Sunday, December 9, 2018

Casey Cox (#414)

I didn’t realize until today that Casey Cox only had one season under his belt when this card came out.

Cox was signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1962 (I didn’t know that!), then was picked up by the Indians after that season in the 1st-year draft (didn’t know that either!).

In May 1963 the Senators made a waiver claim for him, and he spent the next 2 1/2 seasons on their farm before making his major-league debut in April 1966. He led the staff with 66 games as a rookie, also picking up 7 saves.

After a full season in 1966, Casey pitched most of 1967 with the Senators (except for a brief trip to the minors in late-May/early-June), but pitched almost all of the 1968 season for the Senators’ AAA team.

Cox returned to Washington in 1969, this time also mixing in some starts (having previously only pitched in relief). He posted a 12-7 record and was 3rd on the team in innings pitched (171).

In 1970 he was primarily a starter (30 of his 37 games), but slipped to an 8-12 record. (The Sens’ top 3 starters each lost 12 games that season.)

After 1970 Cox went back to a primarily-relief role. After 2 more seasons with the club, the Rangers traded him to the Yankees in late-August 1972 for pitcher Jim Roland.

Cox was rarely used in the Big Apple, only pitching 5 games in the season’s final month. After pitching 1 game in 1973 (on April 6th) he was released a week later.

Casey pitched the remainder of 1973 for the Cubs’ AAA team before retiring.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Tommie Reynolds (#487)

Tommie Reynolds was a journeyman outfielder for the Athletics, Mets, and others from 1963-72. Check out the huge gap between his first and last names. I think Topps planned to print "TOMMIE" (like they did on the card back) but changed their mind at the last minute.

It's also odd that his position is listed as "OF-1B", because he only played 2 innings at first base and that was in 1972.  (His first minor-league game at 1st base was in 1968.)

Reynolds was signed by the Kansas City Athletics in 1963, and made his major-league debut with 8 games that September. Tommie started the 1964 season with the A’s, but by early-May found himself back in the minors until a September call-up.

In 1965 he was with the team for most of the season (except for May and June) . He was the team’s #3 outfielder (behind Mike Hershberger and Jim Landis), starting 72 games in left field and another 7 games in right. Upon his return from the minors, Tommie started 68 of the final 92 games in left field.

With all that playing time during the 2nd half, it’s puzzling why he spent all of 1966 in the minors. Maybe it was his .237 batting average? Maybe his 1 home run? In any case, he was stuck in triple-A all year, until the Mets picked him up in the Rule 5 draft after the season.

Reynolds played in 101 games in ’67, but only had 136 at bats. As the Mets’ 4th outfielder he only starts 24 games. Repeating recent history, he played all of 1968 back in triple-A.

Almost 2 years from the date of his acquisition by the Mets, the Athletics “Rule-Fived” him again. He was back with the A’s (this time in Oakland) and in 1969 received the most playing time of his career (107 games, 315 at bats). He almost duplicated his playing time from the 1965 A’s, starting 71 games in left and 6 in right as the team’s #3 outfielder.

He was one-and-done in Oakland though. The Angels acquired him in May 1970 and he played parts of the next 2 seasons with California.

After 1 season with the Brewers (1972), he played for their triple-A team from 1973-77 before retiring.

Reynolds was a coach for the Athletics and Cardinals from 1989-96.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Ed Brinkman (#311)

Ed Brinkman was a light-hitting shortstop for the Senators in the 1960s and Tigers in the early-1970s. Together with Tigers’ shortstop Ray Oyler, they set the lowest of bars for hitting prowess, in the days before Mario Mendoza established the “Mendoza Line”.  (Fittingly, Brinkman eventually replaced Oyler in Detroit.)

Brinkman was signed by the Senators in 1961, and made his major-league debut with 4 games in September of that year. After splitting the 1962 season between the Senators and their class-B team, he made the big club at the start of the 1963 season.

Despite his weak bat, he was Washington’s starting shortstop from 1963-1970, except for missing 85 games in 1968.

