Thursday, May 27, 2010

The 1967 Cubs

Today I am reviewing the 1967 Cubs, as requested by Wrigley Wax a few weeks ago. Since I was not as familiar with this team as I was with the 1967 Phillies (or even the 1967 Cardinals), this required a bit more research, especially into the details of the pitching staff.

Here is the last Cubs team group photo for awhile. When Topps resumed team photo cards in the 1970s, they used "floating heads" on the Cubs' team card for several years.

Here are the Cubs' starters for 1967. The season began with a rotation of Jenkins-Holtzman-Simmons-Culp, with Rich Nye getting the odd 5th start. Because of National Guard committments, Ken Holtzman didn't pitch from 5/21 through 8/12, so the rotation was adjusted in late May to Jenkins-Nye-Simmons-Culp-Niekro. Curt Simmons' final start was on July 7th, and was replaced in the rotation by a combination of Bill Hands, Rob Gardner, and Bob Shaw (the latter 2 acquired from the Mets during the season). By the time Holtzman returned in August, the rotation was Jenkins-Niekro-Hands-Nye-Holtzman (with Ray Culp relegated to the bullpen). From 9/10 through the end of the season, the Cubs went with a 3-man rotation (Jenkins-Nye-Niekro).

Chuck Hartenstein (who was not on Topps' radar in 1967) led the Cubs with 10 saves. He pitched 45 games, all in relief. Bill Hands also pitched 38 games in relief, to go with his 11 starts. Bill Stoneman, Cal Koonce, and Dick Radatz were the other primary relievers. Niekro and Culp also spent significant time in the bullpen.

Bob Shaw was picked up from the Mets in late July and was used mostly in the bullpen. Bob Hendley relieved in 7 games, then was traded to the Mets in mid-June. Pete Mikkelsen was claimed off waivers from the Pirates in early August, and made 7 relief appearances. 37-year-old Don Larsen was called up from triple-A for 2 weeks in July and pitched in 3 games.

Most of the Cubs' starting 8 were all-stars at one time or another. Right fielder Ted Savage began the season with the Cardinals, but joined the Cubs on May 14th. He pulled more starting assignments in RF than Lee Thomas and Al Spangler.

These were the Cubs' primary substitutes, all playing in more than 50 games. Clarence Jones, Al Spangler, and Lee Thomas were all used primarily as pinch-hitters and right fielders. Jones and Thomas also saw some action at 1st base. Paul Popovich was the 2B-SS backup, then was traded to the Dodgers for outfielder Lou Johnson after the season. Since Ron Santo played 161 games at 3rd base, there was no need for a backup there.

John Stephenson came over from the Mets in the Bob Hendley trade in mid-June. John Boccabella's catching resume in 1967 consisted of one 9-inning game. He was mostly used as a pinch-hitter and corner outfield reserve. George Altman spent most of the season at triple-A Tacoma, while Byron Browne played mostly for double-A Dallas-Ft Worth.

Other assorted Cubs' employees: Career minor-leaguer Norm Gigon parlayed a good showing in his major-league debut in 1967 into a late-season Topps Rookie Stars card, then quickly faded away. Utilityman Jim Stewart (replaced by Paul Popovich) was sold to the White Sox in late May. Long-time veterans Joey Amalfitano and Dick Bertell played less than 5 games each, and were released by mid-season.

Leo Durocher was also the Cubs' manager in 1966, but apparently that wasn't enough time for Topps to get a new photo, since he's shown in his Dodgers' uniform here. The other 3 guys didn't play for the Cubs in 1967.

Topps misfired with 3 of these 6 players. Niekro and Nye were solid additions to the starting rotation, and Popovich was a serviceable utility infielder. Connors and Dowling did not play for the Cubs in 1967. (Hartenstein and Stoneman would have been better choices for that card.) Upham appeared in 5 games for a total of 1.1 innings, while compiling a 33.75 ERA. Wrigley Wax recently looked into Upham's short career.

In-season Moves:
4/25 - Acquired Dick Radatz from Cleveland.
5/15 - Acquired Ted Savage from St. Louis.
5/22 - Sold Jimmy Stewart to the White Sox.
5/24 - Released Dick Bertell.
6/12 - Traded Bob Hendley to the Mets for Rob Gardner and John Stephenson.
6/27 - Sold Arnold Earley to Houston.
7/6 - Released Felix Mantilla and Joey Amalfitano.
7/24 - Purchased Bob Shaw from the Mets.
8/2 - Sold Cal Koonce to the Mets.
8/4 - Acquired Pete Mikkelsen from Pittsburgh.
8/7 - Sold Curt Simmons to the Angels.
9/19 - Released Bob Shaw.

