Tuesday, September 29, 2015

#425 Johnny Podres

Johnny Podres  Los Angeles Dodgers

Career: He was never the 'ace' of the Dodgers' staff but he was a solid #3 lefty starter in Brooklyn behind Newcombe and Erskine and later in Los Angeles behind Koufax and Drysdale. He won 136 games for that franchise in 13 seasons but he saved his best work for the World Series. He pitched in four Series and went 4-1 while winning a pair of rings. He was MVP of the 1955 Series with two dominating wins over the Yankees including a Game Seven shutout in Yankee Stadium.

In 1957 (after a year spent in the military) he led the NL in ERA, shutouts and WHIP. He finished his career with some time with the Tigers and the expansion Padres and retired after the '69 season. He went on to be a pitching coach for several organizations.

In 1960: He made the All Star team (his second of three selections) and pitched in the 2nd ASG that year. He won 14 games for the 2nd straight year but lowered his ERA by a full run over 1959.

WikiFacts: Podres helped the Dodgers win World Series championships in 1955, 1959, 1963 and 1965, although he did not pitch in the 1965 World Series itself.[1][2] In the 1955 series, after the Dodgers lost the first two games to the New York Yankees, Podres pitched a complete game, seven-hit victory on his 23rd birthday in Game 3. In the climactic Game 7, Podres pitched a 2–0 shutout to bring Brooklyn its only World Series championship. Podres was given the first-ever World Series MVP Award by Sport magazine and presented with a red two-seater Corvette. Later he was honored as the Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated magazine. -WikiPedia

The Card: I'm not sure why he is pictured capless in this one. It's not like he'd been traded to the Dodgers that winter. And since he's pictured in LA's Memorial Coliseum the excuse can't be that they only had shots from Ebbets Field in a Brooklyn cap.

At least we've got the cartoon, cream colored cardboard and season's highlights write-up to enjoy.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

#449 Jim Brosnan

Jim Brosnan  Cincinnati Reds

Career: After signing with the Cubs he spent his early career switching back and forth between a starting role and the bullpen. He was traded in 1959 to the Cards and the following year to the Reds and became strictly a reliever. By any measure his five seasons with Cincinnati were his best. He helped them reach the 1960 World Series. He is now remembered as much for his writing as his playing.

In 1960: In his first full season with the Reds he went 7-2 with 12 saves and posted his best WHIP, best ERA and best k/w ratio.

WikiFacts: "A fine major league pitcher for several years, Jim Brosnan wrote the first honest portrayal of the life of a baseball player. The Long Season and subsequent works have earned him continued praise ever since. His writings paved the way for many other players’ “autobiographies,” usually written with considerable help, and filled with more tawdriness but less humor and heart. Fifty years on, Brosnan’s books remain the gold standard for baseball memoirs." - his SABR bio

The Card: Hard to tell but this has the feel of another Wrigley Field card photo. Brosnan had a reputation as a 'nerd' (or whatever term was popular back then.... egghead?) and one look at the card shows you why.  The cartoon points out he was most effective versus his two former clubs. Some research is in order.

Friday, September 25, 2015

#61 Eddie Kasko

Eddie Kasko  Cincinnati Reds

Career: After a long minor league stretch, a couple of years in the service and a couple with the Cardinals Kasko played from 1959 through 1963 with the Reds. He was the club's starting shortstop or third baseman during that time and put up some pretty good hitting numbers. He hit .318 (7 for 22) in the 1961 World Series loss to the Yankees. He finished his career with the Astros and Red Sox. He managed the Red Sox for four seasons in the early 70s leading them to a couple of second place finishes and a couple of thirds.

In 1960: This was his best season at the plate. He had career highs in homers (6), RBI (51), batting average (.292) and OBP (.359).

WikiFacts: I bet not many of the players in this set actually have a Twitter account. Kasko does!

The Card: That's Wrigley Field! And cream colored cardboard and a Season's Highlights block. What more could you ask for?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

#451 Curt Simmons

Curt Simmons  Philadelphia Phillies

Career: A highly prized prospect when he signed with the Phils in 1947, Simmons spent 13 years toiling for mostly bad Phils clubs until 1960. He won 115 games in Philly and helped them get to the 1950 World Series but didn't pitch in it as his National Guard unit had been called to active duty. He resurrected his career in St. Louis and won a ring in 1964. He finished with 193 major league wins.

In 1960: After  a long tenure on the Phils' staff that culminated nearly a full 1959 season in the minors and a terrible start in '60 Simmons was released in May and signed by the Cardinals. He finished the year with a 7-4 record and some of the better pitching metrics of his career.

WikiFacts: "In the spring of 1947, a seventeen-year-old south-paw named Curt Simmons was the hottest amateur prospect in the country. Fifteen of the sixteen major league teams were chomping at the bit to sign Simmons as soon as he graduated from high school in June. Phillies general manager Herb Pennock dubbed him “a second Rube Waddell” and sportswriters were touting his curveball as the best since Bob Feller’s." -from this awesome article on Simmons' career at SABR

The Card: Topps had no problem getting photographers to Connie Mack Stadium back in the day. The red seats provide a nice change of pace from most of the cards already seen here. And any card with a pink element is A-OK in my book.

This one was put together late enough in the year for Topps to note Simmons' May release by the Phils. The 'crease' is more of a printing flaw than anything else. It doesn't appear nearly that noticeable in hand. The red ink bleeding off the right side of the card is another odd printing flaw. Topps had some issues here for sure.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

#341 Carroll Hardy

Carroll Hardy  Cleveland Indians

Career: He played in eight seasons with four different clubs. He most steady work came in '61/'62 with the Red Sox as a fourth outfielder and regular pinch hitter. His big league career appeared over after a stretch with the Colt .45s that ended in 1964 but after three years in the minors he returned for a handful of at bats with the Twins in 1967.

In 1960: In June despite being, as the card notes, "one of the finest prospects in the Indians' organization" Hardy was traded with Russ Nixon to the Boston Red Sox for Ted Bowsfield and Marty Keough. He had been hitting just over .100 in about thirty games when he was dealt. He got into 73 with the Red Sox and had better numbers. He hit .234 with a couple of homers for Boston.

WikiFacts: After leaving baseball in 1967, Hardy spent 20 years as a player personnel executive with the Denver Broncos, helping put together three teams that reached the Super Bowl."I was there," Hardy notes, "when John Elway came in." -LA Times article on Hardy, from 2009. The article is available online.

The Card: The fake batting pose in Yankee Stadium, wonderful Indians uni of the day and the snow shoe cartoon make this a favorite. Too bad it's done with the gray cardboard.