Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sam McDowell (#295)

After being bumped 5 times (for Al Dark, Red Schoendienst, and 3 opening-day posts), Sam McDowell finally gets his turn. 

“Sudden” Sam McDowell was a hard-throwing strikeout artist who pitched for 15 seasons from 1961 to 1975, the first 11 seasons with the Cleveland Indians.

McDowell was signed by the Indians in 1960, and after one season in class-D ball, he jumped to triple-A in 1961. Sam made his major-league debut in 1961, pitching one game on September 15th.

In 1962, he played 25 games with the Indians, but spent most of June and July back in triple-A. McDowell was in the Indians rotation for most of ‘63 and ’64, except for a stint in AAA from July ’63 to May ’64.

Topps re-used the same photo in the 1969 set:

1965 was the beginning of a 6-year stretch where Sam was a dominant pitcher in the American League. He led the AL in strikeouts every season from ’65 to ’70, except for 1967, when he finished 10 strikeouts behind Jim Lonborg. Sam was also the ERA leader in 1965 (2.18), and won 17 games that season. He also won 18 in 1969 and 20 in 1970, and was a 6-time all-star.

After the 1971 season, McDowell was traded to the Giants for pitcher Gaylord Perry and shortstop Frank Duffy. After starting for the Giants in 1972, he worked out of the bullpen in 1973 until he was sold to the Yankees in early June.

Sam started for the Yankees for the remainder of that season, but was back in the ‘pen in 1974. Released after the season, he hooked on with the Pirates for his final season in 1975. After 14 appearances, he was released in late June, ending his career.

During his final 4 seasons, he never came close to the success he had with the Indians.

If a picture is worth 1000 words, what are 5 pictures worth?
(He missed the top spot in 1967 by 10 strikeouts) 

McDowell also hobnobbed with the ERA leaders from time to time:

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

It's Opening Day! - AL starters

I'm wrapping up this 3-post Opening Day exercise with a look at the American League opening day starters in 1967. The teams are shown in order of their 1967 finish.

The only "Hey!  Where's so-and-so?" moments here are the absence of Tigers' left fielder Willie Horton, and the Athletics' rookie center field phenom Rick Monday. Rick started 105 games in center as a rookie, but none until game #10.

Except for Jose Tartabull, the other seven were the AL champs' regular position players.  Rookie Reggie Smith started the first 6 games at 2nd base before moving out to center field.

With last year's shortstop Dick McAuliffe moving over to play 2nd base, the Tigers had their choice of 2 weak-hitting shortstops (Dick Tracewski, Ray Oyler), and gave the opening day nod to the Weasel. Also, Gates Brown was the opening day left fielder?  Where's Willie Horton?  If not him, then where's Mickey Stanley?

Rookie phenom Rod Carew started 131 games at 2nd base in 1967 (even while missing 17 straight games in early August), pushing Cesar Tovar to center field.

The big surprise here is that 3rd-string catcher Jerry McNertney got the opening-day nod.  I would have thought rookie Duane Josephson was behind the dish.

The Angels' opening-day lineup included the newly-acquired Don Mincher and Jimmie Hall, both coming from Minnesota in exchange for pitcher Dean Chance.  Rick Reichart was a fixture in left field, and Jose Cardenal and Hall were the best of the SEVEN other outfielders on the Angels' roster.

Doug Camilli was the opening-day catcher?  Where was Paul Casanova? Frank Howard is listed as 6'-7" and 255 lb.  That must have been a scary sight watching him lumbering around in left field!

This opening-day starting 8 remained intact from the 1966 World Series champions.

This is pretty much the lineup I would have expected.  The Indians didn't have a viable 2nd baseman for the first half of the season, so Gus Gil was no worse than the other available options.

The Yankees lineup is as I would have expected, except at shortstop.  John Kennedy was acquired from the Dodgers one week before the season opener, and started the first 24 games at short, before Ruben Amaro took over for the remainder of the season.  Due to his limited mobility, Mickey Mantle swapped positions with Joe Pepitone in '67 and '68.

The big surprise here is in left and center fields.  I thought Joe Rudi wasn't due for another year? Also, first-ever #1 overall draft pick (in 1965) Rick Monday rode the bench for the first 8 games.  After 2 starts in left field, he assumed the center field job on April 23rd.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

It's Opening Day! - NL starters

Continuing with the theme of the previous post, here are the opening day starting eight for each NL team, in order of the each team's 1967 finish.

Unlike the starting pitchers in the last post, I made no attempt to guess who the starters were here. (Too many players!)

