Sunday, May 12, 2019

Chuck Dobson (#438)

Here's another last look at a Kansas City Athletics' player. I really like these A’s cards – it's sad to see the mess Topps created in the 1968 set after the team moved to Oakland.

This looks like a Spring Training shot, with palm trees behind the fence. His rookie card in 1966 (below) shows him in the same location.

Chuck Dobson was signed by the Athletics late in 1964. After one game in the Florida Instructional League that year and splitting the 1965 season between A and AA ball, he debuted with the Athletics at the start of the 1966 season. His first major-league appearance was to start Kansas City's final home opener on April 19th, where he collected his first career win.


Dobson was one of several youngsters who made up the Athletics' starting rotation for the next few years. He teamed with Catfish Hunter, Blue Moon Odom, and (for the first few seasons) Jim Nash and Lew Krausse. In the early 1970s they would be joined by Vida Blue.

Chuck won between 10 and 16 games every season from 1966 to 1971. He missed all of 1972 due to elbow surgery, and spent all of 1973 in the minors, only pitching 1 game that year for Oakland (on 9/25).

Released by the Athletics during Spring Training in 1974, he hooked on with a Mexican League team until the California Angels came calling in late-June.

Although he pitched a few games for the Angels in '74 and '75, he spent most of 1974-76 pitching for their AAA team, before retiring.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Andy Kosco (#366)

Andy Kosco was a spare outfielder (and sometime starter) for several teams from 1965-74, most notably the Twins and Yankees.

Kosco was signed by the Tigers in 1959. (I always assumed he started in the Twins' organization.) After 5 ½ seasons, and having flip-flopped between A and AA ball several times, the Tigers released him on June 3, 1964.

Three days later the Twins picked him up, and after spending the remainder of that season in single-A, he jumped to AAA ball in 1965, and by August he made his major-league debut with the Twins.

Andy spent the entire 1966 season with Minnesota, but only saw action in 57 games, as a pinch-hitter and #3 left fielder. He was back in triple-A for most of 1967.

In October 1967 he was purchased by the Athletics, but was lost to the Yankees a month later in the Rule 5 draft. Kosco got regular playing time (131 games) during his one season in the Big Apple, starting 93 games as the primary right fielder and another 23 starts at first base as Mickey Mantle's backup (in the Mick's final season).

Andy was traded to the Dodgers after the season for pitcher Mike Kekich. He played 2 seasons in LA, his best season coming in 1969 with 67 starts as the primary right fielder, and another 36 starts in left field.  He only hit .248, which may have contributed to his fall to #5 outfielder in 1970.

Kosco bounced around for the rest of his career. He spent 1971 with the Brewers (traded for pitcher Al Downing), and split the 1972 season between the Angels and Red Sox.

He was traded to the Reds prior to the 1973 season, and spent the first half in the minors. Andy was a part time player for Cincinnati for the second half of '73 and the first half of '74. In the closing months of the '73 season, he platooned in right field with Ken Griffey Sr.

Kosco’s final MLB game was on July 30, 1974. I wonder if he was injured during the 2nd half, because he has no minor-league record that season, and was released by the Reds in October.

 Kosco retired after playing for the Phillies' AAA team in 1975.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Tito Fuentes (#177)

This is Tito Fuentes’ first solo card. In 1967 he was the Giants’ 2nd baseman, not shortstop. (Hal Lanier’s position is similarly incorrect on his card.) I recall Fuentes as having an extremely closed batting stance.

Fuentes was signed by the Giants in 1962 and played 3 seasons in the minors as a 2nd baseman. In 1965 he switched to shortstop, playing 90 games in triple-A before making his major-league debut in August.

Tito was the team’s primary shortstop in 1966, starting 74 games there (including every game after July 21st). He also started 52 games at 2nd base, as he and Lanier flip-flopped between the 2 positions for the first half of the season. Fuentes finished 3rd in the NL Rookie of the Year voting, behind Tommy Helms and Sonny Jackson.

In 1967 he started 105 games at 2nd base, and only played 9 innings at shortstop (no starts). His batting average dropped from .261 to .209, which may explain why he spent all of 1968 in the minors (resulting in his omission from the '68 and '69 Topps sets).

Tito returned to the Giants in late-May 1969, but didn’t draw any starting assignments until early-July. With Ron Hunt now firmly entrenched at 2nd base, Fuentes' few-dozen starts all came at 3rd base and shortstop.

Fuentes split the 2nd base starting assignments with Hunt in 1970, while also spending a good deal of time at SS and 3B.

His days of utility swing-man were over in 1971. For the next 4 seasons Tito was the Giants' regular 2nd baseman. He started over 150 games each year from 1971-73, and had over 700 plate appearances in 1973.

After the 1974 season he was traded to the Padres for shortstop Derrel Thomas. He played 2 seasons with San Diego, then was granted free agency.

Tito signed on with the Tigers for 1977, and was their starting 2nd baseman for 1 season – the last before Lou Whitaker’s long tenure.

The Expos acquired him from the Tigers in January 1978, but released him during spring training. Tito was idle until mid-season, when he was picked up by the Athletics in late-June. After playing 13 games, he was released in late-July.

 Fuentes played briefly in the Inter-American league in 1979.