Sunday, August 30, 2020

#245 Eddie Yost

Eddie Yost  Detroit Tigers

Career: Eddie Yost was known as 'The Walking Man", and for good reason. He led the AL in bases on balls six times and was in the Top 10 twelve times. The Brooklyn native signed with Washington in 1944 and debuted as a 17-year-old that year. He spent a year in the service and returned to the majors never having played a game in the minors.

Yost was an institution at third in Washington playing 14 seasons with the Senators. He made the 1952 AL All-Star team but didn't play in the game. He received some scattered MVP votes, even playing on some terrible clubs.

He was traded to the Tigers and was their starting third-baseman in 1959/60. He finished his playing career as a part-timer and player/coach with the Angels. Yost spent 23 seasons as a coach for the Senators, Mets, and Red Sox. He was on the staff of the Mets' NL title clubs in 1969 and 1973. He got his ring in '69.

He ranks eleventh on the all-time walks list

In 1960: This was Yost's final season as an everyday player. He led the AL in walks (again) and in .OBP for the second straight year. He hit a respectable .260 for the Tigers. They nonetheless left him unprotected in the expansion draft and he was taken 25th by the Angels.

Off The Charts: This is from a bio of Yost on DC Baseball History blog I stumbled across:
The Boston Red Sox invited Yost to work out with the team in Boston in 1943. They liked what they saw. But when the Sox sent a scout to his Brooklyn home to sign him, they learned, from his mother, that Eddie was in St. Louis with the Washington club. Yost signed with Washington before the 1944 season. Boston Manager and former Nats shortstop Joe Cronin told Washington Post sportswriter Shirley Povich at the time, “Any right handed hitter who would sign with Washington when he had a chance to shoot for our left field fence deserves no sympathy.” But the Nats had finished 2nd in 1943. Boston finished 7th.
Yost was the first Los Angeles Angel to appear in a game when he led off in the fledgling club's opener in Baltimore on April 11, 1961.

Yost earned a Masters in Physical education at NYU during the off-seasons in the early 50s. He had played baseball and basketball there as an undergrad before he joined the Senators.

The Card: Pencil scribbles on the reverse don't bug me much. I might dig up a better one when we get back to having card shows.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

#244 Hal Griggs

Hal Griggs   Washington Senators

Career: Hal Griggs pitched three full seasons in the majors, all with Washington. He began in the low minors in 1952 after a tryout with Hickory of the NC State League. His numbers were not good but he impressed with his 'live' arm. He was sold to the Senators and progressed up their chain and put together some fine minor league seasons. He made the '56 Senators without having pitched at the AAA level.

Griggs spent the majority of four-year tenure (spent most of 1957 in the minors) splitting time between the bullpen and a starter's role. After his days with the Nats he spent about four more years pitching winter ball and in the minors for a couple of organizations. He retired after the '63 season. He then turned to golf.

In 1960: Griggs was done with the majors, his last appearance coming the previous September on the final weekend of the '59 season. He split 1960 between three different minor league teams, at three different levels, for two organizations (Nats and Phils). His numbers were not particularly good with any of them.

Off The Charts: His given name is Harold Lloyd Griggs. Yes, he is named for the famous silent film star Harold Lloyd.

SABR sez: At the 23rd Annual National Baseball Players’ Golf Tournament, held at Miami Springs Golf Course, Griggs competed against big-league talent including Sandy Koufax, Duke Snider, and Maury Wills. The erstwhile Senator was only a shot off the lead after day one of the two-day February 1963 event. He finished with a respectable 36-hole 160, 12 shots behind tourney winner Virgil Trucks.

The Card: Cartoon reference to his on-the-field wedding. His SABR bio adds to it with this:
"Before his team’s game on June 20, 1952, Hal married Betty Robinson on the pitcher’s mound in Hickory. Regarding the site chosen for his nuptials, Griggs responded, “I couldn’t hit, so there was no sense getting married at home plate.”
The same bio reports:
According to one publication, he “kept the club’s spirits high with his sense of humor.”8 Griggs’s travel roommate and fellow pitcher Russ Kemmerer concurred. “He was a fun guy to be around,” said the hurler, “A prankster.” Another Washington pitcher, Dick Hyde, described Hal as a “good easy going southern boy….[who] liked his night life.” In the dugout, the nocturnally-active Griggs proclaimed his carefree philosophy: “I’m only going to be here once on this earth, and I’m really going to live it up.”