Conspicuous by their absence are Dodgers' centerfielder Willie Davis, Phillies' 1st baseman Bill White, Cubs' catcher Randy Hundley, Mets' 1st baseman Ed Kranepool, and to a lesser extent, Giants' rightfielder Ollie Brown and Astros' leftfielder Ron Davis.

I know that White was injured, and I would have to assume the same for Willie Davis.  Maybe the others as well.

No surprises here.  These were the starting 8 all year, all the way to winning the World Series.

I would have suspected that Ollie Brown was the right fielder, instead of Henderson.

Dick Bertell?  This veteran didn't even have a card in the 1967 set. I would have assumed Randy Hundley would be the opening day starter, since he was the Topps All-Rookie catcher in 1966.

This is a solid group of starters, who, if I recall correctly, spent the first 2/3 of the 1967 season in first place.  Rookie 1st baseman Lee May wasn't the starter until later.

Bill White missed the first month of the season due to injury, so super-sub Tony Taylor filled in at 1st base.

No surprises here, although I would have guessed Jerry May or Jim Pagliaroni was behind the plate, instead of Gonder.

These 8 Braves were the season-long regulars, although Woodward shared 2nd base with rookie Felix Millan.

The league-leader of interchangeable parts doesn't disappoint! The absence of center fielder Willie Davis moves Parker from 1B to CF, Fairly from RF to 1B, Lou Johnson from LF to RF, with Bob Bailey inserted into left field.

Veteran ex-Braves' 3rd baseman Eddie Mathews was the Astros' primary 1st baseman in 1967, while rookie Aaron Pointer (on his only card) was the left fielder for the first week or so, until Ron Davis took over.

I was surprised to see that regular right fielder Ron Swoboda was the opening-day 1st baseman instead of Ed Kranepool. Cleon Jones slid over to right field, with rookie Don Bosch in center.

 Next post: AL starting eight

Monday, March 31, 2014

It's Opening Day!

Here are the opening day starting pitchers (for 1967, that is), in order of the teams' 1967 finish. (Senior Circuit first, natcherly!)

Before I looked these up in, I wrote down who I thought was each team's opening day starter. I was right on 13 of 20 (not so difficult, because most teams had an undisputed #1 ace).

The biggest shock was that Don Drysdale was not the Dodgers' opening-day starter. That honor went to Bob Miller (who would not have been among the first 4 names I picked). Drysdale started game #4.

Only slightly less surprising was the White Sox starting John Buzhardt on opening day. (What, were Gary Peters and Joel Horlen given the day off to go fishing up in Green Bay?)

So here are the opening day pitchers:

I was four-for-four with this first group.

I was right on Bunning and Veale, but I guessed Tony Cloninger for the Braves.  And who would have thunk Bob Miller would start ahead of Don Drysdale (my guess), Claude Osteen, or Don Sutton?

I picked Larry Dierker, because I always forget that Cuellar was on the Astros then. Knowing Tom Seaver wouldn't be the opening day starter as a rookie, I guessed Jack Fisher.  Fisher/Cardwell is a toss-up.  I was right on Lonborg and McLain.

I guessed correctly on Jim Kaat, and on George Brunet (which was a completely lucky guess, because to me, all the Angels' pitchers in 1967 were non-descript). Buzhardt was a complete surprise, as I guessed Gary Peters (and Joel Horlen would have been my backup).  For the Senators, I figured it would be either Camilo Pascual or Phil Ortega.

Some great opening-day starters here at the bottom of the barrel! (Well, the first 3 anyway).  I correctly guessed all but Nash, assuming Catfish Hunter was the opening-day starter.

The next 2 posts will be the opening-day eight for each NL and AL team.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Red Schoendienst (#512)

Continuing the theme from the last post, today we have 91-year-old Albert “Red” Schoendienst, a baseball lifer, first as a player for several teams from 1942 to 1963, then as a manager and coach for the Cardinals since his retirement as a player.

Red was signed by the Cardinals in 1942, and was a shortstop in their farm system from 1942-44. He made the Cardinals at the start of 1945, and was the team’s regular left fielder during his rookie season. He also led the league with 26 stolen bases that year.

From 1946 to 1956 Red was the Cardinals’ 2nd baseman. He was also their lead-off hitter for his first 4 seasons, before dropping to the #2 slot for the duration of his Cardinals’ tenure. He led the NL with 43 doubles in 1950, and made the all-star team every season from 1946-55 (except for 1947). He also played in the 1946 World Series.

Red began the 1956 as the 2nd baseman, then was traded to the New York Giants in mid-June for shortstop Al Dark (who we just looked at in the last post). Seven other players were involved in the deal, including outfielder Jackie Brandt going to the Giants.

