Sunday, August 19, 2018

Dodger Team Trio #18, #212 and #463

Los Angeles Dodgers Team Card #18

The 1960 Dodgers were, of course, the defending World Series champs. As so many teams do, they found it tough to repeat and they finished fourth, 13 games behind the Pirates. They again had plenty of pitching but were mid-pack in most important hitting categories.

Sandy Koufax was still a season away from blossoming into the most dominant lefty of his generation. Don Drysdale anchored the staff and his 15-14 mark is a result of the weak Dodgers attack more than anything he did. He had sterling numbers. Frank Howard won the Rookie of the Year award and led the team with 23 homers.  Maury Wills led the league with 50 steals. It was the first of six consecutive seasons he'd be the NL theft leader.

Obviously, the card is marked on the back. I have no issue with marked checklists.

Manager Walt Alston Card #212

I have already posted this Alston card over on my Five Tool Collector blog. Here what I said:

Alston has one at bat in the majors. One. On September 27th of 1936, as a member of the Cardinals, Alston entered the game at first base after Frankie Frisch pinch hit for the ejected Johnny Mize. He came up to bat later and fanned. Made and error at first as well. Never saw the field in a major league game again, as a player at least.

 That didn't deter him from having a standout Hall of Fame career in the Dodgers' dugouts in Brooklyn and Los Angeles. He took over the Dodgers from Charlie Dressen in 1954 and held the job for 23 seasons. His clubs won for World Series' titles and seven NL pennants. he managed 3658 games and won 2040 for a '558 winning percentage. Only four times out of those 23 seasons did the Dodgers finish in the second division of the NL.

The serious and studious looking Alston never signed more than a one year contract as manager of the Dodgers. As always he appears on his card looking like your favorite old uncle. 
It was pointed out in a comment that the card back has an error. The cartoon on the upper right has the dates incorrect. They should read '58 and '59. 

L.A. Dodgers Coaches  Card #463

Of the four coaches pictured Bobby Bragan is the biggest name although Pete Reiser was probably the best known at the time. He was a Dodger outfielder through the 40s known for crashing into outfield walls

Bragan managed the Pirates, Indians and most notably, the Braves from the mid-50s through mid-60s. He never won a pennant but spent a lifetime in the game and both Wills and Hank Aaron give him credit for improving their careers.

Greg Mulleavy had a brief big league career with the Red Sox and White Sox in the 30s and then was a coach and scout for the rest of his life. Joe Becker was a catcher who, according to Wikipedia is "a member of the relatively small fraternity of former catchers who became celebrated throughout baseball as a pitching coach (which included men such as Ray Berres, Dave Duncan, Rube Walker and Mike Roarke), Becker coached for four NL championship Dodger clubs, including the 1955, 1959 and 1963 world champions."

Saturday, August 18, 2018

#15 Pete Runnels

Pete Runnels  Boston Red Sox

Career: Pete Runnels played fourteen seasons in the majors, seven with the Senators, five with the Red Sox and two with the Colt 45s as he was winding down his impressive but underappreciated career.

Runnels was an excellent defensive player at all four spots in the infield at various times. He won two AL batting crowns with the Red Sox and was an All-Star three times. He was close to winning the batting title in 1959 but finished just behind Ted Williams as they fought it out in the closing days of the season. His reward for the '62 title was a trade to Houston for Roman Mejias.  He didn't hit for power but his career batting average was .291 and he had a .375 OBP. He hit .320 for the Red Sox in his five seasons there.

He coached for Boston for two seasons after his playing days and had a 16 game stint as interim manager at the end of the '66 season.

Following that he returned to the Houston area and opened a couple of businesses in the Pasadena area just over the bridge from me. One was Pasadena Sporting Goods which I helped keep in business for a while!

In 1960: It was a good year for Pete Runnels. He won a batting crown with a .320 average and made the AL All-Star team.

WikiFacts:  From his SABR page--
Runnels was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1982 and the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2004. His career .291 average is higher than many of those in Cooperstown. His name lives on in an annual Lufkin high school baseball tournament, the Pete Runnels Texas Shoot Out.

The Card: As noted previously I like cards that include pink but this one just has too much going on. And that's saying a lot for this set. Pete looks wistful there at Yankee Stadium. Or maybe the sun is bothering him.

Friday, August 17, 2018

#14 Jim 'Mudcat' Grant

Jim Grant  Cleveland Indians

Career:  Grant spent 14 seasons in the majors, seven with the Indians. His biggest splash came when he led the AL with 21 wins and six shutouts for the pennant-winning Twins in 1965. But it's hard to overlook his 1970 season when, at the age of 34, he pitched in 80 games out of the pen for the Pirates and A's with 24 saves, a 1.86 ERA and a 1.064 WHIP.

