Saturday, December 26, 2015

#165 Jack Sanford

Jack Sanford  San Francisco Giants

Career: I cribbed most of this from my post of his 1959 Topps card:

If the term 'bad ass' had been popular back when pitcher Jack Sanford was active, he'd have been called one. He threw hard, didn't always know (or care) where the ball was going, and once was suspended for 10 games for refusing to give up the baseball when his manager came out to take him out of a game. That's bad ass.

Sanford tried out at a Red Sox camp in 1948 after high school but they thought he was too small and he wasn't signed. A Phillies scout had seen his performance and offered him a contract and he pitched until 1954 in their chain. His minor league career was marked by his inability to control either his fastball or his temper. He spent a year in the military and in 1957, his first full season in the bigs, he won 19, lost only 8 and posted a 3.08 ERA to earn NL Rookie of the Year honors. At this point he was 27 years old, not exactly a kid making his major league debut.

He was hit with the sophomore jinx in 1958 and his numbers slipped. The Phils traded him to the Giants for Valmy Thomas and Ruben Gomez in a move they regretted soon enough. Sanford rebounded and pitched very well in San Francisco for five seasons. His best year was 1962 when he won 24 games and finished second in the Cy Young voting. 16 of those 24 wins came consecutively. In 1963 the workhorse started a league high 42 games. (It's a different game today, Phil Niekro was the last pitcher to start that many, taking the mound 44 times in 1979.)

Sanford started three games in the 1962 Series for the Giants. He went 1-2 against the potent Yankee squad. He pitched very well in the series and in Game 7 he started and allowed only one run. Sadly for the Giants his club was shutout by Ralph Terry in the deciding game. Each of his Series starts, in fact, came against Terry.

He remained in the majors with the Giants, Angels and A's before retiring after the 1967 season and left with 137 career wins. Following that he coached for a couple of seasons in Cleveland and worked as a country club director.

Sanford died in 2000 of brain cancer. A well written blog post reminisces about his career.

In 1960: His ERA was up half a run from 1959 and he went 12-14 with a 1.3 WHIP. Just as it seemed that he was overcoming his control problems he lead the league with 15 wild pitches. He never again even approached that number. On the plus side he gave up the fewest homers per nine innings in the league.

WikiFacts: From his NY Times obit..."In 1962, Sanford won 16 straight starts from mid-June to mid-September en route to a 24-7 record for a Giants team that won the pennant in a three-game playoff against the Dodgers.

Only Rube Marquard, who won 19 straight for the New York Giants in 1912, and Roy Face, who won 17 straight for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1959, have won more consecutive games in a single year during the modern era. Six pitchers have matched Sanford's 16-game streak."

From his SABR bio...."His fierce temper had not quieted. On the days he was scheduled to pitch, even his wife and four children knew better than to speak to him. After he arrived at the ballpark, he paced the clubhouse, scowling and silent, until it was time to warm up. When he disagreed with an umpire, he stomped around the mound, waving his arms and talking to himself. Catcher Hobie Landrith said, “I don’t think he saw the catcher, batter and umpire. I don’t think he saw anything. When he was out there he was one bundle of nerves that couldn’t wait to get the ball and throw it again. He never wanted the catcher even approaching him. ‘Give me the ball. Give me the ball! GIVE ME THE BALL!'"

The Card: Flat out one of the best in the set. Great color combo and Sanford even looks like a tough guy. I love the old 'windbreaker under the jersey' look. You never see that these days. My best guess is that the pic was taken in the L.A.Coliseum.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

#194 Bobby Gene Smith

Bobby Gene Smith  Philadelphia Phillies

Career: Seven seasons in the majors with five different clubs. He had two stints with the Cardinals and was mainly a back-up and pinch hitter throughout his career. He's one of the Original '62 Mets having been chosen by them off the Phils roster in the expansion draft after the 1961 season. He was with them for less than a month though as he was traded to the Cubs at the end of April that year. He was traded to the Cards (a return to St. Louis, his original team) after six weeks with the Cubs.

In 1960: He had his busiest and best year. He appeared in 96 games for the Phils and got 217 at bats. He had career highs in nearly every batting stat category. He hit .286 with 27 RBI.

WikiFacts: The Mets-centric Centerfieldmaz blog featured Smith earlier this year: "He would hit .300 twice in the minors making the Cardinals as a reserve outfielder for three seasons (1957-1959). He hit a HR in first career game but didn’t hit too many more as the season went on. 

He was labeled the ultimate six o’clock hitter by teammate Bill White, meaning he would hit HRs in batting practice but rarely in the real game."