Well, he came from the same high school as Pete Rose, so he's got THAT going for him! 

Notice the spike in his batting average in 1969 and 1970? Those are the 2 seasons when Teddy Ballgame was his manager. After he moved on to the Tigers in 1971, he reverted to his old batting ways.

Ed was traded to the Tigers in October 1970 (with pitchers Joe Coleman and Jim Hannan, and 3rd baseman Aurelio Rodriguez) for pitcher Denny McLain, 3rd baseman Don Wert, and outfielder Elliott Maddox.

Always a good glove man, he won a Gold Glove award in 1972 and surprisingly, made the All-Star team in 1973.

After the 1974 season, Ed was one of 3 players traded to the Padres for 1st baseman Nate Colbert. On the same day, San Diego flipped him to the Cardinals for pitchers Sonny Siebert, Alan Foster, and Rich Folkers. (What a haul!)

In June 1975 he moved on to the Rangers in exchange for outfielder Willie Davis, then was purchased by the Yankees a week later. The Yankees released him the following Spring.

After his playing career, Brinkman was a minor-league manager for the Tigers, and later a coach and scout for the White Sox.

He passed away in 2008 at age 66.

His brother Chuck Brinkman was a catcher for the White Sox in the early-1970s.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Dick Selma (#386)

Dick Selma had a 10-year career (9+, if you factor in his 1st season was just a few games in a September call-up). He was primarily a reliever, but started quite a few games for the Mets in 1968 and the Cubs in 1969.

Selma was signed by the Mets in May 1963, and played 3 seasons in the minors before making his major-league debut in September 1965. In both 1966 and 1967, he split his time between the Mets and their AAA team.

In 1968 he started 23 of his 33 games, and was the team's #4 starter behind Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, and the veteran Don Cardwell.

With Nolan Ryan, Gary Gentry, and Jim McAndrew around to fill starting slots, Selma was left unprotected in the expansion draft, and was selected by the Padres with the 5th pick.

He was their Opening-Day starter in 1969, but by late-April was traded to the Cubs for pitchers Joe Niekro and Gary Ross. Dick posted a 10-8 record as the Cubs' #4 starter in his only season there. (The 1969 Cubs had a tight starting rotation. Only 4 pitchers started more than 5 games!) 

After the 1969 season, Selma was shipped off to the Phillies (along with outfield prospect Oscar Gamble) for outfielder Johnny Callison. Dick played for the Phillies for 4 seasons.

In 1970 he pitched 73 games (all in relief) and led the team with 22 saves, while posting a 2.75 ERA. He only pitched 24 innings over 17 games in 1971.

Dick returned in '72 to pitch 98 innings over 46 games, but had a bad year, going 2-9 with a 5.56 ERA. (That’s ok, all 12 Phillies' pitchers not named Steve Carlton had a bad year in 1972!) 

Selma began the 1973 season with the Philllies, but was released in early May. Two weeks later he was signed by the Cardinals and assigned to their AAA team. He was sold to the Angels in the season's final week but did not see any action.

Dick pitched 18 games for the Angels by mid-June 1974, then was sent to the minors. He was sold to the Brewers in late-July, but after a 2-game stint in August left him with a 19.29 ERA, the Brew Crew said "no thanks" and returned him to the Angels.

He also pitched for the Dodgers' triple-A Albuquerque team in 1975-76 before retiring.

Selma died in 2001 at age 57.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Dave Boswell (#575)

Twins’ pitcher Dave Boswell was included in the rare 7th series in the 1967 set. Although I collected the first 6 series in 1967, I didn’t get any 7th-series cards until the 1980s.

Boswell pitched for 8 seasons, the first 7 with Minnesota. Although he was a 20-game winner in 1969, he may be more well-known as the guy whose manager (Billy Martin, naturally) punched him out in a bar fight.

Dave was signed by the Twins in 1963, and made his major-league debut in September 1964 at age 19, pitching in 4 games.