He was twice an All-Star and made three starts in the '65 Series versus the Dodgers. In that Series he got complete-game wins in Games One and Six while taking the loss in Game Four. That Game Six win came on two days rest. He also started the first game in Montreal Expos history in April 1969.

Grant was well known as a singer and entertainer and hosted a local TV program in the Minneapolis area in 1965. At the bottom of this post I have embedded a video of Grant signing at a tribute to the late Harmon Killebrew (accompanied on guitar by Tony Oliva's son).

In 1960: In his third season in the majors Grant's numbers took a slight downturn from his previous two. But the most notable thing about the 1960 season for him was something that occurred that September that seems remarkable for the time and certainly connects to the current political climate. I don't believe I'd ever heard about this incident until I was researching this post. And I thought I knew a little something about Jim Grant.  Click here to read about the national anthem performance that ended his season in an article that appeared last October in the Tampa Bay Times.

WikiFacts: Also contained in that article in the Tampa Bay Times :

The two-time All-Star was the AL's first black pitcher to win 20 games (for the Twins in 1965), and there's a street named after him in his hometown. His legacy includes two nephews (Troy and Darren Hambrick) who played in the NFL.
He was also the first black pitcher to win a World Series game for an AL team (Twins, 1965).

From Wikipedia:
After his playing career ended, Grant worked for the North American Softball League, one of three Men's Professional Softball Leagues active in the pro softball era. He later worked as a broadcaster and executive for the Indians, and also as a broadcaster for the Athletics.

In recent years, Grant has dedicated himself to studying and promoting the history of blacks in baseball. On his official website, Grant pays tribute to the fifteen black pitchers (including himself) who have won 20 games in a season. The "15 Black Aces" are: Vida Blue, Al Downing, Bob Gibson, Dwight Gooden, Grant, Ferguson Jenkins, Sad Sam Jones, Don Newcombe, Mike Norris, David Price, J. R. Richard, CC Sabathia, Dave Stewart, Dontrelle Willis, and Earl Wilson. In 2006, Grant released his long-awaited book, The Black Aces, Baseball's Only black Twenty-Game Winners, featuring chapters on each of the black pitchers to have at least one twenty win season, and also featuring Negro League players that Mudcat felt would have been 20 game winners if they were allowed to play. The book was featured in the Hall of Fame during Induction Weekend 2006, and in February 2007 President Bush honored Mudcat and fellow Aces, Ferguson Jenkins, Dontrelle Willis and Mike Norris, and the publication of the book at a ceremony at the White House.
The Card: This is just a terrific card. I love cards that have pink as part of the design. Add to that there is a neat Jim Davis cartoon, the Season's Highlights block and the fact that it's The Mudcat! Good stuff.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

#13 Wally Post

Wally Post  Philadelphia Phillies

Career: The bulk of Wally Post's 15-year career came as an outfielder with Cincinnati. He was originally signed in 1946 as a pitcher but had transitioned to the outfield by the time he made the bigs in 1949. He hit over 200 homers but in the talent-laden NL of the 50s never made an All-Star squad.  The closest he came was in 1957 when he was on the happy end of the ballot-stuffing done by Vladimir Putin the Cincy fans.

He and some other Reds teammates were dropped from the ASG starting lineup by decree of the commish at the time, Ford Frick. He was hurt at the time and was unable to play in the game in any case. His best year was 1955 in Cincy when he slashed 40/109/.309/.372 and got some MVP votes.

In 1960: He began the season with the Phils as depicted on his card but was traded to the Reds in June for his second term in Ohio. The move sent him from a last-place club to one in fifth and soon to be on the rise. He had hit only two homers at the time of the trade but hit 17 for the Reds the rest of the way. He went on to help the Reds win the NL pennant in 1961.

WikiFacts: Post is the grandfather of former Ohio State and NFL quarterback Bobby Hoying.

The Card: Post had been with the Phils for two full seasons prior to this card being issued so I'm not sure why a capless photo needed to be used. I suppose it could be an old pic from his first go-round with the Reds with pinstripes added to his shirt. But the Reds hadn't worn sleeves since 1955 so that would make it a really old shot, even for Topps. that's Connie Mack Stadium in the background.

