Thursday, May 2, 2019

RIP - Gene Stephens

Gene Stephens, an outfielder for the Red Sox and others, passed away on April 27, 2019 at age 86.

Stephens played for the Red Sox from 1952-53 and 1955-60, then made brief stops with the Orioles, Athletics, and White Sox from 1960 to 1964.

Gene was primarily a left fielder, playing there for much of 1953 while Ted Williams was over in Korea. He was Williams' backup from 1955-59.

Stephens was the only player in the 1900s to have 3 hits in the same inning, accomplishing that in 1953. (Johnny Damon matched that record in 2003.)


Monday, April 1, 2019

RIP - Jim Holt

Jim Holt, an outfielder for the Twins and Athletics from 1968-1976, passed away on March 29, 2019 at age 74.

After serving in Vietnam, Holt played for the Twins for parts of '68, '69, '72, and '74, and all of 1970-71 and 1973. He was a starting outfielder in '71 and '73.

Holt was traded to the Athletics in August 1974, and played the rest of that season and 1975 for the A's, including appearing in the 1974 World Series.

He played most of 1976 in the minors, only appearing in 4 games for Oakland, then played in Mexico during 1977.

Minneapolis Star Tribune obituary

Monday, March 4, 2019

RIP - Johnny Romano

Johnny Romano, the Indians' starting catcher from 1960-64, passed away on March 4, 2019 at age 84.

Romano was the White Sox' backup catcher in his rookie season (1959), then was traded to the Indians that winter in the deal that returned Minnie Minoso to the Sox.

Johnny was the Tribe's backstop for the next five seasons, and made all 4 All-Star teams picked during 1961-62.

He returned to the Pale Hose after the 1964 season in a 3-team mega-deal, and was their regular catcher for the next 2 seasons.

He played for the Cardinals briefly in his final season (1967).

Upon retirement, he held the Indians' team records for catchers with most career home runs (91), most home runs in a season (25) and most RBIs in a season (81). obituary

WKYC-3 TV (Cleveland) obituary

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

RIP - Joe Gibbon

Joe Gibbon, who pitched for the Pirates and Giants during the 1960s, passed away today, February 20, 2019 at age 83.

As a rookie, Gibbon pitched for the World Champion Pirates in 1960, and remained with the Bucs through the 1965 season. (He returned to the Pirates for most of '69 and all of '70).

Despite all that time in Pittsburgh, I remember him as a Giant, because that is where he pitched when I jumped aboard the MLB train.

Although he was with the Giants from 1966 through early-1969, my first Gibbon card was from 1968 (because his 1967 card was in the high-numbered series, none of which I got in 1967). So in my consciousness, 450+ players from the 1967 low numbers had a 1-year head start on Gibbon, his teammate Bill Henry, and another 60 or so players from that 7th series.

Joe finished up his career with the Reds (1971-72) and Astros (1972).

Mississippi Today obituary

The Oxford (Mississippi) Eagle obituary

Joe Gibbon's SABR page

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.