Friday, August 28, 2020

#243 Bubba Phillips

Bubba Phillips  Cleveland Indians

Career: Bubba Phillips was a better football than baseball player when he got to Southern Mississippi University. He'd only played softball in high school. But he became a diamond standout and he signed with the Tigers in 1948. He made the Tigers in 1955 after a minor league stretch and time in the Army. He played for the Tigers, Indians and White Sox as an outfielder and third baseman through 1964.

Phillips hit .255 for his career. He was never an all-star but got some scattered MVP votes in 1961.

In the 1959 World Series for the Sox, he played three games and went three for ten including a double.

In 1960: Despite a solid season in 1959 with the White Sox Phillips was dealt to the Indians as part of the trade that brought Minnie Minoso back to Chicago. Phillips went on to have the worst season of his career, hitting only .207 and losing his full-time job at third. But as noted, he bounced back with a nice season in 1961.

Off The Chart: Phillips had one small movie role, playing Coach Hardy for a 1981 biopic on Satchel Paige. The film, Don’t Look Back, starred Louis Gossett Jr. as Paige.

The Card: Fun cartoon of Bubba swimming with the fishes.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Cardinals Team Trio #242 #218 #468

The 1960 Cardinals finished third in the NL behind the Pirates. They were in the second division (now, there's a term that dates me) for the first half of the season and then climbed as high as second, three games back, on August 12. That was the middle of a four-game series in Pittsburgh in which they'd won the first two. Then the Bucs came back to win the next two and the Cards dropped back, never to be that close again.

They were led by Ken Boyer who was more-or-less a one-man wrecking crew. He led the team in almost all offensive categories. Many by a significant margin. He was even third on the team in steals.

This was before Bob Gibson became Bob Gibson and the Cards' staff was anchored by 18-game winner Larry Jackson. Ernie Broglio won 21 games while appearing in 52, starting 24 and relieving in the rest. It was a different game back then. Lindy McDaniel was the team's closer.

Partially checked checklist back. I have no problem with checked checklists.

From my 5 Tool blog: Solly was in the second of three years (2.5 actually) as Cardinals' manager. A long time Cardinal, he had returned to St. Louis from a stint with the Phils and gave the role of player/manager a shot in 1959. He didn't play much, just getting 26 at-bats, but after finishing in 7th place he came back in 1960 solely as the skipper. His team finished third. He was let go as manager mid-way through 1961 with the Cards in fifth.

In his 1960 card, he props himself on the railing and gazes off into the middle distance. He's probably hoping Stan Musial will play a few more years.

Topps with the nice cartoon back as usual. Hemus is yelling at himself in his previous player-manager role. Clever.

The coaches' card has a couple of future managers and a couple of former Cardinals players.

Howie Pollet was the ace of the '46 Cardinals World Series-winning club. He also won a ring as the pitching coach for the '64 Cards. Harry Walker was the 1947 NL batting champ. He played for eleven seasons in the NL for the cards and three other clubs. He had managed the Cards for part of the 1955 season prior to being on the staff for this card. He later managed the Pirates and Astros as well as serving as UAB's first head baseball coach.

Johnny Keane never played in the majors thanks in no small part to a serious head injury he suffered as a player in the Cards' chain in 1935. He was on the club's staff as a coach beginning in 1959 and took over as manager midway through 1961. He put together back-to-back 93-win seasons on 1963/64, culminating in a World Series title. For that, he was shown the door but landed in New York as the Yankees manager. He was replacing his Series opposite, Yogi Berra, who was similarly fired after a pennant.

Ray Katt was a backup catcher for the cards and Giants throughout the 1950s. Despite what the card blub claims, Katt played in 15 games in 1959. He was a player/coach in that final year. Katt, a Texas native, went back to Texas in the early 60s and coached high school ball then became an acclaimed college coach over 22 years at Texas Lutheran.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

#241 Albie Pearson

Albie Pearson  Baltimore Orioles

Career: Pearson, one of baseball's most interesting characters, signed with the Red Sox in 1953. He had originally signed (for a song) as a pitcher but the Class C San Jose club was short on position players and Pearson was given a spot in the outfield. He was very successful in the Sox' chain but never was able to break through to the majors.

Boston traded Pearson to the Senators in January of 1958 and he became the Nats' starting centerfielder. He hit .275 and excelled in the field. He won the RoY award over Ryne Duren and Gary Bell. 

It can't be very often that a player comes off a Rookie of the Year season and finds himself dealt off within a few months. That's what happened to Pearson in 1959. He was hurt and his bat failed him and the Senators traded him to the Orioles in May.