BTW...The 'perfect day' on August 28 cited by the Topps editor turns out to be three singles in three at-bats in a 9-0 wipe out the Phils suffered in Forbes Field

Added Attraction for the craft beer crowd (which includes me):

Microbrewer Moeller Brewing of Ohio put out this beer named for Wally Post in 2017. More info on the brew and Wally here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

#12 Milt Pappas

Milt Pappas  Baltimore Orioles

Career: Milt Pappas pitched very well for a very long time, first for the Orioles and then, after the trade he is most remembered for, the Reds, Cubs, and Braves. He won 209 games, pitched a no-hitter  (coming within an out of a perfect game), started the 1965 All-Star Game, saved one of the '62 ASGs, and admitted to grooving one that Roger Maris popped for his 59th in 1961.

The trade mentioned, of course, is the one that brought Frank Robinson to Baltimore in December of 1965. "Most lopsided trade of all time" is always tagged on to any mention of that deal and that always bothered Pappas. But he always felt a kinship to Charm City and was a special guest at a 2014 Old Timers reunion held by the Orioles.

In 1960:  Pappas had his second consecutive 15 win season. At 21 he was part of the 1960Baby Birds rotation along with Chuck Estrada (22 y.o.), Steve Barber (22) and  Jerry Walker (21). The Orioles jumped from sixth in 1959 to second in '60 by reversing their W/L from 69-85 to 85-69.

WikiFacts: From his Wikipedia page:
During his career, Pappas was in the top 10 in ERA eight seasons, in wins six seasons, fewest walks per nine innings nine seasons, complete games seven seasons, shutouts eight seasons, and he was tied for the league lead with a perfect fielding percentage (1.000) in four seasons. Pappas also hit 20 home runs as a pitcher; as of 2014, he is one of 13 pitchers to hit at least 20 home runs.

The Card: One of my favorite color combos and a cool Jack Davis cartoon. This is a card I specifically remember from when it was new. I likely pulled it from a cello pack my folks bought me at EJ Korvettes. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

#8 Bud Daley

Bud Daley  Kansas City Athletics

Career: Bud Daley worked his way through the Indians' chain and got a couple of brief (and very unsuccessful) shots in the majors in 1955-56. He had better results with a longer stay in 1957. As the '58 season approached he was traded to the Orioles and then, two weeks later, to the Athletics. He won 39 games in Kansas City with two trips to the All-Star Game before he was traded again, this time to the Yankees, in June of 1961.

With New York, he split his time between the rotation and the bullpen and won two World Series rings. He won the fifth and deciding game of the 1961 World Series with 6+ innings in relief of Ralph Terry.  He developed arm problems and missed much of the '63 season and retired after 1964.

In 1960: This was the second of his two consecutive 16 win seasons for a pretty terrible KC squad. But he also lost 16 games and his numbers across the board we down a bit from '59.

From WikiPedia...When Bud and [his brother] Pete Daley where batterymates in Kansas City, they were know as the only "Daley Double" in baseball. Bud moved to Lander, WY where he and his wife Dorothy, owned B&D Sprinklers, a lawn sprinkler company. As of January 2009, they were retired in Riverton, WY.
Daley's grandson, Jordan Pries, has played minor league ball since 2011, reaching AAA in 2014.

The Card: I must admit that the back's cartoon depiction of the Oriole is amusing.  When I pulled this card for scanning I noticed that it had a lot of gum residue on the front. Most came off but a rubbing alcohol treatment may be in order.  

Sunday, August 12, 2018

#6 Lou Berberet

Lou Berberet   Detroit Tigers

Career: Berberet was originally the property of the Yankees beginning in 1950. He spent some time in the military and then continued to put up pretty solid numbers at the plate in the minors. But as a catcher he had a roadblock named Yogi Berra in his way to say nothing of Johnny Blanchard, Elston Howard, Gus Triandos and longtime sub Charlie Silvera. It must have been like being the fifth son of the know you'll never sniff the throne. 

The Yanks dealt Berberet to the Senators before the 1956 season and he spent two years there sharing the catching job with Clint Courtney and Ed Fitz Gerald. Washington sent him on to the Red Sox early in the '58 season and then it was on to Detroit where he wrapped up his career in a platoon with Red Wilson.

In 1960: This was the final season in baseball for Berberet. He got nearly 300 plate appearances playing in half the games for the Tigers but hit just .194, his lowest full-season average. He then headed west to work in California as a sales manager in the liquor business, a career he continued later in Las Vegas until he retired.

WikiFacts: This nice tribute comes from his Associated Press obit in 2004:
Whether it was on the football fields and baseball diamonds of Long Beach as a youth, in major league club houses as a seven-year big league catcher or in a Las Vegas care facility following a 1993 stroke, Lou Berberet spent his life making friends.

"Especially here in Long Beach, everyone knew him," Tom Berberet said of his father, who passed away [on April 6, 2004] in Las Vegas after six months of heart trouble at the age of 74. "He never went any place where people didn't know him.

