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.