Sunday, February 28, 2010

Final Card: Doug Clemens

Not only is this the final card for Doug Clemens (#489), but it is also his rookie card. After 7 seasons in the big leagues, Topps finally issued a baseball card for Clemens. This is especially surprising, given that he had 218 at-bats in 1964 and 340 at-bats in 1965. You would think that he at least would have had a card in 1966.

Clemens was signed by the Cardinals in 1960, and spent most of 1960-63 in the minors. His major-league debut came on the last day of the 1960 season, when he was a late-inning substitution in right field. Over the next 3 seasons, he played in 6, 48, and 5 games for the Cardinals.

In 1964, he was in the majors to stay. The Cardinals started the season with Clemens and Charley James alternating in left field, Curt Flood in center, and Johnny Lewis and Carl Warwick alternating in right. They also had veteran outfielder Bob Skinner on the bench. On June 15th, Clemens was part of a trade with the Cubs that brought Lou Brock to the Cardinals. (The Cards put Brock in left, installed Mike Shannon in right, and it was on to the World Series!)

Clemens found more playing time in Chicago than he did in St. Louis. Primarily the backup right fielder (to Len Gabrielson), he had a string of 13 starts in 14 games in August, and started the last 9 games of the season.

1965 was the high point of his career, as he collected the most games played (128), plate appearances (386), at-bats (340), runs (36), hits (75), and RBI (26) of his career. He also started 85 games in the outfield, 3rd most on the team after Billy Williams and Don Landrum. Still, he only batted .221, and after the season he was traded to the Phillies for outfielder Wes Covington.

Clemens played his final 3 seasons (1966-68) with the Phillies. He was primarily used as a pinch-hitter, but also saw occasional action at a corner outfield position. Doug spent most of 1968 at triple-A San Diego (104 games) although he did appear in 28 games for the Phillies.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Final Card: Gordy Coleman

This is the final card for the Reds' early-1960's 1st baseman Gordy Coleman (#61).

Coleman was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1953, and played in the minor leagues from 1953 to 1960, beginning with Reading, PA and Spartanburg, SC (both would be Phillies' outposts in future decades). After missing the 1957 and 1958 seasons while in the military, Gordy returned for one more season in the Indians' organization, capped by his major-league debut (6 games) in September 1959.

After the 1959 season, Coleman was traded (along with 2nd baseman Billy Martin and pitcher Cal McLish) to the Reds for 2nd baseman Johnny Temple.

In 1960 Coleman played 93 games at triple-A Seattle, before being called up to Cincinnati. He made his Reds' debut on July 24th, replacing Frank Robinson as the regular 1st baseman, and starting all but 1 of the remaining games.

Coleman maintained his grip on the starting first baseman's role until about July 1963. In the 2nd half of that season, he began sharing the position more and more with Don Pavletich and Marty Keough. In 1964, he took a back seat to the newly-acquired Deron Johnson, starting 48 games to Johnson's 106.

In 1965 Gordy shared the starting assignments with rookie Tony Perez. The following season was more of the same, but in addition to alternating with Perez, Deron Johnson also started a bunch of games at first.

The death knell for Coleman's career was the arrival of rookie first baseman Lee May in 1967. Perez moved over to third base, but Johnson and May each started about 70 games at 1st base. Coleman only played 4 games with the Reds that season (the last on May 3rd), then was sent to the minors where he played 30+ games each for two triple-A teams: Buffalo (Reds) and Spokane (Dodgers).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Final Card: Jim Coates

Jim Coates (#401) has been around the block so many times that there's no room for any commentary on the back of his card.

Jim was signed by the Yankees in 1951, and pitched in the Yankees' farm system from 1952 to 1958. He made his major-league debut with the Yankees in September 1956, appearing in 2 games. Coates was back to stay at the start of the 1959 season.

Jim was with the Yankees for 4 seasons, as a starter and reliever. In 1960, his .813 winning percentage was the best in the American League. Still, he was 5th in games started and innings pitched among Yankees' starters that year, behind Whitey Ford, Art Ditmar, Bob Turley, and Ralph Terry.

Those 4 seasons in New York were the pinnacle of his career, as he would spend part or all of the next 8 seasons in the minor leagues. In mid-April 1963, Coates was traded to the Senators for pitcher Steve Hamilton. Three months later, he was sold to the Cincinnati Reds. Jim only pitched in 9 games for the Reds, spending the remaining part of 1963 with the Reds' triple-A team in San Diego.

Coates spent most of his remaining pro career in triple-A, first with San Diego, then (following a July 1965 trade to the Angels) with the Angels' AAA teams in Seattle and (in 1969-70) Hawaii. From 1965-67, he was with the Angels just enough to get a baseball card. His last major-league game was in September 1967.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Jim Fregosi (#385)

I'm back... snapped out of my winter doldrums by a big, fat box of 1966 and 1970 cards from, which then required an update to this and this.

Jim Fregosi was one of the few bright spots in the Angels' early years during the 1960s. He was signed by the Boston Red Sox in 1960, and after 1 season with their class-D team in Alpine, TX, he was selected by the Angels in the expansion draft.

Jim spent most of 1961 and half of 1962 with the Angels' triple-A team in Dallas-Ft. Worth, then took over the Angels' starting shortstop job for the rest of the decade on August 17, 1962. Fregosi had over 600 plate appearances in 7 of the 8 seasons from 1963-1970 (only 591 PA in 1964), and made the all-star team in 1964 and 1966-1970.

In 1971 (due to injuries?) Jim was limited to 107 games, and started 73 of his 74 appearances at shortstop. After the season, he was traded to the Mets for pitcher Nolan Ryan, outfielder Leroy Stanton, and 2 other players.

