Monday, February 6, 2017

Stars of the 1960s: Bob Gibson

Let's see.... what did Bob Gibson do? 

5-time 20-game winner (led NL in 1970 with 23 wins).
8-time All-Star (including 6 straight 1965-70).
9 consecutive Gold Glove awards (1965-73).
Topped 250 strikeouts four times, including NL lead of 268 in 1968.
Led NL with 13 shutouts in 1968.
28 complete games in both 1968 and 1969 (led NL in '69).
1.12 ERA in 1968 was best in majors.
Cy Young winner in '68 and '70.
MVP in 1968.
Played in 3 World Series from 1964-68 (9 games), posting a 7-2 record with 92 strikeouts.
MLB changed the strike zone and lowered the mound after 1968 because of him.
1st-ballot Hall of Famer in 1981 (only player inducted that year).
Quite a hitter too! 1965 - 5/19/.240; 1970 - 2/19/.303

Did I miss anything?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Stars of the 1960s: Harmon Killebrew

4th in a series....

Harmon Killebrew played for the Senators/Twins from 1954 to 1974, then finished his career with the Royals in 1975.

Topps managed to find different photos for each of these cards. However, they forgot that on all the other 1967 Twins cards, the "TWINS" team name was green, not yellow.

Harmon hit more home runs in the 1960s than any other player.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

RIP - Billy Champion

Shelby, North Carolina native Billy Champion, one of the many young pitchers promoted by the Phillies from 1969-72, passed away on January 7, 2016 at age 69.

Champion played 4 years in class-A ball, including a 15-5 record in 1968.

With the loss of starting pitchers Chris Short (to injury) and Larry Jackson (expansion draft), Champion stepped into the starting rotation as a rookie in 1969, making 20 starts and compiling a 5-10 record for an awful team.

He spent 1970 mostly in the minors, as Short returned to the lineup and the team re-acquired Jim Bunning. Champion returned for 2 more seasons with the Phillies, as a reliever in '71 and as the team's #2 starter (a distant #2, behind Steve Carlton) in '72.

Champion was dealt to the Brewers after 1972, and played 3 1/2 years in Milwaukee, his career year coming in 1974 (11-4, 3.62).

Released in June 1976, he finished the season with the Braves' AAA team. His final pro season was 1977, back in the Phillies' minor leagues.

Champion worked as a scout and coach for 5 teams after his playing career.

Shelby (NC) Star obituary

A very interesting retrospective here

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

RIP - Bob Sadowski (INF)

Bob Sadowski (the utility infielder from '61-'63, not the Braves' pitcher from '63-'65 shown farther below) passed away on January 6, 2017 at age 79.

Sadowski began his career in 1955 with the class-D Hazlehurst-Baxley Cardinals (how's THAT for a team name?) in the Georgia State League.

He played in the minors every year from 1955-69, except for spending all of 1962 with the White Sox and all of 1963 with the Angels. He also appeared for the Phillies for part of 1961, and one game for the Cards in 1960.


Saturday, December 31, 2016

RIP - 2016 Re-cap

Summarizing the players from the 1960s who left us in 2016:

And a very long list of celebrities in general:
Pat Harrington
David Bowie
Noreen Corcoran
Glenn Frey
Abe Vigoda
Paul Kantner
George Kennedy
Nancy Reagan
George Martin
Frank Sinatra Jr
Keith Emerson
Ken Howard
Joe Garagiola
Garry Shandling
Patty Duke
Doris Roberts
Billy Paul
William Schallert
Alan Young
Morley Safer
Muhammad Ali
Gordie Howe
Garry Marshall
Gene Wilder
Hugh O'Brian
Arnold Palmer
Janet Reno
Robert Vaughn
Leon Russell
Florence Henderson
Ron Glass
Fidel Castro
Greg Lake
John Glenn
Alan Thicke
Zsa Zsa Gabor
George Michael
Carrie Fisher
Debbie Reynolds

Hello 2017! 

RIP - Chris Cannizzaro

Catcher Chris Cannizzaro, a member of both the 1962 expansion Mets and the 1969 expansion Padres, passed away on December 30, 2016 at age 78.

Cannizzaro played from 1960 to 1974. After a few games with the Cardinals in '60 and '61, he played for the Mets from 1962-65.

After 2 seasons back in the minors, he played briefly with the Pirates in 1968, then was the Padres' #1 catcher in 1969 and 1970. He made the All-Star team in 1969, the first Padre to be an All-Star.

He was later a backup for the Cubs and Dodgers.

San Diego Union-Tribune obituary

New York daily News obituary

Monday, December 26, 2016

Stars of the 1960s: Mickey Mantle

Continuing with my "Stars of the 1960s" series, today's batter is Mickey Mantle.

Unlike with Willie Mays, Topps saw fit to use a new photo each year for Mantle's cards.  You'll notice that the '66 card is a recent reprint.  The 1967 card was my first Mantle card, and I can still recall the feeling I had that day "Look!  A Mickey Mantle card!"  I was never a Yankees fan, but always a Mantle fan. (Who wasn't?)