The Card: Looks like Topps used the same pic for the main photo and the 'action' shot. It was the same one used on his '59 card while pictured with St. Louis. I'm guessing it's the Polo Grounds. Here is his '59 card:

Keith Olbermann, on again off again sports/political commentator and noted collector has a few interesting facts about this card. He notes in this blog post that the card was 'mocked up' as #66 in the set but was issued as #194.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

#81 Russ Snyder

Russ Snyder  Kansas City Athletics

Career: Snyder was an outfielder in the Yankees' chain for six seasons during the Fifties. He hit in the .280s for the most part which wasn't going to be good enough to squeeze himself onto the loaded Yanks' roster. He was dealt to Kansas City in 1958 and a year later debuted with the A's. He finished third in the '59 Rookie of the Year balloting before slumping in 1960 and being shipped to Baltimore. He spent seven years with the Orioles (the bulk of his career) and was a valuable starter and fourth outfielder for most of that time. He hit .306, contributed with his glove and won a ring with the O's in 1966.
He finished his career in 1970 after stops with the White Sox, Indians and Brewers. He retired to his native Nebraska and still lives there.

In 1960: He suffered from the dreaded 'sophomore jinx' and saw his average fall fifty points from his .313 mark as a rookie. With sixty more at bats he couldn't push the needle much higher (one more homer, five more RBI) and he was off to the Orioles after the season.

WikiFacts: Baltimore Sun interview in 2013: A slap-hitting, sharp-fielding outfielder, Snyder batted .306 for the World Series champion Orioles that year. He led the American League in hitting (.347) at the All-Star break.

His glove served the team down the stretch. On Sept. 22, in a victory over Kansas City, Snyder's diving catch of a line drive finished off the Athletics and clinched the Orioles' first pennant. And in the World Series opener in Los Angeles — a 5-2 victory — he scored the game's first run, singled in another and saved two Dodgers' runs in the second inning with a dramatic lunging catch of John Roseboro's sinking liner.

Forty-seven years later, Snyder recalled his desperation in running down that shot in center field.

"When the ball was hit, I just took off," he said from his home in Nelson, Neb. "The closer I got, the more I thought I could catch it. I dove and … well, that really was one of the turning points of the Series."

Tony L. recently profiled Snyder over on his 'Off Hiatus Baseball Cards' blog. Check it out.

The Card: There are more than a few cards with pink elements scattered through the 1960 set. And they are among my favorites. Add in the cream cardboard and highlights back and it's a 'keeper'. That appears to be Yankee Stadium for those keeping score

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

#538 Frank Barnes

Frank Barnes  Chicago White Sox

Career: Barnes began his pro career at the age of 18 with the Indianapolis Clowns. Two decades later he retired after a stretch in the Mexican League at the age of 40. Along the way he had a few looks at the bigs with the Cardinals. He was 1-3 in 15 major league games across 1957, '58 and '60. In 1958 he was used as a pinch-runner for Stan Musial following "the Man"'s 3,000th career base hit.

Baseball took him from Charleston to Seattle, from Toronto to Reynosa. All told with including his minor league, Negro league and Mexican League numbers he likely has over 200 wins in his career.

In 1960: He began the year in the minors but was called up in late April to St. Louis pitching in four scattered games. The last of those was a May 14 start in Wrigley Field in which he took the loss. The back of this card notes a May 19 option date on which Barnes was sent to Toronto. I don't think that is entirely accurate. Baseball Reference lists that date as the one on which he was purchased by the White Sox. Whatever the case actually is he never made it back to the majors after those early appearances in 1960 for the Cards.

WikiFacts: Lots of info on Barnes from various websites:

From Cardinals blog RetroSimba:
On March 9, 1958, the Cardinals started Barnes against Yankees ace Whitey Ford in the second exhibition game of the spring. Barnes pitched well, yielding a run in three innings.
In his first 15 spring training exhibition innings, Barnes gave up a total of two runs, prompting The Sporting News to describe his performance as “dazzling pitching.” Impressed, the Cardinals put Barnes on their Opening Day roster. For Barnes, two highlights of his stint with the 1958 Cardinals occurred in May. Musial delivered his 3,000th career hit, a RBI-double to left-center off the Cubs’ Moe Drabowsky, on May 13 at Chicago.
Hutchinson lifted Musial for a pinch-runner, choosing Barnes for the honor. Barnes raced home from second on a single to left by Don Blasingame, tying the score at 3-3 in a game the Cardinals would win, 5-3.
Five days later, on May 18, Barnes earned his only big-league win.
In the opener of a doubleheader against the Dodgers at St. Louis, Barnes, in relief of Mabe, pitched six innings and held the Dodgers to one run (a Johnny Roseboro home run) and four hits. The losing pitcher was future Hall of Famer Don Drysdale, who relieved starter Fred Kipp in the second and gave up two runs and five hits in four innings. Billy Muffett relieved Barnes in the ninth and earned the save in a 6-5 Cardinals victory.

From the Yes Network blog:
On July 19,1950, Pitcher Frank Barnes and OF Elston Howard were purchased by the New York Yankees from Kansas City Monarchs (Negro American League)). Both players were sent to the Yankees minor league team at Muskegon (Central League). Frank went 8-4 with 2.23 ERA in 15 games. In 1951, Frank returned to Muskegon, where he posted a 15-6 record in 15 games with a 2.23 ERA. He was promoted to AA San Francisco Seals (PCL). He appeared in only 2 games for the Seals, while posting a 0-0 record.
In August of 1951, Frank was sent from the  New York Yankees to the St. Louis Browns in an unknown transaction. Pitcher Frank Barnes and several other black Yankees minor league players (Vic Power, Ruben Gomez, Artie Wilson and others) would be traded away during the 1951-1954 seasons, once Yankees GM George Weiss had decided that Elston Howard would be the 1st black Yankees MLB player.

