Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ron Perranoski (#197)

Here is relief pitcher Ron Perranoski, shown on his last card as an LA Dodger. After the 1967 season, he was traded to the Twins with catcher John Roseboro and pitcher Bob Miller for pitcher Mudcat Grant and shortstop Zoilo Versalles. 

(This deal looks like a steal for the Twins. Versalles was the 1965 AL MVP, but was a bust in his one season with the Dodgers. After 1968, he was lost (read: unloaded) to the expansion Padres. Even the Padres didn’t keep him – he was flipped to the Indians for a career minor-leaguer before the ’69 season. Grant only pitched one season for the Dodgers, while the 3 new Twins each had several productive seasons in Minnesota.) 

After pitching for Michigan State University (where one of his teammates was Dick Radatz), Ron was signed by the Cubs in 1958. He spent 2 seasons as a starting pitcher in their farm system, then was traded to the Dodgers in April 1960 for infielder Don Zimmer.

After a season on the Dodgers’ farm, Perranoski made his major-league debut in April 1961. During his 7 seasons in LA, he led the league in appearances 3 times (’62, ’63, ’67). In 1963, his 16-3 record gave him a league-leading .842 winning percentage. He also had a career-low 1.63 ERA that season.

Ron led the Dodgers in saves every season from 1962 to 1965, and again in 1967. He also pitched in the World Series in ’63, ’65, and ’66.

After his trade to Minnesota, Perranoski continued to perform well. Pitching behind veteran Al Worthington in 1968, he then became the Twins’ closer in ’69 and ’70, leading the team in saves both years. Ron also pitched in the ALCS in 1969 and 1970.

On July 30th, 1971 he was claimed off waivers by the Tigers, and pitched the rest of that season and the 1st half of 1972 in Detroit, before getting his release exactly one year later.

A week later (August 7th) the Dodgers picked him up for the remainder of the 1972 season. Perranoski finished his career by pitching for the Angels in 1973. He was released in October 1973, although he hadn't pitched since mid-June.

Perranoski pitched in 737 games over his 13-year career, all in relief except for 1 game during his rookie season. 

After his playing career, he was the Dodgers’ minor-league pitching instructor from 1973-80, and their major-league pitching coach from 1981-94. Since then, he has held various positions for the rival Giants.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Norm Cash (#540)

Norm Cash was the Tigers’ slugging 1st baseman for 15 years from 1960 to 1974. In 1961, he led the AL in hits and batting average.

Cash was signed by the White Sox in 1955, and played 2 seasons for their class D Waterloo (Iowa) White Hawks in the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League (also known as the III, Three-I, or Three-Eye League).

Norm missed the 1957 season while in military service, then split the 1958 season between the White Sox and their AAA team in Indianapolis.

After a full season with the Sox in 1959, Cash was traded to the Indians (with 3B-OF Bubba Phillips and catcher Johnny Romano) for outfielder Minnie Minoso, catcher Dick Brown, and pitchers Don Ferrarese and Jake Striker.

Norm had no time to get settled, as Cleveland flipped him to the Tigers a week before the 1960 opener for 3rd baseman Steve Demeter, who would spend 19 years in the minors while only playing 15 games in the majors. WHAT A STEAL FOR THE TIGERS!

While Demeter’s major-league career was over on May 6, 1960, Cash went on to play 15 seasons as the Tigers’ starting 1st baseman. His 193 hits and .361 batting average led the AL in 1961. He also threw in 41 homers and 132 RBI that season.

Cash hit 30 or more homers in ’61, ’62, ’65, ’66, and ’71, and was an all-star in ’61, ’66, ’70, and ’71. He also hit .385 with 5 RBI in the 1968 World Series, and hit .267 vs. Oakland in the 1972 ALCS.

Midway through his final 1974 season, he split the 1st base duties with long-time Tigers’ catcher Bill Freehan.

Cash never wore a batting helmet during his career, having been grandfathered-in after helmets became mandatory in 1971.

After retirement, he played a few seasons of professional softball, and later broadcast Tigers’ games.

Cash drowned in northern Lake Michigan on October 12, 1986 at age 51, after slipping off a dock on Beaver Island and hitting his head.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Tony Oliva (#50)

Tony Oliva was a hitting machine who played for 17 seasons – all with the Minnesota Twins.

He was signed by the Twins in 1961, and played 3 seasons in the minors, where he batted .410, .350, and .304. After cups of coffee with the Twins in ’62 and ’63, Tony made the team in 1964, and became the Twins’ regular right fielder for the next 8 seasons (starting 140 or more games every season from 1964-70).

In his rookie season, he led the AL with a .323 batting average. He also led in runs (109), hits (217), doubles (43), and total bases (374). He also hit 32 home runs (his career best). Tony was named AL Rookie of the Year, and finished 4th in the MVP voting. He made his first of 8 consecutive all-star appearances.

Olivia followed up his rookie season by leading the AL in batting in 1965, this time with a .321 average, while also collecting the most hits (185). He finished 2nd to teammate Zoilo Versalles in the MVP voting. Although he only hit .192 (5-for-26) in the ‘65 World Series vs. the Dodgers, he hit a home run in game 4 off Don Drysdale.

Tony hit .307 in 1966, but finished 2nd to triple-crown winner Frank Robinson. Oliva picked up his only Gold Glove award in ‘66. Oliva hit .289 in both 1967 and 1968, but had a league-best 34 doubles in ’67.

The next 2 seasons he was back over .300, hitting .309 and .325, while leading the AL in hits and doubles in both ’69 and ’70. Tony hit .385 in the 1969 ALCS, and .500 in the 1970 ALCS.

In 1971 Oliva was limited to 126 games, but lead the league in batting a 3rd time with a career-high .337 average. He also led the AL with a .546 slugging percentage.

Knee injuries hampered Tony for the remainder of his career. He missed all but 10 games of the 1972 season, and when he returned, it was strictly as a designated hitter. He was the team’s full-time DH from 1973-75, and a part-time player in his final season (1976).

I was surprised to see that his career batting average was only .304 (the effect of his last few seasons under .300).

Oliva was a hitting coach for the Twins in the late 1980s.