Thursday, February 7, 2019

RIP - Frank Robinson

Frank Robinson, the only man to win the MVP in both leagues, passed away today February 7, 2019 at age 83.

(My first Frank Robinson card)

Robinson played for 21 seasons. The first 10 with the Reds, then 6 with the Orioles. He wrapped up his career with brief stops in Los Angeles, Anaheim, and Cleveland.

Some accomplishments: 
1956 NL Rookie of the Year
14-time All-Star
2-time MVP (NL-1961, AL-1966)
1966 Triple Crown winner
Played in 5 World Series (Reds - 1, Orioles - 4)
Led his league in Runs 3 times
Hit 586 career home runs (4th place at time of retirement)
First African-American manager (Cleveland - 1975)
Managed the Indians, Giants, Orioles, and Expos/Nationals, for a total of 16 seasons.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982

When Frank came over from the Reds, he immediately provided veteran leadership for the Orioles, and kept the team loose. One of the first photos I remember seeing of him was holding "Kangaroo Court" in the clubhouse:

WBAL (Baltimore) obituary

WLWT (Cincinnati) obituary

Monday, February 4, 2019

RIP - Bob Friend

Long-time Pirates' hurler Bob Friend passed away on February 3, 2019 at age 88, in Pittsburgh.

He pitched for the Bucs from 1951 to 1965, and was a 3-time All-Star. He led the NL with 22 wins in 1958 (but also led with 19 losses in '59 and '61).

Friend was 18-12 during the Pirates' 1960 championship season, and made his final All-Star team that year. He continued in the Pirates' starting rotation through his last season in Pittsburgh ('65) at age 34.

After the '65 season, he was traded to the Yankees for reliever Pete Mikkelsen, but by mid-1966 had crossed town to play for the Mets. He retired after that season.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette obituary

WTAE-TV (Pittsburgh) obituary

Friday, January 18, 2019

RIP - Eli Grba

Eli Grba, who pitched for the Yankees and Angels in the early 1960s. passed away on January 14, 2019 at age 84.

Grba (GUR-bah) was a reliever for the Yankees from 1959-60, then joined the expansion Los Angeles Angels in 1961.

He was the Angels' #1 pick in the expansion draft, and started the first game in franchise history. He was a starter for the Angels for 2 seasons, before finishing up his major-league career in relief in 1963.

Grba continued playing in the minor leagues through the 1967 season.

Orange County Register obituary

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

RIP - Mel Stottlemyre

Mel Stottlemyre, the Yankees' pitching ace after the Whitey Ford era, passed away on January 13, 2019 at age 77.

Stottlemyre joined the Yankees in 1964, and pitched for them through the 1974 season. He was a key starter for them from 1965 through 1973.

Mel won 20 or more games three times ('65, '68, and '69), not an easy task in the late-1960s. He was also an All-Star five times from 1965-70.

After his playing career, Stottlemyre was a minor-league instructor for the Mariners from 1977-81, then spent 10 seasons (1983-92) as the Mets' pitching coach.

He moved uptown in 1996 to be the Yankees' pitching coach, remaining there through the 2005 season. In 2008, he returned to the Mariners as their pitching coach for one season.

New York Times obituary

Fox News obituary

ESPN obituary

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

RIP - Lenny Green

Lenny Green, an outfielder who played for 5 American League teams from 1957-1968, passed away on January 6, 2019, his 86th birthday.

Green's longest stretch with one team was with the Senators/Twins from 1959-1964 - also his most time as a regular player. He was the Twins' first center fielder.

He also played for the Orioles (1957-59 and '64), Angels ('64), Red Sox (1965-66), and Tigers (1967-68). His last stint as a regular player was with the Red Sox, where he started 74 games in center field in 1965.

Green began his final season (1968) in the minors, but was recalled by the Tigers in June. He only played 6 games before he was released in early-July, ending his pro career and missing the World Series by 3 months.

Detroit Free Press obituary

The Detroit News obituary

Custom card courtesy of John Hogan at the Cards That Never Were blog.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

RIP - Jerry Buchek

Jerry Buchek, an infielder for the Cardinals and Mets in the last half of the 1960s, passed away on January 2, 2019 at age 76.

Buchek was a backup at SS and 2B for the Cardinals in 1961 and again from 1964-66. He was traded to the Mets just before the 1967 season, and started just over half the games at 2nd base that year.

In 1968, he fell to #3 on the 2nd base depth chart, and was traded back to the Cardinals after the season.

The following Spring he was flipped to the Phillies for veteran Bill White, but spent the entire 1969 season in AAA before retiring. (Hmm.. It seems Buchek would have been a better middle-infield option for the 1969 Phillies than rookie Terry Harmon!)


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 Re-cap

Here are the players I featured in 2018:

1960s' players who left us in 2018:

Unlike in recent years, there was no late-December flurry of departures. Only 1 (Pete Lovrich) occurred after Willie McCovey on 10/31.

And from outside the baseball world:
Jerry Van Dyke
Keith Jackson
Bradford Dillman
Dorothy Malone
Dennis Edwards
Vic Damone
Marty Allen
Billy Graham
Nanette Fabray
David Ogden Stiers
Roger Bannister
Stephen Hawking
Susan Anspach
Harry Anderson
Barbara Bush
Bruno Sammartino
Verne Troyer
Margot Kidder
Clint Walker
Anthony Bourdain
Matt "Guitar" Murphy
Tab Hunter
Charlotte Rae
Stan Mikita
Aretha Franklin
Robin Leach
John McCain
Neil Simon
Burt Reynolds
Tommy McDonald
Charles Aznevour
Jim Taylor
Stan Lee
Roy Clark
George H.W. Bush
Ken Berry (Mayberry RFD)
Nancy Wilson (jazz singer)
Penny Marshall

See also: 1965-1975 era football players who passed in 2018

Monday, December 31, 2018

RIP - Pete Lovrich

Pete Lovrich, who pitched for the Kansas City Athletics in 1963, passed away on December 26, 2018 at age 76.