Next up: Washington Senators (requested by Spiff from "Texas Rangers Cards")

Do you have a favorite team you'd like me to post next?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

1966 World Series Cards

In 1967, Topps resumed their World Series subset, which was issued every year in the 1960s except for 1966. Here are the cards for each game, and the summary (#151 - #155).

Dave McNally started game 1 but lasted only 2 1/3 innings. After 3 straight walks, he was replaced by Moe Drabowsky who pitched a 1-hitter for the remainder of the game, while striking out 11. Brooks and Frank Robinson both homered.

20-year-old Jim Palmer pitched a 4-hit shutout (besting Sandy Koufax in the process) as the Orioles go up 2-0 in the series.

Game 3 was another complete game shutout of the Dodgers, this time by Wally Bunker.

Not to be outdone by teammates Palmer and Bunker, Dave McNally pitches a complete game shutout in game 4, as the Orioles sweep the Dodgers.

Here we see Dave McNally with (I think) manager Hank Bauer wearing a shaving cream pie. (Back in the day, I thought the pie-man looked like Jack Lemmon.)

Only FOUR Orioles' pitchers saw action in the series, as 3 of the wins were complete games. Game 2 was Sandy Koufax' last appearance before retiring after the 1966 season.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Robin Roberts (1926-2010)

Robin Roberts, the greatest right-handed pitcher in Phillies' history passed away today at age 83, at his home in Florida.

Roberts pitched for the Phillies from 1948 to 1961, compiling a record of 234-199. With the Phillies, he made 472 starts and completed 272 of them. He won 20 or more games each season from 1950 to 1955, also leading all NL pitchers in games started those years.

He also pitched for the Orioles from 1962 to 1965, before finishing his major-league career in 1966 with the Astros and Cubs. In 1967, he pitched for the Phillies' double-A club in Reading, PA.

His #36 was the first number retired by the Phillies. This was done in 1962, while he was still active with another team (only the 2nd time that occurred, the 1st being Babe Ruth).

Roberts was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1976, and returned every summer since then for the ceremonies.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Final Card: John Orsino

John Orsino only played 1 major-league game in 1967 (September 10th), and it would be his last. Like fellow AL catchers Smoky Burgess and Charlie Lau, Orsino would spend the final seasons of his career pinch-hitting, not catching.

John was signed by the Giants in 1957. After spending 4 full seasons in the minors, he split the 1961 and 1962 seasons between San Francisco and the minor leagues.

After the 1962 season, Orsino was traded to the Orioles (along with pitchers Mike McCormick and Stu Miller) for pitchers Jack Fisher and Billy Hoeft, and catcher Jimmie Coker.

Orsino's seasons with the Orioles (1963-65) were the only years he managed to stay out of the minor leagues. In fact, he was the Orioles primary catcher in 1963, starting 103 games behind the plate. For the next 2 seasons, he shared the starting job with Dick Brown.

John was on the move after the 1965 season, this time to Washington. 1966 and 1967 seem to be lost seasons for Orsino, as his games played during that time were:

1966: 14 games with Senators, 1 with AA York
1967: 1 game with Senators, 16 with AAA Hawaii

He got significant playing time from 1968-69 as a catcher and 1st baseman, but it was in the minor leagues, in the Senators system for 1968 and the Indians' and Yankees' farm teams in 1969.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Final Card: Don Dennis

Here is the final card for Don Dennis (#259). After two seasons with the Cardinals, Don was acquired for catcher Johnny Romano, but never played in the majors after 1966.

Dennis was signed by the Cardinals in 1962. After going 10-7 as a starting pitcher during his rookie season, he switched to relief, and pitched in the Cardinals' farm system until making his major-league debut in June 1965.

Don was a key member of the Cardinals' bullpen for a season and a half, appearing in 41 games in 1965 and 38 games in 1966.

After the 1966 season, he and minor-league outfielder Walt Williams were traded to the White Sox for veteran catcher Johnny Romano. Don never played in the majors again. He spent three seasons (1967-69) as a reliever with the White Sox' triple-A team (missing most of the 1968 season).