Thursday, April 28, 2016

Moe Drabowsky (#125)

Here is relief pitcher Moe Drabowsky, fresh off his success in the 1966 World Series.

Drabowsky was signed by the the Cubs in 1956 as a bonus baby, and spent his first 4 seasons on the Cubs’ roster as a starting pitcher.

Although only appearing in 9 games in his first season, he pitched in 36, 22, and 31 games over the next 3 seasons, so he wasn’t the typical bonus baby who sat on the bench for his minimum required time and then went to the minors for some needed “seasoning”. Moe was 13-15 for the Cubs in 1957, and led the staff in starts, innings pitched, ERA, and strikeouts.

In 1958 his record slipped to 9-11, but he still led the starting pitchers in wins with that paltry number. The following season his record slipped even further to 5-10.

Drabowsky pitched most of the 1960 season out of the Cubs’ bullpen, but also found himself down with the Cubs’ AAA team in Houston for much of July.

The following pre-season he was traded to the Braves for shortstop Andre Rogers. Moe manned the Braves’ bullpen until mid-June 1961, when he was demoted to AAA for the 2nd consecutive season.

After the season, the Reds picked him up in the Rule 5 draft. After several months as a Reds’ starter in 1962 he was purchased by the Kansas City Athletics, and flipped back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen for the next 2+ seasons. He also spent part of the ’63 back in triple-A.

After making 5 starts at the beginning of the ’65 season, Moe was relegated to the bullpen until mid-June, then was sent to the minors for the remainder of the season. After the season he was purchased by the Cardinals, but a few weeks later was picked by the Orioles in the Rule 5 draft (his 2nd Rule 5 move).

Drabowsky (by this time strictly a reliever) pitched for the O’s for the next 3 seasons, and was the game 1 hero in the 1966 World Series.

Taking over for starter Dave McNally, Moe pitched a no-hitter over the last 6 2/3 innings while striking out 11 and picking up the win. The Orioles went on to sweep the Dodgers with shutouts in games 2, 3, and 4. He also led the team in saves in 1967, and compiled an ERA of 1.60 in ’67 and 1.91 in ‘68.

After the ’68 season, he was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the expansion draft (as was his O’s teammate Wally Bunker). While Bunker led the upstart Royals in wins (12) and innings pitched, Drabowsky led in saves (11) and also won 11 games. Moe began the 1970 season with the Royals, but returned to the Orioles via trade in June.

His 2nd stop in Baltimore was a short one, as he moved on to the Cardinals after the season. He pitched a season and a half for St. Louis, then was released in early August 1972. A week later the White Sox picked him up but released him in October, ending his 17-year career.

Drabowsky passed away in 2006 at age 70.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Brooks Robinson (#600)


Forty-nine years ago this month, I started collecting baseball cards. (I think I began when the 2nd or 3rd series of 1967 cards were in the stores, so I had to get the earlier cards through trades and "shooting" cards.) Anyway, by the end of that season I had collected every card in the first 6 series except the Cardinals Team card.

The high-numbered 7th series wasn't sold in my area, so I didn't get any of them until visiting card stores and shows in the 1980s. In a year or so, I was able to get all but five of those high-numbers. Six years ago, I got the Maury Wills card, cutting my want list to four.

Today, I scored the hard-to-find Brooks Robinson card, at the same antique store where I picked up 100 or so 1965 cards last year, and also these Topps 1964 giant cards.

I have already posted my 1966 Brooks Robinson card here, so I won't re-hash his playing career. Just want to say "1 more down, 3 to go!"

While at that store, I also picked up these two Mickey Mantle cards, which I will feature on my '65 and '66 blogs at some point. These are 1996 reprints with Stadium Club-like cardstock, and are glossy on both sides. Even so, they will now take their place in my '65 and '66 binders, because there's little chance that I will get the originals.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Ralph Houk (#468)

Ralph Houk was the man who replaced the legendary Casey Stengel as the Yankees' manager in 1961.

Houk was signed by the Yankees in 1939 as a catcher, and played 3 seasons in the minors before missing 1942-1945 while in the Army.

He was an Army Ranger, rising to the rank of Major (also his nickname while in baseball). Houk fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and was awarded the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, and the Purple Heart.

He returned to the minors for the 1946 season, then spent the 1947 season as the 3rd string catcher behind Aaron Robinson and Yogi Berra. (Although Houk and Berra were both rookies, at age 27 Houk was 5 years older than Yogi, having missed 4 seasons.)

Ralph shuttled between the Yankees’ AAA team in Kansas City for the ’48 and ’49 seasons (spending most of that time in the minors), then was the Yankees’ 3rd-string catcher (behind Berra and Charlie Silvera) for all of 1950-53. His final season with the Yanks was 1954, where he was limited to 1 pinch-hitting appearance in May, but was also the team’s bullpen coach.

