Sunday, August 7, 2016

The 1967 Twins

It's been over 2 years since my last team review. Let's get to it...

The Minnesota Twins finished 1967 at 91-71, in a 2nd-place tie with the Detroit Tigers, 1 game behind the Boston Red Sox. The Twins were in 1st place as late as 9/26, but lost their final 3 games of the season.

The Twins began the season with a starting rotation of Jim Kaat, Dean Chance, Dave Boswell, and Mudcat Grant, with Jim Ollom getting the occasional spot start. By late May, the team switched to a 5-man rotation, with Jim Merritt in and Ollom out. In mid-season, it seems that Jim Perry alternated with Grant in the #5 slot.

In the season's final week, manager Sam Mele took a page out of 1964 Phillies' manager Gene Mauch's playbook and started only Kaat and Chance for the final week of the season (with the same disastrous results as the '64 Phillies). 

Here are the starting pitchers, in order of innings pitched. Although everyone on the staff appeared in relief at one time or another, the 4 above were primarily starting pitchers. Chance won 20 games in his first season with the Twins.

Mudcat Grant started half of his games, while Jim Perry started about one-third of his appearances. Veterans Al Worthington and Ron Kline pitched only in relief, with Worthington collecting 16 saves.

Jim Roland and Jim Ollom were the 2 left-handers in the bullpen. After 2 seasons with the Twins, Roland spent all of 1965-66 in the minors but returned in 1967. Ollom had played 3 games the previous season, but was with the Twins for all of 1967, his final big-league season. These first 10 pitchers were virtually the entire staff. Dwight Siebler pitched 3 innings in April (his final big-league action), while Mel Nelson pitched in 1 game in September.

Here are the starting eight. Jerry Zimmerman took over the starting job from veteran Earl Battey. With Don Mincher traded to the Angels for Chance, Harmon Killebrew played almost exclusively at first base in 1967, starting 160 games there and only 3 at the hot corner. He also led the AL with 44 home runs. Rod Carew made his major-league debut on opening day, and was named AL Rookie of the Year. 1965 MVP Zoilo Versalles started 152 games at shortstop, but only hit .200, well below his numbers from 2 years earlier. He was sent packing to the Dodgers in the off-season.

Rich Rollins started 90 games at 3rd base, alternating with Cesar Tovar. 1959 ROY Bob Allison held down the left field post, while crashing 24 home runs. Ted Uhlaender started 2/3 of the games in center field, backed up by Tovar. 1964 ROY Tony Oliva was in the midst of an 8-year string of All-Star appearances, and started 145 games in right field.

Here are the bench players, in order of at-bats. Cesar Tovar saw significant playing time at 2B, 3B, and CF. Russ Nixon started 41 games behind the dish as the #2 catcher. Earl Battey was the Twins' regular catcher for several seasons, but was relegated to 3rd-string in his final season. Rookie Rich Reese was used as a pinch-hitter and defensive replacement for Killebrew at 1st base and Allison in left field.

Sandy Valdespino was the 5th outfielder (behind Tovar). Ron Clark only played in 20 games, mostly as a reserve 3rd baseman. Frank Kostro spent all of '66 and most of '67 in the minors, but played 20 games with the Twins in 1967, almost exclusively as a pinch-hitter. Andy Kosco spent most of the year in AAA, but played 9 games in the season's first 4 weeks.

Infielders Jackie Hernandez and Frank Quilici played mostly in triple-A, each getting less than 30 at-bats with the Twins. Walt Bond played 10 games in his only season with the Twins, the last coming on May 7th. He passed away 4 months later from leukemia. Graig Nettles made his major-league debut with 3 pinch-hitting appearances in September.

Harold "Pat" Kelly also made his big-league debut in September, with 7 pinch-runs and 1 pinch-hitting appearance. Sam Mele was in his 7th season as Twins' manager. With the team in 6th place, he was canned after 50 games. Cal Ermer took over the reins for the remainder of the season, and for all of 1968. Bob Allison and Harmon Killebrew were the Twins' own Bash Brothers.

Also playing for the Twins in 1967 were catcher Hank Izquierdo and outfielder Carroll Hardy.

Here are the rookie cards. Bill Whitby and Hank Allen (obviously) didn't play for the Twins in 1967.

