Thursday, September 30, 2010

TV Alert - Prime 9

Today at 4 pm (EDT), the MLB Network's "Prime 9" program will feature the 9 best players of the 1960s.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Winding down in the 1960s

. A few months back, I posted a list of players with 10+ years in the majors who retired between 1966 and 1969. Here are the players with 8 to 9 years of service who retired in that time period. I have posted the final card for most of them to my other blogs already (as indicated by the last column). Click (and click again on the pop-up) to enlarge. (updated 6/7/2011)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Final roster cuts for 1967 (not until mid-May!)

Recently, I posted a roster review of the 1967 Cardinals on my 1967 baseball cards blog. After examining each player and each game they played, with the help of (for starting lineups) and (for every game played by each player - which is easier to verify the non-starters than by pulling up each game's boxscore in, it seemed like the Cardinals had 26 or 27 players on their squad during April and May.

Reader Patrick Farrell pointed me in the direction of an internet newspaper archive, and specifically, columns in some of the Florida papers on May 11, 1967.

Below is the transactions column from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune on May 11, 1967, which lists the players released or sent down as all teams scrambled to get down to the 25-man limit that late into the season. I wonder why this wasn't required by opening day? Does anyone have insight into this?

In my earlier review of the Phillies, I also noticed that they seem to have had 26 players on their roster in the early months, before Tito Francona was sold.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Yankees' All-1960s Team (Pitchers)

Last week I posted a column about the All-1960s Yankees' Batters. Here now is the pitching staff.

Pictured above are the top 6 pitchers (by innings pitched), plus #9 (Steve Hamilton) and #10 (Hal Reniff).

I don't have a card for #7 Bill Stafford, and I have bypassed 1968 Rookie of the Year Stan Bahnsen for 2 reasons: He only had 2 significant seasons with the Yankees in the 1960s (whereas all the other pitchers had at least 4), and I also wanted to have some relief pitchers represented (Hamilton, Reniff).

(Click to enlarge)

This chart shows innings pitched and games started for those pitchers who had 200 or more innings pitched for the Yankees in the decade. Next to their name is the number of years with the Yankees (in the 1960s), and the number of significant years (50 or more innings pitched in a season).

(see: Whitey Ford, Ralph Terry, Jim Bouton, Hal Reniff)

(If anyone wants the entire list of 62 players, send me an email through my profile page.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Trades: Frank Robinson to the Orioles (Dec. 1965)

(The second in an occasional series about some of the big trades during the 1960s.)

On December 9, 1965 the Cincinnati Reds traded 10-year veteran Frank Robinson (their starting right fielder, a 6-time all-star, and the 1961 National League MVP) to the Baltimore Orioles for pitchers Milt Pappas and Jack Baldschun, and outfielder Dick Simpson.

Who got the better of this deal? In his first season with the Orioles, Robinson won the Triple Crown and AL MVP, and the Orioles won the World Series, so is there any need for debate? Let's look anyway:

Robinson had been a starter for the Reds since his rookie season. Primarily the right fielder, he was the regular left fielder in '56, '57, and '63, the regular 1st baseman in 1959, and in '58, '60, and '61 he split time between various outfield spots and 1st base. In the mid-1960s, the Reds had an abundance of good position players in Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Deron Johnson, Tommy Harper, youngsters Tommy Helms and Lee May, along with defensive specialists Vada Pinson and Chico Cardenas. What they lacked was good pitching. I guess they felt that after 10 years, Robinson would soon begin his decline, and therefore was the expendable one.

After the trade, Robinson won the 1966 Triple Crown and MVP, while leading the Orioles to their first-ever World Series appearance. The next season, he followed that up by batting .311 and hitting 30 homers and tallying 94 RBI, all while missing the month of July due to injuries. He would have 6 good seasons with the Orioles, then move on to the Dodgers and Angels before wrapping up with the Indians, first as a player, then as a player-manager for 2 seasons, before going on to manage the Giants, Orioles, Expos, and Nationals.

Righthander Milt Pappas had won in double figures for 8 straight seasons, and never turned in a losing season. After the trade, Milt had 2 good seasons with the Reds, then in mid-1968 was traded to the Braves in a 6-player deal that brought (among others) reliever Clay Carroll, who proved to be an important cog in the Big Red Machine of the 1970s. Pappas spent a few sub-par seasons with the Braves before resurrecting his career with the Cubs.

