Tuesday, September 20, 2022

RIP - Maury Wills

Maury Wills, the Dodgers' shortstop for most of the 1960s, passed away on September 19, 2022 at age 89. 
He was the 10th-oldest player still living who had a player card in the 1967 or later sets.
Wills debuted in June 1959, taking over the shortstop job from Don Zimmer. He was the Dodgers' starting shortstop through the end of the 1966 season. During that time he led the NL in stolen bases from 1960-65 (including a record 104 in 1962). He also led the league in triples in '62 and was named the MVP. 
Traded to the Pirates, he was their 3rd baseman for 2 seasons, then was selected by the Expos in the expansion draft. 
After a half-season as Montreal's shortstop, Wills returned to the Dodgers and his old starting shortstop job until he was replaced by Bill Russell in late-April 1972. Wills retired after the season. 
He famously did not have any Topps baseball cards until 1967, despite being a top-line player for 7 previous seasons.  

Monday, September 5, 2022

RIP - Lee Thomas

Lee Thomas, a slugging 1B-OF for the Angels in their first few seasons, passed away on August 31, 2022 at age 86.
My earliest recollection of Thomas was as a little-used backup with the Cubs and Astros at the end of his career, but he was a significant player earlier in the decade. 
Thomas was a regular with the Angels from 1961 to 1963. He hit 50 homers in his first 2 seasons, and made the All-Star team in 1962. 
After a power shortage in 1963, he was traded to the Red Sox in mid-1964 and regained double-digit home run totals in '64 and '65. That was his last season as a regular player. 
He bounced to the Braves, Cubs, and Astros in bench roles for 3 years, then finished up with seasons in Japan and AAA ball. 
Following his playing career, Thomas worked for the Cardinals as a minor-league coach and manager, and in the front office. He was the GM for the Phillies from 1988-97, constructing the 1993 World Series team. He later worked in the front office for the Red Sox, Astros, Brewers, and Orioles.  

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

RIP - Bob Locker

Bob Locker, a relief pitcher for the White Sox and others from 1965-1975, passed away on August 15, 2022 at age 84.
Locker pitched in 576 games, all in relief. His first 4 1/2 seasons were with the White Sox, where he shared the bullpen with knuckleballers Hoyt Wilhelm and Eddie Fisher, among others. In 1967 he led the AL with 77 appearances. 
In June 1969 he was dealt to the Seattle Pilots. A year later the Brewers sold him to the Athletics. He pitched for Oakland for the next 2 1/2 seasons, before wrapping up with the Cubs in '73 and '75. (He missed the 1974 season due to injury.)  
In 2010 Locker created a website promoting former Players Association head Marvin Miller, in an attempt to get him voted into the Hall of Fame. Miller was inducted in 2020.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

RIP - Mike Brito

Mike Brito, a Dodgers' scout for 45 years, passed away on July 7, 2022 at age 87.
Don't know the name? Well you no doubt saw him back in the day if you've ever watched a Dodgers' game on TV. He's the guy who always had a radar gun, Panama hat, and big cigar behind the backstop. I was never a Dodgers' fan, but I saw them many times on the Game of the Week. 
Brito was the Dodgers' top scout in Mexico.  He signed Fernando Valenzuela and over 30 others.
I saw this on Twitter: “Name me another scout you recognize. Name me the second-most famous scout in baseball. You can’t.”  


Friday, July 29, 2022

RIP - Bill Burbach

Bill Burbach, who pitched briefly for the Yankees from 1969-71, passed away on July 20, 2022 at age 74.
After 4 seasons in the minors, Bill played all of 1969 with the Yankees, posting a 6-8 record in 24 starts and 7 relief appearances.
He spent most of the next 2 seasons in the minors, only playing a total of 6 games for the Yankees.
He retired after playing for the Twins' AAA team in 1972.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

RIP - Dick Schofield Sr.

Dick Schofield, a middle infielder for the Pirates, Giants, and others in the 1950s and 1960s, passed away on July 11, 2022 at age 87.
Schofield was signed by the Cardinals as a bonus baby in 1953, and spent 5+ seasons on their bench, until he was traded to the Pirates. 
His only regular playing time was from 1963-1965. He was the Pirates regular shortstop in '63 and '64, taking over for the traded Dick Groat. In 1965 Gene Alley replaced him in May, so he was traded to the Giants where he was their regular shortstop for the remainder of that season. 
He eventually moved on to the Mets, Dodgers, Cardinals, Red Sox, and Brewers, then retired after the 1971 season. 
His son Dick was the Angels' shortstop from 1983-96, and his grandson is Jayson Werth, former Phillies' and Senators' outfielder.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

RIP - Dave Wickersham

Dave Wickersham, who pitched for 10 seasons in the 1960s, passed away on June 18, 2022 at age 86.
Wickersham began his career in 1960 with the Kansas City Athletics, and ended it in 1969 with the Kansas City Royals. In between, he pitched 4 seasons for the Tigers and 11 games for the Pirates. He was one of four players to have played for both Kansas City teams. 
He was primarily a starting pitcher from 1963-65, and a reliever in all other years.
A native of Erie, PA, he was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1989. 