He was a player/manager for the Yankees’ AAA team in Denver during the 1955-57 seasons, then was Stengel’s 1st base coach from 1958-60.

Houk assumed the Yankees’ helm for the 1961 season. The team responded with 3 consecutive AL pennants (as was the Yankees’ custom back then), and winning the World Series in his first 2 years.

After the 1963 season, Houk was kicked upstairs to the GM role, with Berra taking over as manager. The Yankees went to the World Series in ’64 but lost, costing Berra his job after only 1 season. Next up was Johnny Keane, who lasted only 1 month into his 2nd year, whereby Houk returned to the manager’s chair on May 7th, 1966 with the team at 4-16.

Ralph managed the Yankees through the 1973 season, but never finished higher than 2nd place during his 2nd stint. He also managed the Tigers (1974-78) and Red Sox (1981-84).

After his managing days were over, he worked in the Twins’ front office from 1987-89.

“The Major” passed away in 2010 at age 90.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Willie Davis (#160)

After more than 5 years and 750+ posts on my various blogs, there are still about a dozen all-star caliber players I have not featured yet. Willie Davis is one of those.

This is one of my poorer-conditioned ’67 cards. I remember that many of my early-series cards that year were won in a variety of “flipping” games, so the corners are not very sharp. I have replaced many of these over the past 20 years, and Davis is certainly a candidate for an upgrade.

Willie Davis was signed by the Dodgers in 1958, and made his major-league debut in September 1960. He started 21 of the last 22 games in center field, taking over the position from Tommy Davis (no relation).

In 1961 he started 84 games in the middle, and was backed up by Tommy. (T. Davis was a 3B/LF/CF swingman during the 1961 season, having not settled in as the Dodgers’ left fielder until 1962.)

Willie was the team’s everyday center fielder from 1962 through the 1973 season. During that time, he led the NL in triples twice (’62, ’70), made 2 All-Star teams (’71, ’73), and won a Gold Glove in 1972. Aside from catcher John Roseboro, Willie was the only other Dodgers’ regular that didn’t move around the field to a variety of positions.

After the 1973 season, Davis was traded to the Expos for pitcher Mike Marshall. He was only north-of-the-border for one season, moving on to Texas after 1974 for pitcher Don Stanhouse and infielder (and current Phillies’ manager) Pete Mackanin.

Davis was flipped to the Cardinals in June 1975, and moved on to the Padres after the season. San Diego released him after the 1976 season, and Willie played in Japan for the ’77 and ’78 seasons. [Wow – before today I thought he only ever played for the Dodgers!] 

Davis hooked on with the Angels during spring training in 1979, and played in 43 games (mostly as a pinch-hitter) that season. He wrapped up his career playing in Mexico in 1980.

Davis passed away in 2010 at age 69.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Jim Maloney (#80)

Here is Jim Maloney’s 1st series (no dot between name and position) card. Maloney was the Red’s ace in the mid-1960s, and with the trading away of Joey Jay in June 1966 and Jim O'Toole after the ’66 season, he was the only remaining pitcher from the Reds’ 1961 World Series team.

Maloney was signed by the Reds in 1959 and made his big-league debut in late-July 1960, starting 10 of his 11 games during the second half.

In 1961 he was a swing man, starting 11 games while working out of the ‘pen in 16 others. He was primarily a starter in 1962.

Maloney was 1st or 2nd among Reds’ starters in wins, ERA, strikeouts, and innings pitched from 1963 to 1966. He was also consistently among the league leaders in strikeouts during that time, piling up more than 200 each season.

Jim won at least 20 games in ’63 and ’65, and was in double-digit wins every season from 1963 to 1969. He also made the All-Star team in 1965 – hard to do with all the Koufaxes, Marichals, Gibsons, Drysdales, and Bunnings under foot.

Maloney pitched his first no-hitter in 1965 against the Cubs, and in 1969, he and the Astros’ Don Wilson pitched back-to-back no-hitters against each other’s team, the 2nd time that had been done.

A ruptured Achilles tendon in 1970 limited him to 16 innings pitched over 7 games, and derailed his chance to stick around for the Big Red Machine era. Maloney was traded to the Angels for pitcher Greg Garrett. (Garrett’s major-league career consisted on 74 innings for the Angels in 1970, and 8 innings for the reds in 1971.) Jim pitched 30 innings over 13 games for the Angels in 1971, then was released in early-January 1972.

The next day he was picked up by the Cardinals (I think he is shown as a Cardinal in the 1972 Topps set) but was released on April 9th, before playing any games. The Giants signed him a few weeks later and assigned him to their AAA team, where he pitched in 7 games team before retiring in mid-June.

