Sunday, June 27, 2021

The 1967 Astros

I feel bad for the Houston Astros. Not only did that weasel of a commissioner Bud Selig pack them off to the American League after 50 years in the National League (instead of doing the right thing and returning his own Milwaukee Brewers to AL), but Topps did not make any team cards for the Astros until 1970. 
Selig was quoted as saying “Milwaukee is a National League town. They should remain in the NL.” Yeah Bud, the NL Braves were in Milwaukee for all of 13 years, while the Colts/Astros were in the NL for 50+ years. He must have been picking his nose while his classmates were learning arithmetic.


Here are the starting pitchers:
Mike Cuellar led the staff with 16 wins, and after 1968 was rewarded for his perseverance by being traded to the Orioles, where he flourished for many years.
Dave Giusti was primarily a staring pitcher from 1966-68, the only 3 seasons he won in double figures. After ’68, he was traded away, and became a reliever for his last 9 seasons. Don Wilson won 10 games in his rookie ’67 season. He won between 11-16 games for the next 7 years. Those were the top 3 starters in 1967. The next 4 pitchers all started between 10 and 18 games. 
Bo Belinsky was picked up from the Phillies in the rule 5 draft before the season, and pitched 27 games (18 starts) for Houston. After winning only 3 games, he found himself in the minors for all of 1968.
After winning 10 games in 1966, Larry Dierker only won 6 in 1967. He didn’t pitch after late-June (his spot seemingly taken by Wade Blasingame). Blasingame was acquired on 6/15 for Claude Raymond, and started 14 games for the Astros. 
Bruce Von Hoff joined the team in mid-August, and appeared in 10 games (all starts) over the final 6 weeks. Curiously, he never played in the majors again. Chris Zachary pitched 7 games (6 starts) over the first 2 months, then was sent down for the next 3 months. He appeared in 2 games in September. 
This is a long list of relievers used in 1967:
Larry Sherry was picked up at the end of June, and led the team with 6 saves in 29 games. Barry Latman appeared in 29 games, all but 1 in relief. His 77 innings were tops among those who were primarily relievers. He was able to achieve that despite being released in late-August.
Carroll Sembera pitched 59 innings over 45 games, but was back in the minors for all of 1968. Dave Eilers pitched for the Braves and Mets from 1964-66, but started the 1967 season in the minors. He was recalled in mid-June (seemingly to replace the departed Claude Raymond) and pitched 35 games in his final MLB season. 
Dan Schneider was acquired from the Braves (along with Tom Dukes) in an inexplicable trade for 3 minor-leaguers after the 1966 season. The only lefthander in the bullpen, he pitched 52 innings over 54 games. Like several other pitchers here, he then spent all of 1968 in the minors. Claude Raymond led the team with 16 saves in 1966 while also making the All-Star team. He was leading the staff with 5 saves when he was traded to the Braves in mid-June for Blasingame. 
Dan Coombs pitched for Houston from 1963-65, but spent most of ’66 and ’67 in the minors. He returned to the Astros for 6 games in September. Tom Dukes was acquired from the Braves in the Dan Schneider deal, and pitched 23 innings over 17 games after his mid-August recall. 
Howie Reed appeared in 4 games after his September recall. Ex-Phillies (and famed Dalton Gang members) Turk Farrell and Jim Owens both started the 1967 with the Astros. Farrell had been a standout in Houston’s early years, making the All-Star team in '62, '64, and '65. After slumping to 6 wins in 1966 he was dealt to the Phillies in early-May 1967. Owens was a key bullpen cog from 1964-66. After just 10 appearances in 1967, he was released in mid-July and joined the coaching staff. 
Arnold Earley began his pro career in 1953, and pitched for the Red Sox from 1960-65. Thankfully he pitched for the Cubs in 1966, otherwise we wouldn't have this great-looking card! He spent most of 1967 in the minors, only pitching 1 1/3 innings over 2 games in late July for the Astros. His 27.00 ERA guaranteed it would be his last appearance. 
John Buzhardt was purchased from the Orioles on 9/25. Why then? 
Pat House pitched 6 games after his September call-up. He would return for 18 games in 1968, his 2nd and final season.

