Monday, December 28, 2009

Baltimore Orioles pitchers of the 1960s

Any O's fans out there? Here's a breakdown of their pitching staffs from the first wave of '64 - '66 (McNally, Bunker, Palmer), through the second wave (Phoebus, Hardin, Cuellar, and the return of Palmer), up to the four 20-game winners season of 1971. (click to enlarge)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Last Active Philadelphia Athletics

Here are the last active players to have played for the Philadelphia Athletics.

Vic Power is also featured in my 1966 blog today.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bob Costas interviewing Dick Allen on MLB

Earlier tonight, I was watching Bob Costas' Studio 42 interview show on the MLB Network. His guest was Dick Allen, who is surprisingly soft-spoken. Mixed in with studio chatter was video of Allen's highlights, as well as comments from Willie Mays, Cookie Rojas, and Stan Hochman (a Philadelphia sportswriter since 1959).

Some topics:

- Allen is friends to this day with Frank Thomas.
- He doesn't blame Gene Mauch for 1964's collapse.
- His off-field antics and in-game scrawling in the dirt were designed to get him shipped out of Philly.
- He was the first black player to play for the minor-league team in Little Rock AR, and took much abuse there.

These shows are usually replayed often [at least the McCarver episode was! :( ] Phillies fans should check it out.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Last Active (old) Washington Senators

Here are the last active players to have played for the "old" Washington Senators. That is, the team that left Washington DC after 1960 to become the Minnesota Twins.

They were immediately replaced by the expansion Washington Senators in 1961, who 11 seasons later would also skip town to become the Texas Rangers.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Last Active New York Giants

Here are the last active players to have played for the New York Giants. Appropriately, Willie Mays is on top of the list.

Hoyt Wilhelm's last game was on July 10, 1972 - 16 days before his 50th birthday!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Last Active Brooklyn Dodgers

On October 16th, I posted a list of the last active player from each of the first wave of relocated teams.

Today, I'm drilling down to find the last 10 active players to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Most had retired by the end of the 1960s. Some guys (like Aspromonte and Demeter) only had a few at-bats with Brooklyn.

Next: The New York Giants

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Jarry Park was a minor-league stadium

The MLB network was showing a 1970 game between the Expos and Pirates. The lighting was so bad at Jarry Park in Montreal that not only do the players have shadows, but when the camera behind home plate follows fly balls to the outfield, you can't even see the outfield fence, because the entire area is in shadows.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Heads-up: MLB Network showing 1960s World Series

I just noticed that the MLB Network will be showing various games from the 1965, 1968, and 1969 World Series on Saturday and Sunday.

Tonight they are showing 1/2 hour summaries of the 1951 to 1955 WS, followed by Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 WS.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Long-time veterans say goodbye (part 2 of 3)

Between 1965 and 1969, 117 players with 10 or more years in the big leagues retired. Below is the list of the 12 to 14-year veterans who retired between 1966 and 1969. I have posted the last baseball card for some of these players on my 1966, 1967, and 1968 blogs already, and will post more of these cards (to those blogs) over the next few weeks. (click to enlarge) (last updated on 04/23/2010)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

1968 World Series

I watched game #1 of the 1968 World Series on the MLB Network today. (I've seen this one earlier this year on MLB, but it's always a classic!)

The announcers were NBC's Curt Gowdy (as always), and Harry Caray (who was the Cardinals' broadcaster at the time). I think it's great that the network included the home team's regular announcer (as they would also do in 1969 with the Mets' announcer). The 2 of them each announced half the game, with the other one doing sparse color commentary.

The early buzz was 16-year veteran Tiger Al Kaline playing in his 1st series, and Detroit outfielder Mickey Stanley starting at shortstop (having only played there for 9 games in his pro career, including all of the Tigers' final 6 games in 1968). The highlight of the game turned out to be Bob Gibson's stellar performance, as he pitched a complete game victory and broke the World Series strikeout record with 17 strikeouts. Denny McLain (who won 31 games that year), pitched well for a few innings, but was outplayed by Gibson.