In 1965 he pitched 27 games, but only made 12 starts. The next season he became a full-time starter, and won 12, 14, 10, and 20 games over the next 4 seasons. His 12-5 record in 1966 provided a league-leading .706 winning percentage.

Dave pitched in the 1965 World Series and the 1969 ALCS. An arm injury suffered during that ALCS caused him to miss much of 1970 and eventually shortened his career.

Dave only pitched in 18 games during 1970, and was released in April 1971. The same day, he was picked up by the Tigers, who were now managed by his 1969 Twins manager Martin. Boswell lasted with the Tigers until the end of May, and was released again.

The Orioles signed him on the same day, and he appeared in 24 innings over 15 games in the next 4 months. His last appearance came on September 17th, as Baltimore released him just before the start of the 1972 season.

 Boswell passed away in 2012 at age 67.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Jose Santiago (#473)

It’s been a very busy summer for me. Let’s see if I can get back into the blogging thing… 

Jose Santiago was a pitcher for the Athletics and Red Sox from 1963 to 1970.

Signed by the Kansas City Athletics in 1959, he pitched in their farm system until making his major-league debut with 4 games in September 1963.

Jose was mostly a reliever for KC. He pitched most of ’64 with the Athletics, but spent much of the ’65 season back in triple-A.

After the 1965 season he was sold to the Red Sox, and spent the next 4 ½ seasons pitching for Boston. Jose was mostly a starter during the 1966 season, but spent much of 1967 in the Sox’ bullpen. He did start 11 games that year, including games 1 and 4 of the World Series, where he was matched up against Bob Gibson both times, but lost both games. (He did hit a homerun in game 1!)

After 18 consecutive starts in 1968, an elbow injury ended his season in mid-July, and pretty much cut short his career. He only pitched in 10 games during 1969, and after a few games in 1970 was sent down to the minors for the second half of the season, never to return.

Santiago finished the 1970 season (and played all of 1971) with the Red Sox’ in triple-A team in Louisville.

In 1979 he managed a team in the Inter-American League.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Born on the Same Day - 3/3/1942

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

This is post #22 in the series: Don Dennis and Bob Garibaldi - both born on 3/3/1942.

Don Dennis pitched 79 games for the Cardinals (mostly in relief) from 1965-66. Traded to the White Sox after 1966, he never played for them, but pitched for their AAA team for 3 seasons before retiring.

Bob Garibaldi played in the Giants' farm system from 1962-1970, and in the Padres' system from 1971-72. He played a few games for the Giants in '62 and '63, and 1 game each in '66 and '69. After his baseball career, he was a college basketball referee for many years.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The 1967 Reds

I last posted a 1967 team review in August 2016 (and that was after a 2-year delay since the previous one), so today’s post is long overdue. I have 7 more teams to review after the Reds, but those should occur more frequently now, since I only have about 100-120 player cards remaining (and only about a dozen stars). The upside to this delay is that most of these Reds players' cards have already been posted, so there are links to follow.

Here are the Reds, pictured in their 1966 uniforms. I think that was the last year for the vests and white hats (if Gary Nolan's and Lee May's 1968 cards are any indication). I seem to recall that the Reds spent a lot of time in first place in 1967. Unfortunately for them, September and October were not included in that run.

Only Gary Nolan, Tony Perez, Pete Rose, and Johnny Bench would still be around for Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine" days.

The first 5 are the starting pitchers, in order of innings pitched:

Gary Nolan didn't even have a card in the 1967 Topps set, but as a 19-year-old rookie he led the team in starts (32), innings (226), complete games (8), and strikeouts (206, 53 more than perennial leader Maloney). He also led the starting staff in winning percentage (.636) and ERA (2.58).

Milt Pappas led the Reds with 16 wins as the #2 starter. Long-time staff ace Jim Maloney won 15 games and struck out 153 in 29 starts. In his first year as a full-time pitcher, #5 starter Mel Queen won 14 games and struck out 154.