These are the primary starters at each position:
John Bateman was the regular catcher in ’63, ’66, and ’68, and split the job with Ron Brand in 1967. Eddie Mathews was acquired from the Braves in the off-season and installed at 1st base. He moved on to the Tigers in August, and wrapped up his Hall of Fame career with the champion Tigers in 1968. 
Joe Morgan was the Astros’ 2nd baseman from 1965-71, then reached greater fame with the Reds. Sonny Jackson was a star rookie in 1966, but slumped in ’67. He was traded to the Braves after the season. 
Bob Aspromonte was an original Colt .45, and also the last active Brooklyn Dodger. Ron Davis played left field, and started 59 games. (Rookie Norm Miller and veteran Jim Landis also shared this job.)
Jim Wynn roamed center field, and was the team’s main power threat. Rusty Staub made his first of 5 consecutive All-Star teams in 1967. Primarily the right fielder, he moved to 1st base in 1968. 


These are the bench players, in order of at-bats.
The Cardinals’ starting shortstop in 1962, Julio Gotay was otherwise a utility infielder during his career. He was the Astros’ backup middle-infielder for his last 3 seasons (1967-69). Ron Brand was the Astros’ starting catcher in 1965, but shared the job with Bateman in 1967. 
Norm Miller was recalled in early-May, and started 49 games in left field. Chuck Harrison was the Astros’ regular 1st baseman in 1966, but was platooned with the newly-acquired Eddie Mathews for the first half of 1967. After Mathews’ mid-August trade to the Tigers, Harrison caddied for rookie Doug Rader (who moved to 3rd base in 1968). 
Doug Rader was called up in late-July and took over the starting 1st base job as a rookie. In 1968 he moved over to 3rd base. Jim Landis was traded to Detroit in late-June for Larry Sherry. He was subsequently traded to the Red Sox. 
Dave Adlesh played a handful of games for Houston from 1963-66, then spent all of ’67 and ’68 with the Astros as a backup catcher, but mostly warmed the bench. He played about 40 games each season (starting 75% of them). In his 11th and final season, Jackie Brandt was acquired from the Phillies in mid-June, and released 3 months later. In-between, he started 13 consecutive games at 1st base in July.
Bob Lillis was the team’s regular shortstop from 1962-65, then backed up Jackson in his final 2 seasons. Hal King played 15 games (11 starts) in his major-league debut in September. 
Ivan Murrell played 10 games after his September call-up. Bill Heath played 55 games as the Astros’ 2nd-string catcher in 1966. After only 9 games in April 1967, he was returned to the minors and replaced by Ron Brand. 
Bob Watson would go on to play 19 seasons, but he only played 6 games in his September call-up this year. Jose Herrera made his major-league debut with 5 pinch-hitting appearances in early-June, then was sent back down until August 1968. 
John Buzhardt pitched 2/3 of an inning after his final-week acquisition. The Astros were his 3rd team that season. Grady Hatton managed the Astros from 1966 to midway through 1968. 
Aaron Pointer, Wes “Lee” Bales, and Alonzo “Candy” Harris each appeared in a few games. The others played more extensively in 1967. 
Derrell Griffith had a card in the 1967 set, but did not play for any MLB team in 1967. 