The Angels drafted him from the Orioles in the '61 expansion draft and he played the rest of his career with the Halos. He had his best overall season in 1963 and made the All-Star starting lineup, getting a couple of hits in the game. He played into the 1966 season and then retired to devote his life to his Christian ministries. That work continues today.

In 1960: Pearson split the year between the Orioles and their Miami AAA club hitting .244 in 48 games as the Orioles fourth outfielder. 

Off the Charts: From my post of his 1959 Topps cards over on that blog...

Since his retirement, Pearson has served as an ordained minister and he and his wife established Father's Heart Ranch in Desert Hot Springs, California, a home for abused, neglected and abandoned boys. His foundation feeds Zambian youth who have lost their family to AIDS.

Pearson is a Renaissance man of sorts. He dabbled as a recording artist, actor, golfer, and disc jockey.

This 1963 article in Sports Illustrated is a fun read. It mentions how Pearson wrote letters to both the Red Sox and Angels trying to persuade them to take a chance on a 5' 5" ballplayer. And it recalls the advice he got from Ted Williams.

Ok, this is cool....Jackie Robinson hosted a series of short (<4 minutes) radio interviews in the late 50s, and one of his guests was Albie Pearson. Enjoy.

And here are a few shots of Albie and Marilyn Monroe taken as he escorted her onto the field for a 1962 pregame something at Dodger Stadium. Because why the hell not?

The Card: One of my favorites here. Albie's '59 card was in the first pack of Topps cards I ever opened, the only one I remember. So I have casually picked up more of his cards thru the years.

That's Orioles pitcher Arnie Portacerrero to Pearson's right with his back to the camera. Portacerrero will have a card coming up here soon. I believe (but wouldn't gamble on) that Griffith Stadium is where this was taken. Comisky also had those types of windows behind the home plate sections but these just seem different. They seem to be wider than those in the old Chicago place. If I could see just a bit more of the upper set of windows I'd know for sure. Comiskey's were very distinctive. They looked like silhouettes of the Astrodome.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

#240 Luis Aparicio

Luis Aparicio  Chicago White Sox

Career: Signed by the White Sox out of Venezuela in 1954 on the recommendation of fellow Venezuelan shortstop Chico Carrasquel, Luis Aparicio went on to play for 18 seasons as a shortstop for three AL clubs, the White Sox, Orioles, and Red Sox. He was the 1956 AL Rookie of the Year after leading the league in assists, putouts, and stolen bases.

He played in two World Series, facing the Dodgers both times. He was on the losing end in 1959 with the Sox but got his ring with the Orioles in 1966. He was a ten-time All-Star, won nine Gold Gloves and led the AL in steals for the first nine years of his career. Aparicio received MVP votes as a 22-year-old rookie and as a 38-year-old vet in his next-to-last season in Boston (and eight times in-between). In 1959 Aparicio was second in the MVP balloting to teammate Nellie Fox.

Aparicio was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984. He is third on the list of games played at shortstop behind Omar Vizquel and Derek Jeter. He never appeared at another position other than shortstop.

In 1960: Coming off his near-MVP season Aparicio raised his numbers nearly across the board. His average jumped 20 points while his OPS, Slugging, and RBIs were also up. While he hit two homers as opposed to six the previous year and had eight fewer stolen bases, he again led the AL in almost every defensive category as a shortstop and he actually raised many of those stats. But his MVP share dropped to the point he was 22nd in the voting.

Off The Charts: Aparicio comes from a baseball family. His father, Luis Sr., was considered a superstar in Venezuela and has a stadium named for him in their hometown of Maracaibo. His uncle Ernesto, also a well-known player, was instrumental in teaching Luis Jr. the game. 

This quote is from Aparicio's page at the Hall of Fame site:

"He's the best I've ever seen,” former White Sox owner and future Hall of Famer Bill Veeck said in 1959. “He makes plays which I know can't possibly be made, yet he makes them almost every day.”

Friday, August 21, 2020

#239 Joe Shipley

Joe Shipley  San Francisco Giants

Career: Shipley had a bumpy 29 game career spread over four different seasons between 1958 and 1963. He began with the New York Giants in 1953 and spent eight years in their chain with three short looks at the majors.

Once the Giants sold him to Cleveland after the '60 season he bounced around through numerous organizations and pitched a partial season in Mexico as well. He lost his only major league decision during a brief time he had in the staff of the White Sox in 1963.

