Wednesday, May 20, 2020

RIP - Ken Retzer

Ken Retzer, a catcher for the Washington Senators from 1961-64, passed away on May 17, 2020 at age 86.

Never a regular starter, in both 1962 and 1963 he started slightly more games than the team's other catcher. In 1963 he played in MLB's 100,000th game.

He also played in the minors from 1954 to 1967, except for the '62 and '63 seasons.

Sun City (AZ) Telegraph obituary

Monday, May 18, 2020

RIP - Bob Watson

Bob Watson, the 1B-LF for the Astros and others from 1966 to 1984, passed away on May 14, 2020 at age 74.

After brief cups of coffee in September '66 and '67, Watson made the Astros team in May 1968. Although his rookie card (above) shows his position as C-OF, he didn't catch any games in 1968 and only 1 in 1969. (He did catch 74 games during a mid-season trip to the minors in 1969).

Watson played for the Astros until June 1979, when he was traded to the Red Sox for 2 minor-leaguers (wow!)

The following season he began a 2-year stint as the Yankees' 1st baseman. He appeared in the post-season both years, and hit 2 homers and 7 RBI in the '81 World Series.

He finished up his career with 3 seasons (1982-84) in Atlanta, backing up Chris Chambliss (the player he replaced in New York).

Later, he was the general manager for the Astros and Yankees from 1993-1998, and was a MLB executive from 2002-2010.

Friday, April 24, 2020

RIP - Bob Oliver

Bob Oliver, an original member of the Kansas City Royals, passed away on April 19, 2020 at age 77.

Oliver debuted with the Pirates in 1965, then returned to the minors until getting a chance with the expansion Royals in 1969. He was a regular for them from Day 1 in 1969 until his trade to the Angels in May 1972, splitting his time between the outfield, 1st base, and 3rd base.

He continued playing regularly at the same 3 positions for the Angels from 1972-74.

Oliver also played briefly for the Orioles in September 1974 and the Yankees during the first half of 1975.

Kansas City Star obituary obituary

Monday, April 13, 2020

RIP - Glenn Beckert

Former Cubs' 2nd baseman Glenn Beckert passed away on April 12, 2020 at age 79.

Beckert was the Cubs' regular 2nd baseman from Opening Day in 1965 until early-August 1973. His double-play partner was Don Kessinger for that entire time.

He won the Gold Glove award in 1968, and was an All-Star every season from 1969-72, and in the starting lineup in '70 and '71.

After the 1973 season he was traded to the Padres, and was a bench player there until he was released in late-April 1975.

Friday, April 10, 2020

RIP - Bob Lee

Bob Lee, a mid-1960s relief pitcher for 3 teams, passed away on March 25, 2020 at age 82.

Lee pitched for the Angels from 1964 to 1966. In 1965 he collected 23 saves in 69 games. Along with a 1.92 ERA, that earned him a trip to the All-Star game.

He also played the first 2 months of 1967 with the Dodgers, and the rest of '67 and all of 1968 with the Reds.

RIP Baseball obituary

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

RIP - Al Kaline

A second 1960s' All-Star outfielder has passed away in as many weeks.

Al Kaline, who played for the Tigers from 1953 to 1974 passed away on April 6, 2020 at age 85.

Kaline was a rarity, in that he played his entire career for just one team, and also that he never played in the minor leagues.

He was a 15-time All-Star and a 10-time Gold Glove winner. He finished 3rd in the 1954 AL Rookie of the Year balloting, and the following year led the league with a .340 batting average.

Kaline only appeared in one World Series (1968), but it was a good one. He hit .379 with 2 doubles, 2 homers, and 8 RBI as the Tigers beat the Cardinals in 7 games.

Kaline's page

Detroit Free Press obituary

ESPN obituary

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Inter-American League

This isn’t a 1960s’ topic, but it isn’t card-related either so I have nowhere else to post it but here.

Recently I posted a few players who wound up their careers in the Inter-American League in 1979, so I decided to dig a little deeper into this short-lived minor league.

The league began play in 1979 as a triple-A league, with teams in Miami and 5 other locations in the Caribbean. The fact that the teams were unaffiliated with major-league teams, plus the Caribbean weather, multi-national air travel (and visas), and just being poorly-funded in general all contributed to the collapse of the league by June 30th.

These were the 6 teams, with their records and position in the standings when the league folded:

1. Miami Amigos (51-21)
2. Caracas Metropolitanos (37-27)
3. Santo Domingo Azucaeros (38-29)
4. Maricaibo Petroleros de Zulia (31-36)
5. Panama Banqueros (15-36)*
6. Puerto Rico Baricuas (16-39)*

*these two dropped out on June 17th

Miami was managed by Davey Johnson, and included major-league alumni Orlando Pena, Hal Breeden, Wayne Granger, Mickey Scott, Mike Wallace, Porfi Altamirano, Bob Reynolds, and Oscar Zamora.

Caracas was managed by Jim Busby, with players such as Cesar Tovar, Tom House, Butch Metzger, and Remy Hermoso.

Santo Domingo was managed by Mike Kekich, and included Cito Gaston, Tito Fuentes, Johnny Jeter, Dave May, Dick Pole, Dave Wallace, and Fred Andrews.

Maracaibo was managed by Pat Dobson, Gus Gil, and hometown guy Luis Aparicio, and included Angel Bravo and Mike Stanton.