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

11/26/66 - Drafted Bo Belinsky from the Phillies in the rule 5 draft. 
11/26/66 - Drafted Alonzo "Candy" Harris from the Orioles in the rule 5 draft. 
11/26/66 - Released Felix Mantilla
11/29/66 - Drafted Dave Eilers from the Mets in the minor league draft. 
11/29/66 - Drafted Pat House from the Braves in the minor league draft. 
11/29/66 - Drafted Hal King from the Angels in the minor league draft. 
12/31/66 - Traded Bob Bruce and Dave Nicholson to the Braves for Eddie Mathews, Sandy Alomar, and Arnold Umbach. 
01/04/67 - Traded Lee Maye and Ken Retzer to the Indians for Doc Edwards, Jim Landis and Jim Weaver
02/10/67 - Sold Ron Taylor to the Mets. 
02/24/67 - Sold Jim Ray to the Mets. 
03/24/67 - Mets returned Jim Ray to the Astros. 
03/24/67 - Traded Sandy Alomar to the Mets for Derrell Griffith. 
04/28/67 - Signed Bob Lillis as a free agent. 
05/08/67 - Sold Turk Farrell to the Phillies. 
05/08/67 - Sold Bill Heath to the Tigers. 
06/01/67 - Purchased Marv Breeding from the Braves. 
06/09/67 - Purchased Jackie Brandt from the Phillies. 
06/15/67 - Traded Claude Raymond and Derrell Griffith to the Braves for Wade Blasingame. 
06/27/67 - Traded Marv Breeding to the Cubs for Arnold Earley. 
06/29/67 - Traded Jim Landis to the Tigers for Larry Sherry. 
07/14/67 - Released Jim Owens. 
07/20/67 - Sold Gary Kroll to the Indians. 
08/07/67 - Traded Jim Weaver to the Angels for Hector Torres
08/17/67 - Traded Eddie Mathews to the Tigers for TBA (Fred Gladding) and pitcher Leo Marentette. 
08/19/67 - Released Barry Latman. 
09/09/67 - Released Jackie Brandt. 
09/25/67 - Purchased John Buzhardt from the Orioles. 
10/08/67 - Traded Chuck Harrison and Sonny Jackson to the Braves for Denny Lemaster and Denis Menke
10/17/67 - Released Bob Lillis. 
11/28/67 - Drafted Skip Lockwood from the Athletics in the rule 5 draft. 
11/28/67 - Drafted Joe Moeller from the Dodgers in the rule 5 draft. 
11/28/67 - Lost Doc Edwards to the Phillies in the minor league draft. 
Only 2 more team reviews to go ('67 Mets, '69 Padres) and I'm so glad. Dealing with Google Blogger's default paragraph mode is a major pain in the ass, especially with so many paragraphs in a post like this. 
Click on the 'team review' link below to see all my other 1967 reviews on this blog. (The Tigers are on my 1968 blog, and the expansion teams are on my 1969 blog.) 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Rookie Parade

Today we look at the rookie stars cards - all in one place. Why did Topps only have 1 card for some teams, and as many as 3 for others? Topps made some major omissions, but some 1-card teams were probably bereft of minor-league talent. (And with the low bar set by some of the so-called "stars" that appear on these cards, that's really embarrassing for those 1-rookie-card teams.) 
In team-name order (NL first):
Astros: Norm Miller and especially Doug Rader were contributors for the next few seasons.  The others? Not so much.
Braves: Cecil Upshaw became the team's closer after Phil Niekro moved to the rotation at mid-season.  Ramon Hernandez is on an NL Rookies card further below.
Cardinals:  Only 1 card?  The eventual World Champs had a set lineup, with only Dick Hughes and Ron Willis (on an NL Rookies card below) able to make the roster.

Cubs: The Cubs had SEVEN players appear on rookie stars cards (including Norm Gigon on an NL Rookies card), but none named Bill Stoneman or Chuck Hartenstein.  Huh?
Dodgers: Bill Singer also appeared on a '66 Rookies card with Don Sutton.  In 1967 he filled Sandy Koufax' vacancy in the rotation. Jim Campanis was the GM's son, so...
Giants: Only 1 card?  It's probably too soon for Bobby Bonds, but Bob Schroeder played 60 games in 1967, and there was the short-term phenom Bobby Etheridge. BTW, Dietz was a catcher.
Mets: Greg Goossen, Bart Shirley, and Bill Denehy were lunch-pailers, but Topps redeemed itself with Tom Seaver's inclusion.  Don Shaw also appeared on an NL Rookies card.
Phillies: As much as the 1967 me wanted to see more Phillies' Rookies cards, objectively speaking, one was enough.  Grant Jackson and Gary Sutherland (on an NL Rookies card) were the only rookies to make the team.
Pirates: A whole lot of non-stars here.  Jim Price was dealt to the Tigers just before Opening Day, while Luke Walker eventually made the team (after 2 or 3 Rookie Stars cards). Jim Shellenback was on an NL Rookies card later.

Reds: Where's Gary Nolan and Johnny Bench? Nolan was a 14-game winner in 1967, with over 200 strikeouts. (In fairness to Topps, he spent 1966 in low-A ball, so who would have known?)  Darrell Osteen and Lee May were also together on a 1966 Reds Rookies card.
Athletics: Six rookies, but none named Reggie Jackson.  Randy Schwartz? Tim Talton?  Topps, please!