After his career ended he went back to his native Tennessee and was the baseball coach at East Tennessee State for over a decade.

His control problems on the mound were noted on the back of this card and humorously alluded to by former teammate and manager of the Giants, Felipe Alou.* This quote comes from a heavily firewalled (trust me) article on the SFGate website:

....Giants manager Felipe Alou said Giants pitcher Joe Shipley once heaved a fastball that went over the screen at Seals Stadium and clobbered a fan. "I heard he was ordered to hit somebody," says Alou. Mission accomplished. (Legend has it that as a minor-leaguer Shipley hit a batter who was in the on-deck circle.)

In 1960: He split the season (at least in terms of games) evenly between AAA Tacoma and San Francisco. He had 15 relief appearances for the Giants and although his ERA was ugly the rest of his numbers were decent, easily the best of his short career.

Off The Charts: The same SFGate article referenced above mentions that Shipley is reported to have once hit a batter...who was waiting his turn in the on-deck circle. It calls the tale a 'legend' and I can't find any mention of it anywhere else on the 'net. Or much else about Shipley either.

The Card: Nice color combo+Seals Stadium=a pretty cool card.

*=His 1959 rookie card had the same critique.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

#238 Danny Kravitz

Danny Kravitz  Pittsburgh Pirates

Career: Kravitz, yet another Pennsylvania native, began his pro career as an outfielder in the Pirates chain in 1949. He was a US Marine in 1952/53 and returned then to the Pirates. He was put behind the plate and made his way to the majors. After a few seasons of splitting time between the majors and the farm system, he was in the bigs in 1958 and served as the Pirates' back-up and pinch-hitter for a few years.

He was dealt to the Athletics where he played a season and then toured the minors in the Reds', Orioles', and Yankees' chains for three more years and called it a day. Over his five years, he hit .236 in 215 games and never displayed the bat he showed in the minors.

In 1960: The Bucs won the 1960 Series but, sadly, Kravitz had been traded to Kansas City in May and missed the party. In his nearly sixty games played he hit close to his career average. He was traded to the Reds after the season but never returned to the majors.

Off The Charts: His 2013 obit noted that his first major league home run occurred on May 11, 1956 in the bottom of the ninth inning with the bases loaded and the Pirates trailing the Philadelphia Phillies 5-2. Kravitz' walk-off grand slam gave the Pirates a 6-5 win.

His SABR bio has an odd vide to it, unlike most of those bios I've read. It's as if it was written by his brother-in-law. It addresses weird stuff like the tone of voice he and his wife used to speak to each other. I dunno, maybe it's just me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

#237 Elmer Valo

Elmer Valo  New York Yankees

Career: Elmer Vallo was signed by the Philadelphia Athletics way back in 1939. He spent the rest of that season and most of the next two tearing up minor league pitching. He got a few moments to shine in Philly back then and he proved that major league hurlers were not that much more of a challenge than the minor leaguers he faced.

He nabbed a spot in the Athletics' outfield in 1942 and regressed some. Then Uncle Sam called him up the following year. When he returned from the military in 1946 he ran off a string of six excellent seasons. He hit nearly .300 from '46 through '52.

He continued as a semi-regular outfielder, bench piece, and pinch hitter through 1961 playing for the Athletics after their move to KC, the Indians, Dodgers, Senators/Twins, Phils, and Yankees. His career average was .282 and he went on to coach, manage (in the minors), and scout for many years after his playing days were done.

Valo played big-league ball for 20 seasons but never appeared in a post-season game.

In 1960: Elmer, who had signed as a free agent over the winter, wasn't long for Broadway. He played in eight games for the Yanks,. He went 0-for-5 as a pinch-hitter and was released on May 23rd. He signed the next day with the Senators and continued serving as a pinch hitter as he had in NY. He hit .281 in 86 plate appearances over 76 games off the bench.

Off The Charts: Valo was born in Rybník, Czechoslovakia, and emigrated to the United States with his family at the age of six. Only one other big leaguer, Jack Quinn, who pitched from 1909 to 1933 for many different clubs, is listed as being born in what is now known as Slovakia.

Wikipedia contributes this..."Valo stated that he had a plate appearance for Philadelphia on September 30, 1939. If true, Valo would join Ted Williams, Mickey Vernon, and Early Wynn as the only four-decade players of the 1930s to the 1960s. The box score for the game does not list Valo — he claimed that he was left out by the official scorer, as he was not under contract with Philadelphia at the time.
On May 1, 1949, Valo became the first major league player to hit two bases-loaded triples in a game"

The Card: Valo appears in his '59 Indians uni in the B&W shot (his cap is crudely redrawn with the Yankees' 'NY'). The main photo has the LA Memorial Coliseum in the background so it's probably from Valo's 1958 season with the newly relocated Dodgers.