The Tigers eventually won the series, thanks to the way their manager Mayo Smith handled his pitching rotation. Gibson & McLain started games 1 & 4, with Gibson winning both. Nelson Briles and Mickey Lolich started games 2 & 5, with Lolich winning both for the Tigers. (The Cardinals also won game 3.) After 5 games, with the Cardinals leading 3-2, Smith brought McLain and Lolich back on short rest to pitch games 6 and 7, and the Tigers won both!

The 1968 World Series was the last hurrah for long-time sluggers Eddie Mathews (Tigers - PH) and Roger Maris (Cardinals - RF).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

1968 Phillies

After the 1967 season, the Phillies traded pitcher Jim Bunning (their ace since coming over from Detroit prior to the 1964 season) to the Pirates for southpaw Woody Fryman, shortstop prospect Don Money, and 2 other minor-league pitchers. The same day, they packaged disappointing #5 starter Dick Ellsworth (acquired prior to 1967 from the Cubs for pitcher Ray Culp) and backup catcher Gene Oliver in a deal which brought a young catcher from the Red Sox (Mike Ryan). This was not enough however, as the team sank deeper in the standings.

Along the way, Gene Mauch, who had managed the team from day #2 of the 1960 season (Eddie Sawyer had quit after the first game) was fired, as much for his inability to co-exist with Richie Allen as for the losing record. Taking over the team was Bob Skinner, who had managed the Phillies AAA club in San Diego since 1966. He did no better than Mauch, and would be fired midway through the following season.

Left-hander Clay Dalrymple (#11) shared the catching with right-handed newcomer Mike Ryan (#9). Ryan was a good defensive catcher who didn't hit much.

1st base
Future NL President Bill White (#10) returned for his 3rd (and last) year as the Phil's first baseman.

2nd base
Once again, Cookie Rojas (#16) was the everyday second baseman. As part of the 100th anniversary celebration of Major League Baseball, there was a poll for the all-time Phillies team. Rojas was the second baseman on that team, the only current player to be named. Rojas finally shed his utilityman role, playing only one game away from second base (catcher).

Weak-hitting Bobby Wine (#7) had chronic back problems which kept him out most of the season. Highly touted prospect Don Money was handed the job in spring training and promptly flopped in the first week. This led to the call-up of minor-league journeyman Roberto Pena (#34), who became the regular shortstop for 1968. Gary Sutherland (#18) was on the team the entire year, but in more of a utility role.

3rd base
Partly due to his season-ending wrist injury in 1967, but also due to his defensive shortcomings, Richie Allen (#15) was moved to leftfield, with the versatile Tony Taylor (#8) became the regular third baseman. Utility 1B/3B Rick Joseph (#19) was also along for the ride.

Johnny Callison (#6) was a fixture in rightfield, as usual. Rookie phenom Larry Hisle imitated Don Money and also flopped big-time in 1968. Tony Gonzalez (#25), Don Lock (#23), and John Briggs (#12) all rode the centerfield merry-go-round, with Briggs seeing some action at first base. Allen became the regular leftfielder, playing only a few games at his old third base spot. With all this job-sharing, there was only marginal playing time for Doug Clemens.

With Bunning gone, the undisputed ace was lefty Chris Short (#41). He bounced back from an injury-filled 1967 to win 19 games in 1968. Woody Fryman (#35) was the other left-handed starter, while the righties were Larry Jackson (#46) and Rick Wise (#38). Once again, the closers were right-handers Turk Farrell (#32) and Dick Hall (#27). Other assorted spot starters and long relievers were southpaw Grant Jackson (#29), and righties John Boozer (#31), Gary Wagner (returning to the team after 2 years in the minors), Jeff James, and Jerry Johnson (the latter two being rookies).

At triple-A San Diego, the Phillies had a bunch of young pitchers, but most of the position players were major-league veterans: 1B Jim Gentile, plus a bunch of journeymen (catchers Doc Edwards and John Sullivan, 2B Bobby Klaus, 3B John Werhas, outfielders Billy Cowan and Johnny Lewis). The only prospects were SS Don Money and OF Larry Hisle.