Jack Baldschun and Dick Simpson never played for the Orioles. In fact, they were each acquired (in separate trades) in the week leading up to the Robinson trade.

Baldschun had been the Phillies' bullpen ace from 1962 to 1965. He was acquired by the Orioles (for veteran outfielder Jackie Brandt and pitching prospect Darold Knowles) 3 days before being shipped on to Cincinnati. After the trade, Jack had 2 poor seasons in Cincinnati, followed by a complete season (1968) in the minors. He then moved on to the Padres.

Simpson had played in the Angels' minor-league system from 1961 to 1965, with brief callups to the Angels during those years. Seven days before the Robinson trade, Baltimore sent their 1965 starting 1st baseman Norm Siebern to California for Simpson. Simpson's career was a series of whistle stops over the 4 years after the trade.

Were these deals with Philadelphia and California engineered specifically to get the spare parts that the Reds needed to sweeten the (essentially) Robinson for Pappas deal? It seems likely, because although the Orioles weren't going to need Siebern anyway (because Boog Powell was going to take over 1st base on a full-time basis, after shuttling between 1B and LF) what would they need with Simpson? They had plenty of outfielders. Also, with Stu Miller, Dick Hall, and others in the bullpen, Baldschun seemed unnecessary.

ADVANTAGE: Orioles (in a slam-dunk!)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Yankees' All-1960s Team (Batters)

These are the top players at each position during the 1960s for the Yankees, the team America loved (well, maybe not everybody).

Although the decade ended badly for the Yankees, it started off as per usual, with 5 trips to the World Series in 5 years. Then the wheels started falling off.

Here are the players who made at least 20 starts for the team during the 1960s (click to enlarge):

Long-time Braves manager Bobby Cox made the all-rookie team in 1968!

(see: Elston Howard, Bobby Richardson, Tom Tresh, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hey Jim, you're pitching tonight!

Here's 60% of the 1967 Minnesota Twins pitching staff:

If only they also had Palmer, Hunter, Maloney, and Bunning. They could have run the table.

Imagine being the manager/pitching coach/catcher having to come up with enough nicknames to differentiate them all!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Trades: Jim Bunning to the Pirates (Dec. 1967)

Today I'm starting an occasional series about some of the trades in the mid-to-late 1960s involving big (or soon to be big) names. Trades like Frank Robinson to the Orioles, Fergie Jenkins to the Cubs, Lou Brock to the Cardinals, Frank Howard to the Senators, Dean Chance to the Twins, and Jim Bunning to the Pirates.

On December 15, 1967 the Phillies traded Jim Bunning, the ace of their staff, to the Pirates for pitcher Woodie Fryman and 3 minor-league prospects (shortstop Don Money, and pitchers Bill Laxton and Hal Clem). Bunning had been acquired from the Tigers 4 years earlier, and posted 19, 19, 19, and 17 wins in his 4 seasons with the Phillies. He was also among the strikeout leaders each season. I can remember thinking "What are the Phillies doing?!?"

(For good measure, on the same day the Phillies also traded pitcher Dick Ellsworth and veteran catcher Gene Oliver to the Red Sox for young defensive catching whiz Mike Ryan, but that's a story for another day.)

Who got the better of this deal? Let's look:

Bunning was one of the top pitchers during the 1960s. In his first season in Philadelphia, he pitched a perfect game against the Mets in game 1 of a Fathers' Day doubleheader. (Rick Wise pitched the nitecap in his major-league debut.) He was the Phillies' ace during those 4 seasons.

After 2 non-descript seasons with the Pirates and Dodgers (with a combined record of 17-24), Bunning (although with diminished skills) was re-acquired by the Phillies. He closed out his career with the Phillies in 1970 and 1971, and was the opening-day starter in 1971, the Phillies' first game at Veterans Stadium. So, they didn't really lose much by Bunning's absence.

Fryman's 1966 season earned him the Topps all-rookie award among southpaws. Woodie spent 4 1/2 seasons with the Phillies, initially as a starter, but in his later seasons he began making relief appearances. After leaving the Phillies, he went on to a long career with several teams, but he was a useful addition to the Phillies, and provided a steady lefthanded presence during the time when southpaw Chris Short's sore back acted up regularly.