You'd think Topps could fill up the text box for a guy with the long career Valo had. But they put so little there that the spacing makes it look like a random word salad.

Red/yellow/black/red/black* is the most common combo for Yankees cards in the 1960 set. It's used on 13 of them and on 23 cards total. I'm wrapping up the formatting and proofing of my Excel file with the colors for this set.


*=the colors listed cover these elements in this order:
'action photo' background
text box background
first letter of name
second letter of name (these last two form the alternating pattern)
team and position test line

Monday, August 17, 2020

#235 Gus Bell

Gus Bell  Cincinnati Reds

The Card: Yes, I changed the setup a bit, this card is awesome AF. I've wondered what it was that tickled Gus so.

...Did Jerry Lynch depants him as the shot was taken?

...Did Walt Dropo depants the photographer as the shot was taken?

...Make your own guess in the comments if so inclined.

 Topps managed to squeeze nine highlights from Bell's '59 season onto the back.

Career: Outfielder Gus Bell carved out a fine career that covered 13 full seasons and bits of two more. Originally with Pittsburgh, Bell was a four-time NL All-Star. He had his longest, and most productive run, with the Reds from 1953 through 1961. Over that stretch, he had six seasons of hitting .290+ and had double-digit homers in all but one campaign.

He was one of seven Reds players who benefited from their fans stuffing the All-Star ballot boxes in  1957. Bell was replaced in the starting All-Star lineup but did enter the game as a pinch hitter for Frank Robinson and had a 2-RBI hit.

He finished as a part-timer for the Braves after a few months with the original '62 Mets. He'd been the eighth pick of the expansion draft and was an Opening Day starter. He was the first Met to reach base when he singled in the second inning.

He made three hitless pinch-hitting appearances in the '61 World Series. That was the end of his days in Cincinnati.

In 1960: Bell's number slipped from his excellent '59 campaign. His average was off by 31 points (down to .262) and his homers and RBI declined as well This proved to be his last year as an everyday outfielder with the Reds (or anywhere else for that matter).

Off The Charts: Gus Bell was the patriarch of a baseball family that included his son and two grandsons. Son Buddy was a long-time third base fixture for the Reds, Indians, and Rangers as well as serving as a big-league manager for nearly a decade. Grandson Mike played for many years in the minors and had a cup'o'coffee with the Reds in 2000.

Gus' other grandson, David, played for 12 seasons as an infielder for a number of different clubs. He had a respectable career and I was initially puzzled as to why his name didn't even remotely ring a bell with me. Then I saw that he played from 1995 through 2006. That span perfectly parallels my time away from baseball.

I also just found out that David Bell is the current manager of the Reds. For a guy with three fantasy baseball teams, I don't pay enough attention.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

#234 Don Demeter

Don Demeter  Los Angeles Dodgers

Career: As a Brooklyn Dodger signee in the early 50s Demeter, a centerfielder, drew comparisons to then Dodger star Duke Snider. He obviously didn't hit that level as a player but he had a nice eleven-year career that included a World Series ring with the '59 Dodgers.

He also played for the Phils, Tigers, Red Sox, and Indians. A modest man, Demeter says he would have liked to have been around Boston for the '67 pennant run. But he claims that the deal that sent him to the Indians that summer for Gary Bell was the pivotal piece in the Red Sox season.

Demeter, always referred to as tall and lanky (6'4 190), retired at the age of 32 saying that as much as he enjoyed baseball there were other things in life he wanted to pursue. He finished with a .265 career average and 163 homers. He received MVP votes a few times in the early 60s during his time with the Phils.

In 1960: Demeter was hitting .274 and showing new-found consistency early in July when he collided with teammate Maury Wills and fractured his wrist. That ended his season and the injury likely led to a slow start in 1961 that prompted a trade to the Phillies.

Off The Charts: Demeter, a man of great faith, founded and ministered a church in his hometown of Oklahoma City.

This great little six-minute video was made by Demeter's granddaughter a decade ago. A nice mix of highlight clips and Demeter talking about his life in the game, his family, and his faith.

