Monday, August 28, 2023

RIP - Pat Corrales

Pat Corrales passed away on August 27, 2023, at age 82. He was a backup catcher for the Phillies, Cardinals, Reds, and Padres from 1964-73.
After a 2-game debut in late-1964, Corrales began the 1965 season in the minors. When the Phillies sold Gus Triandos to the Astros on June 14th, Corrales was called up and started 53 of the final 105 games that season. 
Traded to the Cardinals after the season, he saw limited action in 1966 while backing up Tim McCarver,  and spent all of 1967 in the minors. 
Corrales was traded to the Reds for catcher Johnny Edwards, and became Johnny Bench's caddy for the next 4 seasons. After playing the first half of 1972 in the minors, he was traded to the Padres for catcher Bob Barton. He was the Padres' backup catcher through the end of 1973, then played for their AAA team in 1974 after which he was released. 
After his playing career, Corrales coached for the Rangers from 1976-78, and managed them from 1978-80. He later managed the Phillies (1982-83) and Indians (1983-87). 
He returned to coaching for the Yankees (1989), Braves (1990-2006), and Nationals (2007-11). 

Thursday, August 17, 2023

RIP - Bill Schlesinger

Bill Schlesinger, a farmhand with the Red Sox and others during the 1960s, passed away on August 13, 2023 at age 81.
He hit 37 home runs in 1964, his first season in the Red Sox' organization, and scored a spot in Topps' 1965 set. Although he played in the minors from 1964 to 1970, he only had 1 major-league at-bat, a pinch-hitting appearance for the Sox in early-1965. 
Schlesinger was claimed by the Kansas City Athletics when Boston tried to send him to the minors later that month. 
He was reacquired by the Red Sox 2 years later, but after the season he was traded to the Cubs for pitcher Ray Culp. A few months later he returned to Boston's farm system, but the following year he was traded again, this time to the Phillies for outfielder Don Lock. (I hope he had a sturdy suitcase!) 
Schlesinger retired after 2 seasons in the Phillies' organization.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

RIP - Jim Price

Jim Price, a backup catcher for the Tigers from 1967 to 1971, passed away on August 7, 2023 at age 81.
Price played in the Pirates' minor-league system from 1960 to 1966. Initially a corner infielder, he transitioned to catcher in his 2nd season. 
He was sold to the Tigers 4 days before the start of the 1967 season, having already appeared on a "Pirates Rookie Stars" card in the 1967 Topps set. 
Price went on to back up Bill Freehan for the next 5 seasons, which is to say, he didn't get much playing time. 
In December 1971, the Tigers traded for Dodgers' catcher Tom Haller, marking an end to Price's career.
Price was a broadcaster for the Tigers from 1993 until one month before his death.  

Sunday, August 6, 2023

RIP - Ken Suarez

Ken Suarez, a backup catcher for the Athletics, Indians, and Rangers, passed away on July 29, 2023 at age 80.
Suarez played baseball for Florida State University, and was on the 1964 US Olympic team. 
He turned pro in 1965, and had a grand-slam for his first hit. Suarez split the '66 and '67 seasons between the Kansas City Athletics and the minors. 
Although he was with the Indians for all of 1968, he only appeared in 17 games. He played part of 1969 and all of 1970 in the minors, then was back with the Indians for all of 1971. 
Traded to the Rangers after the 1971 season, he played part of 1972 and all of 1973 with Texas. Suarez started 88 games in 1973, more than twice his previous high. 
He retired following a trade back to the Indians in early 1974.  

Friday, July 28, 2023

RIP - Larry Yellen

Larry Yellen, a reliever for the Houston Colt .45s in 1964, passed away on July 18, 2023 at age 80.
Yellen was signed by Houston before the 1963 season, and made his pro debut with their double-A team. There, he posted an 8-5 record in 18 games (15 starts) while striking out 74 batters in 99 innings. That earned him a 1-game cup of coffee during a September call-up. 
He began the 1964 season with the Colt .45s, but only pitched 21 innings over 13 games before he was sent down in mid-July. (His 6.86 ERA may have been a factor.) He returned in September to pitch in 2 games. 
Yellen spent all of 1965 with the Astros' AA and AAA teams, and retired after the season. 

