Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Prime 9 - California Angels

The 14th installment in the "Prime 9" series - spotlighting the 9 best players per team from the 1966-70 time period.

For the series backstory and team rankings, click here.

The Angels won 388 games between 1966 and 1970. Although they fared better than their AL expansion partner (Washington Senators), the Angels would not finish in 1st place until 1979.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Prime 9 - Kansas CIty / Oakland Athletics

The 13th installment in the "Prime 9" series - spotlighting the 9 best players per team from the 1966-70 time period.

For the series backstory and team rankings, click here.

The Athletics won 395 games between 1966 and 1970. After only winning only 74 and 62 games in their final 2 seasons in Kansas City, the A's moved to Oakland in 1968 and had a winning record every season from 1968 to 1976, including 3 straight World Series championships.

After the awful photos on their 1968 and most 1969 cards, it's great to see everyone in fresh new Oakland uniforms.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Prime 9 - New York Yankees

The 12th installment in the "Prime 9" series - spotlighting the 9 best players per team from the 1966-70 time period.

For the series backstory and team rankings, click here.

The Yankees won 398 games between 1966 and 1970. After losing more games than they won from 1966-69 (including a last-place finish in 1966), in 1970 they won 93 games, a 13-game improvement over 1969.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Prime 9 - Chicago Cubs

The 11th installment in the "Prime 9" series - spotlighting the 9 best players per team from the 1966-70 time period.

For the series backstory and team rankings, click here.

The Cubs won 409 games between 1966 and 1970. Quite a comeback for only winning 59 games in 1966!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Prime 9 - Atlanta Braves

The 10th installment in the "Prime 9" series - spotlighting the 9 best players per team from the 1966-70 time period.

For the series backstory and team rankings, click here.

The Braves won 412 games between 1966 and 1970, their first 5 seasons in Atlanta. Orlando Cepeda is the first player to appear twice in this Prime 9 series.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Prime 9 - Los Angeles Dodgers

The 9th installment in the "Prime 9" series - spotlighting the 9 best players per team from the 1966-70 time period.

For the series backstory and team rankings, click here.

The Dodgers won a ninth-best 416 games between 1966 and 1970. This despite enduring the only stretch under manager Walter Alston where they finished lower than 2nd place for 3 consecutive seasons (1967-69).

(I should have included Sandy Koufax here, but he only played 1 season during this time period.)

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Prime 9 - Boston Red Sox

The 8th installment in the "Prime 9" series - spotlighting the 9 best players per team from the 1966-70 time period.

For the series backstory and team rankings, click here.

The Red Sox won 424 games between 1966 and 1970. They jumped from 9th place in '66 to 1st in '67, losing the World Series in 7 games.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

RIP - Ernie Bowman

Ernie Bowman, an infielder for the Giants from 1961-63, passed away on August 4, 2019 at age 84.

Bowman played in the minors every year from 1956-69, except for 1962 and 1963. Those were the seasons he stayed with the Giants all year, backing up at 3 infield positions.

He was involved in multi-player deals in 1964 (to the Braves) and 1965 (to the Mets), but never played in the majors after September 1963, even though he had a card in the 1966 Topps set.

Johnson City (TN) Press obituary

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Prime 9 - Pittsburgh Pirates

The 7th installment in the "Prime 9" series - spotlighting the 9 best players per team from the 1966-70 time period.

For the series backstory and team rankings, click here.

The Pirates won 430 games between 1966 and 1970. They were strong at every position except catcher and 3rd base. (Maury Wills played 3rd base in '67 and '68, but by then he was just "a name".)

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Prime 9 - Cincinnati Reds

The 6th installment in the "Prime 9" series - spotlighting the 9 best players per team from the 1966-70 time period.

For the series backstory and team rankings, click here.

The Reds won 437 games between 1966 and 1970. Look at all those rookie trophies! Pete Rose also had one on his 1964 card.

Monday, July 22, 2019

RIP - Don Mossi

Don Mossi, a pitcher for 4 teams from 1954-65, passed away on July 19, 2019 at age 90.

Mossi was a reliever for the Indians for 5 seasons (including an All-Star berth in 1957), then a starter for the Tigers for another 5.

He also played 1 season each for the White Sox and Athletics. Don finished up strong, pitching 51 games for the A's at age 36 in 1965.

Mossi had been the 3rd oldest living player from the 1965-69 era. The top 5 now stands at Elroy Face, Whitey Ford, Al Worthington, Curt Simmons, and Hector Lopez, all age 90 or above.

BaseballHappenings.net obituary

Friday, July 19, 2019

RIP - Ernie Broglio

Ernie Broglio, a pitcher for the Cardinals and Cubs, passed away on July 16, 2019 at age 83.

Broglio was a member of the Cardinals' starting rotation from 1959 to early-1964, and led the NL with 21 wins in 1960 (while finishing 3rd in the Cy Young voting), but he will forever be remembered as the player the Cubs received when trading Lou Brock to the Cardinals in June 1964.