The Card: The original lot of 1960s I bought on eBay that got this collection off and running contained 200 cards or so. Most were in very collectible condition and most were from the middle couple of series. This Barnes is an exception. It's from the high number 7th Series and it's very much in need of an upgrade. This is his only card btw.

And I think I really will upgrade it because I like this one a lot. Neat picture of Barnes and it's the rare Topps card of the era that shows Sportsman's Park (Busch I). I found the original shot which Topps retouched to show Barnes in a Sox cap. Images below. And looking at the card again I just have the impression that the 'action' black-and-white shot is on Barnes in a Negro League uni. It's just got that 'feel'.

Here is the Barnes pic used on the card and a bonus shots from his days in the Negro Leagues and in the Yankee chain at Muskegon:

Monday, December 21, 2015

#45 Roy McMillan

Roy McMillan  Cincinnati Reds

Career: He spent 16 seasons in the National League including the entire decade of the 50s with the Reds, He finished with the Braves and Mets and his numbers, never spectacular, at least held up to nearly the end of his career. He had a lifetime average of .242 and ten times finished at or near the top of the league in fielding. He won three Gold Gloves and was twice an All Star. His best full season was 1957 when he had career highs in average, OBP and slugging.

After his playing days he was a coach and in 1975 served as manager of the Mets following the dismissal of Yogi Berra. He also managed and coached in the minors for several organizations.

In 1960: This was to be his final season in Cincy before being dealt to the Braves for Joey Jay and Juan Pizzaro. He was coming of a '59 season cut short by a broken collarbone hitting .236 and had the first of two double digit home run totals of his career (he hit 10).

WikiFacts: From his Cincinnati Reds' Hall of Fame entryRoy McMillan, the 5 foot, 11 inch, 164 pound Cincinnati Reds shortstop who's highest season batting average was .272, graced the cover of the September 9, 1957 Sports Illustrated, an honor usually reserved for athletes with names like Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. It was not a fluke. McMillan, in his ten years with the Reds (1951-1960), had earned the reputation of being the best defensive shortstop in the Major Leagues and the title "Mr. Shortstop." McMillan considered the SI cover "one of the top moments in his career."

Hall of Fame member, Pie Traynor said, "McMillan makes his own bounces, He's the only present-day shortstop who can do that..he can take the ball on the half hop all the time, a very tough play." Leo Durocher hailed Roy as " the best defensive shortstop in the game today." Manager Birdie Tebbets declared, " Roy McMillan is the finest defensive shortstop I've seen in the last 20 years. He's a good run-batted-in man and his hitting is continually improving."

The Card: Nice to get back to cream and gold backs and a card with bulleted highlights. Nice color combo on the front as well. McMillan poses without his glasses (that's rare) in either Wrigley Field (likely) or Seals Stadium in San Francisco (less likely).

Sunday, December 20, 2015

#366 Dallas Green

Dallas Green  Philadelphia Phillies

Career: Best known as a manager and front office guy but Green went 20-22 in 185 games as a pitcher. He pitched most of them with the Phils as a spot starter and reliever between 1960 and 1964. He spent the final three seasons of his active career shuttling back and forth between the Phils, their minor league system, the Nats, the Mets and back to the Phils. He won a World Series ring as manager of the Phils in 1980.

In 1960: He began the year in the minors but was recalled in June (see cardback below). He went 3-6 with a 4.06 ERA but his 1.32 WHIP was the best of any on his seasons with the Phils. This was the only year of his career that he had fewer hits allowed than innings pitched.

From Green's BR Bullpen page: "...Green became the assistant farm director for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1970 to 1972. He was the director of player development from 1973 to 1974 and Scouting Director from 1975 to 1979.

Green went on to later manage the Phillies to the World Series championship in 1980. He became General Manager of the Chicago Cubs from October 1981 to 1987. Green also managed the New York Yankees and New York Mets. Green spent the 2000s as a senior advisor to the GM of the Phillies.

From his Wikipedia entry: As a manager, Green was known for his gruff manner. "I'm a screamer, a yeller and a cusser. I never hold back", he said. He was notorious for his use of profanity.

An example of the way that Green had of speaking to the press about ballplayers was his comment about Scott Rolen in 2001: "Scotty's satisfied with being a so-so player. I think he can be greater, but his personality won't let him." Rolen would be elected to the All-Star team seven times and win eight Gold Glove Awards.

From an interview posted on following the publication of Green's book in 2013: There isn't much the 78-year-old, now a senior advisor for the Phillies, hasn't done in the game. He's been a player and a coach. He's been a scout, farm director, general manager and team president. He managed the Phillies, Mets and Yankees, bringing the first World Series championship to Philadelphia in 1980. He did it all while routinely telling the truth as he saw it, even if others didn't always appreciate his blunt approach.

