Thursday, March 26, 2020

Orlando Martinez (#504)

I just realized today when looking at the back of this card that Orlando Martinez hadn't played in the major leagues since 1962, when he saw action in 37 games (mostly as a pinch-runner). I have to ask then, "Why does he have a card?" Also, my recollection was that his position on this card was "C-INF".

And what is it with Topps and Atlanta Braves' scrubs? Tommie Aaron had a card in the 1968 set despite not playing regularly since 1963, and with only 8 games in early-1965 since then. Jim Beauchamp (who we will see on this blog 2 posts from now) had a card in the 1967 set although didn't play in the majors in 1966. Ex-Braves' outfielder Dave Nicholson had a card in the 1969 set, yet his only time in the majors since 1966 was a 10-game stint in September 1967. 

Orlando "Marty" Martinez was signed by the (old) Washington Senators in 1960, and played seven seasons for the Senators/Twins in the minors. He was primarily a shortstop, but he also saw considerable playing time at 3B, 2B, and catcher, both in the minors and the majors. He also pitched 21 games in the minors, and 1 inning with the 1969 Astros.

After the 1966 season the Braves selected him in the Rule 5 draft. He played in 44 games in his rookie season, including 17 starts at shortstop.

In 1968 his playing time almost tripled, as he started 49 games at shortstop, 31 at 3B, 13 at 2B, and 6 behind the plate. He was truly valuable to the team that season. Too bad he only hit .230.

Martinez was traded to the Astros in December 1968 for 3rd baseman Bob Aspromonte. He continued in his role as backup infielder for the next 2 seasons, although playing much less than he did in 1968.

In '69 he mostly filled in at shortstop and left field, but also a few games at 3B and behind the plate. In 1970 he was mostly at SS and 3B.

In 1971 his playing time decreased even further. The Astros replaced shortstop Denis Menke with rookie Roger Metzger, who needed less time off than Menke did for the past 2 seasons.

After the '71 season, Marty was on his way to the Cardinals. He only played 7 games for St. Louis in 1972, and in late May was traded to the Athletics for outfielder Brant Alyea.

Two months later he was flipped to the Rangers (with 2B Vic Harris) for 1st baseman Don Mincher and infielder Ted Kubiak. 1972 was his last season in the majors.

He played for the Rangers' AAA and AA teams from 1973-80.

Martinez was also the interim manager for the Seattle Mariners for one game in 1986.

In the 1980s he was a coach and a scout for the Mariners, signing Edgar Martinez and Omar Vizquel, among others.

He passed away in 2007 at age 65.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Sandy Alomar (#561)

It's time for a high-numbered card.

Sandy Alomar was a second baseman who played for 15 seasons (1964-78) for the Braves, Mets, White Sox, Angels, Yankees, and Rangers.  This is his only card as a Met, the team he played the least amount of time for.

Alomar was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1960, and was a shortstop until switching over to 2nd base during the 1965 season. His major-league debut came in September 1964 with the Braves.

Sandy split the 1965 season between Milwaukee and their AAA team in Atlanta.

The Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966, but by early-June Alomar had moved on to Richmond, the new home of their triple-A team.

1967 was an unusual year for Alomar:
 - 2/25: sent to the Astros to complete an earlier deal (Eddie Mathews to Houston for Bob Bruce and Dave Nicholson).
 - 3/24: Traded to the Mets for Derrell Griffith.
 - 8/15: sent to the White Sox to complete an earlier deal (Ken Boyer to Chicago for J.C. Martin).

Sandy was always a bench player until the 2nd half of 1968, when he took over the Sox' 2nd base job.

Following his May 1969 trade to the Angels for Bobby Knoop, Alomar was the Halos' regular 2nd baseman for the next 4 ½ years, that string coming to an end in the closing weeks of 1973. While an Angel, he started 134, 152, 134, 150, and 103 games from 1969-73. He also made the 1970 All-Star team.

The Angels acquired 2nd baseman Denny Doyle from the Phillies in the 73/74 off-season, so Alomar rode the bench in 1974 until his contract was purchased by the Yankees in July. Sandy regained a starting job in the Big Apple for the rest of 1974 and all of 1975.

It was deja-vu all over again for him in 1976. The Yankees traded for Willie Randolph in the 75/76 off-season, so Alomar was back on the bench, although he did start a handful of games in July and Auguist.

Sandy was traded to the Rangers before the 1977 season, and spent his last two years as a bench player. He backed up 2B Bump Wills in '77 but rarely played the field in '78 and was used mostly as a pinch-runner (at age 34!). Alomar was released after the 1978 season.

Later, he was a coach for the Padres (1986-90), Cubs (2000-02), Rockies (2003-04), and Mets (2005-09).

His sons Sandy Jr and Roberto made their major-league debuts with the Padres while he was a coach there.