Sunday, June 26, 2011

The 1967 Dodgers

After being swept by the Orioles in the 1966 World Series (including 3 complete game shutouts), Sandy Koufax retired, and the Dodgers embarked on a 3-year tour to oblivion, their only one in the Walter Alston era. In those 23 seasons, the Dodgers finished in first place 7 times, and second place 9 times. From 1967 to 1969 was the only time they finished lower than second place for 3 consecutive seasons.

Based on everyone's games played, it seems that the Dodgers used 9 pitchers and 16 position players in 1967.

The Dodgers went with a 4-man rotation in 1967. These four accounted for 140 starts in 1967. With Koufax retired, Don Drysdale (13-16) was now in charge. Claude Osteen (17-17) was the only southpaw among the starters. Sophomore Don Sutton (11-15) and rookie Bill Singer (12-8) rounded out the rotation.

The bullpen was headed up by veteran lefty Ron Perranoski (16 saves). He was the only pitcher among the top 8 to appear strictly in relief. Righthanders Phil Regan and Bob Miller complemented Perranoski, as did southpaw Jim Brewer. Brewer appeared in about half as many games as the other 3 relievers, and 11 of those were as a starter.

Other pitchers: 30-year-old Dick Egan (who has been in the minors for most of his 10 year career) appeared in 20 games for the Dodgers, all in relief. This was Egan’s last season. Rookie Alan Foster appeared in 4 games, veteran Bob Lee made 4 relief appearances before he was sold to the Reds on May 31, and Joe Moeller (who played all of 1966 with the Dodgers) relieved in 6 games, but spent most of 1967 and 1968 in triple-A.

Except for center fielder Willie Davis, the Dodgers did a lot of shuffling at the 8 positions. These 8 played the most at each position.

John Roseboro started 93 games, and had been the team’s #1 catcher since the days of Roy Campanella. Wes Parker started 94 games at first base, and another 15 in centerfield. Ron Hunt was acquired from the Mets before the season, and started 89 games at 2nd base, pushing last year’s regular over to 3rd base.

Rookie Gene Michael came over from the Pirates in the Maury Wills deal, and shared the shortstop job (66 starts) with veteran Dick Schofield (56). He apparently didn’t impress, because he moved on to the Yankees after the season. Michael would eventually manage and GM the Yankees.

1965 rookie of the year Jim Lefebvre moved over to 3rd base after starting most games at 2B in 1966. He made 89 starts at 3B and another 33 at 2B this season. Lou Johnson was the primary leftfielder, with 73 starts. Willie Davis started 135 games in center, leading the team in starts at any one position. Ron Fairly (63 starts) shared the rightfield duties with Al Ferrara (62). Ron also started 62 games at 1st base.

Here are the subs, in order of their playing time: Al Ferrara was the co-starter in right field, along with backing up Johnson in left. Bob Bailey was acquired from the Pirates in the off-season for Maury Wills. He made 65 starts at 3B and 23 in left field.

Veteran Dick Schofield (like Bailey, seen here in his Pirates uni) started 56 games at shortstop. You may know that Schofield is ex-Phillie Jayson Werth’s grandfather. Len Gabrielson was acquired by the Dodgers on May 10th for infielder John Werhas. He was the team’s 5th outfielder, backing up the corner spots.

Nate Oliver was the middle infield reserve, also starting 23 games at 2B and 29 at short. Jeff Torborg made 63 starts as Roseboro’s backup, and was one of several 1967 Dodgers (along with Lefebvre and Michael) to become managers after their playing careers.

Jim Hickman came from the Mets in the Tommy Davis for Ron Hunt trade, and was used as a pinch-hitter and outfield reserve in his only season with the Dodgers. Jim Campanis was the 3rd-string catcher. He was with the team for the entire season, but played in only 41 games, half of them as a pinch-hitter. He was also the GM’s son.

Other bit players for the Dodgers: In a late-season fact-finding mission, Luis Alcaraz started 17 of the final 18 games at 2nd base, while Tommy Dean started 11 of the final 12 games at shortstop.

Willie Crawford played in 4 games, and was the only one of this foursome to have a decent career. Bruce Brubaker pitched ONE INNING for the Dodgers in 1967, and had no previous major-league experience. How does he get a card?

This was the 3rd and last (partial) season for John Werhas. He was dealt to the Angels for Len Gabrielson. Walter Alston managed the Dodgers from 1954 through 1976, all on one-year contracts!

John Kennedy did not play for the Dodgers in 1967. He shared the 3B position with Jim Gilliam in 1966, but was traded to the Yankees a few days before the start of the ’67 season, and spent the year as backup 3B-SS in the Bronx. Jim Barbieri also did not play in 1967. His big-league career consisted of 82 at-bats in 1966, but he did appear in the 1966 World Series. He also appeared in the Little League World Series in 1954.

Tom Hutton had cups of coffee with the Dodgers in 1966 and 1969. His career was really with the Phillies, Blue Jays, and Expos from 1972-81. This picture of Gene Michael is one of only 4 airbrushed photos in the 1967 set.

Transactions from the end of the 1966 season to the end of 1967:

10/31/66 – Released infielder Jim Gilliam.

11/21/66 – Released Wes Covington and Dick Stuart.

11/29/66 – Traded Tommy Davis and Derrell Griffith to the Mets for Ron Hunt and Jim Hickman.

12/1/66 – Traded Maury Wills to the Pirates for Bob Bailey and Gene Michael.

12/7/66 – Traded pitcher Howie Reed to the Angels for Dick Egan.

12/15/66 – Traded pitcher Nick Willhite to the Angels for Bob Lee.