But what sets his book, written with Alan Maimon, apart are the few pages at the end when Green recounts how a national tragedy struck him in a profoundly personal way. When a gunman in Tucson, Ariz., set out to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in January 2011, six others were killed. One of them was a 9-year-old girl named Christina-Taylor Green, Dallas' granddaughter.

While admitting that he'll never fully get over the loss, Green talks about this wrenching experience with the same unflinching honesty with which he discusses other chapters of his life. He doesn't hide the fact that hunting is one of his favorite pastimes, but he believes there should be a limit on the sorts of weapons individuals can own. He openly admits that he's angry that the shooter was ruled mentally incompetent, thus escaping the death penalty. He speaks movingly about trying to get past his understandable trauma to celebrate Christina-Taylor's life.

"I'm supposed to be a tough sucker, but I'm not very tough when it comes to this," he said.

The Card: This card is a little different than most of the others in the '60 set. It has the look of a retouched photo. And sure enough I found the original picture. Looks like Topps colorized it and perhaps enhanced or added the clouds in the background.

And it looks like Topps added a last minute notation to the back following Green's demotion to the minors. It's very hard to read on the card and even harder in the scan.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

#121 Camilo Carreon Sport Magazine Rookie Star

Camilo Carreon  Chicago White Sox

Career: After a solid minor league run Carreon made the Sox club in 1961 as their reserve catcher. He was the nominal starter in 1962, playing ahead of Sherm Lollar that year and J. C. Martin the next. He was a reserve in '63 and then was shipped off to Cleveland in a three team deal (K.C. was the thrid party) that saw name players Rocky Colivito, Tommy John and Tommy Agee switching clubs. He saw his last major league action during a brief stint with the '66 Orioles. Following more minor league play he did some coaching in Arizona and groomed his son Mark for a big league career.

His career numbers show a .264 average and 14 homers in 1100 plate appearances.

In 1960: Despite the Topps 'back of the card' hype Carreon wasn't quite ready for the bigs in 1960. He spent the year with San Diego, the Sox' AAA club and got a September call-up. He appeared in eight games for Chicago.

WikiFacts: From his SABR bio.....
Camilo Carreon's devotion to his children helped turn out a handful of adults that any parent would be proud of and who also revered their father for his guidance. His involvement with his friends and the baseball community in Tucson evoked many similar feelings. After a battle with cancer, Carreon died on September 2, 1987, at the age of 50. Six days later Mark made his debut in the major leagues as a September call-up of the Mets. On that day he pinch-hit for Sid Fernandez in the third inning and hit into a fielder’s choice. Memorial services for Cam were well-attended both in Tucson and in Colton [California, his hometown], where he is buried. Later, a memorial was dedicated in his honor at the El Rio Golf Course in Tucson, where he spent many afternoons with his closest friends. In 2006, Carreon was posthumously elected to the Colton Hall of Fame, the first Hispanic so honored. His family was present for the induction.

The Card: A point penalty for the rather washed out colors and off-centeredness of this one. Big bonus points for the nostalgic value these orange-y rookie star cards bring me. I remember how cool I thought they were as a kid. I wonder if the Sport Magazine editors really wrote the card back blurbs?

The cartoon references Carreon's days as a schoolboy hoops star. It doesn't look like a Jack Davis cartoon but Davis did one for Carreon's '62 card and it too was a basketball piece. I found it in the archives of an auction house. Boy would I love an original Jack Davis.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

#509 Tommy Davis

Tommy Davis   Los Angeles Dodgers

Career: 18 seasons...ten different teams. That's the resume of a 'bat for hire'. Davis played in Los Angeles for just under half his career and had his best seasons there. He was a two time All Star and three times he finished in the top ten in MVP balloting. He won back-to-back hitting titles with the Dodgers in 1962/63 and led the NL in hits and RBI in 1962. Although he was briefly on the Dodgers in 1959 he was not involved in their World series win. He won his ring with them in 1963 batting .400 in the sweep of the Yankees.

In 1960: After a one at-bat debut in 1959 Davis stuck with the Dodgers in 1960 and hit .276 in 110 games.

WikiFacts: From a bloggers interview with Davis: next question was, “Did you sign with the Dodgers when they were still in Brooklyn?” And just like that, the subject of this article became Tommy Davis.
“Yes,” Davis said. “I’m from Brooklyn. I was signed in ‘56. I was going to go to the Yankees because they gave me a lot of attention. They let me work out with them five or six times while I was in high school. That was overwhelming–Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, and Whitey Ford were there–that’s a lot for a 17-year-old.
“Al Campanis was the general manager of the Dodgers and he came over and let my family know that the Dodgers were interested in me. And then he found out that I was going to sign with the Yankees on a Tuesday night and he had Jackie Robinson call me the Sunday before that Tuesday. And I said, ‘Mom, Mom, that was Jackie Robinson on the phone!’ I signed Tuesday afternoon with the Dodgers.”
The Card: I 'cheaped out' on this card. It proved to be difficult to find in decent shape at a price I was willing to pay. It's a high number and it's Davis' rookie card so I knew it would cost a bit more than most of the rest of the cards but I wasn't expecting it to be so difficult. But the card itself is pretty nice. The color combo works for a Dodger and while it's a portrait it's not another close-up. Plus, you have to like the cartoon.

