Thursday, December 31, 2020

RIP - George Spriggs

George Spriggs, a part-time outfielder the Pirates and Royals in the late-1960s, passed away on December 22, 2020 at age 83. 
Spriggs was one of a handful of players who appeared on 3 or more Topps Rookie Stars cards in the 1960s. After showing up as a Pirate rookie in '67, a Red Sox rookie in '68, and a Royals rookie in '69, he finally received his own card in the 1971 set:
After playing in the Negro Leagues, Spriggs was signed by the Pirates in 1963 and had 9-game stints at the tail end of the '65 and '66 seasons. Most of his playing time with the Pirates was in the first half of 1967, until he was sent down for the second half and all of 1968. 
Resurfacing with the expansion Royals, he played 30 games in parts of 1969 (mostly as a pinch-hitter), then returned in 1970 to get his most playing time - 51 games in April, August, and September, including starting most of the September games in right field (in place of the injured Joe Keough). 
Spriggs played 2 seasons (1971-72) with the Mets' AAA team before retiring. 

RIP - Billy Harris

Billy Harris, a reserve infielder for the Indians in 1968, passed away on December 20, 2020 at age 77. 
Harris was signed by the Indians in 1966 and played for Cleveland in the 2nd half of 1968, starting 28 games at 2B or 3B. 
Selected by the Royals in the expansion draft, he mostly played for their AAA Omaha team from 1969-70, but appeared in 5 games for Kansas City as a pinch-hitter. 
He played for the Reds' AAA team in 1971 before retiring.


Sunday, December 27, 2020

RIP - Phil Niekro

Phil Niekro, a knuckleballer who pitched mostly for the Braves, passed away on December 26, 2020 at age 81.
Niekro pitched for the Braves from 1964-1983, but did not become a starter until midway through the 1967 season.  That year, he led the NL with a 1.87 ERA.
He had a career-best 23 wins in 1969, and led the NL in wins in 1974 (20) and 1979 (21). Niekro also had a league-high 262 strikeouts in 1977, and won 5 Gold Gloves between 1978 and 1983.
After 20 seasons with the Braves, he was (incredibly) released after the 1983 season.  The Yankees quickly signed him and he reeled off two 16-win seasons with them, including his 5th trip to the All-Star game.

Niekro played the final 2 seasons of his 24-year career with the Indians, Blue Jays, and Braves.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997. He is the 7th member of the Hall to pass away in 2020. 


RIP - Bill Spanswick

Bill Spanswick passed away on December 2, 2020 at age 82.
Spanswick was a starting pitcher in the Red Sox' organization every season from 1958 to 1966, although only playing for the major-league club in 1964. He was primarily a reliever that year, while also making 7 starts.

He finished his career with the triple-A teams of the Angels, Senators, and Phillies in 1966 and 1967.


Saturday, December 26, 2020

RIP - Phil Linz

Phil Linz, an infielder for the Yankees, Phillies, and Mets, passed away on December 9, 2020 at age 81. 
Linz was a bench player throughout his career, but received quite a lot of playing time in 1963 and especially 1964. That year, he started 31 consecutive games at 3rd base in mid-season, and also made 50 starts at shortstop, including the final 14 games since Tony Kubek did not play after Sept 20th. 
Due to Kubek's absence, Linz played every inning of the 7-game 1964 World Series, and was in Kubek's usual leadoff spot (instead of batting 8th - more suited to Linz' offensive prowess). Still, he hit 2 homers in the series, 2nd only to Mickey Mantle's 3. 
He is best remembered for the "harmonica incident"  on the Yankees' team bus following a loss. 
Linz moved to the Phillies in 1966 in exchange for Ruben Amaro, and to the Mets in 1967 for Chuck Hiller. He retired after the 1968 season, missing the Miracle Mets team. 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

RIP - Denis Menke

Denis Menke, an infielder for 3 NL teams, passed away on December 1, 2020 at age 80.
Menke played for the Braves (1962-67), Astros (1968-71, 74), and Reds (1972-73). He was a starter every season from 1964-73, except for missing much of the 1965 season. Primarily a shortstop, he played 3rd base during his two seasons with the Reds. 
Menke was part of the blockbuster trade between the Astros and Reds that saw Joe Morgan head to Cincinnati. 
After his playing career, Menke was a coach for the Blue Jays, Astros, Phillies, and Reds.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

RIP - Dick Allen

December has been a bad month for Phillies' alumni. Only 10 days in and we've already lost Dick Allen, Phil Linz, and coaches Billy DeMars and Denis Menke. Let's start with Allen... 
Dick Allen passed away on December 7, 2020 at age 78. 
Allen was one of the most feared sluggers of the mid-1960s to early-1970s. He won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 1964, while leading the NL in runs and triples, and also batting .318! He was among the league leaders in home runs, RBI, and batting average from 1964-66. 
After well-documented issues with team management and the fans, Allen was traded after the 1969 season.
Following brief stops in St. Louis and LA, he wound up with the White Sox in 1972, where he regained his dominant style of play, winning the AL MVP that season while leading the AL in homers, RBI, walks, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. 
Allen returned to the Phillies in 1975 and 1976.  Although his skills had diminished somewhat by then, players like Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa, and Greg Luzinski have cited Allen's value as a mentor to them.  The team finally made the playoffs in 1976.
It's been said that Allen is one of the best players not in the Hall of Fame. After falling one vote short in the last veterans' committee election, the committee's dithering had postponed this year's election until next year. (Too late, dopes!) 
As a consolation, this summer the Phillies had finally retired his number and inducted him into their Wall of Fame (albeit without any fans attending the games this year). 


Saturday, November 21, 2020

RIP - Dan Pfister

Dan Pfister, who pitched for the Kansas City Athletics from 1961-64, passed away on November 9, 2020 at age 83.
Pfister was signed by the Athletics in 1957, and made his major-league debut in September 1961. 
Most of his playing time came in 1962, when he appeared in 41 games. He also played 3 games in 1963 and 19 games in 1964. 


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

RIP - Lindy McDaniel

Lindy McDaniel, a relief pitcher for the Cardinals, Yankees, and others for 21 seasons, passed away on November 14, 2020 at age 84.
McDaniel began his career in 1955 with the Cardinals, and except for 1957 and 1958, was mostly a reliever throughout his career. 
In 1960 he made both All-Star squads, and finished 3rd in the Cy Young voting. 
McDaniel also played for the Cubs from 1963-65, and the Giants from 1966-68 before settling in with the Yankees from July 1968 through the 1973 season. He finished up with the Royals from 1974-75.
McDaniel pitched 987 games over 21 seasons, but his teams never made the post-season. 


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

RIP - Les Rohr

Les Rohr, who pitched briefly for the Mets in the late-1960s, passed away on November 6, 2020 at age 74.
Rohr was born in England in 1946 while his father was in the USAF. 
He was the Mets' first pick (2nd overall, behind Rick Monday) in the first-ever (1965) draft, and pitched in the Mets' farm system every season from 1965-70. 
Les made his debut with the Mets in September 1967, making 3 starts and posting a 2-1 record. After injuring his arm in April 1968 he spent the remainder of that season on the disabled list. He only pitched one more game for the Mets (in September 1969).  


Thursday, November 5, 2020

RIP - Jim Hicks

Jim Hicks, an outfielder for the White Sox, Cardinals, and Angels in the 1960s, passed away on October 29, 2020 at age 81.
Hicks played minor-league baseball every season from 1959 to 1972, except in 1969 when he managed to stay in the majors all season with the Cardinals and Angels (following his trade for Vic Davalillo). 
He played a total of 33 games for the White Sox from 1964-66, and 56 games in 1969, split between St. Louis and California His final big-leage action was 4 games for the Angels in April 1970, all as a pinch-hitter. 
Hicks also played in Japan from 1973-74. 

Sunday, October 25, 2020

RIP - Ron Perranoski

1960s' Dodgers' fireman Ron Perranoski passed away on October 2, 2020 at age 84. (The same day as Bob Gibson.)

Perranoski played 7 seasons (1961-67) with the Dodgers, and was the team's top reliever in all but his rookie year. 
He then played 4 seasons for the Twins, leading the AL in saves twice. 
Ron moved on to the Tigers in late-1971, and a year later was back with the Dodgers for the final 2 months of 1972.  He wrapped up his playing career in 1973 with the Angels. 
Perranoski worked for the Dodgers as a minor-league pitching coach (1973-80), and major-league pitching coach (1981-94). He had worked for the Giants since 1995. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

RIP - Lou Johnson

Lou Johnson, an outfielder for the Dodgers and others in the 1960s, passed away on October 1, 2020 at age 86.
Johnson began his major-league career in 1960, playing a handful of games for the Cubs. After playing in one game in 1961 for the Angels, he was with the Milwaukee Braves for the 1962 season. 
Following 2 full seasons in the minors, "Sweet Lou" played 3 solid seasons with the Dodgers from 1965-67, having been called up in mid-May '67 to replace Tommy Davis, who broke an ankle. 
Johnson played for the Cubs, Indians, and Angels in his final 2 seasons (1968-69).  

CBS-LA obituary  

ESPN obituary 


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

RIP - Jim Owens


Catching up, after giving Gibson, Ford, and Morgan their due... 
Jim Owens, who pitched for the Phillies, Reds, and Astros from 1955-67, passed away on September 9, 2020 at age 86.

Owens pitched for the Phillies from 1955-1962, and was one of the infamous "Dalton Gang" members (with Turk Farrell and others). 

He was traded to the Reds after the 1962 season for 2nd baseman Cookie Rojas. Working in the Phillies' starting rotation from 1959-1962, he was primarily a reliever after leaving Philadelphia. 

Owens wrapped up his career with a stint in the Astros' bullpen from 1964-1967, reunited with his old pal Farrell. 

He retired in early-July 1967, and became the Astros' pitching coach through the 1972 season.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

RIP - Joe Morgan

Today I read a couple of half-assed obituary posts by the same baseball card blogger. 
On Eddie Van Halen: 
"Getting the sad news out of the way first. RIP Eddie Van Halen." 
And then he went on to other baseball card topics as usual. 
"Out of the way"? That's your tribute? No personal recollections of being a fan, or maybe of having seen his shows? Why even bother? 
It gets even worse for his Joe Morgan obit: 
"Lost another one today. RIP" 
That's it? Not even a mention of his name? No cursory baseball card from the many that can be found on the internet? Were you a fan of him as a player, or of the Reds? Or did you just know of him as a talking head announcer? 
He didn't even have another topic to dive into. Just 5 lazy words. Show some respect dude, or don't bother. 
(It's not like you are breaking the news for us.) 

(Ahh, I shouldn't criticize other bloggers. Underperforming baseball players, yes. Topps, yes. Bloggers, no.) 


Joe Morgan passed away on October 11, 2020 at age 77.
As everyone knows, he played the majority of his career with the Astros and Reds. What I had forgotten was that he returned to the Astros for one year (1980), when his team met the Phillies in the NLCS. 
He later played for the Giants, Phillies, and Athletics. While with the Phillies in 1983, he was reunited with Pete Rose and Tony Perez. 
I also didn't realize that in recent years he was working for the Reds. 

Saturday, October 10, 2020

RIP - Whitey Ford

Yankees' great Whitey Ford passed away on October 8, 2020 at age 91.
Ford played for the Yankees from 1950 to 1967. This is his final baseball card. 
He retired on Memorial Day in 1967. Here is a newspaper photo I saved from the day he announced his retirement:

Ford still holds the record for most wins by a Yankees' pitcher (236). He also holds the major-league record for most World Series wins (10) and strikeouts (94).  

New York Post obituary  

ESPN obituary

Saturday, October 3, 2020

RIP - Bob Gibson

Former Cardinals' ace Bob Gibson passed away on October 2, 2020 at age 84.
(Gibson's card from 1968 - The Year of the Pitcher) 


Gibby played for the Cardinals for 17 years - from 1959 to 1975. He won the MVP in 1968 and the Cy Young Award in 1968 and 1970. 

Rather than list all his accomplishments again, here is a link to a previous blog post where I listed those. He was also a pretty good hitter for a pitcher, hitting 24 career home runs. 

In 1967, en route to the Cardinals' 2nd NL pennant in 4 seasons, Gibson's leg was broken by a line drive off the bat of Roberto Clemente. He stayed in the game for a few more batters until reluctantly coming out! He missed 7 weeks from mid-July to early-September, but the Cards clinched the pennant anyway in the first half of September. 

St. Louis Post-Dispatch obituary  

ESPN obituary


Monday, September 28, 2020

RIP - Jay Johnstone


Jay Johnstone, who played outfield for the Angels, Phillies, and other clubs from 1966-1985, passed away on September 26, 2020 at age 74, a victim of COVID-19.

Johnstone began his career with the Angels in 1966. For the first 3 years he was up and down between the Angels and their AAA club, but in 1969 Jay was the Angels' everyday center fielder. 

After the 1970 season he was traded to the White Sox, and played 2 seasons before he was released during spring training in 1973. The Athletics picked him up but he spent much of 1973 in the minors. 

The Phillies acquired him in April 1974 and finally recalled him to the majors in early-July. During the 2nd half of the season he became the Phils' regular right fielder, a job he would hold until they traded for Bake McBride in June 1977. 

During a game against the Pirates in 1975, Johnstone was playing right field. With Bucs' shortstop Frank Taveras taking a large lead off 1st base, Jay ran in and took a snap throw from catcher Johnny Oates to pick Taveras off FIRST BASE! The RIGHT FIELDER!

Johnstone's last 8 seasons were spent with the Yankees, Padres, Dodgers, and Cubs. He saw post-season action with the Phillies (1976-77), Yankees (1978), and Dodgers (1981, 85). 

He was also a broadcaster for the Yankees (1989-90) and Phillies (1992-93).

Washington Post obituary  

ESPN obituary


Monday, September 7, 2020

RIP - Lou Brock

Lou Brock, speedy outfielder for the Cardinals who led the NL in stolen bases 8 times, passed away on September 6, 2020 at age 81.

Brock was a starting outfielder for the Cubs in 1962 (CF) and 1963 (RF), then 50 games into the 1964 season he was traded to the Cardinals.

He played for the Cardinals for the next 15 1/2 years (1964-79), and was a starter every year (although he missed about half of the 1978 season). In that span, he played 2161 games in left field, 51 in right, and 4 in center.

He also played in the World Series in '64, '67, and '68.

He was a 6-time All-Star. He was a starter in his first All-Star appearance (in 1967), ending Willie Mays' long streak of starting All-Star games.

Brock led the league in stolen bases 8 times in the 9-year span from 1966-74, including a career-high 118 bases in 1974.  He twice led the league in runs scored.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch obituary

CNN obituary

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

RIP - Tom Seaver

Tom Seaver, the 1967 NL Rookie of the Year and 3-time Cy Young winner, passed away on August 31, 2020 at age 75.

Seaver played for the Mets from 1967 to 1977, and led the team to a World Championship in 1969, while winning a career-high 25 games.

He pitched for the Reds from 1977-1982, then spent his last 4 years with the Mets, White Sox, and Red Sox.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992 with 98.8 percent of the vote.

In 1967, I had cut various photos (mostly Phillies) out of the daily sports pages for a scrapbook. A few years ago, I discovered this on the back of a Willie Mays photo:

New York Post obituary

Monday, August 31, 2020

RIP - John McNamara

John McNamara, who managed 6 teams from 1969-96, passed away on July 28, 2020 at age 88.

McNamara never played major-league ball, but was a minor-league catcher from 1951-67. He was also a minor-league manager from 1959-67.

In the majors, he managed the Athletics (1969-70), Padres (1974-77), Reds (1979-82), Angels (1983-84), Red Sox (1985-88), and Indians (1990-91). His Red Sox won the AL pennant in 1986.

He was also an interim manager for the Angels for a short time in 1996.

USA Today obituary

Friday, August 28, 2020

RIP - Frank Bolling

Frank Bolling, a 2nd baseman for the Tigers and Braves, passed away on July 11, 2020 at age 88.

Bolling broke in with the Tigers in 1954, and was their starting 2nd baseman through the 1960 season.

After the season he was traded to the Braves for center fielder Bill Bruton (who had just led the NL in runs and triples), infielder Chuck Cottier, catcher Dick Brown, and pitching prospect Terry Fox.

Frank held down the 2nd base job for Milwaukee from 1961-65. In the final Braves' game in Milwaukee (Sept 1965) he hit a grand slam off of Sandy Koufax. It was the last slam surrendered by Koufax.

When the team moved to Atlanta in 1966, he shared the position with Woody Woodward, then was released after the season.

Over his 12-year career he played 12,983 innings, all at 2nd base.

ESPN obituary

Monday, August 24, 2020

RIP - Angel Hermoso

Angel "Remy" Hermoso passed away on August 21, 2020 at age 72.

He debuted at age 19 with the Braves in September 1967. Hermoso also played for the Expos in 1969 and very briefly in 1970, before resurfacing in the majors one more time with the Indians in 1974.

He played in the minors every season from 1967-73, and also in Mexico in 1975. In 1979 he made a comeback in the Inter-American League.

In 2015 he was inducted into the Venezuelan Baseball Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

RIP - Horace Clarke

Horace Clarke, the Yankees' 2nd baseman from 1967-1973, passed away on August 5, 2020 at age 81.

Clarke debuted with the Yankees in May 1965, and took over the 2nd base job with the retirement of Bobby Richardson after the 1966 season.

Clarke held that position through the end of the 1973 season, and along with Roy White and Mel Stottlemyre, bridged the gap between the great Yankee teams of the early-1960s and their mid-1970s' resurgence.

Horace lost the starting job at the start of the 1974 season to Gene Michael, who was eventually replaced by Sandy Alomar.

Clarke was shipped out to the Padres at the end of May 1974, and finished his career at the end of that season.

New York Times obituary

New York Post obituary

Thursday, July 16, 2020

RIP - Tony Taylor

Another former Phillie - This time their 1960s' 2nd baseman Tony Taylor passed away today July 16, 2020 at age 84.

Taylor played for the Phillies from 1960-71, and 74-76. He was their starting 2nd baseman from 1960 into the 1966 season.

In 1967 he primarily played 3rd base and 1st base, filling in for the injured Dick Allen and Bill White. In 1968 he manned 3rd base as Allen moved to left field following his late-1967 hand injury.

By 1970 he was primarily a pinch-hitter, as the Phillies had various youngsters playing 2B and 3B. Upon his return from the Tigers in 1974 he became the team's go-to pinch-hitter.

Following his retirement after 1976, Taylor coached for the Phillies and Marlins.

While a Phillie, Taylor lived in the town next to mine. I can remember any time our family drove through his town, I made sure to look out the window, in case Tony should happen to be strolling down the street. (Never saw him though.)

Philadelphia Inquirer obituary

NBC Sports obituary

Sunday, July 12, 2020

RIP - Mike Ryan

Mike Ryan, longtime backup catcher and bullpen coach for the Phillies, passed away on July 7, 2020 at age 78.

Ryan broke in with the Red Sox in May 1965. After 2 seasons (1966-67) as the Sox' primary catcher, he was traded to the Phillies following the 1967 World Series .

Mike platooned with Clay Dalrymple in 1968, then was the team's #1 backstop in 1969.

When the Phillies acquired Tim McCarver after the 1969 season, Ryan headed back to the bench for the next 4 seasons. His final season in Philly (1973) was Bob Boone's rookie year.

After playing for the Pirates in 1974, Ryan returned to the Phillies as a minor-league coach and manager (1975-79) and as their major-league bullpen coach from 1980-95.

Ryan was another long-time ex-Phillie who returned to coach many years for the Phils (along with John Vukovich, Bobby Wine, Tony Taylor, Ruben Amaro Sr, and Larry Bowa).

Philadelphia Inquirer obituary

Mike Ryan story

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Stars of the 1960s: Pete Rose

8th in a series...

NL ROY in 1963.
NL MVP in 1973.
Topped the 200 hit mark 10 times.
Led the NL in hits 7 times.
Led the NL in batting 3 times, including a career-high .348 in 1969.
Led the NL in runs scored 4 times.
Led the NL in games played 4 times.
17-time All-Star (in 24 seasons).
Won the Gold Glove in 1969 and 1970 (surprised?)
Won the Silver Slugger in 1981.
Won 3 World Series ('75, '76, '80).

Thursday, June 18, 2020

RIP - Mike McCormick

Mike McCormick, a starting pitcher for the Giants and others from 1956-71, passed away on June 13, 2020 at age 81.

McCormick began his career with the New York Giants in 1956 at age 17, and pitched for them through their 1962 NL Championship season. He was also selected to both All-Star teams in 1960 and 1961 (4 games).

After 2 seasons each with the Orioles and Senators, he returned to the Giants in 1967, winning 22 games, the Cy Young award, and the Comeback Player of the Year award. He was in the Giants' rotation for 3 1/2 years the second time around.

McCormick also played the 2nd half of 1970 with the Yankees, and the first half of 1971 with the Royals.

New York Post obituary

San Francisco Chronicle obituary

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

RIP - John Miller

John Miller, a pitcher for the Orioles in the mid-1960s, passed away on June 5, 2020 at age 79.

Miller pitched for the Birds from mid-1965 through the end of the 1966 season, although he didn't play in the '66 World Series. (With 3 complete game shutouts in their 4-game sweep, the O's only needed 4 pitchers.)

He was the Orioles' 5th starter in 1966, but when the first four are named McNally, Palmer, Bunker, and Barber, there's not much for you to do.

He also played a few games in the '62, '63, and '67 seasons. Miller retired after playing the 1968 season in single-A ball.


Sunday, June 7, 2020

RIP - Bobby Locke

Bobby Locke, a relief pitcher for several teams in the 1960s. passed away on June 4, 2020 at age 86.

Locke pitched in the minors every season from 1953-69, except for 1957-58 (military service) and 1961 (the only year he stuck with the parent club all season).

With the Indians from 1959-61 he was a reliever and starter, but worked only out of the bullpen in later years.

After 1 game with the Cardinals in 1962, he pitched parts of '62, '63, and '64 for the Phillies, and the Reds in 1965.

His final stop was the Angels (1967-68).


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

RIP - Ken Retzer

Ken Retzer, a catcher for the Washington Senators from 1961-64, passed away on May 17, 2020 at age 86.

Never a regular starter, in both 1962 and 1963 he started slightly more games than the team's other catcher. In 1963 he played in MLB's 100,000th game.

He also played in the minors from 1954 to 1967, except for the '62 and '63 seasons.

Sun City (AZ) Telegraph obituary

Monday, May 18, 2020

RIP - Bob Watson

Bob Watson, the 1B-LF for the Astros and others from 1966 to 1984, passed away on May 14, 2020 at age 74.

After brief cups of coffee in September '66 and '67, Watson made the Astros team in May 1968. Although his rookie card (above) shows his position as C-OF, he didn't catch any games in 1968 and only 1 in 1969. (He did catch 74 games during a mid-season trip to the minors in 1969).

Watson played for the Astros until June 1979, when he was traded to the Red Sox for 2 minor-leaguers (wow!)

The following season he began a 2-year stint as the Yankees' 1st baseman. He appeared in the post-season both years, and hit 2 homers and 7 RBI in the '81 World Series.

He finished up his career with 3 seasons (1982-84) in Atlanta, backing up Chris Chambliss (the player he replaced in New York).

Later, he was the general manager for the Astros and Yankees from 1993-1998, and was a MLB executive from 2002-2010.

Friday, April 24, 2020

RIP - Bob Oliver

Bob Oliver, an original member of the Kansas City Royals, passed away on April 19, 2020 at age 77.

Oliver debuted with the Pirates in 1965, then returned to the minors until getting a chance with the expansion Royals in 1969. He was a regular for them from Day 1 in 1969 until his trade to the Angels in May 1972, splitting his time between the outfield, 1st base, and 3rd base.

He continued playing regularly at the same 3 positions for the Angels from 1972-74.

Oliver also played briefly for the Orioles in September 1974 and the Yankees during the first half of 1975.

Kansas City Star obituary obituary

Monday, April 13, 2020

RIP - Glenn Beckert

Former Cubs' 2nd baseman Glenn Beckert passed away on April 12, 2020 at age 79.

Beckert was the Cubs' regular 2nd baseman from Opening Day in 1965 until early-August 1973. His double-play partner was Don Kessinger for that entire time.

He won the Gold Glove award in 1968, and was an All-Star every season from 1969-72, and in the starting lineup in '70 and '71.

After the 1973 season he was traded to the Padres, and was a bench player there until he was released in late-April 1975.

Friday, April 10, 2020

RIP - Bob Lee

Bob Lee, a mid-1960s relief pitcher for 3 teams, passed away on March 25, 2020 at age 82.

Lee pitched for the Angels from 1964 to 1966. In 1965 he collected 23 saves in 69 games. Along with a 1.92 ERA, that earned him a trip to the All-Star game.

He also played the first 2 months of 1967 with the Dodgers, and the rest of '67 and all of 1968 with the Reds.

RIP Baseball obituary

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

RIP - Al Kaline

A second 1960s' All-Star outfielder has passed away in as many weeks.

Al Kaline, who played for the Tigers from 1953 to 1974 passed away on April 6, 2020 at age 85.

Kaline was a rarity, in that he played his entire career for just one team, and also that he never played in the minor leagues.

He was a 15-time All-Star and a 10-time Gold Glove winner. He finished 3rd in the 1954 AL Rookie of the Year balloting, and the following year led the league with a .340 batting average.

Kaline only appeared in one World Series (1968), but it was a good one. He hit .379 with 2 doubles, 2 homers, and 8 RBI as the Tigers beat the Cardinals in 7 games.

Kaline's page

Detroit Free Press obituary

ESPN obituary

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Inter-American League

This isn’t a 1960s’ topic, but it isn’t card-related either so I have nowhere else to post it but here.

Recently I posted a few players who wound up their careers in the Inter-American League in 1979, so I decided to dig a little deeper into this short-lived minor league.

The league began play in 1979 as a triple-A league, with teams in Miami and 5 other locations in the Caribbean. The fact that the teams were unaffiliated with major-league teams, plus the Caribbean weather, multi-national air travel (and visas), and just being poorly-funded in general all contributed to the collapse of the league by June 30th.

These were the 6 teams, with their records and position in the standings when the league folded:

1. Miami Amigos (51-21)
2. Caracas Metropolitanos (37-27)
3. Santo Domingo Azucaeros (38-29)
4. Maricaibo Petroleros de Zulia (31-36)
5. Panama Banqueros (15-36)*
6. Puerto Rico Baricuas (16-39)*

*these two dropped out on June 17th

Miami was managed by Davey Johnson, and included major-league alumni Orlando Pena, Hal Breeden, Wayne Granger, Mickey Scott, Mike Wallace, Porfi Altamirano, Bob Reynolds, and Oscar Zamora.

Caracas was managed by Jim Busby, with players such as Cesar Tovar, Tom House, Butch Metzger, and Remy Hermoso.

Santo Domingo was managed by Mike Kekich, and included Cito Gaston, Tito Fuentes, Johnny Jeter, Dave May, Dick Pole, Dave Wallace, and Fred Andrews.

Maracaibo was managed by Pat Dobson, Gus Gil, and hometown guy Luis Aparicio, and included Angel Bravo and Mike Stanton.

Panama was managed by Chico Salmon, with “name” players like Adolfo Phillips, Ramon Webster, and Lee Richard.

Puerto Rico was managed by Jose Santiago, and featured Bobby Tolan, Bobby Brown, Angel Mangual, and Leo Foster.

Friday, March 27, 2020

RIP - Jim Wynn

Long-time Astros' center fielder Jim Wynn passed away on March 26, 2020 at age 78.

Wynn played for the Astros from July 1963 to October 1973. During his rookie season he played in the outfield, as well as at shortstop and 3rd base, before finding a home in center field.

He was also a power hitter, surprising for someone of his small stature (leading to his nickname "The Toy Cannon"). Sometimes lost in the shadows of Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, and Hank Aaron is the fact that Wynn (and Ron Santo) hit a ton of home runs from the mid-1960s to mid-1970s. Wynn hit a career high 37 homers in 1967. His career total would have been more had his home park been more hitter-friendly.

Wynn played for the Dodgers in 1974 and 1975, making the All-Star team in both seasons. He later played for the Braves, Yankees, and Brewers.

ESPN Radio obituary

NBC Sports obituary

Friday, March 13, 2020

RIP - Don Pavletich

Don Pavletich, the Reds' backup catcher from 1963-1967, passed away on March 5, 2020 at age 81.

(His 1965 card incorrectly identifies him as a pitcher) 

Pavletich backed up Johnny Edwards from 1963 to 1967, playing a good number of games (surprising, because Edwards was an All-Star from 1963-65 and a Gold Glover in '63 and '64). Don's most playing time came in 1966 (83 games, 235 at-bats).

In 1968, Edwards was traded away, Johnny Bench took over most of the catching, and Pavletich was primarily the backup 1st baseman.

He finished his career with the White Sox (1969) and Red Sox (1970-71). obituary

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

RIP - Ed Sprague Sr.

Ed Sprague, a pitcher for several teams from 1968-76, passed away on January 10, 2020 at age 74.

Sprague pitched for Oakland from 1968-69, then spent all of  '70 and most of '71 in the minors, before resurfacing with the Reds in September 1971. Midway through the 1973 season he joined the Cardinals, but moved on to the Brewers 2 months later.

Sprague was a reliever for his entire career, until joining the Brewers. He was a starter for 2 full seasons ('74, '75) then was released during the 1976 season.

His son (Ed Jr.) was a 3rd baseman for the Blue Jays and others from 1991-2001.

San Francisco Chronicle obituary

Saturday, January 11, 2020

RIP - Don Larsen

Don Larsen, the only pitcher to pitch a post-season perfect game, passed away on January 1, 2020 at age 90.

An otherwise average pitcher, Larsen is remembered for his feat in game 5 of the 1956 World Series.

He played for 14 seasons (1953-67), mostly for the Yankees (1955-59) and Giants (1962-64). Larsen played in the World Series from 1955-58 and in 1962, and was the Series MVP in 1956.

New York Times obituary

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2019 Re-cap

Here are the players I featured in 2019:

1960s' players who left us in 2019:

And from outside the baseball world:
Bob Einstein
Daryl Dragon
Carol Channing
Kaye Ballard
Albert Finney
Jan Michael Vincent
Lee Radziwill
Peter Tork
Katherine Helmond
Luke Perry
Hal Blaine
Dan Blankenship
Dick Dale
Georgia Engel
Ken Kercheval
John Havlicek
Gino Marchetti
Peter Mayhew
Jim Fowler
Peggy Lipton
Doris Day
Tim Conway
Bart Starr
Dr. John
Gloria Vanderbilt
Beth Chapman
Lee Iacocca
Arte Johnson
Rip Torn
Ross Perot
David Hedison
Nick Buoniconti
Peter Fonda
Valerie Harper
Carol Lynley
Eddie Money
Ric Ocasek
Phyllis Newman
Sander Vanocur
Cokie Roberts
Diahann Carroll
Ginger Baker
Rip Taylor
Carroll Spinney
Rene Auberjonois
Danny Aiello
Claudine Auger
Sue Lyon
Don Imus 
Also: football deaths in 2019