Friday, January 6, 2017

Born on the Same Day - 10/7/1939

Another installment in my "Born on the Same Day" series, featuring players who were born on the same day (!) and year. 

This is post #13 in the series: John O'Donoghue and Phil Ortega - both born on 10/7/1939.


John O'Donoghue pitched for 9 seasons, and as luck would have it, mostly for bad teams. He began with the Kansas City Athletics (1963-65), Indians (1966-67), Orioles (1968), Pilots/Brewers (1969-70), and Expos (1970-71). Only the Orioles were a "good team", and they were in a valley between their '66 and '69 peaks.

John made his only All-Star team in 1965 - surprising since he led the AL with 18 losses that season. He was a starter with KayCee and Cleveland, and a reliever thereafter.


Phil Ortega pitched for the Dodgers from 1960-64 before moving to Washington in the Frank Howard/Claude Osteen trade.

He pitched for the Sens from 1965-68, then ended his career with the Angels in 1969 - pitching 5 games in the first month of the season before he was sent to the minors. He was a starting pitcher from 1964-68.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Denver Lemaster (#288)

Denver Lemaster was a starting pitcher who played mostly for the Braves and Astros from 1962-1972.

Lemaster was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1958, and after 4 ½ seasons in the minors he made his debut with the Braves in July 1962, replacing Ron Piche in the rotation.

From 1963-64, Denny notched 11 and 17 wins as the Braves' #2 starter behind Warren Spahn ('63) and Tony Cloninger ('64). He had an off-year in '65, posting a record of 7-13 for the final lap in Milwaukee.


Lemaster was back on the winning side of the ledger in 1966 with an 11-8 record.

1967 was his last season with the Braves, and it was a good one. Besides making his only All-Star team, he led the Braves' staff in starts, innings, and strikeouts. (The Braves' ace starter Cloninger had a terrible year, and Phil Niekro was a reliever until midway through the season.) 

With Niekro emerging as the staff ace, and rookies Pat Jarvis and Ron Reed joining the rotation, the Braves traded Lemaster to the Astros in the off-season (with shortstop Denis Menke) for shortstop Sonny Jackson and 1st baseman Chuck Harrison.

Denny provided a veteran presence on a staff that included youngsters Larry Dierker and Don Wilson. Lemaster was one of the top 3 starters for the next 2 ½ years, until he was replaced in the rotation by ex-Braves' teammate Wade Blasingame in July 1970.

Lemaster was a full-time reliever in 1971, with all 42 of his games coming out of the bullpen.

He joined the Expos after the 1971 season, and appeared in 13 games (19 innings) in 1972 before getting his release on July 1st.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Born on the Same Day - 8/4/1939

Another installment in my "Born on the Same Day" series, featuring players who were born on the same day (!) and year. 

This is post #12 in the series: Dennis Higgins and Bob Meyer - both born on 8/4/1939.


Dennis Higgins played for the White Sox, Senators, Indians, and Cardinals from 1966-72. Most of his playing time came in 1966 (White Sox), and 1968-70 (Senators, Indians).  He led his team in saves from 1968-70.

Bob Meyer played in the minors from 1960-69, and made his major-league debut in 1964, playing for the Yankees, Angels, and Athletics (busy guy!) He returned to the minors for 4 1/2 years beginning in 1965, until pitching 6 games (5 starts) for the expansion Seattle Pilots team in the final weeks of the 1969 season. He played all of 1970 with the Brewers (his only full season in the majors).

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Going Outside the Lines

I found these 2 cards at my friendly neighborhood antique store/card store a few weeks ago. I normally don't have an interest in off-center cards, but these were so bad that I thought it would be fun to find out who was on the neighboring cards.


I have previously posted Phil Linz' 1968 card and Jim Barbieri's 1967 card. (Jim was one of the few players to have played in the Little League World Series AND the MLB World Series.)

Anyhoo, after perusing all the cards in my 1967 binder, I determined that the Linz card was connected to the Red Sox' Jose Tartabull, and Barbieri was connected to the Tigers' Joe Sparma. (The Linz card shows the very bottom of the "Red Sox" team name, although it was  cut off in my scan.)

I also previously posted about these cards.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Don Wert (#511)

Here is Tigers’ 3rd baseman Don Wert. The back of the card tells us that Don was voted “Tiger of the Year” in 1965. Hmm… this, on a team that included Al Kaline, Norm Cash, Denny McLain, Mickey Lolich, and Bill Freehan. Looks like he's practicing on the Detroit School District's baseball field (or maybe it's at Spring Training in Lakeland, FL).

The Tigers signed Wert in 1958, and he played in their farm system for 5+ seasons. He was called up to the Tigers in mid-May 1963 and soon started 20 consecutive games, replacing incumbent Bubba Phillips (maybe Phillips was injured?) After May, Wert settled into the backup 3rd baseman role (behind Phillips), only starting 25 more games there over the rest of the season.


