Monday, December 31, 2012

Roberto Clemente (#400)

Today is the 40th anniversary of Roberto Clemente's death.

In the 1967 set, Topps assigned #400 to his card, one of the "superstar" numbers (ending in "00"). The others were:
100 - Frank Robinson
200 - Mickey Mantle
300 - Willie Mays
400 - Bob Clemente
500 - Juan Marichal
600 - Brooks Robinson

In addition to the "00" number status, each player had their "floating head" appear on the checklist containing their base card. (Jim Kaat appeared on the 4th series checklist. Maybe his card number was 350?)  

Roberto Clemente was playing ball in Puerto Rico when the Brooklyn Dodgers signed him, and sent him to their AAA team in Montreal. After 1 season as a bench player, the Pirates selected him in the Rule 5 draft, and the rest is history.

After the 1958 season, Clemente joined the US Marine Corps Reserve. His 6-month stint in basic training was credited with improving Roberto's strength and conditioning (which had been affected by a car accident during his rookie season).

Clemente and the Pirates won the World Series in 1960. That year he began a string of 6 consecutive seasons as an all-star. Roberto led the NL in batting during the '61, '64, '65, and '67 seasons, and won the MVP award in 1966.

In 1968, his batting average dipped to .291, which would be his only season under .300 (and only all-star absence) after 1959. He bounced back with 4 more "Clemente" seasons.

Roberto led his team to a World Series victory in 1971, and collected his 3000th hit in the next-to-last game of his final season (1972).

He was 38 when his plane crashed off the coast of Puerto Rico, en route to Nicaragua on a humanitarian mission on 12/31/1972.

Also check out Clemente's 1970 card.  

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Byron Browne (#439)

Byron Browne was the 3rd outfielder on the Topps 1966 All-Rookie Team.

Browne was signed by the Pirates in September 1962. After one season (1963) in their farm system, he was selected by the Cubs in the first-year player draft. Byron played the next two seasons in the Cubs’ minor-league system, and clubbed 32, 23, and 24 home runs during his 3 seasons in the minors.

Browne made his major-league debut in September 1965, and then spent the entire 1966 season with the Cubs. He was the team’s primary left fielder as a rookie, making 66 starts there, double the number of starts by George Altman. On the downside, Browne led the NL with 143 strikeouts.

Byron played most of the next three seasons in the minors. In 1967, he only played 10 games with the Cubs, while spending most of the season in double-A. In May 1968 he was traded to the Astros, but only played 10 games for the Astros that season. The Cardinals acquired his contract in February 1969, but kept him in the minors for all but 22 games.

Browne’s big return to the majors came via a trade to the Phillies after the 1969 season (a/k/a the Curt Flood for Dick Allen trade). Browne spent all of ’70 and ’71, and part of 1972 with the Phillies. He was the Phils’ 4th outfielder in 1970, but saw his playing time steadily decrease over the next 2 seasons, until he was demoted to the minors during 1972.

Byron split the 1973 season with the Cardinals’ AAA Tulsa team, then played in Mexico for all of 1974 and part of 1975. He also returned to the Phillies’ AAA team for part of 1975.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cleon Jones (#165)

Cleon Jones was one of the three outfielders selected to the Topps all-rookie team in 1966. Jones was the Mets' regular center fielder as a rookie in 1966, and again in 1967.

Cleon moved over to left field beginning in 1968, after incumbent left fielder Tommy Davis was traded to the White Sox for center fielder Tommie Agee, also a Topps all-rookie selection in 1966. In fact, along with Ron Swoboda (1965), the Mets' entire starting outfield beginning in 1968 were all-rookie selections.

Cleon Jones (who like Agee, Hank Aaron, and Willie McCovey, hailed from from Mobile, Alabama) was signed by the Mets in 1963, and played the remainder of that season in class-A ball. His major-league debut came during a September call-up.

He jumped up to triple-A at the start of 1964, and played with the Mets' Buffalo club for 2 seasons, except for his time with the Mets in April and September 1965.

Jones was a mainstay in the Mets outfield from 1966 to 1974. He finished 4th in Rookie of the Year voting, and was named to the all-star team in 1969. He also flashed defensive excellence in the 1969 World Series.

Cleon began the 1975 season as a role player, and was released in late July. The White Sox signed him on April 3, 1976, but released him at the end of the month, ending his 13-year career.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tommy Helms (#505)

Continuing the Reds' string of 7 Topps all-star rookies in 6 seasons, Tommy Helms snared the 3rd base position in 1966.