In the late-1960s, the Phillies were desperate for a shortstop. By 1967, Dick Groat had the mobility of a statue. Defensive specialist Bobby Wine couldn't hit a lick, and also developed a bad back, which eventually would keep him out of action for most of 1968. 1967 rookie Gary Sutherland proved to be not all that. Larry Bowa was still in the low minors, and hardly played at all in 1967.

Don Money had just played a combined 260 games for the Pirates' class-A teams in 1966 and 1967. He could be just what the doctor ordered! The Phillies rushed Money and rookie centerfielder Larry Hisle to the majors on opening day in 1968 but they both flopped. By the end of April they were both back in triple-A, but would be rookie stars in 1969. (That was a good break, because Wine, Sutherland, and 1968 fill-in shortstop Roberto Pena were all sent packing in the Fall 1968 expansion draft!) In 1970, Money slid over to 3rd base to make room for rookie Larry Bowa.

After 4 seasons with the Phillies, Don was traded to the Brewers for pitchers Jim Lonborg and Ken Brett. The Phillies needed to make room for rookie Mike Schmidt, Lonborg was a fine #2 starter behind Steve Carlton, and Brett pitched well for one season, then was swapped to the Pirates for 2nd baseman Dave Cash.

Bill Laxton was drafted out of the Phillies' organization by the Padres in the 1970 rule 5 draft, and went on to have a spotty career with several teams.

Hal Clem never made it above double-A.

The Phillies swapped Bunning for Fryman (who had several good seasons in Philly) and Money (who helped solidify the Phillies' infield, then brought Jim Lonborg and Ken Brett (and by extension, Dave Cash) in return). On top of all that, they got Bunning back for 2 more seasons.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Now THAT'S pitching!

On July 2, 1963, the Giants beat the Braves in the bottom of the 16th inning on a home run by Willie Mays. How many pitchers do you suppose each team used during that game?


Juan Marichal pitched all 16 innings, while the 42-year-old Warren Spahn pitched 15.1 innings.

Last night during the Willie Mays interview on the MLB Network, Marichal recalled that game, and how Giants' manager Al Dark told Marichal in the dugout that he was thinking of making a pitching change soon.

The 25-year-old Marichal told Dark "See that guy on the mound? He's 42 years old. There's no way I'm coming out of this game before he does!"

As the game dragged into the 16th inning, Marichal told Mays "I'm tired, help me out, Willie." Mays responded with a home run in the bottom of the 16th.

2/15 update:
I wondered, "After all that pitching, were they ineffective in their next outing?" Ha! They both pitched again 5 days later:

Marichal - Lost 5-0 to Bob Gibson, who pitched a complete game. Marichal's line: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 K, 0 BB.

Spahn - Beat the Astros 4-0. His line: 9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 4 K, 1 BB

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

ALERT: Willie Mays on TV tonight

Willie Mays will be interviewed by Bob Costas on the MLB network TONIGHT at 8 pm, 11 pm, and 2 am eastern time.


What a great interview this was. 2 hours of Willie Mays in the studio, and with an audience along the walls (which I don't remember seeing during other interviews).

Besides clips of Willie from 1951 to 1973, there were taped comments from Buck O'Neill, Joe Torre, and Juan Marichal (also briefly from Don Zimmer, Willie McCovey, Bob Gibson, and Joe Black).

Don't miss the funny stories involving Bob Gibson, Gaylord Perry, Ken Boyer, Joe Torre, Mickey Mantle, and Donna Reed (yes, Donna Reed)!

Two very touching moments (both in the last 15 minutes):

1. Willie showing emotion while reminiscing about the late Bobby Bonds (during a discussion of Barry Bonds)

2. Bob Costas' closing comments to Mays.

Don't miss this show!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Who can't get enough of the Washington Senators?

These guys, that's who! Here are the players who were members of both the "old" Washington Senators (which became the Minnesota Twins in 1961) and the "new" Washington Senators (the 1961 expansion franchise which became the Texas Rangers in 1972):

Hal Woodeshick was one of only 2 players who stayed put in Washington while the rest of the team went off to Minnesota. Pedro Ramos, Zoilo Versalles, and Camilo Pascual began their careers in Washington, and returned at the tail end of their careers.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

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

Between 1965 and 1969, 117 players with 10 or more years in the big leagues retired. I previously posted these lists in November: Players with 15+ years in the majors Players with 12 to 14 years in the majors Below is the list of the 10 and 11-year veterans who retired between 1966 and 1969. I have posted the last baseball card (or their 1968 card, if their last card was in '69 or '70) for most of these players on my 1966, 1967, and 1968 blogs already, and will post 6 more of these cards to my 1968 blog in the next week. (click to enlarge) (Updated on Feb 28, 2010)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Last Active St. Louis Browns

Here are the last active players to have played for the St. Louis Browns.

