Sunday, January 22, 2017

Ken McMullen (#47)

Here's a very intense-looking Ken McMullen. Ken was the Senators' 3rd baseman for the 2nd half of the 1960s, after coming over from the Dodgers in the Frank Howard trade after the 1964 season.

McMullen was signed by the Dodgers in 1960, and made his major-league debut in September 1962.

Ken began the 1963 season as the team's starting 3rd baseman, but it was back to the minors for most of May and June. Recalled in late-June, he regained the starting job for the month of July and again in late September. While he was out of the lineup, the Dodgers used a mix of Maury Wills, Jim Gilliam, and (surprisingly) Tommy Davis at 3rd base.

Ken spent most of the 1964 season back in the minors, while Gilliam alternated with a batch of scrubs (Dick Tracewski, John Werhas, and Derrell Griffith) at 3rd base. (McMullen couldn’t beat out THOSE guys???)

After the 1964 season LA traded Ken, outfielder Frank Howard, pitchers Phil Ortega and Pete Richert, and 1st baseman Dick Nen to the Senators for pitcher Claude Osteen and infielder John Kennedy. (Oh c’mon, Osteen couldn't possibly have been worth all of that!)

McMullen settled in as the Nats' regular 3rd baseman and secondary power hitter (behind Howard) until he was dealt to the Angels in late-April 1970 for 3rd baseman Aurelio Rodriguez and outfielder Rick Reichardt.

Ken was the Angels' 3rd baseman from 1970-72, then was involved in another big trade with the Dodgers after the '72 season. He and pitcher Andy Messersmith went to LA in exchange for outfielder Frank Robinson, infielders Bobby Valentine and Billy Grabarkiewitz, and pitchers Bill Singer and Mike Strahler.

McMullen had returned to his original team, but as in his last stint, he was a part-time player. Oh, he started the first 5 games of 1973 at the hot corner, but then a rookie named Ron Cey took over for the next 10 years. Ken only played 125 games over the next 3 seasons with the Dodgers, almost all as a pinch-hitter.

Released in March 1976, he was a part-time player for the Athletics in '76 and the Brewers in '77.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Born on the Same Day - 10/7/1939

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

This is post #13 in the series: John O'Donoghue and Phil Ortega - both born on 10/7/1939.

John O'Donoghue pitched for 9 seasons, and as luck would have it, mostly for bad teams. He began with the Kansas City Athletics (1963-65), Indians (1966-67), Orioles (1968), Pilots/Brewers (1969-70), and Expos (1970-71). Only the Orioles were a "good team", and they were in a valley between their '66 and '69 peaks.

John made his only All-Star team in 1965 - surprising since he led the AL with 18 losses that season. He was a starter with KayCee and Cleveland, and a reliever thereafter.

Phil Ortega pitched for the Dodgers from 1960-64 before moving to Washington in the Frank Howard/Claude Osteen trade.

He pitched for the Sens from 1965-68, then ended his career with the Angels in 1969 - pitching 5 games in the first month of the season before he was sent to the minors. He was a starting pitcher from 1964-68.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Denver Lemaster (#288)

Denver Lemaster was a starting pitcher who played mostly for the Braves and Astros from 1962-1972.

Lemaster was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1958, and after 4 ½ seasons in the minors he made his debut with the Braves in July 1962, replacing Ron Piche in the rotation.

From 1963-64, Denny notched 11 and 17 wins as the Braves' #2 starter behind Warren Spahn (in '63) and Tony Cloninger (in '64). He had an off-year in '65, posting a record of 7-13 for the final lap in Milwaukee.

Lemaster was back on the winning side of the ledger in 1966 with an 11-8 record.

1967 was his last season with the Braves, and it was a good one. Besides making his only All-Star team, he led the Braves' staff in starts, innings, and strikeouts. (The Braves' ace starter Cloninger had a terrible year, and Phil Niekro was a reliever until midway through the season.) 

With Niekro emerging as the staff ace, and rookies Pat Jarvis and Ron Reed joining the rotation, the Braves traded Lemaster to the Astros in the off-season (with shortstop Denis Menke) for shortstop Sonny Jackson and 1st baseman Chuck Harrison.

Denny provided a veteran presence on a staff that included youngsters Larry Dierker and Don Wilson. Lemaster was one of the top 3 starters for the next 2 ½ years, until he was replaced in the rotation by ex-Braves' teammate Wade Blasingame in July 1970.

Lemaster was a full-time reliever in 1971, with all 42 of his games coming out of the bullpen.

He joined the Expos after the 1971 season, and appeared in 13 games (19 innings) in 1972 before getting his release on July 1st.