Sunday, June 3, 2018

#484 Pirates, #223 Danny Murtaugh & #467 Pitts. Coaches

In 1960: Hail to the Champs! This 1960 Pirates squad was the one that beat the Yankees in a remarkable seven game Series capped off by Bill Mazeroski's epic homer. I will never forget watching the end of that game after having rushed home from school. Rather than recount the remarkable events of that day I'll link to a 2010 story by ESPN's David Schoenfield. He runs theu the game inning-by-crazy-inning and makes a case for it being the best game ever.

The Bucs led the NL in batting average, OPS, runs, OBP, doubles and RBIs. They were second in slugging. On the mound they were at or near the top in most major categories and their fielding percentage tied for the league lead.

Dick Groat won the NL batting crown and Roberto Clemente was fourth. Bob Friend and Vern Law led the staff and Elroy Face was the stopper with 10 wins and 27 saves out of the pen.

The Card: This one is in nice shape. Is that Clemente sitting up from with the batboys?

Managers Card: Danny Murtaugh managed the Pirates for 15 seasons with a winning percentage of .540 including two pennants and two World Series titles. On this card he's wearing the batting helmet seen on so many of the Pirates' players cards of the era. I've read that it was something Branch Rickey insisted on.

Coaches Card: Mickey Vernon is the best known of the floating heads seen here. He's was a two-time AL batting title winner and was newly retired from active big league duty after a 20 year career. Frank Oceak was a long time major and minor league coach and manager. He was on Murtaugh's staff for both Pirates championship teams.  Bill Burwell was a pitcher for the Browns and Pirates in the 20s and was another career coach and managers at all baseball levels. San Narron had a few glimces of the majors with the Cardinals. He was the uncle of Jerry Narron and grandfather of Sam Narron, both big leaguers.

Friday, May 4, 2018

#163 Hector Lopez

Hector Lopez  New York Yankees

Career: He had a solid if unspectacular 12-year career for the A's and Yankees. After playing primarily as an infielder with Kansas City he became almost exclusively an outfielder in New York.

In 1960: Lopez was coming off his career year. He came over to the Yankees in late May of 1959. And while his '60 numbers were down in the power categories he was in the first of five seasons that saw him playing in the World Series.

WikiFacts: In the 1960 World Series against the Reds Lopez took over for Mickey Mantle when the Yankees star got hurt in Game Four and got the Game Five start. He had a huge day in that clincher getting five RBIs with a triple, homer and sac bunt.

The Card: It's well off-center obviously. But the Season's Highlight box makes any card better. That cartoon is deceiving. He had 69 RBIs with the Yankees in 1959 which trailed Mickey Mantle (75) and Elston Howard (73) and equaled Yogi Berra. He had 93 when you include the 24 he had with the A's.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

#3 Joe Adcock

Joe Adcock  Milwaukee Braves

Career: He played 17 seasons beginning in 1950 with the Reds and ending in 1966 with a few AL campaigns with the Angels. He played the bulk of his career with the Braves teams of the 50s including the two World Series clubs of '57/'58/ He got a ring outta that! His power caused folks to overlook his excellent glove work at first base. Finished with 335 homers.

In 1960: Another solid season. Adcock slashed 25/91/.298/.354 and made his only NL All Star team. He went 3 for 5 in the two ASGs played that year.

WikiFacts: On July 31, 1954, Adcock accomplished the rare feat of homering four times in a single game, against the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field. He also hit a double off the top of the wall to set a record for most total bases in a game (18) that stood for 48 years, until broken by Shawn Green in 2002. -WikiPedia

The Card: I'm always partial to the Braves' of this era if for no other reason than my 'crush' on their unis. I like this cards color combo and the portrait shot of Adcock near the cage. And of course the back is damn near perfect. Huzzah!!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

#305 Richie Ashburn

Richie Ashburn  Chicago Cubs

Career: Richie Ashburn was a five time All Star outfielder who won batting titles with the Phils in 1955 and 1958. In his 15 year career he led the NL in OBP four times, hits three times, walks four times, triples twice and putouts by an outfielder nine times. He was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veteran's Committee in 1995. He had 29 career homers, seven of those coming with the '62 expansion Mets in his final season.

12 of his seasons were with the Phils and he returned to Philadelphia as a broadcaster after his retirement as an active player.

In 1960: This was Ashburn's first season in Chicago after 12 with the Phils. He was acquired in a trade for John Buzhardt, Al Dark and Jim Woods. He led the NL in OBP and walks. His .291 average was a bounce-back after having dipped into the .230s in 1959.

WikiFacts: From Wikipedia...
After his playing career, Ashburn was hired by the Philadelphia Phillies as an analyst in 1963. Originally, Ashburn worked with Bill Campbell and Ford Frick Award winner Byrum Saam. When Campbell left the Phillies in 1970, he was replaced by Harry Kalas. Kalas and Ashburn would work together on Phillies broadcasts for twenty-seven years.
Ashburn, who was a boyhood friend of comedian Johnny Carson, became known for his homespun stories of his boyhood in Nebraska. He would lament the mistakes of the Phillies with an "Oh brother." Photographs of an aging Ashburn showed him with a jeff cap and a pipe. His rapport with Kalas was both legendary and genuine, Kalas referred to him as "His Whiteness."
The Card: Connie Mack Stadium is the backdrop for the picture in this one. Ashburn wears Phils gear without a cap. Topps painted the Cubs' "C" onto his cap in the secondary picture. card has a nice color combo but loses points for a capless player. Poor Richie.

