Thursday, October 8, 2015

2015 Post-Season - Royals vs. Astros

Ok, the Astros made it past the Yankees in a 1-game Wild-card playoff. Now they take on the Kansas City Royals in the ALDS.

I was going to scan some of my 1967 Kansas City cards, but it turns out they were the Athletics, not the Royals. ;)    So, here are some late-series 1969 cards - the first to show the Royals in their new uniforms.

We already saw the 1967 Astros' best players a few posts ago, so here are some 2nd-tier guys.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

2015 Post-Season - Cubs vs. Pirates

Tonight I'm turning back the clock on the NL Wild Card teams.

The Pirates won the World Series in 1971, defeating the Orioles. They repeated that feat over the Orioles again in 1979.

The Cubs? Well, they're the Cubs.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

2015 Post-Season - Astros vs. Yankees

Well not quite 2015, but 1967 "Heritage".

Here are the stars from these 2 teams back in 1967. (Of course, in '67 both teams finished in or near the basement.)

Coincidentally, the Astros are the first team, and Yankees the last team, in each of my binders from 1965 to 1972, as I have arranged my binders alphabetically by teams (NL: Astros to Reds, AL: Angels to Yankees).

Sunday, October 4, 2015

J.C. Martin (#538)

This is the 3rd consecutive 1967 high-number card posted. Let’s see how long I can maintain the streak… 

At age 78, J. C. Martin is the oldest living player from the 1966-70 era that I have not yet featured on one of my blogs.

J. C. was a backup catcher who stretched his career to 14 seasons. His first 9 were with the White Sox. After 2 seasons with the Mets (including the 1969 Champs), he returned to Chicago with the Cubs.

Martin was signed by the White Sox in 1956, and played 5 seasons in the minors (with a few MLB games in ’59 and ’60) before getting a full-time job with the Sox in 1961. He was with the Sox for the entire ’61 season, but as the backup at 1st and 3rd bases. (He had no catching experience up to this point.)

Martin returned to the minors for most of the 1962 season to learn the catching trade, and was the #1 backstop for the Sox’ class-A team in Savannah, GA.

J. C. returned to the bigs in 1963, and was the backup catcher for the Sox for the next 5 seasons, playing behind Cam Carreon for 2 seasons, and Johnny Romano for 2 seasons. (In 1964 he actually caught more games than Carreon, who missed part of the season with an injury.) In 1967 he split the catching chores with rookie Duane Josephson.

Martin was sent to the Mets after the 1967 season as the player to be named later for Ken Boyer, who was acquired in mid-1967. Backing up #1 catcher Jerry Grote, J.C. started 52 games behind the plate and another 13 games at 1st base in 1968, and made 44 starts behind the dish in 1969. He played 2 games in the 1969 NLCS (collecting 2 RBI) and 1 game in the World Series.

His time to bask in the World Championship glow was short, as he was traded to the Cubs the following March for backup catcher Randy Bobb. Martin played 3 seasons with the Cubs before he was released during spring training in 1974.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Juan Pizarro (#602)

Juan Pizarro appeared in the rare 7th series in the 1967 set. I didn’t get this card until the 1980s, so for a long time my only Pizarro cards were from 1968 (looking surly, with a hole in his shirt) and 1969 (a capless, big-head shot). I'm impressed that this isn't a capless card, since '67 was his first season with the Pirates.

Pizarro played for 8 teams over 18 years (1957-74). He was primarily a starting pitcher for his first 9 years (seasons spent with the Braves and White Sox). After that he was mostly a reliever (except for his 1971 season with the Cubs).

Juan was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1956, and after a full season in Class-A ball, he split each of the next 3 seasons (57-59) between the Braves and their AAA club. He was a swing man with the Braves, pitching behind Warren Spahn, Lew Burdette, Joey Jay, and Bob Buhl in the rotation, and closer Don McMahon in the ‘pen. Pizarro pitched 1 inning each in the ’57 and ’58 World Series.

On Dec 15, 1960 the Braves traded Pizarro to the Reds (with pitcher Joey Jay) for SS Roy McMillan. On the same day, the Reds flipped him to the White Sox for 3rd baseman Gene Freese. Juan played for the White Sox from 1961-66, and had his best seasons in 1963 (16 wins) and 1964 (19 wins). He made the all-star team in both seasons.
Juan became a nomad after the 1966 season. Traded to the Pirates for pitcher Wilbur Wood, he lasted with the Bucs until June 1968, when he was purchased by the Red Sox.