Demeter and his wife lost their son, Todd, to Hodgkin’s Disease in 1996. Todd Demeter had been a second-round pick of the Yankees who had not reached the majors and was working in his father's business.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

#232 Jim Busby

Jim Busby  Boston Red Sox

Career: A multi-sport star at TCU, Jim Busby brokered his speed and decent-enough hitting ability into a 13-season career, mostly in the AL. He had runs with the White Sox (twice), the Senators, Indians, Red Sox and Orioles (twice) in the junior circuit. He capped that with a short run with the Colt 45s in their inaugural 1962 season. Busby covered a lot of outfield ground and led the AL in several defensive categories on multiple occasions.

He made the 1951 All-Star team with the White Sox and was fifth in the AL in hitting in '52 with a .312 average. He was a top ten base stealer for four seasons.

As his playing career wound down he served as a player/coach for the Orioles and the Colt .45s before going into coaching full time. He was frequently on the staff of teams run by fellow north Texan Paul Richards.

One of Busby's sons played for a few years in the Pirates system in addition to helping his father run his citrus grove business. Jim Busby died in 1996 at the age of 69.

In 1960: Busby appeared in the Sox' home opener against the Yankees on April 19. He replaced Ted Williams in left for the top of the ninth. One week later he was released. The Orioles picked him up and he played a month for their AAA club in Miami and was called up in mid-June. He played as their fourth outfielder and a pinch-runner/defensive replacement in nearly 80 games over the rest of the season. He hit .258 in this, his second stint in Charm City.

Off The Charts: Busby's SABR bio notes his great foot speed with this..."In a college track meet he dashed 100 yards in 9.8 seconds, one-half second off the world record at the time. In the majors he was clocked from home to first base in 3.4 seconds, 3/10 of a second slower than Mickey Mantle. Busby tried to promote a match race against Mantle, but the Yankees wouldn’t allow it."

#231 Hal Naragon

Hal Naragon  Washington Senators

Career: Hal Naragon signed with his home state Indians in 1947 and made it to the majors in 1952. He was unique in that his numbers got better as he climbed up through the Cleveland system. He also had a two-year detour as he served with the US Marines.

Over his ten-year big league career, playing for the Indians and Senators/Twins, he was never a primary catcher. His busiest season was 1959 when he got into 85 games that bracketed a May trade to the Senators for another long-time reserve backstop, Ed Fitz Gerald.

Naragon hit a respectable .266 for his career which included playing for the 111-win '54 AL Champ Indians. He caught three Hall of Fame pitchers for that club (Wynn, Feller, and Lemon) and made a defensive appearance in Game Three of the Series that year.

He spent many years as a coach after his playing days and was on the staff of the 1965 Twins team that won the AL crown and the '68 Tigers where he earned a World Series ring that he wore proudly until his passing at the age of 90 almost exactly one year ago.

In 1960: He struggled for playing time with the Nats and was only in 33 games, the fewest of his career up to that point. His .207 average was below his career norm. Game logs for that season show some fairly big gaps between appearances so injuries may have played a part in all this.

Off The Charts: Naragon's school, Barberton (Ohio) High, recognizes star baseball players with the Hal Naragon Award and the school’s baseball field is named in his honor.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

#229 Joe Morgan

Joe Morgan  Kansas City Athletics

Career: Topps described Joe Morgan as a 'young star' but in the course of four rather harried seasons he played for five teams and only once had more than 50 trips to the plate. He had been signed by the Boston Braves in 1952 and, after a long climb through the minors and a military detour, he debuted with the Braves in 1959.

After an 'interesting' 1960 season (see below) he played for several years in the minors for a variety of clubs and after an absence of nearly three seasons, got a couple at-bats with the '64 Cardinals.

After managing in the Red Sox chain he was elevated to the dugout job in Fenway Park in 1988 and over four seasons he took the Sox to a pair of AL East titles. His team lost both AL title series in four games to Oakland. Morgan ended his managerial career with a 301-262 record.

In 1960: This was Morgan's busiest season (boy, was it!) as he played in 48 games and got 130 at-bats. Interestingly, he was the property of four clubs over the course of the year. And none of his at-bats came with the team he is shown with, the Athletics. In August of 1959, he had been sold to KC by the Braves. In April of 1960 the A's returned him to Milwaukee. He spent the first few months of the season with the Braves' AAA team before being traded to the Phillies for Al Dark in June. The Phils then sold his contract to Cleveland in August.

Off The Charts: Morgan coached the Pawtucket Red Sox from 1971 to 1982 and was the longest-serving manager in the club’s history. Morgan is the only manager to be inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame, an honor he earned in 2017. In his nine years at the helm, Morgan compiled a franchise-record 601 career wins and is the only person in the history of the International League to win both the league MVP and Manager of the Year awards.

