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'.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

RIP - Joe Pepitone

Joe Pepitone, a first baseman for the Yankees in the 1960s and several other teams in the 1970s, passed away on March 13, 2023 at age 82.
Pepitone played 1B for the Yankees from 1962-66, then switched positions with Mickey Mantle for the Mick's final 2 seasons. Following Mantle's retirement, Joe returned to first base in 1969. He won gold gloves in '65, '66, and '69. 
Pepitone played briefly for the Astros in 1970, before joining the Cubs in mid-season, replacing Ernie Banks. He finished up with the Braves in early 1973.
He coached for the Yankees in the 1980s.


Monday, March 20, 2023

RIP - Jesus Alou

Jesus Alou, one of three Alou brothers to have played in the majors during the 1960s and 1970s, passed away on March 10, 2023 at age 80.
Alou made his major-league debut in September 1963 with the Giants. During 1 game that month, all 3 brothers played in the outfield at the same time. (A one-time-only occurrance, since some guy named Willie Mays also wanted playing time.) 
After a few years of the Giants shedding their excess veteran outfielders (including Orlando Cepeda and Jesus' brothers Felipe and Matty), Jay settled into a starting corner outfield job from 1965-67, and part of '68. 
He was selected by the Expos in the expansion draft, but was dealt to the Astros before the season as part of the Rusty Staub-for-Donn Clendenon trade. 
After 3 seasons as a starting outfielder for the Astros, he spent 1 1/2 seasons as a bench player, then bounced around to the Athletics, Mets, and the Mexican League. 

Saturday, March 18, 2023

RIP - Dan McGinn

Dan McGinn, a pitcher for the Montreal Expos during their first 3 seasons, passed away on March 1, 2023 at age 79.
McGinn made his major-league debut with 1 game for the Reds in September 1968, then was selected by Montreal in the expansion draft. 
He led the Expos' staff in games (74) and saves (6) during their inaugural season. He also hit the Expos' first home run. 
In 1970, French-Canadian Claude Raymond took over the closer's role. McGinn spent part of the 1971 season in the minors, then was traded to the Cubs 1 week before Opening Day 1972. That would be his last MLB season.  

Thursday, March 16, 2023

RIP - Sandy Valdespino

Sandy Valdespino, a left fielder for the Twins and others, passed away on February 26, 2023 at age 84.
Valdespino played in the minor leagues from 1957 to 1974, and made his MLB debut with the Twins in 1965. By far, his most playing time came during his rookie year, when he appeared in 108 games (47 starts) and collected a career-high 22 RBI. 
After 2 more seasons with the Twins, he bounced around to the Braves, Astros, Pilots, Brewers, and Royals for the final 4 seasons of his MLB career. 1965 and 1967 were the only 2 seasons he didn't spend time in the minors. 
He also played in Mexico from 1973-74.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

RIP - Dave Nicholson

Dave Nicholson, an outfielder for the White Sox and others from 1960-67, passed away on February 25, 2023 at age 85.
Nicholson played for the Orioles in 1960 and 1962, then was included in the January 1963 Luis Aparicio-for-Hoyt Wilhelm trade with the White Sox. 
Dave's only season as a full-time regular was 1963, having over 500 at-bats while starting 121 games in left field. He had a part-time role with the Sox for the next 2 seasons, then was traded to the Astros, where he played 100 games (71 starts) in 1966, mostly as a corner outfielder. 
After 1 year he was traded to the Braves, but only played 10 games for them in 1967, all in September and October. His last MLB game was on 10/1/67. Still, he had baseball cards in the 1967 and 1969 sets. 
He played in AAA-ball for the Braves and Royals in his final 2 seasons. 