In April 1969 he was traded to the Indians with pitcher Dick Ellsworth and 1B-OF Ken Harrelson for catcher Joe Azcue and pitchers Sonny Siebert and Vicente Romo. Later that season he moved on to the Athletics, and to the Angels in early 1970.

Pizarro landed with the Cubs in July 1970, and stayed there for exactly 36 months – the longest stint in the 2nd half of his career. He returned to a starter’s role with the Cubs, although he spent part of 1971 and the first half on 1973 in the minors.

Juan played the 2nd half of the ’73 season with the Astros, then was released the following spring. He played in the Mexican League in 1974, until the Pirates signed him in late August.

Released after the season, he returned to the Mexican League for the ’75 and ’76 seasons before retiring.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Wally Bunker (#585)

This is my oldest Wally Bunker card, but not my first. Bunker is one of the four Orioles’ cards (along with Brooks Robinson, manager Hank Bauer, and an O’s Rookies card featuring Mark Belanger) in the high-numbered 7th series which was not sold in my area in 1967. I got his ’68 card (Orioles) and ’69 card (Royals) in those years, but it was not until the 1980s that I collected all but 5 of the '67 high-numbers.

The O’s #3 starter in 1966, Wally pitched a complete-game shutout in the ’66 World Series, but wasn’t shown on the post season cards in the 1967 set either. (Paul Blair was featured on the game #3 card.)

Bunker was one of the mid-1960s' pitching phenoms for the Orioles (along with Dave McNally and Jim Palmer). He was signed by the Orioles in 1963, and after going 10-1 with 95 strikeouts in 99 innings in class A ball, he made his major-league debut on Sept 29th.

Wally made the Orioles squad for good in the 1964 pre-season, and was the team’s ace as a rookie – winning 19 games and finishing 2nd in the Rookie of the Year voting (to the Twins’ Tony Oliva).

He followed up his rookie season with two 10-win seasons, and a complete-game shutout of the Dodgers in game #3 in the World Series (sandwiched between Palmer’s complete-game shutout in game #2 and McNally’s complete-game shutout in game #4).

Wally struggled for the next 2 seasons, as sore arms swept through the O’s starting rotation (Bunker, Palmer, McNally). Bunker only won 5 games combined in 67-68, and spent much of ’67 in the bullpen, and part of ’68 in triple-A. As such, he was left unprotected for the expansion draft following 1968, and was selected (along with Orioles’ teammate Moe Drabowsky) by the upstart Kansas City Royals.

Bunker was the Royals’ first-ever opening-day starter in 1969, and led the staff with 31 starts, 222 innings, and 12 wins.

Arm troubles cropped up again, leaving him with a 2-11 record in 1970, and led to his release following his final game on 5/26/1971. He played for the Royals’ AAA team for the remainder of 1971 and part of 1972 before retiring.

In recent years, Bunker has been a writer and illustrator of childrens’ books.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Johnny Edwards (#202)

Here is my 220th post on this blog - 5 years to the day after my first post. I first stumbled upon the Google blogging community a day earlier, when I found and commented on this post on the 1969 Topps blog, which was formerly owned by Pack Addict (now known as SociallyAwkwardJellyFish). 

I began this 1967 blog on 9/25/2009 with two posts. Three days later I published FIVE posts! Within that first week I also started the 1960s Baseball and 1968 Topps blogs, and a few weeks later, the 1966 Topps blog. The 1970 and 1963 Topps blogs came along about a year after that. In January 2012 I took over the 1969 Topps blog (from Pack Addict), which had been idle for almost 2 years. 

Along the way, I have learned something about a lot of these players (especially the pre-1967 players, which was before my card-collecting time as a kid), and also “met” a lot of interesting bloggers, starting with Jim @ The Phillies Room, Paul @ Wrigley Wax, Steve @ White Sox Cards, CommishBob @ 1959 Topps, and Matt @ 1976, 77, 78 Topps, to name but a few. 

Anyway, it’s been a great 5-year ride. 

Johnny Edwards had the distinction of keeping the Reds’ catching gear warm for another Johnny (Bench) from 1962 thru Bench’s debut in September 1967. Edwards had a 14-year major-league career: 7 seasons with the Reds, 1 with the Cardinals, and 6 with the Astros.

