Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Born on the Same Day - 8/4/1939

Another installment in my "Born on the Same Day" series, featuring players who were born on the same day (!) and year. 

This is post #12 in the series: Dennis Higgins and Bob Meyer - both born on 8/4/1939.

Dennis Higgins played for the White Sox, Senators, Indians, and Cardinals from 1966-72. Most of his playing time came in 1966 (White Sox), and 1968-70 (Senators, Indians).  He led his team in saves from 1968-70.

Bob Meyer played in the minors from 1960-69, and made his major-league debut in 1964, playing for the Yankees, Angels, and Athletics (busy guy!) He returned to the minors for 4 1/2 years beginning in 1965, until pitching 6 games (5 starts) for the expansion Seattle Pilots team in the final weeks of the 1969 season. He played all of 1970 with the Brewers (his only full season in the majors).

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Going Outside the Lines

I found these 2 cards at my friendly neighborhood antique store/card store a few weeks ago. I normally don't have an interest in off-center cards, but these were so bad that I thought it would be fun to find out who was on the neighboring cards.

I have previously posted Phil Linz' 1968 card and Jim Barbieri's 1967 card. (Jim was one of the few players to have played in the Little League World Series AND the MLB World Series.)

Anyhoo, after perusing all the cards in my 1967 binder, I determined that the Linz card was connected to the Red Sox' Jose Tartabull, and Barbieri was connected to the Tigers' Joe Sparma. (The Linz card shows the very bottom of the "Red Sox" team name, although it was  cut off in my scan.)

I also previously posted about these cards.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Don Wert (#511)

Here is Tigers’ 3rd baseman Don Wert. The back of the card tells us that Don was voted “Tiger of the Year” in 1965. Hmm… this, on a team that included Al Kaline, Norm Cash, Denny McLain, Mickey Lolich, and Bill Freehan. Looks like he's practicing on the Detroit School District's baseball field (or maybe it's at Spring Training in Lakeland, FL).

The Tigers signed Wert in 1958, and he played in their farm system for 5+ seasons. He was called up to the Tigers in mid-May 1963 and soon started 20 consecutive games, replacing incumbent Bubba Phillips (maybe Phillips was injured?) After May, Wert settled into the backup 3rd baseman role (behind Phillips), only starting 25 more games there over the rest of the season.

From 1964 to 1970, Wert was the Tigers’ regular 3rd baseman. In 1968 he made his lone All-Star team, surprising because that season he only batted .200 – the lowest of his 8 years with Detroit. He also only hit .118 in the ’68 World Series.

After the 1970 season, Don was traded to the Senators along with pitcher Denny McLain and outfielder Elliot Maddox in exchange for shortstop Ed Brinkman, 3rd baseman Aurelio Rodriguez, and pitchers Joe Coleman and Jim Hannan.

Unfortunately for Wert, the Nats already had Dave Nelson er, Dave Nelson at their hot corner, with Joe Foy and Bernie Allen in reserve. Don made only 7 starts (2 at 3B, 5 at SS) then was given his walking papers in late-June, having only played 20 games thus far.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Born on the Same Day - 2/18/1939

Another installment in my "Born on the Same Day" series, featuring players who were born on the same day (!) and year.

This is post #10 in the series: Dal Maxvill and Bob Miller - both born on 2/18/1939.

Maxvill played for 14 seasons (1962-75), the first 11 with the Cardinals. After 4 seasons on the bench, he was the Cards' starting shortstop from 1966 to August 1972. He played his final 3+ seasons as a backup with Oakland and Pittsburgh. Dal won a Gold Glove in 1968 and played in 4 World Series ('64, '67, '68, '74).

Miller had a 17-year career (1957, 59-74). Primarily a reliever, he also made quite a few starts from '62-'63 and '69-'70. Bob began with the Cardinals, then played for the 1962 expansion Mets, where he was one of 2 pitchers named Bob Miller on the team. His longest stay with any one team was 5 years with the Dodgers (1963-67). Miller later played for 8 other teams before winding up back with the Mets to close out his career.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Born on the Same Day - 11/7/1938

Another installment in my "Born on the Same Day" series, featuring players who were born on the same day (!) and year.

This is post #9 in the series: Jake Gibbs and Jim Kaat - both born on 11/7/1938.

Gibbs played only for the Yankees during his 10-year career. Some cups of coffee from 1962-64 were followed by full-season work from 1965-71, including the starter's job from 1967-78.

Kaat played for 25 seasons (1959-83) and is one of a handful of players to have played in 4 decades. He also won 16 Gold Glove awards during his career. After playing for the Twins for his first 15 seasons, he made stops with the White Sox, Phillies, Yankees, and Cardinals. He also played in 2 World Series ('65 Twins, '82 Cardinals).