Helms was signed by the Reds in 1959, and played in their farm system for 7 seasons: the first 2 in class D, followed by 1 season each in B and A ball, then the last 3 (1963-65) at triple-A San Diego. Helms was almost exclusively a shortstop in the minors.

Tommy made his major-league debut in September 1964, appearing in 2 games. He also played in 21 games in 1965, including 7 consecutive starts at shortstop in early September (the only games Chico Cardenas didn't start all season).

Helms began his rookie season of 1966 as the regular 2nd baseman, starting the first 15 games there, while Pete Rose started at 3rd base. By game #18 they switched positions, and Helms started 113 of the final 143 games at 3rd base (with Deron Johnson and Chico Ruiz playing the rest).

Tommy won the Rookie of the Year award, getting 12 of the 20 first place votes. (The Astros' Sonny Jackson finished a distant 2nd with 3 votes.) In 1967, Helms switched to 2nd base (when Rose moved to the outfield), where he would remain for the rest of his career. He also went to his first of 2 consecutive all-star games.

After the 1971 season, Helms was part of a blockbuster trade, going to the Astros along with 1st baseman Lee May and utility infielder Jimmy Stewart for 2nd baseman Joe Morgan, shortstop Denis Menke, pitcher Jack Billingham, and outfielders Cesar Geronimo and Ed Armbrister.

After 4 seasons with Houston, he was traded to the Pirates for infielder Art Howe. Following his 1st season with the Pirates, Tommy was sold to the Athletics. What happened next seems very bizarre. Before the next season, the Athletics traded him BACK to the Pirates (with Phil Garner) for SIX PLAYERS (Tony Armas, Doug Bair, Dave Giusti, Rick Langford, Doc Medich and Mitchell Page). WHAAAT? Garner couldn't possibly have been THAT good!

The Pirates released Helms in June 1977, and he spent the remainder of the season with the Red Sox, before retiring.

After his playing career, Helms was a coach for the Reds (on Pete Rose's staff) and managed the team for part of the 1988 and 1989 seasons, during Rose's legal troubles.

Tommy is the uncle of former Marlins' 3rd baseman Wes Helms.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sonny Jackson (#415)

Roland "Sonny" Jackson was the Topps all-rookie shortstop in 1966. (Two seasons later, the Astros' Hector Torres would also be the Topps all-rookie shortstop.)

Jackson was signed by the Houston Colt .45s in 1963, and made an orderly 3-year progression (A, AA, AAA) through their farm system. After each minor-league season, he was called up to Houston, playing in 1, 9, and 10 games in 1963-65.

Jackson took over the starting shortstop job on day 1 of the 1966 season, replacing veteran Bob Lillis (and Eddie Kasko), who had manned the position since the team's inception in 1962. Sonny started 150 games that season, batting .292 with 174 hits and a rookie record 49 stolen bases. He also finished 2nd in the NL Rookie of the Year voting to Cincinnati's 3rd baseman Tommy Helms.

In 1967, Jackson's average fell off to .237, his stolen bases down to 22, and after the season he was packed off to Atlanta with part-time 1st baseman Chuck Harrison for pitcher Denver Lemaster and infielder Denis Menke. (Not to worry, in 1968 rookie Hector Torres also landed the Topps all-rookie shortstop slot, but also like Jackson, Torres' rookie season was the high point of his time in Houston.)

Sonny played shortstop for the Braves for the next 3 seasons, but only started a few more games there than Orlando Martinez (in '68) and Gil Garrido (69-70). Jackson was the team's regular center fielder during the 1971 season. (That season, Rico Carty missed the entire year with an injury, and Hank Aaron was starting his 2-year stint as the Braves' 1st baseman.)

Sonny split the 1972 season between the Braves and triple-A, then returned in 1973, but as a pinch-hitter and backup OF-SS. The remainder of his major-league career consisted of 5 games in July 1974, as he played most of the season in triple-A before getting his release at season's end.

Jackson ended his career in the minors with the Padres ('75) and White Sox ('76).

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dave Johnson (#363)

Dave Johnson (I refuse to refer to him by that ridiculous nickname, suited to a small child) was the Topps all-rookie 2nd baseman in 1966.

Johnson was signed by the O's in 1962, and played in the minors for 3 seasons, early-on as a shortstop, before switching over to 2nd base.

Dave made his major-league debut with the Orioles in April 1965, and played in 20 games (including starting every game between 5/10 and 5/20) before being sent down in mid-June.

