Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Final Card: Chuck Estrada

This the final card for Chuck Estrada (#537). Because this was a rare high-number card, and he had no card after this year, Estrada was one of several players I knew nothing about (for the same reasons) until getting their 1967 cards many years later; (players such as Joe Adcock, Jack Sanford, Johnny Klippstein, Doug Camilli, Andre Rogers, Don Demeter, Dick Egan, Bob Duliba, and Jim Owens).

Chuck was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1956. After 3 seasons in the minors (1957 with the Braves, 1958-59 with the Orioles), Estrada made his major-league debut with the Orioles on April 21, 1960.

Thus started a string of fine starting pitchers promoted to the big club during the 1960s, which would include Dave McNally (1963), Wally Bunker (1964), Jim Palmer (1966), Tom Phoebus (1967), and Jim Hardin (1968).

Chuck finished a distant 2nd to teammate Ron Hansen for 1960's American League Rookie of the Year. He also led the staff in wins, strikeouts, and innings pitched. In his sophomore season, he also led the staff in strikeouts, and was 2nd to Steve Barber in wins and innings pitched.

According to the back of his card, he injured an elbow in 1962, and it appears the wheels fell off his career after that season. He spent most of 1965-1969 in the minors, while only pitching 9 games for the Cubs in 1966, and 9 games for the Mets in 1967.

Baltimore had many good, young starting pitchers come up in the 1960s. Unfortunately, it seems that most of them also experienced arm trouble early, with only McNally and Palmer ever fully recovering.

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