Monday, June 29, 2015

#230 Mound Magicians

The Card: What's not to love about this one? Warren Spahn, wonderful Milwaukee Braves unis, fake conversation, Polo Grounds* in the background....great stuff. It instantly brings this picture to my mind:

That's author Pat Jordan between Braves' pitching coach Whitlow Wyatt and Warren Spahn. It comes from Jordan's A False Spring. It was taken when Jordan was still a prospect and being sought by several big league clubs, including the Yankees and Braves with whom he eventually signed. Jordan was being 'showcased' for the Milwaukee front office.

*= I'm pretty certain that's the Polo Grounds. The old Milwaukee County Stadium, as seen in the Pat Jordan shot looks a lot like it.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

#164 Cincinnati Reds, #219 Fred Hutchinson and #459 Reds' Coaches

In 1960: With the 'McCarthy Era' over the 'Red Legs' returned to being just the 'Reds' in 1960. But they were still a year away from their 1961 NL pennant run. The '60 Reds finished 6th, twenty games under .500 and 28 games behind the first place Pirates.

Frank Robinson and Vada Pinson formed a pretty serious 1-2 punch in the batting order and they ranked among the leaders in numerous hitting categories. Pitching was a problem. Bob Purkey won 17 for this mediocre club and the Jim Brosnan/Bill Henry duo had a good year out of the bullpen but the rest of the staff was sub-par.

The Card: Soft and dirty, not a good combo for a team or a team card. The 2nd Series checklist graces the reverse and except for the Yaz rookie there isn't a lot of 'star power' there.

Manager Card: Fred Hutchinson

Career: From my post on this card at Five Tool Collector..."Hutch" as he was called began his baseball life as a sensational 19 year old pitcher with the PCL Raniers in his hometown of Seattle. He won 25 games that first season and was named as Minor League Player of the Year by the Sporting News. After that his contract was purchased by the Detroit Tigers and Hutch got a pair of brief looks at the majors and he had another fine minor league season in 1941. But the Uncle Sam called and he spent four full years in the U.S. Navy.

Once back in civilian life in 1946  Hutch ran off a string of major league seasons with the Tigers that saw him rank near the top of several pitching categories. He went 87-57 between 1946 and 1951. He faded quickly as an effective pitcher but not as a leader and the Tigers named him manager in mid 1952 and he continued as a playing manager through '53. He managed another season before he was let go and he returned to Seattle to manage the Raniers to a 95 win season.

He was hired to manage the Cardinals and held that spot through 1958. He again managed the Raniers for a season before the Reds hired him to finish out the 1959 season. In 1961 he led the Reds to the national League pennant and a World Series match-up against the Yankees. The Yanks won it in five games. Hutch remained at the helm of the Reds until 1964. It was during that season the he was diagnosed with lung cancer that had spread to his head and neck. He left the club in July, returned for a week or so and then left for good, too ill to work. He died that winter.

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center was founded by his brother Dr. Bill Hutchinson and is now one of the top facilities of it's kind. You can read more about Hutch on these two pages on the facilities' excellent site..... this page is an excellent bio of the late manager and this page discusses the Hutch Award given each year by MLB..

The Card: This is one of the better conditioned of the managers subset in my collection. As always, the cartoons make the card.

Coaches Card: The card back itself gives nice little bios of each of the three coaches. Of the three I was unfamiliar with Reggie Otero. Here is an entry with a short write up about him on the Cuba Beisbol blog.

The Card: Floating coaches heads!!

Monday, June 22, 2015

#367 Bill Tuttle

Bill Tuttle,  Kansas City Athletics

Career: Bill Tuttle played for 11 seasons as an American League outfielder, eight as a starter. He played primarily for the The Tigers and A's before ending his major league career with the Twins in 1963. Following that he continued to play minor league ball for another four seasons.

He was never an All Star but he was among the best fielding center-fielders of his day. At that position he led the AL in assists five times and in putouts twice. He compiled a career average of .259 with a handful of homers.