The Phillies just fell apart in 1968. The controversy between manager Gene Mauch and Richie Allen went on all season until Mauch was fired. Allen wouldn't show up for games, preferring to spend time at race tracks instead. Bunning's wins were not made up, Allen didn't regain his batting stroke following the injury, and Gonzalez faded fast from his .339 average of the previous year, so much so that the Phillies left him unprotected in the upcoming expansion draft. Callison and White were also not the same players they once were. On top of that, the two rookies Money and Hisle flopped in the first month of the season. The team sank to a 76-86 record, 6 wins less than the previous year. Fortunately, you could always rely on the Astros and Mets to have worse records than any other team.

Following the season, the San Diego Padres (which was the Phillies' AAA team from '66-'68) and the Montreal Expos selected players in the expansion draft. The Phillies lost SS Roberto Pena and CF Tony Gonzalez to San Diego, and P Larry Jackson and SS Gary Sutherland to Montreal. Each team also picked a Phils' minor-league pitcher. When Jackson retired rather than report to an expansion team, the Phillies gave Montreal their remaining SS Bobby Wine as compensation (although by this time, Wine was essentially useless). Now all three shortstops with major league experience were gone. The pressure was really on rookie Don Money to come through in 1969!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Long-time veterans say goodbye (part 1 of 3)

Between 1965 and 1969, 117 players with 10 or more years in the big leagues retired. Below is the list of 15-year veterans who retired between 1966 and 1969. I have posted the last baseball card for some of these players on my 1966, 1967, and 1968 blogs already, and will post the remainder of these cards (to those blogs) in the next few days. After that, I'll work my way through the under-15 bunch. (last updated 04/23/2010)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

1969 World Series

Yesterday and today, I've been watching the rebroadcasts of the 1969 World Series between the Mets and Orioles on the MLB network.

These games bring back a lot of memories, not only of the Amazin' Mets and the great Oriole teams of the late 60s and early 70s, but of baseball in general back then.

These games were originally broadcast by NBC, and the announcer was regular Mets' play-by-play man Lindsey Nelson, with Curt Gowdy doing color. WHAT A DIFFERENCE in the broadcasting style back then! Nelson is informative, without being overbearing or a Mets homer, and Gowdy rarely says anything - preferring to say nothing when there's nothing to say. With every pitch, there are gaps of silence where you can actually watch the game and take in the atmosphere.

If only today's "announcers" like Joe Buck and that clown Tim McCarver would take note! (I'm not even going to start in on the amateurish bunch employed by TBS!)

Friday, October 30, 2009

1967 Phillies

In 1967, the Phillies had a few rising stars such as 3b Richie Allen, ... (ok, one rising star), along with aging but solid veterans like pitchers Jim Bunning, Chris Short, Turk Farrell, 1B Bill White, OF's Johnny Callison and Tony Gonzalez, and a few young players like P Rick Wise, 2B Cookie Rojas, and OF John Briggs. The team finished in 5th place, starting their downward slide which would turn into a freefall in 1968 and 1969. They were managed by Gene Mauch (#4), and had been since 1960.

The Phillies starting catcher was left-hander Clay Dalrymple (#11), who had started for most of the 1960's. The two things I remember most about him were 1) he was bald, and as a kid I thought it strange that a ballplayer would be bald (I hadn't discovered Ray Nitschke for another year or two), and 2) he was always on the radio promoting the pre-season tours to Clearwater. Backing up Dalrymple was Bob Uecker (#9). Ueck was acquired from St. Louis prior to 1966 along with Bill White and Dick Groat for P Art Mahaffey, C Pat Corrales (later a Phillies' manager), and OF Alex Johnson. (The Phils could have used Johnson later - I think he won a batting title with Cincinnati or California in the early 70's .) Midway through the season, Uecker was traded to Atlanta for catcher Gene Oliver (#9). Like Uecker, Oliver was right-handed, but unlike Uecker, Oliver could actually hit! This got him more playing time at catcher, and pinch-hitting.