Sunday, July 23, 2023

RIP - Ed Bressoud

Ed Bressoud, a shortstop for the Giants, Red Sox, and others from 1956-67, passed away on July 11, 2023 at age 91. 
(At the time, he was the 8th-oldest living player to have played after the 1965 season.)
Bressoud made his debut with the New York Giants in June 1956, making most of the starts at shortstop in June and July after taking over for the departed Alvin Dark. By late-July, he lost the job and was relegated to the Giants' bench until June 1959. 
He regained his old job, and was the Giants' primary shortstop until losing it again, this time to Jose Pagan (essentially a rookie) in April 1961. 
After the season he was drafted by the expansion Colt .45s, but was quickly flipped to the Red Sox. Bressoud was Boston's shortstop for the next 3 seasons, then shared the position with rookie Rico Petrocelli in 1965. 
In 1966 the Mets began the season with veteran Roy McMillan as their shortstop, and ended the season with rookie Bud Harrelson. In-between, Bressoud started half the games there as the team transitioned from McMillan to Harrelson. 
On April 1, 1967 he was traded to the Cardinals and spent his final season backing up Dal Maxvil and collecting a World Series ring. 
Bressoud is the 4th nonagenarian among MLB alumni to have died in the past 3 months. (The others were Dick Groat, Roger Craig, and Dick Hall.)  

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

RIP - Dick Hall

Dick Hall, a relief pitcher mostly for the Orioles, but also the Pirates and Phillies, passed away on June 18, 2023 at age 92. 
(At the time, he was the 6th-oldest living player to have played after the 1965 season.)
Hall began his career in 1952 with the Pirates as an outfielder. In 1954 he was the Bucs' #2 outfielder (behind only Frank Thomas). Hall started 84 games, and was the team's regular center fielder during May and June. 
The following year they acquired Roberto Clemente, and Hall switched positions to pitcher. He began that season in class A ball, learning his new position. Hall posted a 12-5 record while starting 18 of his 19 games, including 16 complete games. Recalled to Pittsburgh in late-July, he made 13 starts for the Bucs and posted a 6-6 record. 
After a full season with the Pirates in 1956, he split the '57 season between the Bucs and their AAA team, then missed the 1958 season due to illness. Returning to the Pirates' AAA team in 1959, he posted an 18-5 record in 27 starts, and played 2 games with Pittsburgh in a September call-up. 
After the '59 season he was traded to the Athletics, but a year later moved on to the Orioles, where he was a swing man for a year before transitioning to the bullpen in 1962. He pitched in 393 games after 1961, only starting 10 of them (and only 1 start after 1963). 
From 1962-65 he was the #2 man in the O's bullpen, behind Hoyt Wilhelm ('62) and Stu Miller ('63-'65). 
In 1966, now 35 years old, he was relegated to the #5 slot in the bullpen, and because the Orioles' efficient sweep of the Dodgers in the World Series included 3 complete games, Hall saw no action in the post-season. 
Hall pitched for the Phillies in '67 and '68, then returned to Baltimore from 1969 to 1971. In '70 and '71 he was the oldest player in the American League. In 1969 he posted a 1.92 ERA in 65 innings, and saw action in the '69 to '71 post-seasons, notching a 2-1 record in 8 innings of work. 
Hall was known for his outstanding control, and walked very few batters unintentionally after 1962 (click to enlarge):
Hall retired after the 1971 season, at age 41.  