And He Is Really Off The Charts: References to this Joe Morgan are buried so deep in Wikipedia behind the 'other', (Hall Of Famer) Joe Morgan, that I wasn't sure I could do much of a post. How bad is it? Well, if you go to this Morgan's Baseball-Reference page and click the link to his page at the Bullpen Wiki, you are sent to HoF Morgan's info. You have to locate the note at the top that then directs you to this Joe Morgan. Sheesh.

I was able to find that he played hockey as well as baseball at Boston College. The cartoon on the card references his exploits on the ice. Wikipedia reports that he led the Eagles in points his junior year.

Monday, August 10, 2020

#228 Ernie Johnson

Ernie Johnson   Cleveland Indians

Career: Johnson was a steady and dependable reliever for the Braves through much of the 1950s. He spent a year with the Braves' lowest minor league team after signing at 18 in 1942 and then served three years in the Marines during WWII. Returning to the game in 1946, he was a starter as he moved up the ladder. He made his big league debut in 1950.

Johnson made the Braves' staff for good in 1952 and soon became a fixture in their 'pen. He pitched very well in the '57 Series win for the Braves in 1957. In three games he allowed only two hits over 7+ innings. He took the tough-luck loss in Game Six when he allowed Hank Bauer's homer as one of only two hits he gave up in 4 1/3 innings. But he got his ring.

He had his only poor season for the Braves in 1958 and was farmed out, missing the '58 Series. He was then dealt to the Orioles for what was to be his final season as a player.

In 1960: When this card was being pulled from packs in the spring of 1960 Johnson had already finished his playing career. After being dealt to the Indians the previous winter Johnson had arm issues in training camp and retired.

Off The Charts: When he retired Johnson returned to Milwaukee and got into broadcasting. He joined the Braves' broadcasting crew and stayed with the club through 1999 as part of the TBS Superstation broadcast team. His son, Ernie Jr, followed him into the booth and is well known for his duties with TBS, TNT, and CBS doing baseball and basketball.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

#210 Harmon Killebrew

Harmon Killebrew  Washington Senators

Career: Harmon Killebrew, elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984, was the face of the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins franchise beginning with his first full season in 1959 and continuing through to the early 1970s. He is one of 30 Idaho natives to make the majors, and the only Hall of Famer.

From Baseball Reference's Bullpen page...

Notable Achievements

  • 11-time AL All-Star (1959, 1961 & 1963-1971)
  • AL MVP (1969)
  • AL On-Base Percentage Leader (1969)
  • AL Slugging Percentage Leader (1963)
  • 6-time AL Home Runs Leader (1959, 1962-1964, 1967 & 1969)
  • 3-time AL RBI Leader (1962, 1969 & 1971)
  • 4-time AL Bases on Balls Leader (1966, 1967, 1969 & 1971)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 13 (1959-1967 & 1969-1972)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 10 (1959-1964, 1966, 1967, 1969 & 1970)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 8 (1959, 1961-1964, 1967, 1969 & 1970)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 9 (1959, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1967 & 1969-1971)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 2 (1967 & 1969)
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1984

In 1960: After his first All-Star season in 1959, Killebrew's numbers fell off a bit in 1960. While he raised his average over 30 points his homers and RBI totals were down. He didn't receive any MVP votes or make the All-Star squad, a situation that didn't occur again until the end of the decade.

Off The Charts: Killebrew led all of MLB with 393 homers in the 1960s, topping 40 six times during the decade – in which he also led the AL in homers six times.  In 1965, Killebrew was elected to start at first base for AL All-Star team, becoming the first player elected to an All-Star Team at three positions (Killebrew had previously been elected to start at 3B and LF).

Thursday, August 6, 2020

#209 Ron Blackburn

Ron Blackburn  Pittsburgh Pirates

Career: Blackburn was a grinder in the Pirates' chain beginning with his 1953 signing. His numbers were mediocre at best but he made the majors in 1958 (his card notes a big spring training) and he pitched 63 innings, mostly out of the bullpen. In 1959 he had comparable stats but was shipped out in July and never returned to the big leagues. The final career data: 3 wins, 2 losses, a 3.50 ERA, and four saves in a season and a half.

In 1960: Relegated to AAA, Blackburn stayed there for 1960 (and most of the next four years. Splitting the year between the Bucs' two top minor league clubs, he didn't do much to earn another look by the Pirates.

