Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Final Card: Pedro Gonzalez

This is the last of 5 consecutive cards for Pedro Gonzalez (#424).

Pedro was signed by the Yankees in 1958, and spent the next 4 full seasons in their farm system, strictly at 2nd base until 1962, when he also played a significant amount of games at 3rd base and shortstop, as well as in the outfield.

Gonzalez made his major-league debut in April 1963 with the Yankees, but with Bobby Richardson starting 150 games at 2nd base, Gonzalez spent most of the season in triple-A. He made 4 starts at 2nd for New York, mostly in September.

In 1964, Pedro spent the entire season with the Yankees, and saw action in 80 games, more than any substitute except Phil Linz and Hector Lopez. He saw more action at 1st base than any other position.

In May 1965, Gonzalez was traded to the Indians for backup 1st baseman Ray Barker. He was the staring 2nd baseman for all but one game between May 30th and September 20th. (Cleveland has started the season with a keystone combo of Larry Brown and Dick Howser. Gonzalez replaced Brown, but by mid-season, Brown moved over to short to replace Howser. To complete this circle, Howser started most of the games at 2B after September 20th.)

Pedro was the regular 2nd baseman again in 1966, but rarely played after August. Howser, Chico Salmon, and rookie Vern Fuller each started a dozen or so games at 2nd base in place of Gonzalez.

His playing time was further reduced in 1967, as he only played in 80 games, while making 55 starts. His regular 2nd base job only lasted from May 9th to June 23rd. Cleveland started the season with rookie Gus Gill at 2B, while fellow rookie Vern Fuller took over the job as of July 19th.

Pedro's last major-league game was on September 27, 1967. He spent the next 4 seasons playing in the minors for the Indians, Cardinals, and Pirates.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Final Card: John Sullivan

This (#568) is the last of John Sullivan's three Topps baseball cards. He first appeared on a Tigers Rookies card in 1965. In 1966, his card portrayed him as a Tigers' catcher. This year, he moves on to the Mets. Coincidently, all three of John's cards were in the rare 7th series (a/k/a high numbers). In my neighborhood, the 7th series was not sold in stores, so my first knowledge of Sullivan was when the Phillies signed him as their 3rd-string catcher during the 1968 season.

Sullivan was primarily a minor-league catcher, logging 1201 games over 13 seasons in the bush leagues, while playing only 116 big-league games over parts of 5 seasons. John was signed by the Tigers in 1959, and moved up their farm system ladder from 1959 to 1965. After a cup of coffee in both 1963 and 1964, he played in 34 games for Detroit in 1965, although spending part of the season at triple-A Syracuse.

1966 is a mystery. The record shows he played the entire season with the Athletics' triple-A team in Vancouver, although still Tigers' property, because after the 1966 season the Mets selected him from the Tigers in the Rule 5 draft.

1967 was the high point of Sullivan's career. Not only was it the only season where he managed to stay out of the minor leagues, but he worked his way up to SECOND string catcher, behind Jerry Grote. (Although Topps printed a card for John Stephenson as a Mets' catcher, Stephenson played only for the Cubs in 1967.) Sullivan played in 65 games in '67, the most of any season.

In February 1968, the Phillies purchased his contract and stashed him at triple-A San Diego. Although playing most of the season in the minors, he did get into 12 games with the Philadelphia. (I guess since the Phillies already had Mike Ryan on board, they didn't need another Irish catcher!) His final major-league game was on August 7th.

During spring training 1969, the Phillies swapped him to the Orioles for another backup catcher - Vic Roznovsky. Sullivan would kick around the minors for 4 more seasons, with the Orioles (1969) and the Royals (1970-72).