Johnson took over the starting 2nd base job on day 1 of the 1966 season, starting 125 games there. He finished 3rd in the Rookie of the Year voting. He was the team's regular 2nd baseman until they began phasing in rookie Bob Grich in 1972.

After the '72 season, Dave was traded to the Braves (with catcher Johnny Oates and pitchers Pat Dobson and Roric Harrison) for catcher Earl Williams, the 1971 NL Rookie of the Year.

Johnson spent 2 seasons with the Braves. In 1972 he hit 43 home runs, 25 more than his previous high. After 1 game in 1975, Dave was released by the Braves, and spent the next 2 seasons playing in Japan.

He played for the Phillies from 1977-78, backing up Ted Sizemore at 2B and Richie Hebner at 1B. In August 1978, Dave was traded to the Cubs for pitcher Larry Anderson. After 24 games with the Cubs, he was released at the end of the season.

After his playing career, Johnson managed the Mets (1984-90, winning the World Series in '86), Reds (1993-95), Orioles (1996-97), Dodgers (1999-2000), and Nationals (2011-12).

He was last seen watching his Nationals blow a 6-run lead in game 5 of the NLDS 2 days ago.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

George Scott (#75)

After 4 seasons in the minors, George "Boomer" Scott made his major-league debut on April 12, 1966. Thrown right into the fire, he played every game during his rookie season. After starting 3 of the first 4 games at 3rd base, he moved across the diamond and started all but two of the remaining games at 1st base.

Boomer (he was "Boomer" long before that blowhard on a national sports network was "Boomer") finished the season with a .245 average, 27 homers and 97 RBI, while leading the AL with 152 strikeouts, and finished 3rd in the Rookie of the Year voting.

He had similar playing time in 1967, but his average jumped to .303, while his homers (19) and RBI (82) were down. He also cut his strikeout total to 119, and won his first of 8 gold gloves. Scott was 6 for 26 in the World Series that year.

George played 6 seasons with the Sox, and was primarily their 3rd baseman during the '69 and '70 seasons (the only 2 years from 1967-76 that he didn't win a gold glove).

He was traded to the Brewers after the 1971 season (with pitchers Jim Lonborg and Ken Brett, catcher Don Pavletich, and outfielders Billy Conigliaro and Joe Lahoud) for pitchers Lew Krausse and Marty Pattin, outfielder Tommy Harper, and ex-Phillies farmhand Pat Skrable. (Wow, that deal seems so lopsided!)

George played 5 seasons as the Brewers' 1st sacker, then returned to the Red Sox (along with outfielder Bernie Carbo) for 1st baseman Cecil Cooper. After 2 1/2 seasons back at his old 1st base post in Fenway Park, Scott was traded to the Royals in June 1979.

After 2 months in Kaycee, and 1 month with the Yankees, George's major-league career was over. He played in the Mexican League from 1980-1984.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Randy Hundley (#106)

Randy Hundley nabbed the catcher's slot on the 1966 Topps all-rookie team, catching 149 games (144 starts) and playing more innings (1293) than any other catcher that season. He also collected 22 doubles, 19 homers, and 63 RBI. Other rookie catchers that year included Andy Etchebarren and Paul Casanova.

Hundley was signed by the Giants in 1960, and caught in the minors for the next 6 seasons. He also played 2 games with the Giants in '64 and 6 games in '65. After the 1965 season he was traded to the Cubs with pitcher Bill Hands for pitcher Lindy McDaniel and outfielder Don Landrum.

Randy was thrust into the starting lineup as a rookie, stabilizing a position that employed 4 "regulars" in the previous season, but none who started at least 50 games. Hundley was a fixture behind the plate for 4 seasons, playing at least 149 games each season.

In 1970 he only played 70 games while missing all of late-April to mid-July. Hundley also missed the entire 1971 season, except for catching 8 games in May, and a pinch-hitting appearance in early April.

Randy returned to the lineup in 1972, and played over 100 games in each of the next 2 seasons. After the 1973 season, he was traded to the Twins for catcher George Mitterwald. Hundley began the season as the Twins' starter, but was soon replaced by rookie Glenn Borgmann, and only played a few games after mid-June.

The Twins released Hundley after the 1974 season, then he found work the following season as the Padres backup catcher.

In April 1976, Randy returned to the Cubs, but only played 13 games that season (all in April and May. His final season (1977) consisted of 2 games with the Cubs in September. After the season, he was released by the Cubs, ending his 14-year career.