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Chico Cardenas (#325)

Here is Reds’ shortstop Chico Cardenas (not to be confused with another Reds’ middle infielder, Chico Ruiz).

Cardenas was signed by Cincinnati in 1956, and at age 17 began his pro career with the Class C Tucson Cowboys in the Arizona-Mexico league.

After 2 seasons at Class A Savannah, Cardenas was promoted to the Reds’ AAA team in Havana Cuba, his native land. He played there in 1959 and for part of 1960. (Later that season, the team moved out of Cuba, to Jersey City).

Chico made his major-league debut with the Reds on July 25, 1960. Cardenas immediately took over the starting shortstop job for the next 38 games, replacing injured veteran Roy McMillan, who had been the starter for the past decade. McMillan and Cardenas shared the post for the month of September.

In December 1960 McMillan was traded to the Braves, but Cardenas was still the backup, this time to Eddie Kasko. Chico played in 74 games in 1961, starting 43.

Chico took over the starting shortstop job in the 2nd week of the 1962 season, and held onto it through the 1968 season. He made 4 All-Star teams with the Reds, and collected over 600 plate appearances 4 times. In 1966 he showed surprising power with 20 home runs.

After the 1968 season, Cardenas was traded to the Twins for pitcher Jim Merritt, and was their starting SS for the next 2 seasons, while again making the All-Star team in 1971.

Chico played one year with the Angels (1972), which would be his final season as a regular. (Acquiring Cardenas allowed the Angels to trade Jim Fregosi to the Mets for Nolan Ryan.)

He spent the final 3 seasons of his career as a utility player for the Indians (’73) and Rangers (’74-’75).

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Born on the Same Day - 11/17/1933

Another installment in a new series called "Born on the Same Day", featuring players who were born on the same day (!) and year. 

This is post #4 in the series: Dan Osinski and Orlando Pena - both born on 11/17/1933.

Osinski played for 6 teams in 8 seasons, primarily with the Angels and Red Sox. Pena played for 8 teams over 14 seasons (1958-75), the longest stint being 4 seasons with the Kansas City Athletics.

The closest these two came to being teammates was in 1962, when they both played for the Athletics (Osinski in April, Pena in August and September).

For the 3rd time in 4 posts, I found a birth date discrepancy on one of the cards. The back of Pena's card shows his birth date as 11/17/1935, but and Wikipedia both have 11/17/1933, so I'm once again ignoring Topps' version of the facts.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Friday, October 28, 2016

Born on the Same Day - 1/31/1931

Today I started a new series called "Born on the Same Day", featuring players who were born on the same day (!) and year. The scope of this exercise is those players (or managers) who have cards in the 1965-1970 sets (because that's what I dooze). Ideally, I should also have their cards.

In researching this, I found 51 pairs and 2 trios. In a few pairs both are stars, some pairs have 1 star, and other pairs are just 2 guys named Joe. In a few cases, these players were also teammates. 

I am going to post these in chronological order, and distribute them across my 1966-1970 blogs depending on which cards I have for who. The series began earlier today on my 1968 blog

So now that I've dispensed with all two managers, let's get to the players: Ernie Banks and Hank Aguirre - both born on 1/31/1931.

Ernie's team is hopefully going to snare a World Series championship this month. Hank and Ernie were teammates on the 1969 and 1970 Cubs (Aguirre's final 2 seasons).

The back of Hank's card shows his birth date as 1/31/1932, but and Wikipedia both have 1/31/1931, so I'm subscribing to the theory that Baseball-Reference's research department in 2016 is better than Topps' research department in 1967 (or even today, for that matter - heh heh!)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Al Weis (#556)

Here is one of the rare high-number cards, showing utilityman Al Weis in his final season with the White Sox.

Weis was signed by the ChiSox in 1959, and played in the minors for 4 seasons before making his major-league debut with 7 games in September 1962.

Al played 99 games in his rookie season of 1963, and although he only started 53 games between 2B and SS (well behind regulars Nellie Fox and Ron Hansen), somehow Topps selected him to their All-Rookie team that season, displaying the trophy on his 1964 card.

In 1964 Fox had moved on, and Weis shared the 2nd base duties with rookie Don Buford (both were switch-hitters).

Al backed up Buford during the 1965 season, but with Don mostly playing 3rd base in 1966, Weis had increased playing time, sharing the 2nd base job with Jerry Adair, Wayne Causey, and Buford. In 1967 it was back to the bench, as Weis played only 50 games (14 starts).

After the season, he was traded to the Mets with outfielder Tommie Agee for outfielder Tommy Davis and pitcher Jack Fisher. Al played for the Mets for 3 1/2 seasons, with most of his playing time coming in ’68 and ’69. He played in all 3 games in the 1969 NLCS, and all 5 games of the ’69 World Series. Although he hit .215 with only 23 RBI that season, in the World Series he hit .455 with 1 home run and 3 RBI, while starting 4 of the 5 games for the Amazin’ Mets.