In 1967, the 38-year-old Larsen was called up by the Cubs for 12 days. He hadn't played in the majors since 1965.

Monday, January 11, 2010

MLB Network: Jim Bouton interview; 1967 review

Tuesday night at 9:00, Bob Costas will interview Jim Bouton, former Yankees and Pilots pitcher, and author of Ball Four.

On Wednesday night, the 1967 season is the subject of a Baseball Seasons episode.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

1969 Phillies

Following the abysmal 1968 season, the Phillies embarked on a major housecleaning.

Lost to expansion were pitcher Larry Jackson, all 3 shortstops (Bobby Wine, Roberto Pena, and Gary Sutherland), and centerfielder Tony Gonzalez. Also gone were pitcher Dick Hall, catcher Clay Dalrymple, and first baseman Bill White. Outfielder Don Lock would soon follow in April.

New additions were 1B/3B Deron Johnson, acquired from Atlanta, and top rookies Don Money and Larry Hisle, both of who had flopped a year earlier. This lineup seemed like a mix of rookies and veterans playing out of position. Tony Taylor led the team in at-bats, but didn't play 80 games at any one position. Newly-acquired slugger Deron Johnson also bounced between positions.

Weak-hitting right-handed Mike Ryan (#9) assumed the starting catcher's job, for lack of a better alternative. Rookie Dave Watkins was the backup (in his only major-league season).

Richie Allen (#15) was the regular first baseman, although for less than 120 games (thanks to his suspension). Cookie Rojas (#16) and Tony Taylor (#8) split the second base duties, with Rojas starting more often. With all three of last year's shortstops departing, the starting job was given to rookie Don Money (#5), who was acquired from the Pirates for Jim Bunning following the 1967 season. Lightweight rookie infielder Terry Harmon backed up at SS and 2B. Tony Taylor played about half the games at third base, with the remaining games split between Deron Johnson (#11) and Rick Joseph (#19).

Johnny Callison (#6) the Phillies rightfielder since the early 60's, was back for one last go-round. Rookie Larry Hisle (#4) blossomed as the regular centerfielder. Newcomer Deron Johnson was the primary leftfielder, with John Briggs (#12) getting the call whenever Johnson would move in to third base. Spring-training rookie phenom Ron Stone soon settled back into the scrub role he would play throughout his Phillies career.

Last year's ace Chris Short (#41) missed the whole season due to injury. Filling his shoes was southpaw Grant Jackson (#29), previously a reliever. Woody Fryman (#35) was the other left-handed starter, while the righties were Rick Wise (#38), Jerry Johnson (#33), and rookie Billy Champion (#31).

The closers were veteran Turk Farrell (#32) and rookie Al Raffo, who came out of nowhere, pitched well, then disappeared after the season. The other bullpen suspects were long-time organizational fodder John Boozer, and rookies Billy Wilson and Lowell Palmer. Palmer was notable for always wearing dark glasses (even on his baseball cards!)

This team was worse than the '68 team, and as such, 2nd-year manager Bob Skinner got the boot before the season was over.

On the bright side, Don Money proved to be the real deal at shortstop, and Larry Hisle also had a fine rookie season. They both were selected to the major-league all-rookie team. Hisle's success as a Phillie was to be short-lived, as he faded in 1971 and was traded to the Dodgers. Rick Wise and Grant Jackson were also improving as quality starters. This Phillies team had gotten younger since 1968, but not better. Following the 1969 season, they would get even younger as Callison, Allen, Rojas, and Farrell would leave.

1969 was billed as the "last year at Connie Mack Stadium". However, because of construction delays at Veterans Stadium, they would play one more season at the old park.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Last Active Boston Braves

Here are the last active players to have played for the Boston Braves.

Eddie Mathews went out on top - appearing in the 1968 World Series with the Tigers.