Hundley's son Todd caught for the Mets and others from 1990-2003.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Woody Fryman (#221)

Woody Fryman was the left-handed pitcher selected by Topps for their all-rookie team in 1966.

Fryman was signed by the Pirates in 1965, and after only 1 season in the minors, he made the Pirates out of spring training in 1966, and compiled a 12-9 record in his rookie season. He slumped to 3-8 in his sophomore season, and was traded to the Phillies (with 3 minor-league prospects) for veteran pitcher Jim Bunning.

Woody spent 4 1/2 seasons with the Phillies, and was the team's only all-star in 1968. Early on, he was strictly a starting pitcher, but he made a number of relief appearances for them from 1970-72.

Fryman was shipped off to the Tigers in August 1972, and helped the Tigers reach the postseason. He was in Detroit's rotation through the end of the 1974 season, then after 2 seasons in Montreal, he spent a season with the Reds and a half season with the Cubs, before being traded back to the Expos in June of 1978.

After finishing the season in the Expos' starting rotation, Fryman moved to the bullpen at the start of the 1979 season, and was strictly a reliever for the remainder of his career (and was the team's #1 reliever in 1980 and 1981). Woody spent most of the 1983 season on the disabled list (appearing in only 6 games), and was released following the season.

Fryman passed away on 2/4/2011 at age 70 in his hometown of Ewing, KY.

Also see his 1968 card.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Spring Break at Vero Beach, FL

While uploading images for all the 1967 Dodgers to Zistle today, I noticed there seemed to be a lot of spring training photos. (The cards for Phil Regan and Claude Osteen almost seem to be the same photo!)

Whether these photos were taken in spring training 1966 or 1967, the Dodgers were fresh off a championship season.

They seem to be enjoying the championship glow, whether pitching:


or just standing around doing nuttin:

 Ahhhh Spring. Night Owl, you shoulda been there...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Jim Nash (#90)

Starting a series on all the Topps 1966 all-star rookies...

Jim Nash made his major-league debut with the Kansas City Athletics on July 3, 1966. In just half a season, he compiled a 12-1 record with a 2.06 ERA, and finished 2nd in the AL Rookie of the Year voting to White Sox' outfielder Tommie Agee. Just 6 seasons later, his career would be over.

Nash was signed by Kansas City in 1963, and collected 14 wins in each of his 2 full minor-league seasons ('64,'65). After fashioning a 7-4 record in 13 starts in 1966, he was called up to the Athletics in early July.

Nash joined the all-righthanded starting rotation that included full-timers Lew Krausse (14-9) and Catfish Hunter (9-11), along with John Odom (5-5) and Chuck Dobson (4-6). At age 23, Krausse was the senior statesman of the group.

Jim won 12 games again in 1967, but lost 17 games. The other Jim (Hunter) also lost 17, but they were the top 2 starters on a bad team, with Odom and Dobson again rounding out the rotation. Last year's ace Krausse spent half the season in the bullpen.

Two .500 seasons followed (13-13, 8-8), but by then team management had seen enough. Nash was traded to the Braves after the 1969 season for outfielder Felipe Alou.

He had a bounce-back year in Atlanta's starting rotation in 1970 (13-9 in 33 starts), but slipped in 1971, was relegated to the bullpen by mid-July, and finished with a 9-7 in 32 games (19 starts).

After 11 appearances, the Braves traded Nash and his 5.46 ERA to the Phillies in mid-June 1972. He started 8 games for the Phillies (0-8, 6.27 ERA), and was part of the horrendous, non-Steve Carlton portion of the Phillies' pitching staff that season. As such, he was released the following March.

Nash wrapped up his pro career with the Athletics' double-A team in 1973.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Hurlers Beware (#309)

Here's another of the 13 multi-player cards issued by Topps in the 1967 set. For some reason, 9 teams didn't get one of these cards (Red Sox, Yankees, Senators, Athletics, Angels, Cubs, Reds, Astros, Dodgers), while 2 teams (Orioles, Indians) got 2 such cards.

Johnny Callison and Richie Allen were the Phillies' top two sluggers in the mid-1960s.

The left-handed Callison played for the Phillies from 1960-69, and had big homerun totals from 1962-65. He also won the 1964 all-star game with a walk-off homer.

Right-handed Allen won the NL Rookie of the Year award in 1964, and was the team's top slugger for 6 seasons, before being traded to the Cardinals after the 1969 season. He had some monster years for the White Sox in the early 1970s, before returning to the Phillies for the '75 and '76 seasons.