In 1960: He was coming off his only .300 season but dropped back into more familiar hitting territory with a .256 average and 8 homers. He led the league's outfielders in assists, putouts and double plays.

WikiFacts: On practically every baseball card issued for Tuttle, a large bulge of chewing tobacco is evident in his cheek. Tuttle died in Anoka, Minnesota at the age of 69, and oral cancer was in all likelihood the cause of his death. Bill was diagnosed with oral cancer five years before his death, and he put the last half-decade of his life to use in raising awareness, as an active volunteer for the National Spit Tobacco Education Program (NSTEP) of Oral Health America. -Wikipedia

The Card: The good: Love the crying Tiger cartoon. The bad: three of his six 'seasons highlights' came against the Orioles.

Tuttle may or may not have that chaw going in his color shot on this card but it's defiantly there in his b/w 'action pic.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

#150 Billy Pierce

Billy Pierce, Chicago White Sox

Career: Over 16 full seasons in the bigs Billy Pierce won 211 games and appeared in two World Series. He was a seven time All Star and finished third in the Cy Young voting in 1962 with the Giants.

Major League Bests:

  • Wins: 20 (1956, 1957)
  • ERA: 1.97 (1955)
  • Innings: 276 1/3 (1956)
  • Strikeouts: 192 (1956)
  • WHIP: 1.02 (1964)
  • Saves: 8 (1963)

Notable Achievements:

  • 7-time AL All-Star (1953, 1955-1959 & 1961)
  • AL ERA Leader (1955)
  • AL Wins Leader (1957)
  • AL Strikeouts Leader (1953)
  • 3-time AL Complete Games Leader (1956-1958)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 8 (1951-1953, 1955-1958 & 1962)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 2 (1956 & 1957)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 9 (1950-1953 & 1955-1959)
  • Won a World Series with the Detroit Tigers in 1945 (he did not play in the World Series)

In 1960: Pierce won 14 games and had a 3.60 ERA. A year removed from his three year string of leading the AL in complete games he had only 8 in 1960. He was clearly on the back side of his career but he was certainly not finished.

WikiFacts: "Crafty rather than overpowering, Pierce overcame his slight build to become one of top pitchers of his era. The White Sox retired his number 19 in 1987, and his image is proudly displayed on the outfield wall at New Comiskey Park. He has said that the best pitches in his repertoire were the fastball and slider.

 The White Sox have remained an important part of Pierce's life since. He lives in the suburbs of Chicago and makes public relations appearances for the team. His name rang on the ears of modern fans after Mark Buehrle pitched a no-hitter in 2007, as the media recounted Pierce's four one-hitters and perfect game lost in the 9th inning.

The lefty was named to the White Sox "Team of the Century", and is applauded for his work both on and off the field." -from his Baseball Reference Bullpen page

The Card: Old Comiskey Park provides the backdrop for this one. Topps was branching out as far as photographers was concerned. In blogging the 1959 set I wasn't able to determine any Comiskey shots. This card comes from my Pierce PC. I'm going to try to pick up a few other signed copies of cards in this set. They add a little pizzazz.

Friday, June 12, 2015

#283 John Blanchard

John Blanchard, New York Yankees

Career: Blanchard spent eight seasons in the majors, the vast majority as a platoon catcher, pinch hitter and spare outfielder with the Yankees. He won World Series rings with the Bombers in 1961 and 1962. His personal 'triple crown' came in 1961 when he hit 21 homers with 54 RBI and a .305 average in 243 at bats.

In 1960: He was still a spare part in his second full season in New York. He appeared in 53 games, had about a hundred plate appearances and hit .242 but he did go 5 for 11 with two doubles in the Series against the Pirates.