Off The Charts: Wikipedia tells us that..."Following his playing retirement In 1964, Blackburn became a teacher and baseball coach at Western Carolina University, where he also attended school. The family lived in Cullowhee, North Carolina from 1964-1969 before moving to Morganton, North Carolina, where he worked as recreation director at the Western Correctional Center"

Blackburn made a detour into the Orioles system on his way up the ladder to the majors and spent a year with the Dodgers' AAA team on the way down. Baseball-Reference has no record of any transactions. Maybe those other clubs just borrowed him because they liked his smile.

The Card: Blackburn is wearing the batting helmet that the Pirates' pitchers sported on the mound in those days.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

#207 Bob Boyd

Bob Boyd  Baltimore Orioles

Career: Bob Boyd was a member of the Memphis Red Sox in the Negro Leagues in the late 40s. He became the first black player to sign with the Chicago White Sox in 1950 and made his major league debut in 1951 at the age of 31. After being held up in the Cardinals' chain for a few years, he played nine major league seasons including five with the Orioles. The man could hit line drives. His nickname was 'The Rope'. He had a career .293 average.

In 1960: Boyd had been the Orioles leading hitter for several years but he lost his spot at first base to the more powerful Jim Gentile. He played some outfield and pinch-hit and finished with a .317 average in less than a hundred at-bats.

Off The Charts: Boyd was the first player in the modern history of the Baltimore Orioles to hit over .300 in a season.

Monday, August 3, 2020

#206 Claude Osteen

Claude Osteen  Cincinnati Reds

Career: Osteen took some time to get it going but once he did he was a top-notch pitcher for a run of strong Dodger clubs. He came out of his Ohio high school as a much-ballyhooed athlete and signed with the Reds in 1957 and even got into one big league game that same week as a 17-year-old. He spent several years moving up and down between the Reds and their AAA club and ran out of options after a demotion in 1961.

Rather than risk losing him to a Rule 5 claim after the season the Reds dealt him to the Senators. He found his stride in D.C. and had three solid seasons for the Nats. His stock rose to the point where they could deal him to the Dodgers for Frank Howard after a 15-win 1964.

With the Dodgers, he had nine double-digit win seasons and made three NL All-Star squads. He was in the shadows of some Dodger greats like Koufax, Drysdale, and Sutton and never got the recognition he deserved.

He pitched exceptionally well in both the 1965 and 1966 World series. Although he was 1-2 in three starts his numbers were much better than that. In 21 innings he allowed just 12 hits and two earned runs. He posted an ERA of 0.86 and a 0.857 WHIP.

The Dodgers traded him to the Astros for Jimmy Wynn in December of 1973 and he wound up his career with Houston, the Cardinals, and the White Sox. He was out of baseball after 1975.

In 1960: He spent the year sitting in the Reds' bullpen because he was out of options and they couldn't risk losing him. He got into 20 games and lost his only decision in a spot start against the Giants. Overall his ERA of 5.03 wasn't indicative of what was to come.

Off The Charts: Osteen's nickname was 'Gomer' because of his resemblance to TV's Gomer Pyle as played by Jim Nabors.

The Card: Is the same picture used here for the main shot and the b/w 'action' shot? Looks like it. Osteen's eyes are sorta/kinda not looking the same way in the two pics but the main color pic is 'Flexochromed' so the artist/retoucher can play around with those sorts of details.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

#205 Johnny Logan

Johnny Logan  Milwaukee Braves

Career: Logan was a four-time All-Star as the Braves' starting shortstop through the 50s. He was a spark plug on their '57/'58 NL title teams. He received MVP votes nearly every year in Milwaukee. Logan began as a pro with an extended run in the then-Boston Braves system where he showed an ability to hit and field very well. His rise thru their chain was slowed because they had Alvin Dark clogging the ladder at the top.

He didn't have much luck at the plate during the two Series he played in, but he did homer off Bobby Shantz in Game Two of the '57 Classic, a game won by Lou Burdette. Logan finished his career with a run in Pittsburgh as a bench piece, after which he played one season in Japan before retiring.

In 1960: This was his last full season with the Braves. His numbers were down across the board with his average falling nearly 50 points and his homers going from 13 to 7. It also ended up also being his last year as an everyday player.

Off The Charts: He had a radio show in Milwaukee for a brief time after baseball and then worked as a welder on the Alaska Pipeline Project. He also dabbled in Milwaukee County politics by running for sheriff a few times while jumping back and forth between the Republican and Democratic tickets.