4/3/67 – Traded John Kennedy to the Yankees for 2 minor leaguers.

4/26/67 – Traded pitcher Dick Calmus to the Cubs for pitcher Fred Norman.

5/10/67 – Traded John Werhas to the Angels for Len Gabrielson.

5/31/67 – Sold Bob Lee to the Reds.

6/6/67 – Drafted catcher Steve Yeager.

11/28/67 – Lost Joe Moeller in the Rule 5 draft to the Astros.

11/28/67 – Traded Ron Perranoski, Bob Miller, and John Roseboro to the Twins for pitcher Jim Grant and shortstop Zoilo Versalles.

11/30/67 – Sold Gene Michael to the Yankees.

11/30/67 – Traded Lou Johnson to the Cubs for infielder Paul Popovich.

12/1/67 – Released Dick Schofield.

Next team review: Baltimore Orioles

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Galen Cisco (#596)

Here is the rare, 7th-series card for Galen Cisco. Galen looks older than his 30 years here.

Cisco was signed by the Red Sox in 1958, and spent 2 seasons in the low minors followed by 1 1/2 seasons in triple-A, all in the Red Sox' organization. He made his major-league debut in June 1961 with the Red Sox.

Galen was with Boston full-time until early September 1962, when he was picked up by the Mets. He spent the next 3 full seasons pitching for the hapless Mets, both as a starter and reliever. Cisco pitched in the minors for the entire 1966 season, first for the Mets, then 2 days after his June 4th release, his old Red Sox team picked him up and assigned him to their AAA Toronto team.

Since this is a late-season card, it includes a note about him making the '67 team as a non-roster spring training invitee. It didn't last long though, as he only pitched 11 games for the Sox that season, and was soon back in the minors. This time, he stayed down until being rescued in 1969 by the expansion Royals. (He was actually purchased by the Royals in August 1968, before they fielded a team. This also happened to Jim Bouton, who was purchased by the Seattle Pilots in 1968 from the Yankees.)

Besides pitching in 15 games for the Royals in 1969, Cisco pitched for their triple-A Omaha team in '69 and '70. His final player card is in the 1969 set.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dick Radatz (#174)

Last month I was about to post Dick Radatz' card on my 1968 card blog, when I realized (43 years late) that he didn't have a card in the 1968 set.

Dick Radatz (nicknamed "The Monster") was signed by the Red Sox in 1959. He spent 3 seasons in Boston's farm system. For a year and a half he was a starter for Class-B teams, then spent his remaining season and a half as a reliever in triple-A. Dick made his major-league debut in April 1962. In 381 games over 7 seasons, not once did Radatz start a game in the major leagues.

Dick was Boston's go-to guy in the bullpen for his 1st 4 seasons. He led the American League in games pitched (62) and saves (24) as a rookie in 1962, and finished 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting. He also led the league with 29 saves in 1964. Radatz also made the all-star team in '63 and '64.

On June 2, 1966, the 29-year-old Radatz was traded to the Indians for 36-year-old closer Don McMahon and pitcher Lee Stange. Although he led the Indians with 10 saves in 1966, Dick did not pitch as much as he had in any of his seasons in Boston.

The Indians traded Radatz to the Cubs in late-April 1967, and as the last man in the bullpen, appeared in only 20 games for the rest of the season. Released by the Cubs in March 1968, Dick was picked up by the Tigers a month later, but spent the entire 1968 season with their triple-A team in Toledo Ohio (hence no card in the 1968 set).

He began the 1969 season with the Tigers, but was sold to the Expos in June. His last appearance was on August 15, 1969. Two weeks later, the Expos released him, ending his career. Dick's final card is in the 1969 set.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Jesse Gonder (#301)

Jesse Gonder was one of 3 Pirates catchers featured in the 1967 set. (Because his was the first one of the three that I got, and because I knew next-to-nothing about major-league baseball prior to 1967, for a while I assumed Gonder was the team's starting catcher.)

Jesse was signed by the Reds before the 1955 season, and spent 5 years in their system as a catcher and sometimes-outfielder. Before the 1960 season, Gonder was dealt to the Yankees, and spent two seasons with their triple-A Richmond, VA club, although he did appear in some games for the Yankees in late 1960 and early 1961. After 1961, Jesse was traded back to the Reds, but spent all season with the Reds' AAA team in San Diego, plus a few September games with Cincinnati.

From 1963 to 1966, Gonder managed to stay out of the minor leagues. He split the 1963 season between the Reds and the Mets. Used mostly as a pinch-hitter by the Reds, he was traded to the Mets in early July, and started 23 of the next 29 games, before settling into the 3rd-string catcher's role.

In 1964 he was the Mets' #1 catcher, starting half the games behind the plate, while Chris Cannizzaro and Hawk Taylor split the remaining games. This was the high point of Jesse's career, as he bat .270, and collected 11 doubles and 35 RBI.

1965 saw Cannizzaro take over the starting job, and with John Stephenson as the backup, Gonder was traded to the Braves in July for Gary Kolb. Jesse settled back into a pinch-hitting role with Milwaukee. After the season, he was selected by the Pirates in the Rule 5 draft.

Gonder started 40 games in 1966 as Jim Pagiaroni's backup, while rookie Jerry May filled the 3rd-string role. 1967 was Gonder's last in the big leagues. Although he started 3 of the Pirates' 1st 5 games, he soon was displaced by Jerry May, and spent most of the season in the minors. His final game was on June 17th.

Gonder spent 1968 and 1969 playing for the triple-A teams in the Braves', Angels', and Giants' organizations. He didn't have a card in the 1968 set, and although he appeared in the 1969 set (as a member of the expansion Padres) he never played for that organization.