A year and a day later, Red moved on to the Milwaukee Braves in exchange for 3 players, including Bobby Thomson, slugger of 1951’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”. He manned the 2nd base post for the Braves in ’57 and ’58, and the team played the Yankees in the World Series both years, winning it in 1957. Schoendienst hit .278 and .300 in those two post-seasons.

Red missed almost the entire 1959 season with tuberculosis. He returned at the start of 1960, and started most games through July 1st. The Cardinals started Chuck Cottier in the 2nd game of the doubleheader that day, and stuck with him for the rest of the season, relegating Schoendienst to the bench for the rest of the season. He was released in October.

The Cardinals picked him up during spring training in 1961, and used him as coach and part-time player for the next 3 seasons. His final game as a player was in July 1963.

After the Cardinals’ 1964 World Series victory, manager Johnny Keane resigned to manage the Yankees, and Schoendienst was elevated to manager. The team went to the World Series in ’67 and ’68, winning in 1967. Red continued to manage the Cards through the 1976 season, then coached for the Athletics from 1977-78.

Red returned to the Cardinals in 1979, as a coach and later a special advisor to the GM. He also managed the team for a few dozen games at the end of the 1980 and 1990 seasons.

Schoendienst was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989 by the Veterans Committee. Soon afterwards, the Cardinals retired his #2 uniform.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Al Dark (#389)

Last week, I was browsing the site, and came across a list of the 100 oldest living ex-players. (The oldest name I recognized was Alex Monchak (age 97), who was a major-league coach for manager Chuck Tanner's teams in the 1970s and '80s.)

Also on the list are Al Dark, Sam Mele, and Red Schoendienst. Although they are #39, #41, and #53 on the list, they are the only three who had cards in the 1967 Topps set. Dark and Mele are both 92, while Schoendienst is 91. As such, I have moved Al and Red to the top of the to-be-blogged schedule.

This card shows Al wearing the white cap that was worn by the Athletics’ coaching staff, while the players wore green caps. Dark's nickname was "Blackie".  Give him an unfiltered cigarette, and it looks like Blackie would fit right in on an old Western movie, chasing down Clint Eastwood.

Alvin Dark was a shortstop (and later 3rd baseman) for several teams including the Boston Braves (1946, 48-49), New York Giants (1950-56), Cardinals (1956-58), and Cubs (1958-59), before wrapping up his playing career in 1960 as a sub for the Phillies and Milwaukee Braves.

Dark played in the minors only during the 1947 season, then was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1948, and led the league with 41 doubles in 1951. He was his team’s starting shortstop from 1948-57, and 3rd baseman from 1958-59).

Dark began his major-league managing career immediately after retiring as a player. He managed the Giants for 4 seasons (1961-64), including a trip to the 1962 World Series.

Al managed the Athletics during their final 2 seasons in Kansas City (1966-67), then moved on to the Indians (1968-71). He returned to the Athletics for the 1974-75 seasons, winning the World Series in 1974.

Dark wrapped up his managing career in 1977 with the Padres.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ron Perranoski (#197)

Here is relief pitcher Ron Perranoski, shown on his last card as an LA Dodger. After the 1967 season, he was traded to the Twins with catcher John Roseboro and pitcher Bob Miller for pitcher Mudcat Grant and shortstop Zoilo Versalles. 

(This deal looks like a steal for the Twins. Versalles was the 1965 AL MVP, but was a bust in his one season with the Dodgers. After 1968, he was lost (read: unloaded) to the expansion Padres. Even the Padres didn’t keep him – he was flipped to the Indians for a career minor-leaguer before the ’69 season. Grant only pitched one season for the Dodgers, while the 3 new Twins each had several productive seasons in Minnesota.) 

After pitching for Michigan State University (where one of his teammates was Dick Radatz), Ron was signed by the Cubs in 1958. He spent 2 seasons as a starting pitcher in their farm system, then was traded to the Dodgers in April 1960 for infielder Don Zimmer.

After a season on the Dodgers’ farm, Perranoski made his major-league debut in April 1961. During his 7 seasons in LA, he led the league in appearances 3 times (’62, ’63, ’67). In 1963, his 16-3 record gave him a league-leading .842 winning percentage. He also had a career-low 1.63 ERA that season.

Ron led the Dodgers in saves every season from 1962 to 1965, and again in 1967. He also pitched in the World Series in ’63, ’65, and ’66.

After his trade to Minnesota, Perranoski continued to perform well. Pitching behind veteran Al Worthington in 1968, he then became the Twins’ closer in ’69 and ’70, leading the team in saves both years. Ron also pitched in the ALCS in 1969 and 1970.