Lovrich was the second player from Arizona State University to make it to the major leagues. He was soon followed by Vern Fuller, Rick Monday, Sal Bando, Reggie Jackson, and many others. (The Athletics really worked that school hard!)

Pete played for the A's class-C team in 1962, then made the jump to the majors in 1963, pitching in 20 games. Mysteriously, he was back in class-A ball in '64 and '65, then retired.

I was unable to find out any other details about him, but it seems likely arm injuries were the culprit, to have fallen that far, that fast.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

10-year vets playing for only one team

Earlier this year, I pondered the question of "Who played the longest, and with just one team?"

As far as I can tell, these are the 30 players who played for only one team, and for at least 10 seasons. (Also that their career intersected the 1960s. I'm not including Ted Williams, because only 1 of his 19 seasons was in the 1960s - 5% of his career.)

23 - Brooks Robinson
23 - Carl Yastrzemski
22 - Stan Musial
22 - Al Kaline
21 - Willie Stargell
19 - Ernie Banks
19 - Jim Palmer
18 - Roberto Clemente
18 - Mickey Mantle

18 - Ed Kranepool
17 - Johnny Bench
17 - Bob Gibson
17 - Bill Mazeroski
16 - Whitey Ford
16 - Vern Law
15 - Bill Freehan
15 - Mickey Stanley
15 - Tony Oliva

14 - Don Drysdale
14 - Jim Gilliam
13 - Bob Allison
13 - Gates Brown
13 - Jim Davenport
13 - Rico Petrocelli
12 - Dick Green
12 - Sandy Koufax
12 - Bobby Richardson 

11 - Gene Alley
11 - Mel Stottlemyre
10 - Steve Blass

The top half of the list is all Hall of Famers except for Ed Kranepool. (How did The Krane stick around so long?)  Mickey Stanley is another surprise.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Magic Valley Cowboys

Last week I posted Ken Henderson's card on my 1966 blog. One of the minor league teams he played for was "Magic Valley". That jogged my memory of seeing that team listed on the back of some Phillies' cards in the mid-1960s. so I decided to investigate this magical place.

Magic Valley is an area in south-central Idaho. The Magic Valley Cowboys were a minor-league franchise off-and-on from 1952-71. (On a few of the players' cards below, the team's location is referred to as "Twin Falls" instead of "Magic Valley".)

From 1952-58 it was a Cubs' class-C team, where the likes of John Buzhardt, Bob Will, and Bill Pleis passed through.

From 1961 to 1963 it was a Phillies' outpost.
In 1961 Dick Allen and Adolfo Phillips played class-C ball there. The following year, Phillips returned, and was joined by Hank Allen and Johnny Morris.
In 1963 it was reorganized as a class-A team, featuring Alex Johnson, Jeff James, Al Raffo, and Mike Marshall. (Yes, Marshall was once Phillies' property!)

The Cowboys became a Giants' rookie-league affiliate from 1964 to 1966, featuring future major-leaguers Ken Henderson, Bob Schroeder, Ron Bryant, Chris Arnold, Don Hahn, and Bob Reynolds.

Next, the Braves took over the team from 1968-70, and it became home to Mike McQueen and Grady Little ('68), Mickey Rivers and Larvell Blanks ('69), and Adrian Devine and Rod Gilbreath ('70).

1971 was the last year for the Magic Valley Cowboys. Now unaffiliated, it included future big-leaguers Jerry Remy and Butch Metzger.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

RIP - Willie McCovey

Popular San Francisco Giants' slugger Willie McCovey passed away today, October 31, 2018 at age 80.

Along with Willie Mays, McCovey gave the Giants a great 1-2 punch throughout the 1960s and early 1970s.

(It seemed so weird to see him in a Padres' uniform for a few years in the mid-1970s.)

McCovey retired in 1980, having collected 521 home runs. He was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1959 and the NL MVP in 1969.

I remember back in the late-1960s/early-1970s, it seemed the most common response by pitchers to the question "Who is the toughest batter you've faced" was Willie McCovey.

San Francisco Chronicle obituary

New York Times obituary

ESPN obituary

Saturday, October 6, 2018

RIP - Marty Pattin

Marty Pattin, who broke in with the Angels, but had his first baseball card in 1969 as a member of the Seattle Pilots, passed away on October 3, 2018 at age 75.

Pattin appeared in 52 games for the Angels as a rookie in 1968, but as I mentioned here, Topps did a bad job of including the Angels' young pitchers in the late 1960s' sets. He was a starter for the expansion Pilots in 1969, and remained with the team for 2 more years.

After 2 seasons with the Red Sox, Marty finished up his career with 7 seasons in Kansas City.

Kansas City Star obituary


Monday, September 24, 2018

RIP - Lee Stange

Lee Stange, who pitched for the Twins, Indians, and Red Sox in the 1960s, passed away on September 21, 2018 at age 81.

Stange signed with the old Washington Senators in 1957, and pitched for the Twins from 1961 until his trade to Cleveland in June 1964. His best season was 1963, when he compiled a 12-5 records and a 2.62 ERA.

After 2 calendar years with the Tribe, he was traded to the Red Sox in June 1966 and played in the 1967 World Series.

Stange moved on to the White Sox in June 1970, and finished his career that season.

He was also a pitching coach for the Red Sox, Twins, and Athletics in the 1970s and 1980s.

Boston Globe obituary

Reuters obituary