Friday, December 11, 2015

#505 Ted Kluszewski

Ted Kluszewski  Chicago White Sox

Career: Klu was a star slugger in Cincinnati for a decade before finishing up his career with the Pirates, He was known for his 'guns' and he wore the sleeveless Reds' jerseys with torn undershirts that showed them off. White Sox and Angels as his career wound down. He was a four time NL All Star and the NL MVP runner-up in 1954 as he led the league with 54 homers and 141 RBI. He hit three homers in the 1959 World Series. He was pretty nifty in the field as well. He led the NL in fielding % for five consecutive years.

Kluszewski remained in the game after his playing days. He was the Reds' batting coach under Sparky Anderson and later served as the franchise's minor league hitting instructor.

In 1960: He was fighting the back problems that plagued his last years in the bigs but he was still able to put up a .293 average with a .364 OBP as a part time starter for the Sox.

WikiFacts: From his NY Times obit:
Theodore Bernard Kluszewksi was born in Argo, Ill., on Sept. 10, 1924. The Reds discovered Kluszewski at Indiana University, where he played football and baseball. The Reds held spring training at the university from 1943 to 1945.
Kluszewski drew the Reds' attention because he was hitting line drives that broke through a wooden outfield fence. He signed for a $15,000 bonus in 1946 and was assigned to the Columbia team in the Sally League.
The Card: Another portrait shot but the colors are bright and I like the combo and th Flying Sox' logo. Damn, I wish every card had been printed on the cream colored cardboard.

Bonus pics of Big Klu:

Thursday, December 10, 2015

#526 Paul Giel

Paul Giel  Pittsburgh Pirates

Career: Paul Giel was a 'bonus baby' signee of the Giants after college and spent two years with the big club as per the rules at that time. Then after a two year military stint he returned to the Giants before being dealt to the Pirates in 1959. He pitched for the Twins and A's as well and retired after the 1961 season. His career record was 11-9 in 102 appearances, 11 of them starts.

In 1960: Giel pitched in 16 games for the Pirates, four per month thru July, all in relief. His ERA was over 5 and he had no decisions. He spent the rest of the season at Salt Lake City, the Pirates' AAA farm club.

WikiFacts: From his BR Bullpen Page:
 "A better football player than a pitcher, halfback Paul Giel was runner-up to Johnny Lattner for the 1953 Heisman Trophy. He was a two-time All-American at the University of Minnesota and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame."

And from his New York Times obit:
Giel signed with the Giants for a $60,000 bonus, their highest ever at the time. He had a strong fastball, a good slider and an ordinary curveball and needed minor league seasoning, but the rules at the time required such so-called bonus babies to spend at least their first two years in the major leagues.
He had mixed feelings about that, telling The Daily Mirror: ''I don't only want to sit around, just hoping. I want to play. I want to belong.''
He seldom played -- Giel appeared in 30 games in his first two seasons -- but he was excited anyway. A month after his major league career began, he told Arthur Daley, The New York Times columnist: ''This is wonderful. Every game's a Rose Bowl game. I still can't believe that Willie Mays is real. He just has to be a figment of someone's imagination.''
The Card: My guess is that Giel is wearing airbrushed Giants gear in both photos. Rather ordinary card with the highlight being the cartoon which references his 'former life' as a big time college football player.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

#522 Ken Hunt

Ken Hunt  New York Yankees

Career: Ken Hunt spent seven seasons fighting his way up the Yankee chain and got to play with the big club in '59 and '60 before being selected by the Angels in the expansion draft. He was a full time outfielder in L.A. in 1961 and had a pretty good year with 25 homers and 84 RBI. He played in the majors through 1964 with the Angels and Senators. After that '61 season he never again was a regular starter. A serious shoulder injury and his below average fielding abilities contributed to that fact.

In 1960: He began the year with the Yanks and saw more action in September but the bulk of his time was at AAA Richmond where he hit .272 with 23 homers. It was his work there that likely caught the Angels' eye and prompted his being taken in the expansion draft.

WikiFacts: From his BR Bullpen page:
Ken Hunt was the stepfather of Butch Patrick, who played Eddie Munster on the classic 1960s sitcom The Munsters. He was a close friend of Roger Maris and the two are buried next to each other at Holy Cross Trinity Cemetery in North Dakota.
Hunt had a small part in one Munsters episode, "Herman the Rookie" (1965), along with Leo Durocher and former professional football player Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch.

The Card: High number card that came with a 'Yankee surcharge' of an extra buck or so despite the soft corners. Pretty routine stuff here....but the color scheme is one of my favorites. Note the last line of the write-up which references his being farmed out in May of the 1960 season.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

#167 Valmy Thomas

Valmy Thomas  Philadelphia Phillies

Career: Culled from my post on his '59 card: Thomas played in Canada and across the Caribbean between the late 40's and 1951 when he played for the Pirates minor league club north of the border. A pay cut prompted him to 'retire' and he starred in the Dominican Republic for several seasons. SABR has a cool story of his years there online.