Fregosi's career never got back on track after leaving the Angels. He played 85 games at third base in 1972, and a few dozen games in 1973 between 3B and SS before he was sold to the Texas Rangers in July 1973.

Jim was a part-time infielder during his years with the Rangers. He played third base in 1973, and switched to first base midway through the 1974 season.

Fregosi was traded to the Pirates in June 1977 for Ed Kirkpatrick. After being used sparingly as a pinch-hitter, he was released in June 1978.

Fregosi was immediately hired as the Angels' manager, and lasted through the 1981 season. He also managed the White Sox (1986-88), the Phillies (1991-96), and the Blue Jays (1999-2000).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Juan Marichal (#500)

Card # 500 - always used for one of the best players. (Marichal's head also appeared on the 5th series checklist in 1967.)

Juan Marichal was signed by the Giants in 1957, and spent all of 1958-59, and part of 1960 in their farm system. His major-league debut was a 2-0 complete game shutout of the Phillies on July 19, 1960. Replacing Johnny Antonelli in the rotation, Juan started all 11 of his appearances in 1960.

In 1961, the Giants' big three starters (Jack Sanford, Mike McCormick, and Marichal) all won 13 games. Marichal's 124 strikeouts were 2nd on the Giants to McCormick's 163.

The Giants won the pennant in 1962, with excellent starting pitching from Sanford (24-7), Billy O'Dell (who returned from the bullpen to compile a 19-14 record), Marichal (18-11), and Billy Pierce (16-6, acquired from the White Sox in the off-season).

In 1963 Juan took over as the ace of the pitching staff, compiling a 25-8 record with 18 complete games. His 248 strikeouts were 90 more than Sanford's.

Marichal won 20 or more games 6 times in 7 years between 1963 and 1969. He completed 30 of his 38 starts in 1968 to lead the NL in that category.

After an off-year in 1970 (12-10), he came back to post a 18-11 record in 1971. Juan continued with the Giants through the 1973 season, and was sold to the Red Sox in December 1973.

Marichal was limited to 11 games in 1974, and was released after the season. The Dodgers signed him the following March, but he only pitched 2 games in 1975, the last on April 16th.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Final Card: Wes Stock

Wes Stock (#74) was a relief pitcher for the Orioles and Athletics in the early and mid-1960s.

Stock was signed by the Baltimore Orioles in 1956. After 1 season in class-D ball, he spent 2 years in military service before returning to the O's in 1959. Although he made his major-league debut in April 1959, he spend most of that season and some of 1960 in the minors.

Wes came up to stay in 1961, but was always just "another guy in the bullpen", stuck behind Hoyt Wilhelm, Dick Hall, and later Stu Miller.

In June 1964, Stock was traded to the Athletics for catcher Charlie Lau. With Kansas City, it was more of the same - stuck behind John Wyatt or Jack Aker. (In 1966, the Athletics used twenty-three pitchers!)

On April 11th, 1967 (opening day), the Athletics probably did him a favor by releasing him. They re-signed him on May 2nd, only to release him 2 weeks later.

After his playing career, Stock began a long career as a pitching coach.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ted Uhlaender (#431)

Ted Uhlaender was an outfielder for 8 years (1965-72), mostly with the Twins.

He was signed by the Twins in 1961, and spent five seasons in their farm system before making his major-league debut in September 1965.

In 1966, Ted took over the starting centerfielder's job from Jimmie Hall, who had started there since 1963. (Hall then shared left field with Bob Allison, and was dealt to the Angels after the season for pitcher Dean Chance.) Uhlaender started 95 games in center, and played in 10 other games as a pinch-hitter.

In 1967, Ted's playing time increased, starting 104 of his 118 games in centerfield, and another 15 games as a pinch-hitter. He was a defensive specialist, playing between power-hitting Bob Allison in left and multi-year batting champ Tony Oliva in right. In 1968 he played in 140 games, making 127 starts in centerfield.

In 1969, Uhlaender was still one of Minnesota's top 2 outfielders (along with Tony Oliva), but his center field time was cut back to 90+ games. Jack-of-all-positions Cesar Tovar, who had been frequenting third base for the past 2 seasons, spent more time in center field than any other position in 1969, sending Uhlaender over to the leftfield melting pot that included Bob Allison, Graig Nettles, and Charlie Manuel (yes, that Charlie Manuel).

I guess Twins' management liked how Tovar played centerfield, because after the season, Uhlaender was shipped to Cleveland (along with pitchers Dean Chance and Bob Miller, and outfielder Graig Nettles) for pitchers Luis Tiant and Stan Williams. Uhlaender became the Indians' starting center fielder, and Nettles took over the third base job. Chance switched to the bullpen after leaving Minnesota.

For 2 seasons (1970-71), Uhlaender, Vada Pinson, and Roy Foster were Cleveland's starting outfielders. In 1970, it was Foster in left, Uhlaender in center, and Pinson in right. In 1971, they mixed it up with Uhlaender in LF/CF, Pinson in CF/RF, and Foster in RF/LF.

After the 1971 season, Ted was traded to the Reds for pitcher Milt Wilcox. In his one season with the Reds, Uhlaender was used mostly as a pinch-hitter, since it was tough to crack Cincinnati's outfield lineup of Pete Rose, Bobby Tolan, and Cesar Geronimo. Ted was the 5th outfielder (behind George Foster) and saw some occasional action in right field.

In 1973, he played for the White Sox' triple-A team in Iowa. He also played 25 games for an independent class-A team in 1976.

Ted passed away from a heart attack in February 2009, at age 69.