The Phillies also had a multi-player card in the 1966 set, titled "Power Plus" and featuring Callison and Wes Covington. (no Allen?)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Cubs Team (#354)

Here's a card featuring the entire Cubs' team. Oddly, in a few years, Topps would issue the Cubs Team with a series of floating heads instead of a group picture. (All other teams would get the traditional group picture.)

I was going to post the Dodgers' team card tonight, but the sheer number of pitchers listed on the back of this card (20) jumped out at me. (The NL champion Dodgers only had 9 pitchers listed on their card.)

The Cubs finished in last place in 1966, losing 103 games. (That tends to inflate the number of pitchers used.) The big loser was Dick Ellsworth at 8-22. What to do with him? Ship him to the Phillies! After all, they just took Bob Buhl and Larry Jackson off your hands.

Twelve of these pitchers wouldn't be back for the 1967 season, including veteran Robin Roberts, who ended his career going 2-3 for the Cubs.

In 1967 they jumped up to 3rd place, and would repeat that finish in 1968.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The 1967 Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox jumped from 9th place in 1966 to 1st place in 1967, powered by Carl Yastrzemski's triple-crown performance, Jim Lonborg's 22-9 pitching record, and to some extent, the collapse of the defending champion Baltimore Orioles' pitching staff.

The Sox started the season with a rotation of Jim Lonborg, rookie Billy Rohr, Darrell Brandon, and Dennis Bennett, with Hank Fischer getting the odd spot start. By the end of the season, that would change to Lonborg, Jose Santiago, Gary Bell, and Lee Stange.

Jim Lonborg led the team with a 22-9 record in 39 starts, including 15 complete games and 246 strikeouts. He was 2-1 in 3 World Series starts. Lee Stange went 8-10 in 24 starts and 11 relief appearances. He was with the team for the entire season, but didn't join the rotation until early June. Gary Bell won 12 and lost 8 after his June 4th acquisition from Cleveland. Dennis Bennett was 4-3 in 11 starts before he was shipped out to the Mets in late June.

John Wyatt fashioned a 10-7 record as the team's bullpen ace, pitching in 60 games (all in relief). Darrell Brandon made 19 starts through early August, then was relegated to the bullpen for the rest of the season. Jose Santiago spent most of the season in the bullpen, although he made 5 consecutive starts in May, and returned to a starting role in late August. He also started 2 World Series games. Dan Osinski made 34 appearances, all in relief.

Sparky Lyle made his major-league debut on July 4th, the first of 27 relief outings. Dave Morehead spent most of the season in the minors, then appeared in 10 games (9 starts) beginning on August 1st. Gary Waslewski made his major-league debut on June 11th, and made 8 starts in June and July.  He returned to the team in late September in a relief role. After 2 seasons as a key member of Boston's staff, Jerry Stephenson only appeared in 8 games in 1967, all in  late August and September.

Other assorted pitchers: Hank Fischer pitched in 7 games in April and May. His only other action was both ends of an August 8th doubleheader. Bill Landis pitched 18 games for the Red Sox in 1967, with very few appearances in mid-season. Galen Cisco spent much of the season in the minors, but played 11 games between late April and mid-July. On June 2nd (one year to the day he was acquired from the Indians) Don McMahon was traded to the White Sox for Jerry Adair.

Here are the starting 8 for the Sox. After the season, Mike Ryan would be traded to the Phillies. George Scott was fresh off his Topps all-rookie season in 1966, and hit 19 homers in 1967. Rookie Mike Andrews won the 2nd base job, but slipped into a job-share with Jerry Adair in late September (and the post-season). Rico Petrocelli and Joe Foy held down the left side of the infield.

The outfield was manned by triple-crown winner Carl Yastrzemski, rookie Reggie Smith, and slugger Tony Conigliaro. Tony was beaned in late August, and missed the remainder of the season, and all of 1968.

These are the bench players, in order of playing time.  Jerry Adair was acquired in early June, and filled in for Petrocelli at shortstop for most of July, and replaced Foy at 3rd base for most of August and September. Lefty Jose Tartabull started 18 games in center and 29 games in right, many coming just after Conigliaro was beaned. Dalton Jones was the primary infield reserve. Rookie catcher Russ Gibson started 37 games, and would share the starting job in 1968 with long-time Yankee Elston Howard, who was acquired on August 3rd.

George Thomas was the 5th outfielder, playing mostly on the corners. Ken Harrelson was signed in late August (after his release by Kansas City) to replace Conigliaro in right field. Bob Tillman began the season as the team's backup catcher, but with the emergence of Gibson and the acquisition of Howard, Tillman was expendable, and was shipped to the Yankees days after Howard's arrival.