He emerged as a Giants farmhand in 1956 after a year back in Canada for the Pirate chain. He debuted in 1957 for the Giants in New York. He travel to the West Coast when the Giants moved and played for the Phillies, Orioles and Indians in the three subsequent years. By doing do he became one of two players to play in five cities in five seasons. Dave Rader being the other*.

In 1960: Valmy played for the Orioles in 1960 after being purchased from the Phils' organization in May. He got into seven games before being sent to the minors and was back up for a September look. In all he had a hit in 16 at bats.

WikiFacts: Again, from my post on his 1959 card:
After his playing days he was a successful businessman and public servant in his native Virgin Islands. He passed away in 2010 and was honored by the Congressional Delegate from his homeland. Here is another article which highlights his life and career.
One odd note.... Thomas was shot and nearly killed by another ballplayer in a dispute over a woman in 1962. The link goes to a Sarasota Herald story that's a real eye opener, in several ways.
The Card: I wish I had been able to see a game at Connie Mack Stadium. It looks so colorful. I never talk much about 'poses' but Thomas is in that fake 'swing follow through' pose that you see on a bunch of vintage cards. Who looks like that at the plate? It just looks awkward. But besides all that it's worth noting that he got a cool cartoon while not having enough good things happening in 1959 to merit a 'season's highlights' back.

If you count the abundance of red on this card Valmy has a six color scheme, green, yellow, white, black and red.

 *=Tip of the cap to reader Paul for pointing that out to me on the '59 blog.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

#563 Mickey Mantle Sport Magazine All Star

Mickey Mantle, Sport Magazine '60 All Star Selection

As an All Star: The Mick played in 16 ASGs but hit only .233 going 10 for 45 with 17 whiffs. His brightest ASG moment came in the top of the first in the '55 game in Milwaukee when he smacked a three run homer in the top of the first. That staked Billy Pierce and the AL to a lead that Whitey Ford would blow in the 7th and 8th. The NL won 6-5 on Stan Musial's lead-off dinger in the bottom of the 12th.. His other AGS homer came the next year in Washington when he followed Ted Williams' homer off Warren Spahn with one of his own.

In the 1960 ASGs: He started in center in both games that year. In Kansas City he walked twice than gave way to Al Kaline. In Yankee Stadium a couple of days later he singled in four trips to the plate.

The Card: This one came to me in a screw-down holder and it looked great if you can forgive the off centeredness. Scanning reveals a few flaws. Both the bottom and the top edges are rough and the corners are softer than they appeared in the case. Still its a pretty nice card for the price I paid.

The All Star subset is growing on me. It'll never replace the '58 as my favorite but it has a pretty cool design.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

#452 Ray Webster

Ray Webster  Boston Red Sox

Career: He played in forty games for the Indians spelling Billy Martin in 1959 and then was dealt to the Red Sox before the 1960 season. He spent about eight seasons in the minors bracketing his brief majors league days. He hit .195 over 77 big league at bats and entered the insurance business in California after his baseball career.

In 1960: Webster saw action very sparingly in the first six weeks of the season getting five at bats over seven games. By mid-May he was back in the minors playing for Montreal and Indianapolis, the AAA affiliates of the Dodgers and Phils respectively.

WikiFacts: From his BR Bullpen page: "Ray recalled his two biggest career highlights. "My first big league hit was a home run off Billy Loes of the Orioles as a pinch hitter for Billy Martin. My other greatest thrill was playing on the same field with Ted Williams in Boston."

The Card: Looks more like a '60 spring training shot than a retouched photo with a cap re-do. Over all nothing special with this one.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

#508 Billy Consolo

Billy Consolo  Washington Senators

Career: Consolo was a 'Bonus Baby' signee of the Red Sox in 1953 and played in Boston through June of 1959 when he was traded to the Senators. With the BoSox he never could claim a full time spot and had over 200 plate appearances only twice. He spent nearly three seasons with the Senators/Twins and then moved around to the Braves (minor league affiliate), Phils, A's and Angels, always as a spare part. He was a good fielder capable of playing almost anywhere in the infield but only hit .211 for his career.

He was a longtime Tigers coach later in life after a stint as a barber in LA, just as his father had been.

In 1960: He played in 100 games which was a career high but his batting stats were pretty abysmal.

WikiFacts: Consolo grew up in Los Angeles and was a lifelong friend of Sparky Anderson. From his SABR bio:
While on the local playgrounds he met George Anderson -- later known as Sparky. They signed up at the local park, where it cost 50 cents to play baseball, and a lifelong friendship began. The Twentieth Century movie studio was just around the corner and some of the games they played were against the Our Gang actors and other child stars. Billy began to attract attention from some West Coast scouts while playing on the sandlots. He first attracted notice at the Rancho Cienega Playground; his slingshot arm, base-running speed, and hitting power for a kid his age were bound to generate talk among the scouts spying the amateur ballfields around Los Angeles.

The Card: Blue/red/yellow/white makes a nice combo on this otherwise routine card. Apparently Consolo didn't have enough memorable moments in 1959 to warrant a Season's Highlights back. He got a 'blurb' instead.