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Seasoned Veterans

Here are the 9 oldest living players who saw action after the 1965 season. They are all over age 90, with Roy Face leading the pack at 95. 
Many of them retired after the 1966 or 1967 season, but Willie Mays played through the 1973 season (including the World Series).
How old are these guys? 
- Willie Mays played in the Negro Leagues in 1948. 
- Ray Herbert and Vern Law made their MLB debut in 1950. 
- Al Worthington and Willie Mays played for the New York Giants. 
- Dick Groat played NBA basketball with the Fort Wayne Pistons in 1952. 

Saturday, March 11, 2023

RIP - Roman Mejias

Roman Mejias, an outfielder for the Pirates, Colt .45s, and Red Sox, passed away on February 22, 2023 at age 97.
Mejias made his debut with the Pirates in April 1955. With Roberto Clemente, Bill Virdon, and Bob Skinner starting most games in the outfield, Mejias was a backup outfielder from 1955-59 (when not in the minors). He did play quite a bit in 1959, due to Clemente missing 52 games. 
After spending almost all of 1960-61 in the minors, he was selected by the Houston Colt .45s in the October 1961 expansion draft. Mejias was the Colts' starting right fielder for 137 games in 1962. 
After just one season, he was traded to the Red Sox for infielder Pete Runnels. He started about half the games in 1963 (mostly in center field), but only a handful of games in 1964. 
Mejias wrapped up his career with a season in triple-A ('65) and 1 year in Japan ('66). 

Thursday, March 9, 2023

RIP - Albie Pearson

Albie Pearson, an outfielder for the Angels and others from 1958 to 1966, passed away on February 22, 2023 at age 88.
Pearson was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1958. (This seems inconceivable now. In 146 games, he had 3 homers, and only 33 RBI, with a .275 batting average. Ok, he was the center fielder, so maybe he was a defensive whiz.) 
The following May, he was dealt to the Orioles for outfielder Lenny Green. Pearson spent most of 1959-60 in the minors, only playing 80 (in 1959) and 48 (in 1960) games for the O's. 
He was selected by the Angels in the expansion draft in the Fall of 1960, and was one of their starting outfielders in their first 5 seasons. A back injury during Spring Training in 1966 limited him to only 2 games that season (both in mid-July), after which he was released. 
Pearson became an ordained minister in 1972.  

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

RIP - Tim McCarver

Tim McCarver, a catcher for the Cardinals, Phillies, and others from 1959-80, passed away on February 16, 2023 at age 81.
McCarver played a few dozen games for the Cardinals from 1959-61, then returned to the majors in 1963 as the Cardinals' regular catcher, a job he would hold through the 1969 season. Along the way, he appeared in 3 World Series ('64, '67, '68), winning the first two. 
After the 1969 season, he was included in the Dick Allen for Curt Flood trade. McCarver played for the Philles for 2 1/2 seasons, including the first half of Steve Carlton's 27-win season. 
Beginning in June 1972, he bounced from the Phillies to the Expos, back to the Cardinals, and to the Red Sox. 
When Boston released him in June 1975 he signed on with the Phillies, and was one of their two backup catchers until the end of the 1979 season, normally starting every game that Steve Carlton pitched. He also played in the NLCS from 1976-78.  

Monday, March 6, 2023

RIP - Ron Tompkins

Ron Tompkins, who pitched briefly for the Athletics and Cubs, passed away on February 3, 2023, at age 78.
(Alas, that's not really Ron's rookie card)
Tompkins appeared in 5 games for the Kansas City Athletics in September 1965, then returned to the minors until pitching 35 games in relief for the Cubs in 1971. In between those 2 seasons, he spent time in the Reds', Braves', Royals', Braves' (again), and Brewers' organizations. 
He pitched in the minors from 1962 to 1973, except for his full season with the Cubs in 1971.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

RIP - Ron Campbell

Ron Campbell, a utility infielder for the Cubs from 1964-66, passed away on February 2, 2023 at age 82.
Campbell played parts of 3 seasons with the Cubs, appearing in only 52 games from 1964-66. (With Glenn Beckert, Don Kessinger, and Ron Santo as the starters, and a host of other infield backups, there wasn't much for Campbell to do.)