Veteran Norm Siebern was picked up on July  15th, and provided lefthanded pinch-hitting. Don Demeter and 1st baseman Tony Horton were traded to the Indians in early June for pitcher Gary Bell.
[Tony Horton photo courtesy of] Jim Landis was signed in mid-August to replace Conigliaro, but was released a week later.

Ken Brett made his big-league debut on September 27th. Speaking of debuts, this was Dick Williams' first major-league managerial job, and he went all the way to the World Series. Garry Roggenburk and George Smith did not play for the Red Sox in 1967.

Topps hit the jackpot with the first Red Sox rookies card - both players were everyday players in their rookie season. Billy Rohr began the season in the starting rotation, but returned to the minors in early June.

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

10/13/66 - Traded pitcher Bill Monbouquette to the Tigers for George Smith and George Thomas.

10/17/66 - Sold pitcher Bill Short to the Pirates.

10/21/66 - Released shortstop Eddie Kasko and outfielder Lenny Green.

11/28/66 - Drafted Bill Landis from the Athletics in the rule 5 draft.

12/15/66 - Traded pitchers Dick Stigman and Rollie Sheldon to the Reds for Hank Fischer.

06/02/67 - Traded Don McMahon to the White Sox for Jerry Adair.

06/04/67 - Traded Don Demeter and Tony Horton to the Indians for Gary Bell.

06/24/67 - Sold Dennis Bennett to the New York Mets.

07/15/67 - Purchased Norm Siebern from the  Giants.

08/03/67 - Traded pitcher Ron Klimkowski to the Yankees for Elston Howard.

08/08/67 - Sold Bob Tillman to the Yankees.

08/22/67 - Signed Jim Landis as a free agent.

08/28/67 - Signed Ken Harrelson as a free agent; released Jim Landis.

09/01/67 - Released pitcher Pete Charton.

11/30/67 - Traded outfielder Bill Schlesinger to the Cubs for pitcher Ray Culp.

12/15/67 - Traded Mike Ryan to the Phillies for Dick Ellsworth and Gene Oliver.

Next team review: Atlanta Braves

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mel Stottlemyre (#225)

Here's my first Mel Stottlemyre card. Mel was somewhat of a favorite player of mine as a kid, not because I liked the Yankees, or Mel in particular, but mainly because my earliest baseball glove that I can remember was a Mel Stottlemyre model, by Wilson. (In later years, I think I had (and still have) a Rod Carew glove.)

Mel was signed by the Yankees in 1961, and played in the minors for 3 1/2 seasons. After compiling a 13-3 record at triple-A Richmond for most of 1964, Mel made his major-league debut on August 12th, with a complete-game 7-3 victory over the White Sox. He also saw his only post-season action in 1964.

In his first full season (1965) Mel went 20-9 with a league-leading 18 complete games, while edging out long-time Yankees' kingpin Whitey Ford. His personal success didn't extend to the team, as the Yanks slipped from 1st place in 1964 to 6th place in '65.

Stottlemyre slumped to 12-20 in 1966, as the Yankees plummeted to the AL basement. They say a 20-game loser is a sign of a good pitcher, otherwise he wouldn't get the playing time.

Mel had some good seasons on a bad team. He won 20 games in '68 and '69, led the league with 24 complete games in '69, and made 5 all-star appearances between 1965 and 1970. Stottlemyre remained at the top of the Yankees' rotation from 1965-1973, winning in double figures each year.

In his final season (1974), he only appeared in 16 games, making his last appearance on August 16th, 10 years and 4 days after his debut.

After his playing career, Mel was a minor-league instructor for the Mariners for 5 seasons, and then a pitching coach from 1984 to 2008 for the Mets (10 seasons), Astros (2), Yankees (10), and Mariners (1).

Two of Mel's sons were also major-league pitchers: Todd (1988-2002 with the Blue Jays and others), and Mel Jr (1990 Royals).

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Final Card: Recapping all 80

For the past few years, one of the recurring series on this blog has been a player's final card. The 1967 set includes the final card for 77 players and 3 managers. Here is a quick recap of them all, in order of years of service, from Curt Simmons' 20 years to Bruce Brubaker's 2 games:

Some, like these 11, had already played their last big-league game before these cards came out. Others like Dennis Bennett, would remain in the majors for 2 more seasons, but most saw their careers end in 1967.

Also check out the 1966 and 1968 final cards.