This appears to me to be a rare Griffith Stadium locale card. I wouldn't swear to it though. It's a high number and one of a pretty nice group of high and semi-high numbers I picked up recently. They were in really nice shape overall and priced as if they were early series cards. I suspect the seller goofed on these.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

#488 Norm Cash

Norm Cash  Detroit Tigers

Career: Norm Cash carved out a solid career over 17 seasons, 15 with Detroit. His 1961 season, in which he hit .361 with 41 homers, 132 RBI and had an OPS of 1.148, stands out as his best by far. He made four AL All Star squads and helped the Tigers win the 1968 World Series by going 10 for 26. He was known as a hard living, fun loving prankster. His SABR bio is a great read.

In 1960:  His first season in Detroit was also his first as a full time starter. He hit a solid .286 with a .402 OBP, 18 homers and 63 RBI. All nice numbers but they gave little indication of the career season to come for Cash in 1961.

WikiFacts: From Cash's SABR bio:
"Although Cash wore a Cleveland cap on his 1960 Topps baseball card, he never played an inning for the Indians. On April 12, as the Tribe headed north from Tucson at the conclusion of spring training, Cash found himself traded yet again. This time, he was dispatched to Detroit in exchange for third baseman Steve Demeter. Detroit General Manager Rick Ferrell was dumbfounded when Frank Lane, his Cleveland counterpart, offered Cash for Demeter, unsure if he meant “cold cash or Norm Cash.” While Demeter’s career with the Indians consisted of merely four games, Cash became a fixture at first base in Detroit for 15 years. Lane was not through making controversial trades with the Tigers. Five days later, he sent Rocky Colavito to Detroit for Harvey Kuenn, and later in 1960, the two clubs swapped managers, Joe Gordon going to Detroit for Jimmie Dykes."

The Card: Cash had been traded twice since the end of the 1959 season, first from the White Sox to the Indians in December and then to the Tigers in April. Topps stuck an Indians' logo on his cap for his card but didn't re-do it after his trade to Detroit. But this 6th Series card was created late enough to correctly list him as a Tiger and his 'action b&w shot on the left had a Tigers logo added to his cap.

The cartoon notes that he 'came to Cleveland...' which reads like it was drawn prior to his trade to Detroit. That deal is mentioned at the end of his write up and that reads like a late addition to the card.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

#408 Carl Furillo

Carl Furillo  Los Angeles Dodgers

Career: Known for a consistent, high average bat and strong throwing arm Carl Furillo enjoyed a 15 year career with the Dodgers in Brooklyn and L.A. He held down an outfield spot for 13 seasons as a starter and finished with a .299 career average and 192 homers. He was a two time All Star and won the NL batting crown in 1953. He led the NL outfields in assists twice.

In 1960: This was the end of the line for Furillo. He started a couple of games and pinch hit in a few more before suffering a torn muscle and being released by the Dodgers in May. Before the year was out he had sued the Dodgers on the grounds that he had been cut while he was injured and, oddly, was hired by them as a spring training instructor. His lawsuit was upheld and he was granted a slightly higher monthly pension. It was also reported that he was blackballed and for that reason he never was hired as a coach or scout.

WikiFacts: from his New York Times obit:
His best season was in 1953 when he led the National League in batting with a .344 average. He won the title despite being sidelined with a broken finger incurred in a brawl. Furillo had been hit by a pitch from the New York Giants' Ruben Gomez, and then charged the Giant manager, Leo Durocher.
"We hated the Giants," he recalled years later. "We just hated the uniform."
I think I've heard Night Owl say the same thing.

The Card: If I didn't know any better I'd say that was my Uncle Joe pictured on that card. hard to say where this photo was taken. I could make a case for Wrigley (is that the scoreboard?), the Polo Grounds (are those the apartment buildings?) or the Coliseum in LA.

The back is unique in that it list just two Season's Highlights and those both recall postseason exploits for Furillo. I think that's pretty cool.

BTW...Furillo to me is a Brooklyn Dodger, not a Los Angeles Dodger. Seeing him in a cap with 'LA' on it is always odd.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

#10 Ernie Banks

Ernie Banks  Chicago Cubs

Career: It's Ernie Banks. He's Mr. Cub.

In 1960: He was coming off back-to-back MVP Awards and he led the league with 41 homers, was first in extra base hits, third in WAR, third in RBI and won his only Gold Glove. He also played in more games than any other NLer, for the sixth time in seven years. This was his last year to play shortstop exclusively. In 1961 he began transitioning to first base (with a brief  fling in left field).

WikiFacts: From Banks' Baseball reference pages...
A four-sport standout in high school, Banks was scouted and signed at 17 by the Negro League's Kansas City Monarchs' traveling team's manager, legendary Cool Papa Bell. He made his semi-pro debut on June 4, 1950, and played the remainder of the season before being drafted into the Army in 1951. Stationed in Europe, he played shortstop for the 242nd Group Barons, part of a baseball conference run for American servicemen there.
While abroad he was informally scouted by a player in the Cleveland Indians minor league system. According to a story told by a former comrade, Banks then received a letter from Cleveland GM Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg inviting him to try out with the Indians when his hitch was up.[1] However, upon his discharge Banks returned to the Monarchs for the 1953 season. Actively scouted during it by the Cubs, he signed a big league contract with them on September 8, 1953. Banks played his last game for the Monarchs on September 13th and joined the Cubs four days later, never having played a single game in the minor leagues.
On August 8, 2013, he was named a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama; the medal was given to him at the White House on November 20th that year. Former President Bill Clinton was among those who received the medal from the president that day.
He became the first Cubs player to have his uniform number retired by the team when his number 14 was set aside in 1982.