Saturday, June 17, 2023

RIP - Jack Baldschun

Jack Baldschun, the Phillies' top reliever in the early-1960s, passed away on June 6, 2023 at age 86.
Baldschun joined the Phillies in April 1961, and led the team in saves every season from 1962-64. 
With rookie Gary Wagner taking over the closer role in 1965, Baldschun was traded to the Orioles after that season, and was quickly flipped to the Reds in the Frank Robinson deal. 
He was the last man in the Reds' bullpen for all of 1966, and spent most of 1967-68 in the minors before resurfacing with the Padres in 1969 and part of 1970. 

Sunday, June 11, 2023

RIP - Roger Craig

Roger Craig, a pitcher for the Dodgers and others from 1955-1966, passed away on June 4, 2023 at age 93.
Craig broke in with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955. Usually a swing man, he was strictly a starter in 1956, and posted a career-high 12 wins that season. 
After 7 seasons with the Dodgers, Craig was selected by the Mets in the expansion draft and spent 2 seasons in New York. He led the National League in losses both seasons (24, 22) but, you know, they were the Mets. 
He played for the Cardinals, Reds, and Phillies in his final 3 seasons. 
Craig was a pitching coach for the Padres, Astros, and Tigers from 1969-84, and managed the Padres from 1978-79, and the Giants from 1985-92. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

RIP - Bobby Bolin


Bobby Bolin, who pitched for the Giants all through the 1960s and later for the Red Sox, passed away on June 2, 2023 at age 84.
Bolin debuted with the Giants in April 1961. After working out of the bullpen for his first 2 seasons, he was a swing man from 1963-69, except for 1966, when he started 34 of his 36 games. 
His best year was 1965, when he posted a 14-6 record. In 1968, his 1.99 ERA was 2nd best in the NL, behind only Bob Gibson's 1.12 ERA. 
He was traded to the Brewers in December 1969. (On the same day, the Giants' bizarro front office traded Bolin for Dick Simpson and Steve Whitaker, and also traded Ray Sadecki and Dave Marshall to the Mets for Jim Gosger and Bob Heise!) 
Bolin was traded to the Red Sox in September 1970, and was used strictly in relief while with Boston (thru the 1973 season). After leading the entire Red Sox' staff in appearances (39) and saves (15), he was released the following March. 


Monday, June 5, 2023

RIP - John Sullivan

John Sullivan, a backup catcher for the Tigers, Mets, and Phillies in the 1960s, passed away on June 1, 2023 at age 82.
Sullivan played in the minors for all or part of every season from 1959-72, except for 1967. 
He played a few games with the Tigers in '63 and '64, and a few dozen games in 1965. 
After a full season in the minors, he was with the Mets for all of 1967. 
He wrapped up his major-league career with the Phillies for part of 1968. His only significant playing time came in 1965 (backing up Bill Freehan) and 1967 (backing up Jerry Grote).
Sullivan later coached for the Royals, Braves, and Blue Jays from 1979-1993. 

Thursday, June 1, 2023

RIP - Mike de la Hoz

Mike de la Hoz, a utility infielder for the Indians and Braves from 1960-67, passed away on May 28, 2023 at age 84.
He played in the Indians' farm system from 1958-60, then was with the Tribe for part of '60 and '62, and all of '61 and '63. Most of his playing time (and starts) came during the 1960 and 1963 seasons. 
Just before the 1964 season he was sent to the Braves to complete an earlier trade for Chico Salmon. Mike played for the Braves for all of 1964-67 (mostly as a pinch-hitter or infield sub), then played all of 1968-70 in the minors, save for 1 game with the Reds. 
He was inducted into the Cuban Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. 

