a given. Three of the highlights listed for 1959 come against the Yankees and the August 4 entry notes his mastery of them.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

#84 Hal Smith

Hal Smith  St. Louis Cardinals

Career: Not to be confused with the OTHER Hal Smith whose card (#48) was posted at the end of January. THIS Hal Smith played from 1956 through 1961 with the Cardinals. He was their starting catcher for much of that time. He was a two-time NL All-Star. His best season was 1959 when he had career-highs in homers and RBI. He got into a few games with the Pirates in 1965 when he was activated for a bit while serving as a coach for the club. He was a coach and scout for many years after his playing days. He is usually differentiated from his namesake by his middle initial, 'R'.

In 1960: Coming off an All-Star season he slid from 13/50/.270/.295 to 2/28/.228/.291 and lost some playing time to Carl Sawatski and several others.

Off The Charts: Even Baseball Reference has problems keeping it's Hal Smiths straight. On various pages, it names BOTH as the uncle of former Padre player Tim Flannery. I believe this Hal Smith is Flannery's relative.

The Card: It's not often you get two photos of a catcher in his gear on a card one of these sets. Having the catcher wearing his mask is even more of an oddity. I really like this one with Smith squatting in Seals Stadium.