In his 12-year career, he won 134 games (all with the Reds). Maloney was inducted into the Reds’ Hall of Fame in 1973.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Don Cardwell (#555)

Here is Mets’ hurler Don Cardwell. This was Cardwell’s 1st season as a Met, and surprisingly, Topps is showing him in a Mets uniform!
(I guess it helps that this is a high-number card, released in late summer. It even has some 1967 game information on the back.)

Don was the opening-day starter for the Mets that season. It would be his only opener, because 1967 was Tom Seaver’s rookie season and, well, you know the rest.

Cardwell was signed by the Phillies in 1954, and made his major-league debut in April 1957. Don was inserted into a starting rotation that also included Robin Roberts, Curt Simmons, and Jack Sanford. Cardwell continued taking his regular turn until May 1960, when he was traded to the Cubs for 2nd baseman Tony Taylor.

He pitched a no-hitter in his first game with the Cubs, but otherwise for the next 2 ½ seasons, he was a workhorse starter for some bad teams.

After the 1962 season Cardwell moved on to the Cardinals, traded with outfielder George Altman in exchange for pitchers Larry Jackson and Lindy McDaniel. During the same off-season, he was flipped to the Pirates for shortstop Dick Groat.

Don pitched for the Pirates for the next 4 seasons, although he spent much of 1964 in triple-A. He won 13 games in both 1963 and 1965, manning the #2 spot in the rotation behind Bob Friend (’63) and Bob Veale (’65). In 1966 Cardwell was relegated to the bullpen for much of the season, in favor of youngsters Woodie Fryman, Steve Blass, and Tommie Sisk.

After the season, he was traded to the Mets (with outfielder Don Bosch) for pitcher Dennis Ribant and OF-C Gary Kolb. Don was in the Mets’ rotation for 3 ½ years, and in his early-30s, provided a veteran influence for young starters Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan, and Gary Gentry. He also pitched in relief in game 1 of the 1969 World Series.

Don was sold to the Braves in July 1970, and pitched in 16 games for Atlanta before getting his release after the season.

Cardwell passed away in 2008 at age 72, in his birthplace of Winston-Salem, NC.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Steve Hamilton (#567)

Here is another high-number from the 1967 set. Steve Hamilton was signed by the Indians in 1958, and after making his big-league debut in early 1961 with 2 games for the Tribe, he was back in the minors until a May 1962 trade with the Senators for outfielder Willie Tasby.

Steve pitched in 41 games during his first year in Washington, starting 10 games. He would only start 7 more games over the remaining 10 seasons in his career (while working out of the ‘pen in 378 games).

After only 2 games with the Sens in 1963, Hamilton was swapped to the Yankees for reliever Jim Coates. Steve spent the next 8 years as the top (and sometimes the only) lefty in the Yankees’ bullpen. In 1968 he led the staff in saves.

Late in his career, Hamilton developed the slow, arcing “eephus pitch”. On one occasion in 1970, he got Indians’ slugger Tony Horton to strike out on consecutive floaters, causing Horton to crawl back to the dugout in embarrassment. (Blogger Commishbob has noted that he was at that game.)

In early-September 1970, the White Sox claimed him off waivers, but traded him the following spring to the Giants. He pitched his final season (1972) for the Cubs.

Steve played in the ’63 and ’64 World Series, and the ’71 NLCS. Hamilton also played in the NBA from 1958 to 1960 for the Minneapolis Lakers, and is one of only 2 people to have played in the World Series and the NBA finals.

Hamilton passed away in 1997 at age 63.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Let's Go Cubs!!!

C'mon Cubs! Are you really going to let this guy down?

Or this guy?

You have an opportunity for a bittersweet, storybook championship here. Don't let it slip away!

Bloggers: Everyone post an Ernie Banks card to their blog. (If you don't have one, steal the image above, or the single Banks card on my '68 blog.)

Let's get this thing done!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

2015 Post-Season - Mets vs. Cubs

Two of the NL's worst teams in the early and mid-1960s face-off in this year's NLCS.

First, a word from our sponsor: There's a new 1965 blog added to the mix. 

In the Mets' first 7 seasons (1962-68), they finished in 10th place 5 times and 9th place twice. The Cubs were almost as bad from 1960-66, finishing 7th three times, 8th twice, and 9th once before bottoming out in 10th place in 1966. They showed great improvement after that - finishing in 3rd place in '67 and '68 and almost beating the Mets for the 1969 NL East crown, before finishing in 2nd place.

Here are the 2nd-tier stars for the 1967 Mets (see the top stars here). Slim pickings, but as I said above: 7 years of 10th or 9th-place finishes...

After 8 years, the Cubs reached respectability in 1967 (I suspect thanks to Ferguson Jenkins, or more correctly, the Phillies' general manager). There's not much to see here, since we have already worked our way through the big stars (and lesser lights).

Maybe some Cubs and Mets fans can regale us with stories from the 1969 pennant race.