Panama was managed by Chico Salmon, with “name” players like Adolfo Phillips, Ramon Webster, and Lee Richard.

Puerto Rico was managed by Jose Santiago, and featured Bobby Tolan, Bobby Brown, Angel Mangual, and Leo Foster.

Friday, March 27, 2020

RIP - Jim Wynn

Long-time Astros' center fielder Jim Wynn passed away on March 26, 2020 at age 78.

Wynn played for the Astros from July 1963 to October 1973. During his rookie season he played in the outfield, as well as at shortstop and 3rd base, before finding a home in center field.

He was also a power hitter, surprising for someone of his small stature (leading to his nickname "The Toy Cannon"). Sometimes lost in the shadows of Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, and Hank Aaron is the fact that Wynn (and Ron Santo) hit a ton of home runs from the mid-1960s to mid-1970s. Wynn hit a career high 37 homers in 1967. His career total would have been more had his home park been more hitter-friendly.

Wynn played for the Dodgers in 1974 and 1975, making the All-Star team in both seasons. He later played for the Braves, Yankees, and Brewers.

ESPN Radio obituary

NBC Sports obituary

Friday, March 13, 2020

RIP - Don Pavletich

Don Pavletich, the Reds' backup catcher from 1963-1967, passed away on March 5, 2020 at age 81.

(His 1965 card incorrectly identifies him as a pitcher) 

Pavletich backed up Johnny Edwards from 1963 to 1967, playing a good number of games (surprising, because Edwards was an All-Star from 1963-65 and a Gold Glover in '63 and '64). Don's most playing time came in 1966 (83 games, 235 at-bats).

In 1968, Edwards was traded away, Johnny Bench took over most of the catching, and Pavletich was primarily the backup 1st baseman.

He finished his career with the White Sox (1969) and Red Sox (1970-71). obituary

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

RIP - Ed Sprague Sr.

Ed Sprague, a pitcher for several teams from 1968-76, passed away on January 10, 2020 at age 74.

Sprague pitched for Oakland from 1968-69, then spent all of  '70 and most of '71 in the minors, before resurfacing with the Reds in September 1971. Midway through the 1973 season he joined the Cardinals, but moved on to the Brewers 2 months later.

Sprague was a reliever for his entire career, until joining the Brewers. He was a starter for 2 full seasons ('74, '75) then was released during the 1976 season.

His son (Ed Jr.) was a 3rd baseman for the Blue Jays and others from 1991-2001.

San Francisco Chronicle obituary

Saturday, January 11, 2020

RIP - Don Larsen

Don Larsen, the only pitcher to pitch a post-season perfect game, passed away on January 1, 2020 at age 90.

An otherwise average pitcher, Larsen is remembered for his feat in game 5 of the 1956 World Series.

He played for 14 seasons (1953-67), mostly for the Yankees (1955-59) and Giants (1962-64). Larsen played in the World Series from 1955-58 and in 1962, and was the Series MVP in 1956.

New York Times obituary

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2019 Re-cap

Here are the players I featured in 2019:

1960s' players who left us in 2019:

And from outside the baseball world:
Bob Einstein
Daryl Dragon
Carol Channing
Kaye Ballard
Albert Finney
Jan Michael Vincent
Lee Radziwill
Peter Tork
Katherine Helmond
Luke Perry
Hal Blaine
Dan Blankenship
Dick Dale
Georgia Engel
Ken Kercheval
John Havlicek
Gino Marchetti
Peter Mayhew
Jim Fowler
Peggy Lipton
Doris Day
Tim Conway
Bart Starr
Dr. John
Gloria Vanderbilt
Beth Chapman
Lee Iacocca
Arte Johnson
Rip Torn
Ross Perot
David Hedison
Nick Buoniconti
Peter Fonda
Valerie Harper
Carol Lynley
Eddie Money
Ric Ocasek
Phyllis Newman
Sander Vanocur
Cokie Roberts
Diahann Carroll
Ginger Baker
Rip Taylor
Carroll Spinney
Rene Auberjonois
Danny Aiello
Claudine Auger
Sue Lyon
Don Imus 
Also: football deaths in 2019

Friday, December 13, 2019

1969 Phillies - Games per Position

  Wrapping up the series I started on November 8th, here is a breakdown of the 1969 Phillies team. Using information from a chart I recently discovered at, I have come up with sort of a depth-chart below. In each section, a dotted line separates the "main players" from the others.

As an added bonus, for the first two columns only:
   yellow indicates the player has a Phillies card in this year's set
   orange indicates the player is on a Rookie Stars card in this year's set
   blue indicates the player has a non-Phillies card in this year's set
   white indicates no card in this year's set

Had a Phillies card this year, but was not on the team: Clay Dalrymple

The Phillies only made two in-season trades in 1969 (2 more than in 1968!)
5/5 - Traded Don Lock to the Red Sox for outfielder Bill Schlesinger.
9/6 - Traded Gary Wagner to the Red Sox for pitcher Mike Jackson.

The first 13 non-pitchers on the list above (plus Vic Roznovsky) were with the team for the entire season. Everyone else was just taking their turn filling Don Lock's roster spot following his early-May trade.

Chris Short was the team's Opening Day starter. After one more start (4/15), he missed the remainder of the season with injuries.