Transactions from the end of the 1966 season to the end of 1967:

10/18/66 - Released Johnny Klippstein.

11/28/66 - Marty Martinez drafted by the Braves in the rule 5 draft.

11/29/66 - Fred Lasher selected by the Tigers in the minor league draft.

12/02/66 - Traded Pete Cimino, Jimmie Hall and Don Mincher to the Angels for Dean Chance and Jackie Hernandez.

12/03/66 - Traded Bernie Allen and Camilo Pascual to the Senators for Ron Kline.

05/15/67 - Released Walt Bond.

10/19/67 - Sold Andy Kosco to the Athletics.

11/20/67 - Released Earl Battey.

11/28/67 - Sandy Valdespino drafted by the Braves in the rule 5 draft.
11/28/67 - Traded Mudcat Grant and Zoilo Versalles to the Dodgers for Bob Miller, Ron Perranoski and John Roseboro.

11/29/67 - Purchased Joe Grzenda from the Mets.
11/29/67 - Sold Mel Nelson to the Cardinals.

12/02/67 - Traded Ron Kline to the Pirates for Bob Oliver.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Pete Mikkelsen can't focus on the task at hand

Four years ago,  I posted Pete Mikkelsen's 1968 card on my '68 blog (which I thought is where I referred to having this odd 1967 card below). Thanks to the 'Search my Blogs' function, I found my comment was in this 1967 Pirates Team post. Anyway, I unearthed this card a few weeks ago. This was my first Mikkelsen card, acquired midway-through the summer of 1967.

Not only are there printing errors and about 47 creases, but at some point the card appears to have gotten wet, so it has a general mottled appearance.

Here he is after taking some muscle relaxers:

Hmm.. Pete "was the Bucs' number one stopper last season", but midway through the '67 season he was selected off waivers by the Cubs!  What have you done for me lately?

Here are 2 other oddball cards I have from back in the day.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Ken Holtzman (#185)

Here is Ken Holtzman’s rookie card. Holtzman was signed by the Cubs in 1965, and although he compiled a record of 8-3 in his only minor-league season, and made his debut with the Cubs (3 games) in September 1965, Topps saw fit to exclude him from all the Cubs Rookie Stars cards in the 1966 set, preferring instead to allocate one of those cards to John Boccabella and Dave Dowling (?!?!?)

Ken pitched the entire 1966 season for the Cubs, leading the staff in strikeouts (171), with a record of 11-16 as the Cubs’ #2 starter behind veteran Dick Ellsworth (whose record was 8-22, and would be traded to the Phillies in the off-season).

Holtzman missed much of the 1967 season while in the National Guard, but he compiled an excellent 9-0 record in 12 starts.

Ken was one of the Cubs’ top 3 starters from 1968-70, behind ace Fergie Jenkins and Bill Hands. Holtzman won 17 games in both ’69 and ’70, and reached a career-high 202 strikeouts in 1970.

After a sub-par season in 1971 (9-15), Ken asked for a trade and was sent to the Athletics before the 1972 season for outfielder Rick Monday. Holtzman had great success in his 4 seasons with Oakland, winning 19, 21, 19, and 18 games per season. He made his only All-star teams in ’72 and ’73, and pitched in the ALCS each of those 4 years, and in the World Series for the first 3 seasons (with the A’s winning all 3 times). That was to be his only post-season action for his career.

One week before the start of the 1976 season, Ken and Reggie Jackson were traded to the Orioles for outfielder Don Baylor and pitchers Mike Torrez and Paul Mitchell. Ken’s stay in Charm City would be short, as he was sent on to the Yankees in June (with catcher Elrod Hendricks and pitchers Doyle Alexander and Grant Jackson) for catcher Rick Dempsey and pitchers Scott McGregor, Tippy Martinez, Rudy May and Dave Pagan.

Holtzman was a non-factor in the Yankees' starting rotation during his time there, and although the Yanks were in the post-season in ’76 and ’77, Holtzman did not play.

Ken returned to the Cubs in a June 1978 trade, and pitched 23 games for Chicago in each of ’78 and ’79.

After the 1979 season the Cubs released him, ending his 15-year career with a record of 174-150.

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.