WikiFacts: "Blanchard appeared in the World Series 5 times for the Yankees and holds the Major League record with ten World Series pinch-hit at-bats. Blanchard was the catcher who called the pitch that Bill Mazeroski hit for the first-ever series ending home run off Ralph Terry in the 1960 World Series in which the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the heavily favored Yankees." -SABR bio

The Card: This one features one of the better color combos and a posed, waist up shot which breaks up a long string of 'mug shots' in this set. The iconic Yankee Stadium facade brings back a lot of memories. Blanchard didn't have many highlights in 1959 so he gets a bio blurb instead of the bullet-ed list. I think he borrowed Elmer Fudd's coat for his cartoon pose.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

#73 Bob Gibson

Bob Gibson, St. Louis Cardinals

Career: Simply put Hall of Famer Bob Gibson is among the greatest ever to take the mound. His 1968 season may be the most dominant one ever turned in by a pitcher is baseball history, at least modern history.

Notable Achievements:

  • 8-time NL All-Star (1962, 1965-1970 & 1972)
  • NL MVP (1968)
  • 2-time NL Cy Young Award Winner (1968 & 1970)
  • 1964 World Series MVP
  • 1967 World Series MVP
  • 9-time NL Gold Glove Winner (1965-1973)
  • NL ERA Leader (1968)
  • NL Wins Leader (1970)
  • NL Strikeouts Leader (1968)
  • NL Complete Games Leader (1969)
  • 4-time NL Shutouts Leader (1962, 1966, 1968 & 1971)
  • 15 Win Seasons: 10 (1962-1966 & 1968-1972)
  • 20 Win Seasons: 5 (1965, 1966 & 1968-1970)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 12 (1961-1966, 1968-1972 & 1974)
  • 300 Innings Pitched Seasons: 2 (1968 & 1969)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 9 (1962-1966, 1968-1970 & 1972)
  • Won two World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals (1964 & 1967)
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1981

In 1960: He split the season between Rochester and the Cards. Still learning his craft he went 3-6 with an ERA over 5 while making 12 starts and appearing in 27 games overall. A year later he would start to resemble the real Bob Gibson.

WikiFacts: Personal note reprinted from my '59 Topps blog: I was fortunate enough to see Gibson pitch and believe me, he was a real badass on the mound. My favorite memory comes, ironically, from 1975, his last season and the final time I saw him perform. I attended this game in mid-August with a friend of mine who happens to be a lifelong Cardinal fan. As Gibby's career came to an end he struggled through a year that saw him saddled with a 3-10 record and an ERA over five. But on this day Gibson came into the game after the Cards had taken a one run lead in the top of the eleventh. I distinctly recall watching from seats behind the Cardinal dugout as he stalked out to the mound with that look that few pitchers had. My friend and I both saw it and said to one another 'Game over." And it was. Gibby blew away three Astros (looking!!) to wrap up the game.

The Card: It's creased and the corners are worn down but that's fine by me. I could have held out for a better copy but maybe vintage Gibson cards in my collection are supposed to be "well loved"! My 1959 Gibby is the only card to have survived my childhood. Maybe that's why he's special to me.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

#535 Whitey Lockman

Whitey Lockman, Cincinnati Reds

Career: Lockman spent 13 years with the Giants, first as an outfielder and then moving to first. Between 1948 and 1955 he was one of the Giants better hitters with double digit homers most seasons and an average running close to .300. He took and interesting detour to the Cardinals in a June trade to St. Louis in 1956. He was traded back to the Giants following that season.

He coached, managed (the Cubs in the early 70s) and held front office jobs after his playing career before finally retiring from the game after nearly 60 years in it.

In 1960: He'd come over from the Orioles in mid-summer of 1959 and he was released by the Reds in June of 1960 after just a handful of at bats to that point. He immediately joined the clubs' coaching staff.

WikiFacts: "Lockman, who played primarily for the New York Giants, was on second base when Bobby Thomson hit possibly the most famous home run in history, the ninth-inning “Shot Heard ‘Round The World” that won the pennant for the Giants in a 1951 playoff game with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Lockman grew up in the Paw Creek area on the outskirts of west Charlotte. He played his first major league game in 1945 with the Giants, homering in his first at-bat while still just 18 years old." -from his obit in the Charlotte Observer

The Card: Whitey looks very happy in this shot taken at Yankee Stadium. He's in Orioles duds, you can tell by the piping and the Orioles cap on the player in the background. The write-up makes note of his serving on the Reds' staff in the spring.