On July 30th, 1971 he was claimed off waivers by the Tigers, and pitched the rest of that season and the 1st half of 1972 in Detroit, before getting his release exactly one year later.

A week later (August 7th) the Dodgers picked him up for the remainder of the 1972 season. Perranoski finished his career by pitching for the Angels in 1973. He was released in October 1973, although he hadn't pitched since mid-June.

Perranoski pitched in 737 games over his 13-year career, all in relief except for 1 game during his rookie season. 

After his playing career, he was the Dodgers’ minor-league pitching instructor from 1973-80, and their major-league pitching coach from 1981-94. Since then, he has held various positions for the rival Giants.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Norm Cash (#540)

Norm Cash was the Tigers’ slugging 1st baseman for 15 years from 1960 to 1974. In 1961, he led the AL in hits and batting average.

Cash was signed by the White Sox in 1955, and played 2 seasons for their class D Waterloo (Iowa) White Hawks in the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League (also known as the III, Three-I, or Three-Eye League).

Norm missed the 1957 season while in military service, then split the 1958 season between the White Sox and their AAA team in Indianapolis.

After a full season with the Sox in 1959, Cash was traded to the Indians (with 3B-OF Bubba Phillips and catcher Johnny Romano) for outfielder Minnie Minoso, catcher Dick Brown, and pitchers Don Ferrarese and Jake Striker.

Norm had no time to get settled, as Cleveland flipped him to the Tigers a week before the 1960 opener for 3rd baseman Steve Demeter, who would spend 19 years in the minors while only playing 15 games in the majors. WHAT A STEAL FOR THE TIGERS!

While Demeter’s major-league career was over on May 6, 1960, Cash went on to play 15 seasons as the Tigers’ starting 1st baseman. His 193 hits and .361 batting average led the AL in 1961. He also threw in 41 homers and 132 RBI that season.

Cash hit 30 or more homers in ’61, ’62, ’65, ’66, and ’71, and was an all-star in ’61, ’66, ’70, and ’71. He also hit .385 with 5 RBI in the 1968 World Series, and hit .267 vs. Oakland in the 1972 ALCS.

Midway through his final 1974 season, he split the 1st base duties with long-time Tigers’ catcher Bill Freehan.

Cash never wore a batting helmet during his career, having been grandfathered-in after helmets became mandatory in 1971.

After retirement, he played a few seasons of professional softball, and later broadcast Tigers’ games.

Cash drowned in northern Lake Michigan on October 12, 1986 at age 51, after slipping off a dock on Beaver Island and hitting his head.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Tony Oliva (#50)

Tony Oliva was a hitting machine who played for 17 seasons – all with the Minnesota Twins.

He was signed by the Twins in 1961, and played 3 seasons in the minors, where he batted .410, .350, and .304. After cups of coffee with the Twins in ’62 and ’63, Tony made the team in 1964, and became the Twins’ regular right fielder for the next 8 seasons (starting 140 or more games every season from 1964-70).

In his rookie season, he led the AL with a .323 batting average. He also led in runs (109), hits (217), doubles (43), and total bases (374). He also hit 32 home runs (his career best). Tony was named AL Rookie of the Year, and finished 4th in the MVP voting. He made his first of 8 consecutive all-star appearances.

Olivia followed up his rookie season by leading the AL in batting in 1965, this time with a .321 average, while also collecting the most hits (185). He finished 2nd to teammate Zoilo Versalles in the MVP voting. Although he only hit .192 (5-for-26) in the ‘65 World Series vs. the Dodgers, he hit a home run in game 4 off Don Drysdale.

Tony hit .307 in 1966, but finished 2nd to triple-crown winner Frank Robinson. Oliva picked up his only Gold Glove award in ‘66. Oliva hit .289 in both 1967 and 1968, but had a league-best 34 doubles in ’67.

The next 2 seasons he was back over .300, hitting .309 and .325, while leading the AL in hits and doubles in both ’69 and ’70. Tony hit .385 in the 1969 ALCS, and .500 in the 1970 ALCS.

In 1971 Oliva was limited to 126 games, but lead the league in batting a 3rd time with a career-high .337 average. He also led the AL with a .546 slugging percentage.

Knee injuries hampered Tony for the remainder of his career. He missed all but 10 games of the 1972 season, and when he returned, it was strictly as a designated hitter. He was the team’s full-time DH from 1973-75, and a part-time player in his final season (1976).

I was surprised to see that his career batting average was only .304 (the effect of his last few seasons under .300).

Oliva was a hitting coach for the Twins in the late 1980s.