Saturday, May 27, 2023

RIP - Vida Blue

Vida Blue, who pitched for the Athletics, Giants, and Royals from 1969-86, passed away on May 9, 2023 at age 73.
Blue pitched briefly for the A's in 1969 and 1970, then made the team permanently in 1971. That season he won the Cy Young and MVP awards, while leading the league in ERA (1.82) and shutouts (8). He also won 24 games, and made his first of 6 All-Star teams. He won 20 or more games in '71, '73, and '75. and pitched in the post-season every year from 1971 to 1975. 
In mid-June 1976 he was sold to the Yankees, but the deal was voided by the league 2 days later. In 9 seasons with the A's, he compiled a 124-86 record. 
In March 1978 he was traded to the Giants for SEVEN players. In his 4 seasons with the Giants he won 18, 14, 14, and 8 games. 
Blue was traded to the Royals in March 1982 for 4 players. He was 13-12 in 1982, but only posted a record of 0-5 in 19 games in 1983, leading to his release in early-August. 
After being out of baseball in 1984, the Giants signed him in April 1985, and he posted records of 8-8 and 10-10 over the next 2 seasons. 
Blue returned to the Athletics in January 1987 but retired the following month. In 17 seasons, he pitched in 502 games (473 starts). 

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

RIP - Mike Shannon

Mike Shannon, who played for the Cardinals for 9 seasons, then broadcast their games for another 30 years, passed away on April 29, 2023 at age 83.
Shannon made his major-league debut with the Cards in September 1962. He won the starting right field job during the 2nd half of 1964, then moved to 3rd base upon the arrival of Roger Maris in 1967. 
In 1970 he contracted a kidney disease, ending his career in mid-August. After a year in the team's front office, he joined the broadcasting team in 1972, and continued until his retirement in 2021.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

RIP - Dick Groat

Dick Groat, a shortstop for the Pirates and others, passed away on April 27, 2023 at age 92.
Groat was signed by the Pirates out of Duke University in June 1952, and went directly to the Pirates (never playing in the minors). Groat took over the starting shortstop job, and finished 3rd in the NL ROY voting. 
After the baseball season, Groat joined the NBA's Fort Wayne Pistons (having been a college All-American basketball player at Duke). 
He missed the next 2 baseball seasons while in military service (at age 23?), but returned for 8 more seasons with the Bucs, including the 1960 championship season, where he also won the NL MVP award. 
He played for the Cardinals from 1963-65 (including his 2nd WS championship. Groat finished up his career with the Phillies from 1966-67 and the Giants in '67. 

Friday, May 5, 2023

RIP - Dennis Ribant

Dennis Ribant, a pitcher for several clubs in the 1960s, passed away on April 24, 2023 at age 81.
Ribant debuted with the Mets in early-August 1964, after being acquired from the Braves' organization on the previous day. 
In 1966 he posted a 11-9 record, his .550 winning percentage the best by a Mets' pitcher to that point. 
After spending 1967 with the Pirates, he moved on to the Tigers in 1968, but was sold to the White Sox before the end of the season, so missed the World Series. 
In December 1968 he was purchased by the Royals (the reason for this card) but was traded to the Cardinals before the start of the 1969 season, so never played for KC. Ribant finished up with the Reds in 1969.  

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

RIP - Fred Klages

Fred Klages, who pitched briefly for the White Sox in the mid-1960s, passed away on March 30, 2023 at age 79.
Klages pitched 14 games (12 starts) for the White Sox, the first coming on 9/11/66 and the last on 9/11/67.  A rotator cuff injury ended his 1967 season.
He pitched in the Sox' minor-league system every year from 1962-69, and finished the '69 season with the Senators' AAA team and also a few games in the Mexican League.
Klages was one of the many professional athletes hailing from the Pittsburgh area. (Others include Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Joe Namath, Mike Ditka, Stan Musial, Ken Griffey Sr, Tony Dorsett, Babe Parilli, Doc Medich, Tito and Terry Francona, Pete Maravich, Po James, and Joe Verbanic.)

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Beware of this "custom card" seller on eBay

Beware of eBay seller "BackAtTheRanch" hawking his "custom" cards.
First, every player's image is poorly superimposed on a random stadium background. Not very typical of cards in those series. 
Secondly, almost every one of his cards listed has a "Last one" warning. It seems highly unlikely that every card he is selling is down to the last one. Especially when the number of cards already sold ranges from 0 to 55. I would think that he would print the same number of each card.
So he printed a variable number of each card, and they are all down to the "last one"? Something smells fishy.
Just sayin'.