Friday, June 5, 2015

#418 Don Mossi

Don Mossi, Detroit Tigers

Career: Mossi pitched 12 seasons, all in the A.L. He bracketed a run with the Tigers as a starter with stints with the Indians, White Sox and A's for whom he was mostly a reliever. He had 17 and 15 win seasons for Detroit and won 101 games overall.

In 1960: This was Mossi's second year of four consecutive in which he was a member of the Tigers' rotation...and it was a pretty pedestrian one. He went 9-8 with a 3.47 ERA and 1.2 WHIP.

WikiFacts: "...By [1960], Don had appeared on enough bubble gum cards to have caught the attention of millions of young fans, who marveled at his unusual visage. He did not have the classic country boy good looks of a Mickey Mantle or the dark, handsome face of a Sandy Koufax. Don was, well, different. He had a long, slightly crooked nose, his eyes were close together, and his ears stuck out to the edges of the cardboard. Indeed, some of his teammates called him “Ears.” Others nicknamed him “The Sphinx.” -from

Later, when these young fans grew up, they were less diplomatic. One said Don looked like “Mount Rushmore on a rainy day.” Bill James wrote that Don was the “...complete ugly player. He could run ugly, hit ugly, throw ugly, field ugly and ugly for power. He was ugly to all fields.” 

The Card: The crease isn't as obvious in hand or in the binder as it is in the scan. But nonetheless I'll nab a better copy of this one at some point. After all, it's Don Mossi! If you have a joke about the crease and those on Mossi's face kindly add it to the comments.

Ugliest card ever? I dunno, you be the judge.

Note that one of his 'Season Highlights' is beating the Yankees for the fifth straight time. He had more wins (and losses) against the Yanks than any other team. He went 19-16 in his career versus them.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

#557 Frank Malzone Sport Magazine All Star

Frank Malzone, Sport Magazine '60 All Star Selection

As an All Star: He was a six time All Star, played in seven games without a lot of success. He hit .150 in 20 at bats. He did homer off Don Drysdale in the second of two ASGs in 1959.

In the '60 ASGs: Malzone started both of the games going 0 for 5.

The Card: These All Star cards feature a large cartoon which makes it easy to spot the distinctive style of Jack Davis who made his name working at Mad Magazine.

Monday, June 1, 2015

#145 Jim Umbricht Sport Magazine Rookie Star

Jim Umbricht, Pittsburgh Pirates

Career: Umbrict was a star athlete at the University of Georgia and also served in the military before becoming a major league reliever. He got one start for Pittsburgh at the end of the 1959 season and then made the 1960 Pirates club. He pitched in parts of that and the following season and then was taken in the expansion draft by the Colt 45s. In Houston he found a home in the bullpen and went 8-3 with very good numbers. Sadly he lost a battle with Lymphoma on the eve of the 1964 season. Houston named their MVP award for him and his number is retired by that club.

In 1960: He made two April starts for the eventual World Champs but was roughed up in both. He worked primarily out of the bullpen after that with mixed results before being sent down at the end of June. He got a September call-up but wasn't on the Pirates World Series roster.

WikiFacts: "...he made his big-league debut when he was given the starting assignment against the Cincinnati Reds on September 26, 1959. Umbricht had a particularly memorable first inning, but not in a positive way, as leadoff hitter Johnny Temple, Frank Thomas, and Buddy Gilbert all took him deep for home runs. Umbricht stayed in the game and left in the seventh inning with a 6-5 lead, but the Reds won the contest with two runs in the bottom of the ninth. That was his only appearance for the Pirates that year,..." -from his SABR bio

This Astros Daily blog entry includes his original obit and a background story written

The Card: Another from the very cool Rookie Stars subset. The card itself is a bit the worse for wear but it's nowhere near in need of an upgrade.