"He lived in Las Vegas for 26 or 27 years, but even now, people (in Long Beach) ask about him."

Card: Yes, that's a nice big jagged crease cutting across the card from the right edge. The corners are pretty soft as well. I keep a running tab on cards I might upgrade someday. My dealer friend Darrell has a bunch of 1960s in his bargain bin and I always forget to bring my list.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

#4 Bob Purkey

Bob Purkey Cincinnati Reds

Career: Purkey, who learned the knuckleball from Branch Rickey, started his career with the Pirates and ended with them as well. But in between he made his mark with the Reds winning 103 games over seven seasons there. He made three All Star squads and had a standout 1962 season with a 23-5 mark and ERA/WHIP  near the top of the league charts. He finished third in the Cy Young voting as well.

In the 1961 World Series he lost a tough 3-2 complete game decision to the Yankees in Game Three. He pitched two relief innings in the 'all hands on deck' fifth and final game of the Series.

In 1960: He went 17-11 after starting the year coming out of the bullpen.

WikiFacts: Purkey ran his own insurance agency in the vicinity of his hometown of Pittsburgh after his career ended.

The Card: Topps used identical pictures of Purkey in 1962 and '63 and reprised the 'action' shot on this card in '63.

Friday, August 10, 2018

#2 Roman Mejias

Roman Mejias Pittsburgh Pirates

Career: Mejias played in nine major league seasons after debuting with the Pirates in 1955. He was an original member of the 1962 Houston Colt 45s and had his best season that year. He hit 24 homers which is almost half his career total. He finished his career with the Red Sox in 1963/64 and then played a season in Japan. Happy Birthday to him as well. He turned 89 this week.

In 1960: He spent the bulk of the year in the minors and got only one big league at bat. With AAA Columbus he hit .278 and showed some power. Side note: He had only one at-bat with the Pirates in 1961 as well and had almost identical minor league stats.

WikiFacts: From his Wikipedia page:
On October 10, 1961, he was selected in the 11th round by Houston in the 1961 National League expansion draft, and was the starting right fielder in the Colt .45s' first Major League game on April 10, 1962. Batting third in Houston's lineup, Mejías had three hits in five at bats, with three runs scored and six runs batted in. He hit the first home run in Houston's Major League history, a three-run bomb off Don Cardwell in the third inning, and then followed with another three-run shot in the eighth off relief pitcher Al Lary, as the Colt .45s routed the visiting Chicago Cubs, 11–2. Mejías held the Colts' starting right fielder job all season, appearing in a career-high 146 games, and led Houston in hits (162), home runs (24), runs batted in (76), batting average (.286), stolen bases (12) and slugging percentage (.485).
And here's a snippet from a great SABR article on Mejias and his 1954 minor league team, the Waco Pirates. It is recommended reading.

Mejias in particular intrigued the parent Pirates. Born in Central Manuelita on August 9, 1930, he progressed to his third year of high school before going to work at his father’s side at 15 years old. Full of natural ability, he excelled in the Pedro Betancourt Amateur Baseball League in Cuba, and was later signed by Hall of Famer George Sisler who was scouting talent in the area. Mejias showed the propensity for hitting for average and power, had good speed on the basepaths, and played his outfield position ably, all tools which would serve him well on his climb to the big leagues

The Card: Topps liked to refer to the Pirates as the Corsairs. Every time I see that I think of this, one of my favorite doo-wop songs from back when it was my favorite music genre.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

#1 Early Wynn

Early Wynn, Chicago White Sox

Career: A Hall of Famer, Early Wynn won exactly 300 games over the course of 23 seasons. He pitched his entire career in the AL, hurling for the Nats, Indians and White Sox. He made a return engagement with Cleveland in 1963 and won that elusive #300 in Kansas City in June in a game in which he struggled to make five innings. That was the next-to-last start of his career.

In 1960: He was coming off his 22 win, Cy Young Award season. He went 13-12 with numbers that indicated his time as an ace was coming to a close. He was an All-Star for the seventh (and final) time and pitched two hitless innings in the second of two ASGs played that year.

WikiFact: He earned that '59 Cy Young at the age of 39 which is not the record for the oldest winner. Gaylord Perry (age 40) and Roger Clemens (age 42) were both older when they won. Wynn's award came during the time when one Cy Young was given out instead of one in each league.

The Card: Sometimes I'll have a comment on the card, sometimes I may post a card of the player that I have in my collection that I really like. For example, this beauty from the '53 Bowman Color set. Great card from a terrific set.

But I also should mention that I enjoy the fact that Wynn's Game One shutout of the Dodgers in the 1959 World Series is included in the Season's Highlights block.