1st base
The Phillies first baseman for 1966-68 was Bill White (#10). This lefthander had come from St. Louis, and was the Phillies #3 slugger behind Allen and Callison. Unfortunately, he missed the start of the season due to an off-season paddleball injury. Tony Taylor (#8) played mostly at 1st base while White was out. The Phils signed 1B-OF Tito Francona as a backup until White returned, at which time Francona got the ax.

2nd base
Cookie Rojas (#16) had won the 2nd base job from Tony Taylor in '65 or '66. Rojas had joined the Phillies in 1963 from the Reds, and had worked his way up from utility IF-OF to starting 2nd baseman. With his one-game pitching stint in 1967, he had now played all nine positions. (Although the Athletics' Bert Campaneris and Twins’ Cesar Tovar had played all nine positions in a single game!) Tony Taylor had been the starting 2nd baseman since coming over from the Cubs in 1960, until Rojas replaced him. Still, Taylor found plenty of playing time at 1st (White's injury), at 3rd (Allen's late-season injury), as well as at 2nd and pinch-hitting.

The Phillies had holdovers Dick Groat (#24) and backup Bobby Wine (#7). Groat was the starter during 1966, while Wine had shared the job with Ruben Amaro Sr. for the first half of the decade. Also on hand was promising rookie Gary Sutherland. Groat landed on the disabled list with a foot injury in early April. After the Phillies sold outfielder Jackie Brandt in mid-June, Groat was activated into Brandt’s roster spot. This was short-lived, as Groat was washed up, and sold to the Giants in late June. Wine and Sutherland shared the job for most of the season, with Sutherland getting some time in left field as well.

3rd base
Richie "Crash" Allen (#15) was the star of this team. He was among the league leaders in HR and RBI, and had also homered in the 1967 all-star game. Allen's one problem was his defense. In late summer, while "pushing his stalled car", he jammed his hand through a headlight, cutting his wrist and ending his season. Taylor took over at third base the rest of the way, with 1B/3B Rick Joseph called up from San Diego as a backup.

Right fielder Johnny Callison (#6) was the #2 slugger on this team. The left-hander was a star in the '64 and '65 all-star games. Long-time center fielder Tony Gonzalez (#25) moved over to left to start the season, making room for newly acquired center fielder Don Lock (#23). Lock had hit 99 homers in four years with the Senators. Left fielder John Briggs (#12) lost his starting spot temporarily, but soon got playing time as Lock faltered, and Gonzalez began shuffling between LF and CF. Gonzalez ended up batting .339, the second-highest average in the league. Also around for backup/pinch-hitting duty was former Orioles star Jackie Brandt (although only until mid-June), as well as Doug Clemens and Billy Cowan.

The staff aces were righthander Jim Bunning (#14), fresh off three 19-win seasons, and lefty Chris Short (#41), who had just won 20 games. Rounding out the starters were righties Larry Jackson (#46) and Rick Wise (#38), and southpaw Dick Ellsworth (#30).

The bullpen was completely revamped for 1967. Gone from 1966 were Darold Knowles (traded for Lock), Ray Culp (traded for Ellsworth), Joe Verbanic (traded for Pedro Ramos), Ed Roebuck, Ray Herbert, Terry Fox, Roger Craig, Bo Belinsky, and John Morris. In their place were Turk Farrell (acquired from the Astros in late May) and Dick Hall (acquired from Baltimore in the off-season), both right-handed closers. I remember Hall's claim to fame was that he never walked anyone. (In his last 7 seasons, his unintentional walks were 4, 4, 4, 2, 3, 4, and 2!). It seemed like these 2 guys would always shut down the opposition! Setup guys included southpaw rookie Grant Jackson, and righthanders Bob Buhl, Pedro Ramos, and Ruben Gomez. The last 3 were all given pink slips before the end of May, and replaced by righties John Boozer and Dallas Green.