He also won 12 and 18 games for St Louis in 1962 and 1963, but his career sputtered in Chicago, never winning more than 4 games in a season, and was through by July 1966.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch obituary

Chicago Sun-Times obituary

Thursday, July 18, 2019

RIP - Pumpsie Green

Pumpsie Green, a Red Sox infielder from 1959-62, passed away on July 17, 2019 at age 85.

Green made his major-league debut with Boston on July 21, 1959, as the Red Sox finally broke the color barrier (the last team to do so).

He was the backup middle infielder 4 seasons, receiving his most playing time during 1960.

After the 1962 season he was traded to the Mets (with pitcher Tracy Stallard) for 2nd baseman Felix Mantilla. Green played 17 games at 3rd base for the 1963 Mets, but played most of '63 and '64 with their triple-A Buffalo team.

He was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2018.

Pumpsie's brother Cornell was a standout defensive back for the Dallas Cowboys from 1962-74.

MLB.com obituary

USA Today obituary

Fox News obituary

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

RIP - Joe Grzenda

1960s' relief pitcher Joe Grzenda passed away on July 12, 2019 at age 82.

He pitched in the minors every season from 1955-68, with only brief MLB appearances in '61, '64, '66, and '67.

He finally found steady big-league employment from 1969-72 with the Twins, Senators, and Cardinals.

Grzenda's best season was 1971 with the Senators. He posted a 1.92 ERA, and was the last Senators' pitcher in their final game in Washington. Joe got the first 2 outs in the top of the 9th inning, then after fans rushed onto the field looking for souvenirs, the game was forfeited.

Wilkes-Barre, PA (hometown) obituary

TwinsTrivia.com obituary

Washington Post obituary

Monday, July 15, 2019

Prime 9 - St. Louis Cardinals

The 5th installment in the "Prime 9" series - spotlighting the 9 best players per team from the 1966-70 time period.

For the series backstory, click here.

The Cardinals won 444 games between 1966 and 1970, 5th highest total in the majors and 2nd highest in the NL.

Friday, July 12, 2019

RIP - Jim Bouton

Jim Bouton, the 1960s' Yankees' pitcher who gained wider fame as the author of "Ball Four", passed away on July 10, 2019 at age 80.

(custom 1969 Seattle Pilots card by Steve @ WhiteSoxCards.com)

Bouton played for the Yankees from 1962-68. His best season was 1963, when he posted a 21-7 record and made the All-Star team.

After one more good season in 1964 (18-13), his career rapidly declined. He spent much of 1967-68 in the minors, then returned to the majors as a relief pitcher for the Pilots and Astros in 1969, along with his journalism duties.

He retired after a disastrous 1970 season, then made a (mostly minor-league) comeback in 1975 and again in 1977-78.

NBC News obituary

New York Times obituary

New York Times story


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Prime 9 - San Francisco Giants

The 4th installment in the "Prime 9" series - spotlighting the 9 best players per team from the 1966-70 time period.

For the series backstory, click here.

The Giants won 448 games between 1966 and 1970, 4th highest total in the majors.

They were tops in the NL, but never won a league or division title during that time, finishing in 2nd place 4 times and 3rd once.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

RIP - Gary Kolb

Gary Kolb, an OF-C for the Cardinals, Pirates, and others during the 1960s, passed away on July 3, 2019 at age 79.

Kolb came up with the Cardinals, but played in the minors every season from 1960-73, except for '65, '68, and '69. Those seasons, he managed to stay with a major league club all year (Braves and Mets in '65, and Pirates from 1968-69).

He was primarily an outfielder but was also his team's emergency catcher.

Hometown obituary

Here's a blogger that created a 1970 card for Gary Kolb.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Prime 9 - Detroit Tigers

The 3rd installment in the "Prime 9" series - spotlighting the 9 best players per team from the 1966-70 time period.

For the series backstory, click here.

The Tigers won 451 games between 1966 and 1970, 3rd highest total in the majors.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Prime 9 - Minnesota Twins

The 2nd installment in the "Prime 9" series - spotlighting the 9 best players per team from the 1966-70 time period.

For the series backstory, click here.

The Twins won 454 games between 1966 and 1970, 2nd highest total in the majors.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Prime 9 - Baltimore Orioles

I thought we all needed a break from the endless parade of obituaries around here, so I am starting a new series on this blog.

"Prime 9" (Wait, what? The MLB Network already did this?) will feature nine of the best players per team from the 1966-70 era. Not necessarily one player per position, just the best overall 9 per team.

"How am I choosing the best 9?" you may ask. Well, I'm not going to spend the time crunching every player's stats and then ranking them. Instead, I have dumped my entire baseball card collection into the hopper on top of the Bat-Computer*, and asked it to give me the best 9 per team.