Friday, May 26, 2017

#293 Gene Conley

Gene Conley  Philadelphia Phillies

Career: A native of Muskogee, Oklahoma Conley won 91 games over the course of 11 seasons with the Braves, Phils and Red Sox. His baseball career was highlighted by winning a ring with the '57 Braves. Paralleling his diamond work Conley played pro hoops with the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks.

In 1960: Coming off an All Star selection in '59 Conley's numbers went in the wrong direction in 1960. He slipped to 8-14 but a lot of that could be traced to the anemic Phils offense. They finished last in the NL in nearly every batting category.

WikiFacts: From Wikipedia....
He is best known for being one of only two people (the other being Otto Graham–1946 NBL and AAFC Championship, plus three more AAFC and three NFL championships) to win championships in two of the four major American sports, one with the Milwaukee Braves in the 1957 World Series and three Boston Celtics championships from 1959–61.
In the beginning of the 1952 season, Conley, along with fellow rookies George Crowe and Eddie Mathews, was invited to spring training with a chance of making the roster. Around that time, the United States Army was drafting for the Korean War. Many major and minor league players were selected to fight in the war, depleting team rosters. Conley was deferred because of his height (6'8'), which was above the Army maximum height for a soldier.
The Card: The main photo doesn't look retouched but the b/w one is obviously Conley in Milwaukee gear. The always fun Season's Highlights section gives plenty of evidence of his All Star 1959 season.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

#120 Duke Carmel

Duke Carmel St. Louis Cardinals

Career: New York City native Duke Carmel played in 124 big league games between 1959 and 1965 for the Cards, Mets and Yankees. He was also passed through the Dodgers and Indians organizations along the way. He showed lots of power in the minors but hit only four dingers in the bigs. The most interesting thing about Carmel is his transaction log...

June 15, 1960: Traded by the St. Louis Cardinals with Jim Donohue to the Los Angeles Dodgers for John Glenn.
September 19, 1960: Purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
May 16, 1961: Traded by the St. Louis Cardinals to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Joe Koppe.
Before 1962 Season: Sent from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the St. Louis Cardinals in an unknown transaction.
March, 1962: Purchased by the Cleveland Indians from the St. Louis Cardinals.
Before 1963 Season: Sent from the Cleveland Indians to the St. Louis Cardinals in an unknown transaction.
July 29, 1963: Traded by the St. Louis Cardinals to the New York Mets for Jacke Davis and cash.
November 30, 1964: Drafted by the New York Yankees from the New York Mets in the 1964 rule 5 draft.

So he went from the Dodgers to the Cardinals to the Dodgers to the Cardinals to the Indians to the Cardinals to the Mets and to the Yankees. The Cardinals bought him, sold him, traded him (3 times!) and acquired him (twice) in unknown transactions.  All righty then.

In 1960: He spent most of the season at the AAA level for St. Louis and LA.

WikiFact: From his Wikimedia page: With his name he might have been a natural for having a candy bar named after himself. But he probably would have had a better chance had he put up numbers in the majors like the .324 batting average, 29 homers and 121 RBIs he had in 1957 when he led the Billings Mustangs to the Pioneer League pennant, or the 35 home runs he hit for Buffalo in 1964.

The Card: I love these orange Rookie Team cards. The back of this one was plenty faded,

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

#478 Frank Torre

Frank Torre, Milwaukee Braves

Career: Frank Torre spent seven seasons in the majors with the Braves and Phils, primarily as a platoon first baseman. He was eight years older than brother Joe who made the Hall of Fame and still works for MLB. Frank was good with the glove and led the NL in several defensive categories in 1957 and 1958, his two most productive seasons. He hit .309 with six homers and 55 RBI in ;58 which showed he could handle a bat pretty well, too.

He spent two years with the Phils after the Braves sold his contract to them in December of 1961.

In 1960: This was his last season with Milwaukee and he spent most of it and all of 1961 back in the minors after his numbers dropped off the previous season.

WikiFacts: From his (highly entertaining) SABR bio:
After his playing career ended, Frank entered the sporting-goods business. Initially he and Joe operated a sporting-goods store. Frank then joined Adirondack Bats and became manager of the company’s professional division. Part of that job consisted of visiting all the major-league spring-training facilities in a trailer that served as a portable bat factory (Yes, the trailer was referred to as a “bat-mobile”) that provided custom-made bats to major leaguers. Inside the trailer were Adirondack craftsmen, as well as a special lathe and other equipment that produced a custom bat in 30 minutes that even included the player’s own signature.

The Card: That's Memorial Coliseum behind Torre. that background, the Braves classic uni and the color combo all add up to make this one of the nicer cards in the set.