Major-league veterans stashed at triple-A San Diego for emergencies were starting pitcher John Tsitouris (on loan from Cincinnati), relievers Terry Fox and Ed Roebuck, catchers Dick Bertell and Jimmie Schaffer, 1B Jim Gentile, 2B Bobby Klaus, SS Roberto Pena, 3B Rick Joseph, and outfielders Lou Clinton and Marty Keough. (Joseph was called up in August when Dick Allen was injured, and Schaffer played a few games in late September.)

On paper, the Phillies had some decent players that year. Injuries to White, Allen, and Short are what did them in, I guess. The following winter, Bunning was traded to the Pirates for LHP Woody Fryman, SS prospect Don Money, and 2 other minor-league pitchers. At the time, I COULDN'T BELIEVE THAT A TEAM WOULD TRADE THEIR ACE PITCHER!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

1969 AL Expansion

In 1969, the American League added the Kansas City Royals and Seattle Pilots. It had been eight years since the previous AL expansion added the Angels and Senators.

This time, the expansion draft guidelines were going to be more favorable to the new teams. (I guess they wanted to avoid another team losing 120 games!) Each established team would protect 15 players on their 40-man rosters, and the Royals and Pilots would each select up to 30 players (3 per established team, so that the existing teams would each lose a total of 6 players). When a team lost a player, they could protect 3 more players on their roster. (So, each team would theoretically lose their 16th, 20th, 24th, 28th, 32nd, and 36th best players.)

Here's how it went (click to enlarge):

After the draft (held in October 1968), teams also signed free agents, made rule 5 draft picks, trades, etc. The deals listed above were those that occurred before opening day 1969.

The Royals team was a direct result of the Kansas City Athletics moving to Oakland following the 1967 season. Never has a city had to wait so little for a replacement team.

The Pilots were another story. After one season (immortalized by Pilots' pitcher Jim Bouton in his book Ball Four), the team was in financial ruins. Bud Selig (then a car dealer from Milwaukee) bought the team and moved them to Milwaukee. This move occurred during spring training 1970. The team went to camp as the Seattle Pilots, and emerged as the Milwaukee Brewers!

Out of the above collection of prospects, has-beens, never-weres, and other assorted backups, the teams settled on these lineups:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

1969 NL Expansion

In 1969, expansion added 4 new teams, unleashing 100 "major-league" players on the public. The National League added the Montreal Expos and San Diego Padres. It had been seven years since the previous NL expansion added the Mets and Colt .45s (later renamed Astros).

This time, the expansion draft guidelines were going to be more favorable to the new teams. (I guess they wanted to avoid another team losing 120 games!) Each established team would protect 15 players on their 40-man rosters, and the Expos and Padres would each select up to 30 players (3 per established team, so that the existing teams would each lose a total of 6 players). When a team lost a player, they could protect 3 more players on their roster. (So, each team would theoretically lose their 16th, 20th, 24th, 28th, 32nd, and 36th best players.)

Here's how it went (click to enlarge):

After the draft (held in October 1968), teams also signed free agents, made rule 5 draft picks, trades, etc. The deals listed above were those that occurred before opening day 1969.

Notice that Johnny Podres is listed with the Padres. He had been out of baseball in 1968, but came back at age 36 for one season with the Padres.

The Phillies' Larry Jackson decided to retire, rather than to play for an expansion team. For compensation, the Phillies offered a group of players from which the Expos could choose one. When they chose shortstop Bobby Wine, this cleared out the Phillies roster of all their major-league shortstops (Bobby Wine, Gary Sutherland, Roberto Pena). No matter, it was already planned that Don Money would be promoted from triple-A and handed the shortstop job in 1969.