Saturday, June 18, 2022

RIP - Costen Shockley

Costen Shockley, who played briefly for the Phillies and Angels from 1964-65, passed away in his hometown of Georgetown, DE on May 30, 2022 at age 80.
He began his career in the Phillies' organization in 1961 with the Magic Valley Cowboys. Over the next 4 seasons he moved up their ladder and played in a few games for the Phillies in July 1964. 
Traded to the Angels for Bo Belinsky, he appeared in 40 games in the first half of the 1965 season. After refusing to report to the minors when sent down in mid-season, he was released.
He later coached his son's baseball team, and was inducted into three Delaware-area Halls of Fame. 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

RIP - Joel Horlen

Following the deaths of Pete Ward and Tommy Davis, the White Sox alumni association took another hit on April 10, 2022 with the passing of Joel Horlen, one of their fine starting pitchers during the 2nd half of the 1960s. He was 84.
He often joined his southpaw teammate Gary Peters atop the AL ERA leader charts in the mid-1960s.
Horlen's best season was 1967. That year he led the AL in ERA (2.06) and shutouts (6), posted 19 wins, made the All-Star team, and pitched a no-hitter in September. 

Sunday, April 24, 2022

RIP - Tommy Davis

Tommy Davis, who won 2 batting titles while patrolling left field for the Dodgers in the 1960s, passed away on April 3, 2022 at age 83.
After a 1-game debut in 1959, Davis played for the Dodgers for the next 7 seasons. He was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1960, and won the batting title in 1962 and 1963. Those 2 seasons were his only All-Star appearances. 
After the 1966 season he played for nine teams over his final ten seasons.  
With the death of Tommy Davis, 248 of the 490 players (50.6%) that appeared on a solo card in the 1967 set have passed away.  19 of the 20 managers in that set are also deceased. The Reds' Dave Bristol (only in his early-30s at the time) is still living.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

RIP - Pete Ward

Pete Ward, a 3B-OF for the White Sox in the 1960s, passed away on March 16, 2022 (the same day as Ralph Terry) at age 84.
Ward debuted with the Orioles in September 1962, then a few months later went to the White Sox as part of a 6-player deal that brought Luis Aparicio to the O's.
He played mostly 3rd base and left field for the Sox, and was one of the team's sluggers. (23 homers was more than enough for the team lead on the Go-Go Sox.)
After his first 2 years in Chicago both his power and average dropped off significantly, but he was a regular for 5 more seasons. 
He wound up his career in 1970 as a pinch-hitter and backup 1st baseman for the Yankees. 

Sunday, March 27, 2022

RIP - Ralph Terry

Ralph Terry, who pitched for the Yankees and others from 1956-67, passed away on March 16, 2022 at age 86.
Terry started his career with the Yankees in 1956, then was traded to the Kansas City Athletics (where else?) in early-1957 in the deal that also sent Billy Martin westward. 
Terry returned to the Yankees 2 years later, and was a member of the starting rotation for the next 6 years. His best season was 1962, when he led the AL with 23 wins and was named to his only All-Star team. He also posted a 2-1 record in the World Series and was named the series MVP. In 1963 he led the league with 18 complete games. 
Ralph was traded to the Indians after the 1964 season, and after one season bounced to the Athletics and Mets, finishing his career in late-April 1967.  

Monday, March 7, 2022

RIP - Fred Lasher

Fred Lasher, a reliever for the Tigers and others in the late-1960s, passed away on February 27, 2022 at age 80.
Lasher played briefly for the Twins in 1963, then pitched for the Tigers for part of 1967 and all of 1968 and 1969.  He split the 1970 season between the Tigers and Indians. 
The Angels selected him in the post-1970 Rule 5 draft, but he played most of the '71 season in the minors, and only 2 games for the Angels. He was released the following spring, ending his career. 


Monday, February 14, 2022

RIP - Vic Roznovsky

1960s' journeyman catcher Vic Roznovsky passed away on January 18, 2022 at age 83.
His best season was 1965, logging career highs in games (71) and at-bats (172). The Cubs used a catching committee that season, with Chris Krug (46 starts), Ed Bailey (45), Roznovsky (44), and Dick Bertell (19). 
After the season he was dealt to the Orioles and was their 3rd-string catcher for 2 years. He played all of 1968 in the minors, then resurfaced in 1969 as the Phillies' 3rd-string backstop.  

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

RIP - Tom Matchick

Tom Matchick, a utility infielder for the Tigers and 4 other teams in the late-60s and early-70s, passed away on January 4, 2022 at age 78. 
Matchick broke in with Detroit in September 1967, and played all of 1968 and 1969 with the Tigers. He started 45 games at shortstop in their 1968 World Championship year, mostly over the 2nd half until center fielder Mickey Stanley famously took over in the final week of the regular season. The following year Tom started 76 games, mostly at 2B and 3B. 
He split the 1970 season between the Red Sox and the Royals, then spent the next 6 seasons in the minors, although he did play 42 games with the Brewers in '71 and 3 games with the Orioles in '72.