Sammy Ellis was the team's #4 starter, but had an off year (8-11) with 80 strikeouts. Ted Abernathy was stolen from the Braves in the Rule 5 draft after the 1966 season, and led the team with 28 saves and a 1.27 ERA while pitching 70 games.

Bill McCool had primarily been a reliever since breaking in with the Reds in 1964, but started 11 games in '67 along with 20 relief appearances. Don Nottebart was just the opposite – although a starter for the Colt .45s from 1963-65, he was a reliever for the Reds in '66 and '67. In 79 relief innings, he posted a 1.93 ERA but an 0-3 record, and found himself relegated to triple-A for all of 1968.

Gerry Arrigo was a reliever and spot starter for the Reds in 1967. He and McCool were the only lefthanders on the 10-man full-season staff. Bob Lee was acquired from the Dodgers at the end of May, and pitched 50 innings in 27 games, all but one in relief.

Jack Baldschun spent most of the season in AAA, only pitching 13 innings across 9 games, all from mid-June to late-July. Ted Davidson’s season mirrored Baldschun’s – 13 innings pitched in 9 games, his all in September.

Here are the starting eight players:

Johnny Edwards was the Reds’ catcher from 1961 until 8/28/1967 – the day Johnny Bench made his 1st start. In his final season with the Reds, Deron Johnson split his time between 1st base and 3rd base.

Tommy Helms was the 1966 Rookie of the Year at 3rd base, but moved to 2nd base in 1967 and made 2 consecutive All-Star teams. Chico Cardenas was the Reds’ regular shortstop from 1962-68, making 4 All-Star teams during that time.

Tony Perez moved across the diamond to 3B in early-May 1967 to accommodate Lee May. He was an All-Star from 1967-70 and 1974-76. Perez topped 100 RBI 6 times, and 90 RBI 5 times in an 11-year stretch. Pete Rose led the league in hits 6 times in 11 years (from 1965-76), but only collected 176 hits in ’67 (his lowest total from 1965-80).

Vada Pinson started 156 games in center field, and led the NL with 13 triples in 1967. Tommy Harper started 87 games in right field, but was out of the lineup from late-May to late-July, and also the season’s final 2 weeks.

Here are the bench players, in order of at-bats:

Lee May started 68 games at 1B and 47 more in the outfield in his rookie season. He had more at-bats than all but Pinson, Perez, Rose, and Helms. Chico Ruiz started 47 games at 2B, mostly in July when Cardenas was out of the lineup (with Helms moving to SS).

Don Pavletich started 57 games at catcher (same as Edwards), but with the arrival of Bench, neither of those 2 were going to see any more playing time. Art Shamsky was a left-handed pinch-hitter, also starting a few dozen games at the corner outfield spots.

Floyd Robinson was primarily a pinch-hitter, but also started 30 games in right field. Jimmy Coker was the #3 catcher, starting 22 games (mostly in late-June and early-July when Edwards was unavailable).

Johnny Bench made his major-league debut on August 28th, and started 26 of the final 36 games. Dick Simpson had 54 at-bats in 44 games, mostly as a pinch-hitter.

Jake Wood was acquired from the Tigers in late-June for infield depth. Gordy Coleman was the Reds’ 1st baseman for the first half of the decade, but lost playing time to Perez in 1966, and with May joining the team in ’67, was a spare part. After playing 4 games during the first month, Coleman played in AAA for the rest of the season.

Len Boehmer (shown on his 1969 Yankees Rookies card) had 2 pinch-hitting appearances during a mid-season callup. John Tsitouris was a regular starter for the Reds from 1963-65, but only pitched 2 games in 1967.


Dave Bristol was the youngest major-league manager (age 33) in 1967. Aurelio Monteagudo did not play for the Reds in 1967 (or ever, for that matter). After a 15-year career with the Reds (which began in 1944 as a 15-year old), Joe Nuxhall retired before the 1967 season.