In the summer of 2009, my son and I were driving from Pennsylvania to Arizona. While in Missouri and Oklahoma, we would occasionally get off the interstate and check out some sights on old Route 66. As we entered the extreme northeast corner of Oklahoma, we decided to get off the interstate and drive the half-mile up into Kansas (just to say we were in Kansas).

When we picked up Route 66 and drove back into Oklahoma, the first town we entered was Commerce. Driving down the main street, they have banners hanging from the street lights proclaiming it as the hometown of Mickey Mantle. What an unexpected treat, and completely by accident!

Friday, December 23, 2016

RIP - Phil Gagliano

Phil Gagliano, a utility infielder for the Cardinals in the 1960s, passed away on December 19, 2016 at age 74.

Gagliano was the Cardinals' backup 2nd and 3rd baseman from 1964 to 1970. His best season was 1965, when he hit 8 home runs in 411 plate appearances. He appeared in the '67 and '68 World Series for St. Louis.

He also played for the Cubs, Red Sox, and Reds from 1970-74.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch obituary

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Utility Schmoes Abound!

I think I've figured out why the Cubs were so bad in the mid-1960s (well, besides that they didn't employ a manager). Their roster was clogged with utility players!

All 3 of these players had cards in the 1965 set as Cubs. Leo Burke and Jim Stewart were both on the team from 1963-65, and Harry Bright came on board in 1965.

Look at Bright - I wonder if he felt superior to the other two. ("I'll SEE your INF-OF, and raise you a Catcher!")

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Stars of the 1960s: Willie Mays

Here's the 2nd post in a new series on this blog - "Stars of the 1960s". Unlike the first post (Johnny Callison), going forward these posts will only feature cards from 1966-1969. (I don't have any superstars from the 1965 set, and have very few non-Phillies' cards prior to 1965.)

Today I went through my card binders and identified 18 players for this series. Surprisingly, for EIGHT of those stars Topps re-used a photo in that 4-year span. Wow! I can see not taking the time to snap a new photo of Bob Barton every year, but Willie Mays? Carl Yastrzemski? Ernie Banks? Hank Aaron? Juan Marichal? Al Kaline? (Yeah, why waste time chasing after THOSE guys!)

Here's Willie on the downside of a great career. Like Steve Carlton and some others, Willie hung on too long. I remember watching him in his last season with the Mets, where he would sometimes flip the ball to the right fielder to make the throw back to the infield.

Besides re-using the '66 photo in 1969, the photo on his 1968 card was also used in the 1965 set.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

RIP - Russ Nixon

Russ Nixon, a catcher for the Red Sox and Twins in the 1960s, passed away on November 9, 2016 at age 81 in his birthplace of Cleves, Ohio.

Nixon was signed by the Indians in 1953 and played his first 3 seasons with the Tribe (1957-59). He was Cleveland's #1 backstop in '58 and '59, but would be a backup for the rest of his career.

In March 1960 he was traded to the Red Sox but refused to report. Three months later another deal with the Sox sent him to Boston, where he remained through the 1965 season.

After 2 years with the Twins, Nixon returned to the Red Sox for the 1968 season. He was signed by the White Sox after the '68 season, but was released the following April.

Nixon coached for the Reds, Expos, and Braves from 1970-88, and managed the Reds from 1982-83 and the Braves from 1988-90. obituary

Cincinnati obituary

Saturday, November 5, 2016

RIP - John Orsino

John Orsino, a catcher for the Orioles and Senators in the 1960s, passed away on November 1, 2016 at age 78.

 Orsino was signed by the New York Giants, and after playing parts of '61 and '62 with the Giants, he was traded to the Orioles (with pitchers Stu Miller and Mike McCormick) for pitchers Jack Fisher and Billy Hoeft, and catcher Jim Coker.

Orsino's best year was 1963, when he hit 19 home runs for the Orioles as their #1 catcher. He played 2 more seasons as the O's backup catcher.

His final big-league stop was the Washington Senators. He spent the next 3 seasons mostly on the DL or in the minors, with a few games with the Nats in '66.

He retired after playing 1969 with the Yankees' and Indians' AAA teams. After baseball he became a golf pro.

Washington Post obituary

Baltimore Sun obituary


Friday, November 4, 2016

Stars of the 1960s: Johnny Callison

Here's the start of a new series on this blog - "Stars of the 1960s". (It's basically a ripoff take-off of Wrigley Wax's "All I Have of Him" series.) 

Johnny Callison was one of my favorite players on my hometown Phillies back in the 1960s. I started following baseball in 1967, so I missed his 1964 All-Star game exploits.

Callison was the one constant in the Phillies' lineup for the entire decade. Even with Richie Allen joining the squad in 1964, Allen was frequently changing positions due to his defensive shortcomings, and controversy was always swirling around him.

So now, just because...

(If I had one less Callison card, I could have squeezed the 1967 "Hurlers Beware" card into this Hollywood Squares matrix!)

CommishBob, enjoy!