Edwards was signed by the Reds in 1959, and after 2 1/2 seasons as a starting catcher in the minors, he was promoted to the Reds in late-June 1961, and shared the staring assignments with incumbent Jerry Zimmerman (who was also in his rookie season). Johnny hit .364 with 2 doubles in the 1961 World Series.

Zimmerman was traded to the Twins after the season, paving the way for Johnny to become the full-time catcher in 1962. He started 124 games in ’62, his first of 6 consecutive seasons as the Reds’ #1 catcher. Edwards made the all-star team every season from 1963-65, and won 2 Gold Gloves during that span. The high point in playing time was his 141 starts in 1963, after which he shared the catching load with Don Pavletich (his minor-league teammate in 1961).

Always a top defensive catcher, Johnny put up good offensive numbers until breaking a finger during spring training 1966. Edwards started 84 games that season, with Pavletich starting 46 and Jimmie Coker 30. 1967 was Edwards’ last in Cincinnati. He and Pavletich both started 57 games, but Johnny Bench was called up in late August and started 26 of the final 32 games. The Bench Era had started.

Edwards was traded to the Cardinals after the 1967 season for backup catcher Pat Corrales and minor-league infielder (and future manager) Jimy Williams. After one season backing up Tim McCarver (and appearing in the 1968 World Series), Edwards was traded to the Astros (who had lost both their incumbent catchers (John Bateman and Ron Brand) to the Expos in the expansion draft) for pitcher Dave Giusti and catcher Dave Adlesh.

Johnny spent the next 4 seasons (1969-72) as the Astros’ #1 catcher. By 1972, ex-Reds teammates Lee May and Tommy Helms joined Edwards in Houston, via the Joe Morgan deal.

Edwards began the 1973 season as the #1 catcher, but by mid-June had given way to 2nd-year catcher Skip Jutze, who played the majority of games in the 2nd half. 1974 was Johnny’s final season, and he was relegated to the bench, in favor of ex-Pirates’ backstop Milt May.

One of the SABR gurus has rated Edwards as the 2nd-best defensive catcher in baseball history.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Hey Arnold!

After a 3-week absence, Robert over at the $30 a Week Habit blog is resuming his 16-set tournament, where bloggers vote for which set he should complete next. The Final Four is down to the 1959, 1963, 1967, and 1974 sets.

Besides all the reasons given in the previous round, how can you NOT vote for a set with this card?

(I discovered today that this was Earley's only Topps card, despite having played full seasons for the Red Sox from 1962 to 1965.)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fred Gladding (#192)

Fred Gladding was a relief pitcher from 1961 to 1973. He played his first 7 seasons with the Tigers, and the last 6 with the Astros. In 450 career games, he only made one start. At age 78, he is the oldest living player from the 1966-70 era that I haven’t featured on my blogs yet.

Gladding was signed by the Tigers in 1956, and pitched in their farm system from 1956 to 1960, mostly as a starting pitcher. Fred also spent most of the ’61 and ’62 seasons in the minors, but was used more and more as a reliever.

Fred made his major-league debut in July 1961, making 8 appearances in July and August. He also played 6 games early in 1962 before returning to the minors.

He returned to the Tigers for good in late-July 1963, and manned Detroit’s bullpen for the next 4 ½ seasons. Gladding was always behind either Larry Sherry or Terry Fox (or both) until 1967, when he led the team with 12 saves. (Wow, that seems low by today’s standards!) He also had a 1.99 ERA that season.

Fred missed out on the Tigers' 1968 championship team, as he was sent to the Astros after the 1967 season to complete an earlier trade for Eddie Mathews.

Gladding missed all but 7 games in 1968, but returned the following season to head up the Astros’ bullpen. At age 33, he was the oldest player on the roster, and managed to lead the NL with 29 saves.

Although he never again duplicated his 1969 numbers, he continued to lead the Astros in saves from 1970 to 1972.

Fred began the 1973 season where he left off in ’72, but after pitching in 16 games by early June, he spent the 2nd half of the season in the minors, and was released in October.

From Wikipedia:
“Gladding has the distinction of having the lowest non-zero lifetime batting average in major league history. For his career he batted .016 (1 for 63).”