Darrell Osteen pitched 11 games in relief for the Reds, all before mid-June. He also appeared with Lee May on the 1966 Reds Rookies card.

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

11/28/66 - Drafted Ted Abernathy from the Braves in the rule 5 draft.

12/15/66 - Traded Jim O'Toole to the White Sox for Floyd Robinson.
12/15/66 - Traded Hank Fischer to the Red Sox for pitchers Dick Stigman and Rollie Sheldon.

5/31/67 - Purchased Bob Lee from the Dodgers.

6/23/67 - Purchased Jake Wood from the Tigers.

7/15/67 - Signed Aurelio Monteagudo.

7/22/67 - Released Aurelio Monteagudo.

9/18/67 - Traded Len Boehmer to the Yankees for pitcher Bill Henry.

10/10/67 - Traded Deron Johnson to the Braves for outfielders Jim Beauchamp and Mack Jones, and pitcher Jay Ritchie.

10/11/67 - Sold Jake Wood to the Indians.

10/20/67 - Traded Floyd Robinson and Darrell Osteen to the Athletics for pitcher Ron Tompkins.

11/8/67 - Traded Art Shamsky to the Mets for infielder Bob Johnson.

11/21/67 - Traded Tommy Harper to the Indians for pitcher George Culver and 1B Fred Whitfield.

11/28/67 - Drafted Jimmie Schaffer from the Phillies in the rule 5 draft.

11/29/67 - Traded Sammy Ellis to the Angels for pitcher Bill Kelso.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Chuck Hinton (#189)

It’s been awhile since I've seen a card with "In Military Service" on the back! 

Hinton was a jack-of-all-trades player (but primarily an outfielder) for the Indians, Senators, and Angels from 1961-1971. In his 11-year career, he played every position but pitcher (although only catching for 73 innings, and 5 innings at shortstop). He did pitch 1 game in the minors.

Hinton was signed by the Orioles in 1956, and played in their farm system for 3 seasons (missing the '57-'58 seasons while in military service). He played Class-C ball in ’56 and ’59, and most of 1960 before getting a call-up to AAA.

Chuck was drafted by the expansion Washington Senators before the 1961 season, and was a regular outfielder (mostly in left) during the franchise's first 4 seasons. Hinton made his only All-Star team in 1964 (his last with the Nats).

After the 1964 season he was traded to the Indians for Bob Chance (the Tribe’s regular 1st baseman as a rookie in 1964) and Woodie Held, who had been Cleveland’s starting shortstop from 1959-62, but by now was a utility player (which is why Topps was saddling him with the “INF-OF” position).

Leon Wagner, Vic Davalillo, and Rocky Colavito were already manning the 3 outfield spots, so playing time was hard to come by for Hinton for the next 2 seasons. Still, he managed to start 56 games in the outfield and 36 at first base in 1965, and 82 in the outfield the following season.

With Colavito fading (and then finally traded) during 1967, Hinton finally saw the playing time he had in Washington. He started 119 games in the outfield, and was the #1 outfielder with 1115 innings played, (ahead of Wagner, Davalillo, Lee Maye, and Colavito).

Once again, just as he rose to the top he was traded. This time to the Angels for outfielder Jose Cardenal. Hinton only spent the 1968 season with the Angels, and because they seemed to employ too many outfielders, Chuck was used mainly as a backup to Don Mincher at 1st base (48 games), along with 37 games in the outfield and another 2 dozen split between 2B and 3B.

After that season he was traded back to the Indians for outfielder Lou Johnson. Now in his late 30s, Hinton spent his final 3 seasons as a backup first baseman and occasional outfielder.

Chuck had an interesting post-playing career. He was the head baseball coach at Howard University from 1972-2000, and in 1982 he founded the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association.

Hinton passed away in 2013 at age 78.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Born on the Same Day - 6/28/1941

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

This is post #19 in the series: Al Downing and Fred Talbot - both born on 6/28/1941.

This is the 19th post in the series, and the first one featuring teammates.

Al Downing pitched for 17 seasons, the first 9 (1961-69) for the Yankees. After splitting the 1970 season between the Athletics and Brewers, he pitched his final 7 seasons with the Dodgers. He was a 20-game winner in 1971, his first in LA. Three years later, he gave up Hank Aaron's 715th home run.

Unlike Downing, Fred Talbot did not begin his career with the Yankees (or even with Yankees-West). Fred came up with the White Sox in 1963, then was traded to the Athletics prior to 1965. He finally made it to the Big Apple midway through the 1966 season.

After several seasons in the Yankees' rotation, Talbot was quite the traveler in 1969 - playing for the Yankees, Pilots, and Athletics. He finished his career in 1970 - pitching 1 game for the Athletics.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Herman Franks (#116)

It’s been awhile since I’ve featured a manager’s card. This is one of the last managers from 1966-70 that I haven’t posted yet, and the last who was managing a team during the 1967 season.

Herman Franks was the Giants’ manager from 1965 to 1968. Oddly enough, the team finished in 2nd place every season during his tenure, but after 4 years of that he was given the boot.

He was replaced by Clyde King for the 1969 season, and they finished in 2nd place again! Franks later managed the Cubs from 1977-79.

Prior to managing, Franks was a catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Philadelphia Athletics, and others from 1939-48.

He began his pro career playing for the Hollywood Stars in the PCL from 1932-33. After a few more seasons in the Cardinals’ organization he made his major-league debut with the Cards in 1939.

Traded to the Dodgers in 1940, he played for Brooklyn in ’40 and part of ’41, then spent the rest of 1941 and all of 1942 with their AAA team in Montreal.

He was out of baseball from 1943-45 while serving as a lieutenant in the Navy, fighting in the South Pacific.

Herman returned to Montreal in 1946, and resurfaced in the majors with the Philadelphia Athletics from 1947-48.

He was a Giants’ coach under Leo Durocher from 1949-55, and again in ’58 and ’64. He also scouted for the Giants from 1956-63.

Franks passed away in 2009 at age 95.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Blog Bat-Around - Card-collecting Projects

I just came across this Blog Bat-Around (started by Night Owl) when I clicked on the Fleer Sticker Project blog. This is my first participation in any kind of bat-around, so here goes...

I have been collecting baseball cards since 1967. That's not to say I've collected every year since then, because I have an extreme aversion to modern sets issued by Topps and others. I detailed my collection some years ago on this blog, so I won't go into all that again, but I currently have most or all cards from 1965 to 1970, and 1972.

When I started blogging in 2009, many of my cards were still in boxes, but after seeing the occasional posts by Wrigley Wax about his World Headquarters, I decided to shape up and get them all into binders:

On the top shelf are my Phillies' team sets (1952-69, 70-79, 80-84, 85-89, 90-94, 00-present), with the blue binder all the way on the right containing my Eagles' cards from 1960-79. I have all the Phillies cards from 1964 through 1993 (except Mike Schmidt's rookie card), all the low numbers from 1960-63, and a few dozen from 1952-59 and 2008-10.

The middle shelf is my bread-and-butter for these blogs: one binder for 1960-64, then a binder for each year from 1965 to 1970 (except the Phillies cards, which are in the top row of binders).

The bottom shelf is a mixed bag:
1. the few dozen baseball cards that I have from 1971 and 73-80
2. the complete set from 1972
3. my moment-of-weakness purchase of the 2010 Topps 1st series cards
4. 1964-66 football cards
5. 1967-69 football cards
6. 1970-72 football cards
7. the 1993 Beatles card set
8 and 9. Miscellaneous other non-sports sets like the early-1960s' World War II and Combat TV show cards

What's missing?
1) I can't find my 1973 football card binder for about 2 years now!

2) In 1981 and again from about 1987 to 1992, I bought factory sets of Topps, Fleer, and Donruss cards. Where are they? I don't have enough interest in them to put them in binders, so they are still in their factory boxes, here in my closet:

So what am I currently collecting? 
I have already completed the '68, '69, and '72 sets, and I am 3 cards short of completing the '67 set. I haven't been buying any cards lately, but when I do it is to complete the '66 and '70 sets (which are about 85% and 95% complete) and the 1965 set (about 45% complete). I also like the 1963 set because it's very colorful, but many of the players are unfamiliar to me, so there's a lesser interest in completing that set.

One of my other collecting interests is diecast cars. Here's my Matchbox display case, about 2 feet above the card binder shelf:

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Paul Casanova (#115)

Paul Casanova played 7 seasons with the Senators (1965-71) and 3 with the Braves (1972-74).

Casanova’s career had a rocky start. He was signed by the Indians in 1960 but released in June of that year. They signed him again in December but was released AGAIN in April 1961. (To prove it wasn’t just the Indians, the Cubs signed him in September 1961 and also release him the following April.)

For a while in 1961, he played for the Indianapolis Clowns, an independent team that was formerly in the Negro Leagues.

FINALLY, Paul hooked on with the Senators just after the 1962 season, AND THEY DIDN’T RELEASE HIM MONTHS LATER! In fact, he went on to be their starting catcher for several seasons.

After 3 seasons in their farm system, Casanova made his major-league debut with the Senators in September 1965 (5 games).
Paul was the team’s primary starting catcher from 1966 to 1970. He caught the lion’s share of games in ’66, ’67, and ’69, and just over half the games in ’68 and ’70 (with Jim French the #2 backstop in both seasons). Casanova also made his only All-Star team in 1967.

1971 was Paul’s last season in Washington. He started 81 games behind the plate, but rookie Dick Billings was gradually taking over, starting 61 games (mostly in the second half).

After the ’71 season, Casanova was traded to the Braves for catcher Hal King. Paul backed up Earl Williams in 1972, then split the starting assignments with Johnny Oates in 1973. In his final season (1974) Casanova was the #3 catcher behind Oates and rookie Vic Correll, and did not make a start after August 9th, as Correll assumes the bulk of the catching over the season’s final months.

He was released by the Braves in March 1975, ending his 10-year career.

Casanova passed away in August 2017 at age 75.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Steve Blass (#562)

Steve Blass was the Pirates' ace from 1968 to 1972. This is his high-numbered 1967 card.  Oddly enough, there are FOUR Pirates among the 47 cards that follow Blass' card in the 1967 set.

After winning 19 games in '72 and finishing 2nd in the Cy Young voting, Blass seemingly forgot how to pitch in 1973. That year, he led the NL with 12 hit batters (IN ONLY 88 INNINGS!), while compiling a 3-9 record and a 9.85 ERA. After pitching 5 innings in April 1974, his career was over.

Blass was signed by the Pirates in 1960, and pitched in the minors from 1960-63. He made his major-league debut in May 1964, and pitched 24 games as a starter and reliever in his rookie season.

He returned to the minors for all of 1965, making 25 starts for AAA Columbus.

Blass returned to the Pirates in 1966, joining a rotation led by Bob Veale that also included rookie Woodie Fryman, Tommie Sisk, and long-time Pirate Vern Law. After 1967, Law retired and Fryman was traded to the Phillies, leaving Veale and Blass as the Bucs’ top 2 starters.

Blass became a full-time starter in 1968, winning 18 games and leading the NL with a .750 winning percentage. He followed that up with 16 wins in 1969. By now Dock Ellis had joined the squad, supporting Blass and Veale.

Steve won 15 games in 1971 and 19 in 1972, and pitched in 6 games in the ’71 and ’72 post-seasons, including 2 complete game wins in the ’71 World Series. During his 5 prime seasons with the Pirates (’68-’72) he struck out 652 while walking 368 – a 1.77 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

In 1973, Blass came down with what became known as “Steve Blass disease” – an inability to find the plate. In 1973 he pitched 88 innings in 23 games, only striking out 27 while walking 84 (the same number he walked in 249 innings the previous season). His strikeout-to-walk ratio in 1973 was 0.32. His ERA also ballooned to 9.85.

After pitching just 1 game in April 1974, Blass spent the remainder of the season in the minors, trying to find his control. It never returned and he was released in January 1975.

Blass has been broadcasting Pirates’ games since the 1980s.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Steve Hargan (#440)

Steve Hargan was the 4th member of the Indians’ excellent starting rotation in the mid-to-late 1960s.

Hargan signed with the Indians in 1961 and made his major-league debut in August 1965. By mid-June 1966 he joined he starting rotation, where he stayed until early 1971.

Steve’s best years were 1966, 1967, and 1970. In those 3 years only, he won in double figures, and had an ERA below 3.00. He also had over 130 strikeouts in ’66 and ’67. In 1967, he led the AL with 6 shutouts, and made his only All-Star team.

Anchored by Sam McDowell, it seemed like McDowell, Luis Tiant, Sonny Siebert, and Hargan were always showing up among the AL pitching leaders:

Hargan's career derailed in 1971. After posting a 1-13 record that season, he only pitched 20 innings for the Tribe in 1972 while spending most of that season and all of 1973 in the minors.

After the 1973 season he was traded to the Rangers for pitcher Bill Gogolewski. Hargan bounced back with Texas, winning 12 games in ’74 and 9 games in ’75 as a starter. He was primarily a reliever in his 3rd season with the Rangers, only starting 8 of his 35 games on his way to an 8-8 record.

Hargan was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the expansion draft following the 1976 season. After only 6 games (29 innings) he was traded back to Texas in early-May. A month later he was flipped to the Braves, where he finished out the season (and his career).

He pitched in the minors in 1978 before retiring.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Ollie Brown (#83)

“Downtown” Ollie Brown played for 13 seasons from 1965 to 1977. Early in his career he was a starting outfielder for the Giants (1966-67) and Padres (1969-71), then spent the 2nd half of his career as a backup for 4 different teams. He was known for having a cannon arm in right field.

Brown was signed by the Giants in 1962 and was a pitcher and outfielder in the minors (pitching a no-hitter in 1963). He made his major-league debut with the Giants in September 1965.

By 1966, the perennial logjam in the Giants’ outfield (Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda/Willie McCovey, Jesus Alou, Matty Alou, Len Gabrielson, Ken Henderson, Cap Peterson, Harvey Kuenn, Ollie Brown) had worked itself out through the trades of Cepeda, Matty Alou, Gabrielson, and Peterson. Those left standing were Mays (CF), J. Alou (LF), and Brown (RF).

After 2 seasons as a regular outfielder, Brown got squeezed out in 1968 when a) 3rd baseman Jim Ray Hart was moved to left field (Alou sharing RF with Brown), and b) rookie Bobby Bonds was called up in mid-season and took over the right field job.

Now that Hart and Bonds were outfield regulars, both Brown and Jesus Alou were left unprotected in the expansion draft, with Alou selected by the Expos and Brown by the Padres. Ollie provided some offensive punch during the Padres’ early years, hitting 20 and 23 homers in ’69 and ’70, while batting .292 in 1970. He started over 130 games in right field in each of his first 3 seasons in San Diego.

In May 1972 he was traded to the Athletics for outfielder Curt Blefary and pitcher Mike Kilkenny. He barely had time to unpack his suitcase when he moved on to the Brewers five weeks later.

After the 1973 season, Brown was part of a nine-player trade with the Angels. However, he never played a game for California as he was sold to the Astros during spring training in 1974.

By mid-June ’74 he was claimed off waivers by the Phillies, and spent his final 3 ½ seasons as a pinch-hitter and backup outfielder for Philadelphia. He also played in the ’76 and ’77 NLCS.

Brown’s younger brother Oscar was an outfielder for the Braves from 1970 to 1973. His older brother Willie (not the Raiders’ All-Pro cornerback) played for the Rams and Eagles.

Brown passed away in 2015 at age 71.