The 1969 post-season was his moment in the sun, as he was back to utilityman status in 1970, starting only 31 games as the backup 2nd baseman. He was released on July 1st, 1971 after playing in only 11 games to that point.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

1967 Custom Cards

A few years ago, John Hogan at the "Cards That Never Were" blog made a batch of custom baseball and football cards for me at my request.  I noticed that John did not include these images on his own blog, so I am posting them here so they can be appreciated by all.

You may have already seen the 1967, 1968, and 1971 football cards he made for me on the blogs for those sets.  He also created some baseball cards in the '66, '67, '68, and '69 style where the player was either missing, traded during the season, or just to upgrade a player from a Rookie Stars card to a solo card.

(To me, a card is only "missing" if there was no card issued in a season where the player saw significant major-league action.  So-called "career-cappers" in the year after retirement are outside that scope, IMO.)

So, here are the 1967 cards.  I will post the cards for the other years on those blogs soon.

First, the missing cards:

Lenny Green played for several teams from 1959-66, and finished up his career with the Tigers in 1967 and 1968.  He began both of those seasons in the minors, affecting his inclusion in those 2 sets.

Jay Ritchie pitched for the Red Sox from 1964-65, and for the Braves in part of '66 and all of '67, but did not have a card in either set.

Bob Lillis was Houston's regular shortstop from 1962-65, until losing the job to rookie Sonny Jackson in 1966. He was a backup in '66 (68 games) and '67 (37), but had no card in the two sets.  (I think he may have been a coach in 1967, and was reactivated temporarily.)

Al Spangler was a regular for the Colt .45s/Astros from 1962-65, and the Angels in 1965. After spending most of 1966 in the minors, he caught on with the Cubs from 1967-71, but his lack of MLB time in '66 cost him a card in '67.

Diego Segui played for the Athletics from 1962-72, except for 1966 with the Senators and 1969 with the Pilots. He began the '66 season with Washington, but played the 2nd half with Kansas City's AAA team, so Topps must have written off his career at that time.

Jerry McNertney was a backup catcher for the White Sox from 1964-68, then became the expansion Pilots' #1 backstop in 1969.

Jim Roland spent 1963-64 in the Twins' bullpen, then after 2 years in the minors, returned to the Twins for 1967-68.

Julio Gotay was an infield reserve for the Cardinal in the early 1960s. After some time in the Pirates' and Angels' organizations, he joined the Astros in 1966, but didn't see much playing time until 1967.

Ron Brand (and John Bateman) were catchers for the Astros from 1965-68, and for the Expos from 1969-71. Not sure why he didn't have a card, because he played all of 1965-67 with the Astros.

Billy Cowan was a journeyman outfielder who played for the Cubs, Phillies, Yankees, and Angels. He began the 1967 season with the Phillies' AAA San Diego Padres, then was called up in late-June to fill the right-handed outfield sub position vacated by the trade of Jackie Brandt.

John Boozer played parts of every season from 1962-69 with the Phillies except for 1966, which means no 1967 card!

Sandy Valdespino was a spare outfielder for the Twins from 1965-67, before moving on the the Braves in 1968. He had cards in '65, '66, and '68.

Roy White played all of 1966 with the Yankees, but didn't get a card in '67 (even with Yankees' outfielder Roger Maris traded away to the Cardinals after 1966!).

Rookies who were not in the set:

Bob Schroder played parts of every season from 1965-68 for the Giants. The high point was 62 games in 1967.

It's a mystery why Topps didn't include Don Wilson and the Reds' Gary Nolan on Rookie Stars cards in 1967. With the seasons they were having, you would think Topps could have thrown together an "NL Rookies" card for them in the 7th series.

Ken Suarez was a backup catcher for the Athletics in 66-67, and Indians from 68-71.

Vern Fuller took over the Indians' 2nd base job midway through his rookie 1967 season.

The Cubs had 3 1/2 Rookie Stars cards in the 1967 set, but Clarence Jones and Bill Stoneman were left out.  They both got significant playing time as rookies. (Topps shoulda checked with Cubs' scouts before devoting one of those "Stars" cards to Dave Dowling and Bill Connors.)

Reggie Jackson made his debut in mid-1967.  Like the Cubs, Topps also gave the Athletics THREE Rookie Stars cards.  Was Jackson not one of the A's top 6 prospects? Worse yet, Topps didn't include Jackson in their 1968 set.  ("That's Just Topps Being Topps")  It looks like Ted Kubiak is wearing a blue uniform.

John, once again, thank you for these great cards, and for your willingness to take requests.


I have found a total of 82 custom 1967 Topps cards (including the cards above) on various blogs and other internet sites. After presenting the "Cards That Never Were" for all years from 1966-69, I may go back and bring all those other cards together under one roof.