The Card: This is the second consecutive card of an 'Ernie' who is associated with the Cubs. Happened quite accidentally. Using a photo of Ernie Banks in any other stadium than Wrigley would be a sin. Here he looks pensive with that unmistakable Wrigley scoreboard looming in the background. Green/yellow/white motif is nice on this one. Have I mentioned how much I like the Season's Highlights. I especially like when a milestone is mentioned.

Friday, November 6, 2015

#16 Ernie Broglio

Ernie Broglio   St. Louis Cardinals

Career: Broglio is best remembered as the guy the Cardinals traded to the Cubs to get Lou Brock but he had a respectable career in his own right. He won 77 games with a decent set of numbers over eight seasons. Hi was originally signed by the Reds and passed thru the Giants chain but pitched only for the Cards and Cubs in the majors. His best year was certainly 1960.

In 1960: Started the season in the bullpen and was 2-1 as late as the end of May but he got a shot in the rotation and took advantage to the tune of a 21 win season. He led the league in wins, WAR by Pitchers, and Hits Per 9 Innings. He was second in ERA and finished third in Cy Young voting.

WikiFacts: Interestingly the general reaction to the now infamous Broglio-Brock deal was that the Cubs had gotten the best of it. Here is a bit of SABR's Broglio bio detailing the events surrounding the deal:

Broglio started on June 12 [1964] in Los Angeles, but Koufax blanked the Cardinals again. Broglio’s record was now 3-5. In 11 starts his strikeouts were noticeably down to three per game. On June 14, after the Dodgers swept the series, the Cardinals boarded their plane for Houston.
General manager Bing Devine had been busy on the phone right up to departure and later he sat by Keane during the flight. Devine said, “I can make the deal with Chicago.” Keane’s response was either “Make it!” or “What are we waiting for?” depending on what account the St. Louis fans read. As soon as they landed in Houston, Devine called Cubs general manager John Holland. Three other trades in the major leagues were announced on June 15, but none proved larger than the one between the Cardinals and the Cubs.
Broglio, pitcher Bobby Shantz, and outfielder Doug Clemens were sent to Chicago for outfielder Lou Brock, pitcher Jack Spring, and pitcher Paul Toth. Keane summoned Ernie to his hotel room to tell him about the trade, and Broglio was shocked. Several veteran Cardinals were very negative about the deal and declared that the Cubs got the better of the trade. Keane called a team meeting before their game to tell the players to cease their grumbling. Meanwhile, Chicago Daily News columnist Bob Smith was jubilant as he wrote about acquiring Ernie, “Thank you, thank you, oh, you lovely St. Louis Cardinals. Nice doing business with you. Please call again anytime.”

The Card: Action, even of the staged variety, is welcome in the 1960 set, Broglio poses here in Seals Stadium in San Francisco. The back is pretty standard but cream cardboard wins points with me. Off-centeredness hardly registers with me anymore in this set.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

#31 Sammy Esposito

Sammy Esposito  Chicago White Sox

Career: Spent about a decade as a light hitting utility guy in his hometown of Chicago backing up Luis Aparicio, Nellie Fox et al. He finished up in 1963 with a short stint in Kansas City. The time he spent on the bench came in handy in his second baseball life as a collegiate coach.

In 1960: Fairly typical year for Esposito in that part of his career. He got into 57 games, came to the plate 88 times and hit .182 with one dinger. He subbed in at second, short and third and had plenty of time to contemplate how a World Series ring would have looked on his finger after the Sox came so close in '59.

WikiFacts: From Baseball Reference:
Following his big league career, Esposito was a longtime baseball coach (1967-1987) and basketball assistant at North Carolina State University. He took NC State to the 1968 College World Series, their first appearance in that event. Among those he coached at NC State were future major league mainstays Dan Plesac, Mike Caldwell, Tim Stoddard and Greg Briley.
Extra Added Info: My mother, whose maiden name was Esposito, claimed she was related to Sammy, but we all knew she was kidding. I'd always love getting his cards so in a way he was among my first PCs.

The Card: Color me perplexed. That's Sammy wearing home ChiSox pinstripes but what's with the red railings in the stadium? I can't find any evidence that Comiskey Park ever looked like that. Yellow railings, yes (see pic below) but red? Nope. Maybe they were touched up by the Topps art department so as not to detract from the yellow/red/white card. Doubtful.

If you get the cartoon reference you are pretty old. First geezer in with the correct answer wins the internet.

Yellow railings at Comiskey:

The Beatles at Comiskey:

Wait, what? Yup the Beatles at Comiskey: