Thursday, November 9, 2023

RIP - Dennis Higgins

Dennis Higgins, a pitcher for 4 teams from 1966-72, passed away on November 3, 2023 at age 84.
Higgins pitched 2 seasons each for the White Sox, Senators, and Cardinals. He also pitched 1 season for the Indians. Over his career, he appeared in 241 games, all but 2 in relief. 
Some fans may remember that between February and August 1968, the White Sox and Senators traded Ron Hansen for Tim Cullen twice. Higgins was included in that first trade. 
He was a cousin of the White Sox' 2002-2008 third baseman Joe Crede. 

Monday, November 6, 2023

RIP - Dick Drago

Dick Drago, one of the original starting pitchers for the Kansas City Royals beginning in 1969, passed away on November 2, 2023 at age 78.
Drago made his major-league debut with the Royals at the start of the 1969 season, and pitched 5 years for them. By 1971, he was the team's ace. 
He also pitched for the Red Sox in 2 stints totaling 5 seasons, 1 1/2 years with the Angels and a half-season with the Orioles, and then finished his career in 1981 with the Mariners. 
At first a starter, he converted to relieving in his 2nd year with the Red Sox. In 1976, Drago surrendered Hank Aaron's 755th and final home run.  

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

RIP - Frank Howard

Frank Howard, a/k/a The Capital Punisher, passed away on October 30, 2023 at age 87.
Howard was one on the top sluggers of the 1960s. The 1960 Rookie of the Year with the Dodgers, he was traded to the Senators before the 1965 season. 
He led the AL with 44 homers in both 1968 and 1970. He also hit 48 homers in 1969, second behind Harmon Killebrew's 49. Howard also led the AL with 126 RBI in 1970. 
He made the AL All-star team every year from 1968 to 1971. 
Howard retired after playing for the Tigers in 1973 and in Japan in 1974. 
After his playing career, he coached for the Brewers from 1977-80 and 1984–86, Mets (1982-84 and 1994–96), Mariners (1987–88), Yankees (1989, 1991–93), and Devil Rays (1998–99).  He also managed the Padres in 1981 and the Mets in 1983. Since 2000 he worked for the Yankees. 

Saturday, October 28, 2023

RIP - Rob Gardner

Rob Gardner, who pitched for six teams over eight seasons, passed away on October 21, 2023 at age 78.
Gardner began his career with the Mets in 1965, then moved on to the Cubs, Indians, Yankees, Athletics, Yankees again, then wrapped up with the Brewers in 1973. 
He was primarily a reliever, although he started half his games in 1966 (his most playing time) and 1972 (his best season). 
After his playing career, he became a fireman and a paramedic.  

Thursday, October 26, 2023

RIP - Wayne Comer

Wayne Comer, an outfielder for the Tigers, Pilots, and Senators, passed away on October 4, 2023 at age 79.
Comer may be best known as Jim Bouton's nemesis in the book "Ball Four". 
Debuting with the Tigers in September 1967, Comer played most of the 1968 season with the eventual World Champions. 
He was selected by the Seattle Pilots in the expansion draft, and was a regular outfielder that first year, splitting his time between center and right fields. 
He moved on to the Senators in mid-May 1970, but was only a spare outfielder for the Nats.
Comer returned to the Tigers' organization in 1971, spending 3 years in their farm system and playing a few dozen games for Detroit in 1972. 
He retired after playing for the Phillies' AAA team in 1974. 
Comer was a high school baseball coach for the last 20+ years of his life. 

Saturday, October 14, 2023

RIP - Casey Cox

Casey Cox, a pitcher for the Washington Senators in the late 1960s and early 1970s, passed away on October 2, 2023 at age 82.
Cox made his debut with the Senators in April 1966, and was with the team until late-1972, although he spent part of 1967 and most of 1968 back in the minors. 
He was primarily a relief pitcher, but was in their starting rotation for all of 1970. 
Cox also played for the Yankees from September 1972 until his release in mid-April 1973.  

Sunday, October 8, 2023

RIP - Joe Christopher

Joe Christopher, an outfielder for the Pirates, Mets, and Red Sox, passed away on October 3, 2023 at age 87.
Christopher split the '59 and '60 seasons between the Pirates and their AAA team, then spent all of 1961 as the Pirates' 4th outfielder (primarily starting 1/3 of the games in left field). 
After the 1961 season he was selected by the Mets in the expansion draft and was one of their top 4 outfielders for the next 4 seasons, including their everyday right fielder in 1964. 
Following the 1965 season he was traded to the Red Sox for shortstop Ed Bressoud, then midway through 1966 he was sent to the Tigers (with pitcher Earl Wilson) for outfielder Don Demeter. He didn't play for Detroit, and spent the next 2 1/2 seasons in the minors before retiring. 

Sunday, October 1, 2023

RIP - Danny Morris

Danny Morris, a pitcher for the Twins in the 1960s, passed away on September 23, 2023 at age 77.
Morris pitched in the Twins' organization from 1964 to 1972, but only played in the majors for 3 games in 1968 and 3 games in 1969. 
He won 16 games in the minors in 1965 and again in 1968. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

RIP - Brooks Robinson

Brooks Robinson, the greatest-ever American League 3rd baseman, passed away on September 26, 2023 at age 86.
Robinson played 23 seasons (all for the Orioles) from 1955-1977, and was the team's starting 3rd baseman from April 1958 to May 1976, although he spent some time in the minors during 1959. 
Brooks was an 18-time All-Star and a 16-time Gold Glove award winner. He also won the AL MVP in 1964, the World Series MVP in 1970, and the All-Star Game MVP in 1966. 
He is 2nd on the All-Time Orioles list for games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, and RBI (all behind Cal Ripken), and 4th in home runs.
Robinson retired after the 1977 season, and began broadcasting Orioles' games, through 1993.  He also worked with the players' alumni association, and owned several minor-league teams. 

Monday, August 28, 2023

RIP - Pat Corrales

Pat Corrales passed away on August 27, 2023, at age 82. He was a backup catcher for the Phillies, Cardinals, Reds, and Padres from 1964-73.
After a 2-game debut in late-1964, Corrales began the 1965 season in the minors. When the Phillies sold Gus Triandos to the Astros on June 14th, Corrales was called up and started 53 of the final 105 games that season. 
Traded to the Cardinals after the season, he saw limited action in 1966 while backing up Tim McCarver,  and spent all of 1967 in the minors. 
Corrales was traded to the Reds for catcher Johnny Edwards, and became Johnny Bench's caddy for the next 4 seasons. After playing the first half of 1972 in the minors, he was traded to the Padres for catcher Bob Barton. He was the Padres' backup catcher through the end of 1973, then played for their AAA team in 1974 after which he was released. 
After his playing career, Corrales coached for the Rangers from 1976-78, and managed them from 1978-80. He later managed the Phillies (1982-83) and Indians (1983-87). 
He returned to coaching for the Yankees (1989), Braves (1990-2006), and Nationals (2007-11). 

Thursday, August 17, 2023

RIP - Bill Schlesinger

Bill Schlesinger, a farmhand with the Red Sox and others during the 1960s, passed away on August 13, 2023 at age 81.
He hit 37 home runs in 1964, his first season in the Red Sox' organization, and scored a spot in Topps' 1965 set. Although he played in the minors from 1964 to 1970, he only had 1 major-league at-bat, a pinch-hitting appearance for the Sox in early-1965. 
Schlesinger was claimed by the Kansas City Athletics when Boston tried to send him to the minors later that month. 
He was reacquired by the Red Sox 2 years later, but after the season he was traded to the Cubs for pitcher Ray Culp. A few months later he returned to Boston's farm system, but the following year he was traded again, this time to the Phillies for outfielder Don Lock. (I hope he had a sturdy suitcase!) 
Schlesinger retired after 2 seasons in the Phillies' organization.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

RIP - Jim Price

Jim Price, a backup catcher for the Tigers from 1967 to 1971, passed away on August 7, 2023 at age 81.
Price played in the Pirates' minor-league system from 1960 to 1966. Initially a corner infielder, he transitioned to catcher in his 2nd season. 
He was sold to the Tigers 4 days before the start of the 1967 season, having already appeared on a "Pirates Rookie Stars" card in the 1967 Topps set. 
Price went on to back up Bill Freehan for the next 5 seasons, which is to say, he didn't get much playing time. 
In December 1971, the Tigers traded for Dodgers' catcher Tom Haller, marking an end to Price's career.
Price was a broadcaster for the Tigers from 1993 until one month before his death.  

Sunday, August 6, 2023

RIP - Ken Suarez

Ken Suarez, a backup catcher for the Athletics, Indians, and Rangers, passed away on July 29, 2023 at age 80.
Suarez played baseball for Florida State University, and was on the 1964 US Olympic team. 
He turned pro in 1965, and had a grand-slam for his first hit. Suarez split the '66 and '67 seasons between the Kansas City Athletics and the minors. 
Although he was with the Indians for all of 1968, he only appeared in 17 games. He played part of 1969 and all of 1970 in the minors, then was back with the Indians for all of 1971. 
Traded to the Rangers after the 1971 season, he played part of 1972 and all of 1973 with Texas. Suarez started 88 games in 1973, more than twice his previous high. 
He retired following a trade back to the Indians in early 1974.  

Friday, July 28, 2023

RIP - Larry Yellen

Larry Yellen, a reliever for the Houston Colt .45s in 1964, passed away on July 18, 2023 at age 80.
Yellen was signed by Houston before the 1963 season, and made his pro debut with their double-A team. There, he posted an 8-5 record in 18 games (15 starts) while striking out 74 batters in 99 innings. That earned him a 1-game cup of coffee during a September call-up. 
He began the 1964 season with the Colt .45s, but only pitched 21 innings over 13 games before he was sent down in mid-July. (His 6.86 ERA may have been a factor.) He returned in September to pitch in 2 games. 
Yellen spent all of 1965 with the Astros' AA and AAA teams, and retired after the season. 

Sunday, July 23, 2023

RIP - Ed Bressoud

Ed Bressoud, a shortstop for the Giants, Red Sox, and others from 1956-67, passed away on July 11, 2023 at age 91. 
(At the time, he was the 8th-oldest living player to have played after the 1965 season.)
Bressoud made his debut with the New York Giants in June 1956, making most of the starts at shortstop in June and July after taking over for the departed Alvin Dark. By late-July, he lost the job and was relegated to the Giants' bench until June 1959. 
He regained his old job, and was the Giants' primary shortstop until losing it again, this time to Jose Pagan (essentially a rookie) in April 1961. 
After the season he was drafted by the expansion Colt .45s, but was quickly flipped to the Red Sox. Bressoud was Boston's shortstop for the next 3 seasons, then shared the position with rookie Rico Petrocelli in 1965. 
In 1966 the Mets began the season with veteran Roy McMillan as their shortstop, and ended the season with rookie Bud Harrelson. In-between, Bressoud started half the games there as the team transitioned from McMillan to Harrelson. 
On April 1, 1967 he was traded to the Cardinals and spent his final season backing up Dal Maxvil and collecting a World Series ring. 
Bressoud is the 4th nonagenarian among MLB alumni to have died in the past 3 months. (The others were Dick Groat, Roger Craig, and Dick Hall.)  

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

RIP - Dick Hall

Dick Hall, a relief pitcher mostly for the Orioles, but also the Pirates and Phillies, passed away on June 18, 2023 at age 92. 
(At the time, he was the 6th-oldest living player to have played after the 1965 season.)
Hall began his career in 1952 with the Pirates as an outfielder. In 1954 he was the Bucs' #2 outfielder (behind only Frank Thomas). Hall started 84 games, and was the team's regular center fielder during May and June. 
The following year they acquired Roberto Clemente, and Hall switched positions to pitcher. He began that season in class A ball, learning his new position. Hall posted a 12-5 record while starting 18 of his 19 games, including 16 complete games. Recalled to Pittsburgh in late-July, he made 13 starts for the Bucs and posted a 6-6 record. 
After a full season with the Pirates in 1956, he split the '57 season between the Bucs and their AAA team, then missed the 1958 season due to illness. Returning to the Pirates' AAA team in 1959, he posted an 18-5 record in 27 starts, and played 2 games with Pittsburgh in a September call-up. 
After the '59 season he was traded to the Athletics, but a year later moved on to the Orioles, where he was a swing man for a year before transitioning to the bullpen in 1962. He pitched in 393 games after 1961, only starting 10 of them (and only 1 start after 1963). 
From 1962-65 he was the #2 man in the O's bullpen, behind Hoyt Wilhelm ('62) and Stu Miller ('63-'65). 
In 1966, now 35 years old, he was relegated to the #5 slot in the bullpen, and because the Orioles' efficient sweep of the Dodgers in the World Series included 3 complete games, Hall saw no action in the post-season. 
Hall pitched for the Phillies in '67 and '68, then returned to Baltimore from 1969 to 1971. In '70 and '71 he was the oldest player in the American League. In 1969 he posted a 1.92 ERA in 65 innings, and saw action in the '69 to '71 post-seasons, notching a 2-1 record in 8 innings of work. 
Hall was known for his outstanding control, and walked very few batters unintentionally after 1962 (click to enlarge):
Hall retired after the 1971 season, at age 41.  

Saturday, June 17, 2023

RIP - Jack Baldschun

Jack Baldschun, the Phillies' top reliever in the early-1960s, passed away on June 6, 2023 at age 86.
Baldschun joined the Phillies in April 1961, and led the team in saves every season from 1962-64. 
With rookie Gary Wagner taking over the closer role in 1965, Baldschun was traded to the Orioles after that season, and was quickly flipped to the Reds in the Frank Robinson deal. 
He was the last man in the Reds' bullpen for all of 1966, and spent most of 1967-68 in the minors before resurfacing with the Padres in 1969 and part of 1970. 

Sunday, June 11, 2023

RIP - Roger Craig

Roger Craig, a pitcher for the Dodgers and others from 1955-1966, passed away on June 4, 2023 at age 93.
Craig broke in with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955. Usually a swing man, he was strictly a starter in 1956, and posted a career-high 12 wins that season. 
After 7 seasons with the Dodgers, Craig was selected by the Mets in the expansion draft and spent 2 seasons in New York. He led the National League in losses both seasons (24, 22) but, you know, they were the Mets. 
He played for the Cardinals, Reds, and Phillies in his final 3 seasons. 
Craig was a pitching coach for the Padres, Astros, and Tigers from 1969-84, and managed the Padres from 1978-79, and the Giants from 1985-92. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

RIP - Bobby Bolin


Bobby Bolin, who pitched for the Giants all through the 1960s and later for the Red Sox, passed away on June 2, 2023 at age 84.
Bolin debuted with the Giants in April 1961. After working out of the bullpen for his first 2 seasons, he was a swing man from 1963-69, except for 1966, when he started 34 of his 36 games. 
His best year was 1965, when he posted a 14-6 record. In 1968, his 1.99 ERA was 2nd best in the NL, behind only Bob Gibson's 1.12 ERA. 
He was traded to the Brewers in December 1969. (On the same day, the Giants' bizarro front office traded Bolin for Dick Simpson and Steve Whitaker, and also traded Ray Sadecki and Dave Marshall to the Mets for Jim Gosger and Bob Heise!) 
Bolin was traded to the Red Sox in September 1970, and was used strictly in relief while with Boston (thru the 1973 season). After leading the entire Red Sox' staff in appearances (39) and saves (15), he was released the following March. 