Out of the above collection of prospects, has-beens, never-weres, and other assorted backups, the teams settled on these lineups:

Next time: The 1969 American League expansion

10/13/2013 edit: I just found another blog entry about expansion today. It never occurred to me that Mickey Mantle would be left unprotected, but it doesn't make sense to protect him.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Last active players from relocated teams

While poking around the internet, I found the following players to be the last active player from these teams:

Boston Braves (1952) - Eddie Mathews (1968 Tigers)

St. Louis Browns (1953) - Don Larsen (1967 Cubs)

Philadelphia A's (1954) - Vic Power (1965 Angels)

Brooklyn Dodgers (1957) - Bob Aspromonte (1971 Mets)

New York Giants (1957) - Willie Mays (1973 Mets)

Washington Senators (1960) - Jim Kaat (1983 Cardinals)

(Jim Kaat outlasted Harmon Killebrew (who was my guess) by 8 years!)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Phillies 1967 pre-season roster

Yesterday, I found a news archive site that includes page scans from the 1967 St. Petersburg Press. The February 26th issue had the spring training rosters of the teams training within 110 miles of St. Petersburg (Phillies, Cardinals, Mets, White Sox, Red Sox, Pirates, Reds, and Athletics).

This is a 42-man roster. (John Briggs and Mike Wegener are designated as on the "Military List", so maybe they're not counted toward the 40-man roster.) The non-roster invitees are listed at the bottom, and include veterans Ruben Gomez, Joey Jay, Jim Schaffer, and Jim Gentile.

Besides players that appeared for the Phillies in 1967, this roster includes future Phillies Billy Champion, Larry Colton, Lowell Palmer, Bill Wilson, Larry Bowa, Denny Doyle, and Larry Hisle.

Those Loveable Losers

I found this article today on the New York Times archive website. Only the headline and first paragraph are available without paying. The headline is hilarious:

Mets Acquire Kralick of Indians, An Experienced Losing Pitcher
May 2, 1967, Tuesday

THE NEW YORK METS, who will get their first look at Willie Mays and the San Francisco Giants tonight, reported yesterday that they had purchased Jack Kralick from the Cleveland Indians.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Philadelphia was no place for a young player in 1967

After trading away rookie pitcher Ferguson Jenkins for 2 old-timers (Larry Jackson, Bob Buhl) in early 1966, the Phillies apparently thought old = good, as they loaded up on aging veterans in the off-season. Pitchers Pedro Ramos, Ruben Gomez, Dick Hall, and Joey Jay were all brought in to supplement Bob Buhl and Terry Fox in the bullpen. First baseman Jim Gentile was signed to give the equally-old Bill White some time off.

This preference for geezers soon went by the wayside, as Jay, Fox, and Gentile never made it out of spring training (the latter two spending the year with the Phillies' triple-A team in San Diego, while surprisingly, Joey Jay wrapped up a long career by pitching for the Phillies single-A team in Tidewater). By mid-June, the Phillies had also dumped Buhl, Ramos, and Gomez, along with aging position players Dick Groat and Jackie Brandt. For good measure, little-used pitcher Dallas Green was let go 2 weeks before season's end.

My introduction to major league baseball

My first baseball game was in May 1967, when the Phillies hosted the Cincinnati Reds at Connie Mack Stadium. This is when I started following MLB, and collecting baseball cards. It was all new to me, so I knew nothing of the Phillies' infamous 1964 collapse.

The Phillies had a decent team in 1967, but with the exception of Richie Allen, they were top heavy with veterans on the downside of their careers. Jim Bunning and Chris Short were still top-notch pitchers, Allen was an offensive star, and Johnny Callison was a good hitting outfielder starting his downward slide. Cookie Rojas and Tony Gonzalez were serviceable/adequate players, but the rest were mostly filler.

The team continued to bottom out over the next several years, as Bunning was traded after 1967, Gonzalez and 4 others were selected by the expansion teams after 1968, and finally, Allen, Rojas, and Callison were traded away after the 1969 season. By the start of 1970, only Rick Wise, Chris Short, Tony Taylor, Grant Jackson, and John Briggs remained from the 1967 team, as the Phillies started the decade-long rebuilding process that would culminate in the 1980 World Series championship.