The teams will be posted in order of their total wins between 1966 and 1970. (The 1969 expansion teams are excluded because a) there's too small a sample size for them during those years, b) I would have trouble finding 9 "adequate" players per team from 1969-70, let alone "best" players, and c) they have already had enough blog time here.)

Some interesting things I found while researching the number of wins:

There were 6 teams that won over 100 games (3 in each league), with the Orioles the only team to do it twice. (Those two O's seasons were also the 2 highest win totals.)

There were 2 teams that won less than 60 games - 1 in each league, but both from Chicago ('70 White Sox, '66 Cubs).

The White Sox came in dead last with 363 wins - the only team to win less than 70 games in 3 different seasons. (As I recall, they finished behind the expansion Royals in 1969.)

The worst NL team was the Astros, but they were 18th overall.

Of the bottom 8 teams, only the Mets (in 1969) won 90+ games in any season.

First up – the Baltimore Orioles, with 481 wins during that 5-year span (27 more than the next team).

"ROBIN! What's a 'Don Mossi'?"

What surprised me the most about all of this: 
1. How bad the White Sox were
2. How good the Giants were. Imagine if the front office hadn't given away all those players to the Cubs and others?
3. How good the Twins were
4. How good the Orioles were in 1968
5. The Yankees' improvement in 1970

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

RIP - Aubrey Gatewood

Aubrey Gatewood, a reliever for the Los Angeles Angels just before their move to Anaheim, passed away on June 5, 2019 at age 80.

Gatewood was originally signed by the Tigers, then was selected by the Angels in the post-1960 expansion draft.

He made his Angels' debut in September 1963, then played part of 1964 and all of 1965 with the Angels.

He then spent the next 4 seasons in the minors, before resurfacing with the Braves for 3 games in mid-1970.


Saturday, June 15, 2019

RIP - Dave Marshall

Dave Marshall, a spare outfielder for several teams from 1968-73, passed away on June 6, 2019 at age 76. He died less than 2 days after his wife passed from an illness.

Originally signed by the Angels, after a 1-game cup of coffee with the Giants in September 1967, Marshall made the team in 1968 and was named to the Topps All-Rookie team.

He played 2 full seasons with San Francisco, and 3 with the Mets before finishing up with the Padres in 1973.

San Jose Mercury obituary

New York Liberty Voice obituary

Monday, June 10, 2019

RIP - Frank Lucchesi

Ex-Phillies' and Rangers' manager Frank Lucchesi has passed away on June 8, 2019 at age 92.

Lucchesi was an organizational foot soldier for the Phillies for almost 2 decades. He managed their minor league teams from 1956-69, progressing his way up the ladder to AAA, until accepting a demotion back to AA for 1967-68 so the Phillies could inexplicably give recently-retired Bob Skinner the triple-A reins for those 2 years, having no previous managing experience. (In 1969, Skinner proved he was useless as a major-league manager.)

Frank finally got his shot in the majors in 1970, as the Phillies revamped their team, coaching staff, and even their uniforms that year. Lucchesi was the Phillies' last manager at Connie Mack Stadium, and their first at Veterans Stadium.

After all that waiting, Frank finally had the job he wanted, but not the players, as the Phillies continued to flounder in the early 1970s. He was fired mid-season in 1972, and replaced by the GM (Paul Owens) who "wanted to see up close who could play and who couldn't".

Lucchesi also managed the Rangers from mid-1975 to mid-1977, and the Cubs for the final 2 dozen games of 1987.

Philadelphia Inquirer obituary

SABR biography

Monday, May 27, 2019

RIP - Bill Buckner

Bill Buckner, a 1B-OF for the Dodgers, Cubs, and Red Sox, passed away on May 27, 2019 at age 69.

Buckner was a 4-decade player by virtue of his one pinch-hitting appearance on 9/21/69. (His next game was the following April.) He played until the end of May 1990.

Buckner played for the Dodgers (1969-76), Cubs (1977-84), and Red Sox (1984-87), then moved around to 3 other teams (Angels, Royals, Red Sox) in his final 2 1/2 seasons.

He was an All-Star in 1981, and led the NL in batting in 1980 with a .324 average. He also topped .300 six other times and hit .299 another year. Buckner also had 100+ RBI in '82, '85, and '86.

Despite all that hitting prowess, the first thing most people remember is his defensive miscue in the 1986 World Series.

After his playing career, Buckner moved to Idaho and entered the real estate business.

LA Times obituary

CNN obituary

Thursday, May 23, 2019

RIP - Barry Latman

Barry Latman, who pitched for the White Sox, Indians, Angels, and Astros from 1957 to 1967, passed away on April 28, 2019 at age 82.

Latman's longest stay with one team was with the Indians from 1960-63. In 1961 he won a career-best 13 games and made his only All-Star team.

In December 1963 he was traded to the Los Angeles Angels with 1st baseman Joe Adcock for slugging outfielder Leon Wagner.

(no obituary found)

Another blog notice

SABR biography

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).

Cleveland.com 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