Monday, June 5, 2023

RIP - John Sullivan

John Sullivan, a backup catcher for the Tigers, Mets, and Phillies in the 1960s, passed away on June 1, 2023 at age 82.
Sullivan played in the minors for all or part of every season from 1959-72, except for 1967. 
He played a few games with the Tigers in '63 and '64, and a few dozen games in 1965. 
After a full season in the minors, he was with the Mets for all of 1967. 
He wrapped up his major-league career with the Phillies for part of 1968. His only significant playing time came in 1965 (backing up Bill Freehan) and 1967 (backing up Jerry Grote).
Sullivan later coached for the Royals, Braves, and Blue Jays from 1979-1993. 

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.)  

Thursday, March 2, 2023

RIP - Gary Peters

Gary Peters, one of the White Sox' top starting pitchers in the 1960s, passed away on January 26, 2023 at age 85.
Peters made brief appearances for the Sox from 1959-62, then won the AL Rookie of the Year award in 1963, after posting a 19-8 record and leading the league with a 2.33 ERA. His 1.98 ERA in 1966 was also tops in the league, as was his 20 wins in 1964. 
Peters was in Chicago's rotation through the 1969 season, then was traded to the Red Sox in a headscratcher (Peters and veteran catcher Don Pavletich for journeymen Syd O'Brien and Gerry Janeski). 
He finished his career with 3 seasons in Boston (the last one spent in the bullpen).  

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Roy Face

How about some good news for a change? Yesterday was Roy Face's 95th birthday!
Face pitched from 1953 to 1969, appearing in 802 games for the Pirates ('53-'68), 2 for the Tigers ('68), and 44 for the Expos ('69). 
Last week, I was at a local antique store, and in one showcase there were a lot of sports items, including 3 baseballs autographed (separately) by Face, Dick Hall, and Dick Groat. Coincidentally, they are each over 90 years old, and all played for the Pirates during their career. (I am not near Pittsburgh.) 
The Face ball was a steal at $25, while the other two were over $50, if I recall correctly. I just may go back and get that Roy Face ball. He is currently the oldest living player who was still playing after 1966. 

RIP - Frank Thomas

Frank Thomas, a slugging outfielder for several teams in the 1950s and 1960s, passed away on January 16, 2023 at age 93.
Thomas made his debut with the Pirates in 1951, and was a regular member of their lineup from 1953 to 1958. Initially the center fielder, he moved to 3rd base upon the acquisition of Bill Virdon. 
After the 1958 season, he made several short stops for the remainder of his career: Reds (1959), Cubs ('60-'61), Braves ('61), Mets ('62-'64), Phillies ('64-'65), Astros ('65), Braves ('65), and Cubs ('66).


Monday, February 13, 2023

RIP - Sal Bando

Sal Bando, the 3rd baseman for the championship Oakland Athletics' teams of the early-1970s, passed away on January 20, 2023 at age 78. Today would have been his 79th birthday.
Bando made his major-league debut with 11 games in September 1966, then played 47 games over 2 different stints with the team in 1967. 
When the team moved to Oakland in 1968, Bando became a fixture at the hot corner for the next 9 seasons, leading the league in games played with 162 in '68, '69, and '73, and 160 in 1975. He was also a 4-time All-Star ('69, '72, '73, '74), and played in the post season every year from 1971-75 (winning the World Series from 1972-74). 
After the 1976 season he signed with the Brewers as a free agent, and was their starting 3rd baseman for 3 seasons before becoming a part-time player in '80 and '81. 
After his playing career he worked for the Brewers as a scout until 1991, and as their GM from 1991-99.