From 1964 to 1970, Wert was the Tigers’ regular 3rd baseman. In 1968 he made his lone All-Star team, surprising because that season he only batted .200 – the lowest of his 8 years with Detroit. He also only hit .118 in the ’68 World Series.

After the 1970 season, Don was traded to the Senators along with pitcher Denny McLain and outfielder Elliot Maddox in exchange for shortstop Ed Brinkman, 3rd baseman Aurelio Rodriguez, and pitchers Joe Coleman and Jim Hannan.

Unfortunately for Wert, the Nats already had Dave Nelson er, Dave Nelson at their hot corner, with Joe Foy and Bernie Allen in reserve. Don made only 7 starts (2 at 3B, 5 at SS) then was given his walking papers in late-June, having only played 20 games thus far.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Born on the Same Day - 2/18/1939

Another installment in my "Born on the Same Day" series, featuring players who were born on the same day (!) and year.

This is post #10 in the series: Dal Maxvill and Bob Miller - both born on 2/18/1939.


Maxvill played for 14 seasons (1962-75), the first 11 with the Cardinals. After 4 seasons on the bench, he was the Cards' starting shortstop from 1966 to August 1972. He played his final 3+ seasons as a backup with Oakland and Pittsburgh. Dal won a Gold Glove in 1968 and played in 4 World Series ('64, '67, '68, '74).

Miller had a 17-year career (1957, 59-74). Primarily a reliever, he also made quite a few starts from '62-'63 and '69-'70. Bob began with the Cardinals, then played for the 1962 expansion Mets, where he was one of 2 pitchers named Bob Miller on the team. His longest stay with any one team was 5 years with the Dodgers (1963-67). Miller later played for 8 other teams before winding up back with the Mets to close out his career.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Born on the Same Day - 11/7/1938

Another installment in my "Born on the Same Day" series, featuring players who were born on the same day (!) and year.

This is post #9 in the series: Jake Gibbs and Jim Kaat - both born on 11/7/1938.


Gibbs played only for the Yankees during his 10-year career. Some cups of coffee from 1962-64 were followed by full-season work from 1965-71, including the starter's job from 1967-78.

Kaat played for 25 seasons (1959-83) and is one of a handful of players to have played in 4 decades. He also won 16 Gold Glove awards during his career. After playing for the Twins for his first 15 seasons, he made stops with the White Sox, Phillies, Yankees, and Cardinals. He also played in 2 World Series ('65 Twins, '82 Cardinals).

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Chico Cardenas (#325)

Here is Reds’ shortstop Chico Cardenas (not to be confused with another Reds’ middle infielder, Chico Ruiz).

Cardenas was signed by Cincinnati in 1956, and at age 17 began his pro career with the Class C Tucson Cowboys in the Arizona-Mexico league.

After 2 seasons at Class A Savannah, Cardenas was promoted to the Reds’ AAA team in Havana Cuba, his native land. He played there in 1959 and for part of 1960. (Later that season, the team moved out of Cuba, to Jersey City).


Chico made his major-league debut with the Reds on July 25, 1960. Cardenas immediately took over the starting shortstop job for the next 38 games, replacing injured veteran Roy McMillan, who had been the starter for the past decade. McMillan and Cardenas shared the post for the month of September.

In December 1960 McMillan was traded to the Braves, but Cardenas was still the backup, this time to Eddie Kasko. Chico played in 74 games in 1961, starting 43.

Chico took over the starting shortstop job in the 2nd week of the 1962 season, and held onto it through the 1968 season. He made 4 All-Star teams with the Reds, and collected over 600 plate appearances 4 times. In 1966 he showed surprising power with 20 home runs.

After the 1968 season, Cardenas was traded to the Twins for pitcher Jim Merritt, and was their starting SS for the next 2 seasons, while again making the All-Star team in 1971.

Chico played one year with the Angels (1972), which would be his final season as a regular. (Acquiring Cardenas allowed the Angels to trade Jim Fregosi to the Twins for Nolan Ryan.)

He spent the final 3 seasons of his career as a utility player for the Indians (’73) and Rangers (’74-’75).

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Born on the Same Day - 11/17/1933

Another installment in a new series called "Born on the Same Day", featuring players who were born on the same day (!) and year. 

This is post #4 in the series: Dan Osinski and Orlando Pena - both born on 11/17/1933.


Osinski played for 6 teams in 8 seasons, primarily with the Angels and Red Sox. Pena played for 8 teams over 14 seasons (1958-75), the longest stint being 4 seasons with the Kansas City Athletics.

The closest these two came to being teammates was in 1962, when they both played for the Athletics (Osinski in April, Pena in August and September).

For the 3rd time in 4 posts, I found a birth date discrepancy on one of the cards. The back of Pena's card shows his birth date as 11/17/1935, but Baseball-Reference.com and Wikipedia both have 11/17/1933, so I'm once again ignoring Topps' version of the facts.