Indians: Bill Davis?  Again?  Where's Vern Fuller?
Orioles: Topps scored big on the first card with Mike Epstein (although for the Senators) and Tom Phoebus. Why the red frame on the 3rd card?  Sure, the "ORIOLES" name was usually in yellow, but Topps adjusted earlier for the Phillies and the O's first rookie card. Maybe Inspector 12 was on vacation that day.
Red Sox: Topps hit a home run with the Andrews/Smith pairing, both key starters for the AL Champs.

Senators: Joe Coleman and Dick Bosman were good starting pitchers over the next few seasons.
Tigers: The Tigers had 2 guys named George Korince?  LOL
Twins: Rich Reese was the team's 1st baseman for a few seasons.  Jim Ollom was one of 6 Jims on the Twins' 10-man 1967 staff. Where's Rod Carew?  He's on an AL Rookies card in the 7th series.  (I'm convinced Topps saved those 7th-series NL/AL Rookies cards for last-minute additions to the set.  If true, how was Carew an afterthought?)

Yankees: Bobby Murcer appears here, although missing the '67 and '68 seasons while in the Army.  Stan Bahnsen reappeared on a '68 Yankees Rookies card, and was the AL Rookie of the Year in '68.
White Sox: Duane Josephson and Walt Williams became regulars in their rookie season.  Ed Stroud was dealt to the Senators early-on.
AL: Carew's rookie card is one of three cards I need to complete the set.  (Also the Seaver rookie, and Tommy John.)
NL: Shaw and Sutherland had the longest careers of these six.  Willis played for World Series teams in his first 2 seasons, but fizzled out soon after.

Other players having their rookie (solo) card in the 1967 set include Chris Short and Maury Wills (both 8-year veterans), Ken Holtzman, Jay Johnstone, Rick Wise, and for some reason known only to the braintrust at Topps, Bruce Brubaker.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

My Favorite 1967 Cards

I started collecting baseball cards in 1967 - not at the start of the season, but sometime in May as I recall. I think Topps was into their 2nd or 3rd series by that time, but through trading with other kids, I was able to play catch-up and get all the earlier cards I missed (except for the Cardinals team).
Before I started collecting cards in 1967, I only knew who 3 of the players were: Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Harmon Killebrew. I had heard the name "Johnny Callison", but didn't know who he was. I don't think I had ever heard of Willie Mays though.
As best as I can remember, these were my favorite 1967 cards at that time:
The top row of players is self-explanatory. 
In 1967, Topps made 13 multi-player cards. These 3 were my favorites. (I was a Phillies' fan, but I'm not sure why I liked the other two cards over all the rest.) 
Chris Short and Johnny Callison were my two favorite Phillies players. I started following that team the same month I began collecting cards. 
Jim Palmer's card came along in the 4th or 5th series, as I recall. I became a big Palmer fan when I got this card. I don't remember why - he missed almost all of the 1967 season, and I wasn't following the Orioles. Maybe it was because the Orioles had just won the World Series in '66, and here was a good, young pitcher named "Jim"? 
Anyway, on one of the T-shirts I had bought from a local discount store (those surplus high school gym shirts with various schools' names on the front, that you could pick up for a dollar or so) I had written a big number "22" with a Magic Marker. (As I'm typing this, I am remembering the kid in the Vince Papale movie "Invincible", who made the number "83" on his shirt with bits of duct tape.) 
One of my friends who was a Cowboys' fan just assumed it was in reference to Bob Hayes. Ha!
So I had become a Jim Palmer fan before his great comeback in 1969. For that, I feel like I got in on the ground floor. LOL

Monday, February 1, 2021

Aurelio Monteagudo – Why Does He Have a Card?

As Ed McMahon always said to Carnac, “I hold in my hand the last…” 

There were 490 players with their own card in the 1967 Topps set. Before today, I had blogged about 489 of them on one or another of my set blogs. And now, last but (not?) least…

It seems like over the years, Aurelio Monteagudo had more Topps cards than games played. Let’s check out my hunch:
Ok, it’s not as drastic as I had imagined, but after 1966, when he did have a card he didn’t play for that team, and when he did play, he didn’t have a card that year. He's also had more cards than seasons played.

Monteagudo was signed by the Kansas City Athletics in 1961, and played in the minor leagues every season from 1961 to 1973. After playing in the Mexican League from 1974-1980, he made a 1-game comeback in 1983 with the Angels’ AAA team. 

Aurelio made his major-league debut in September 1963 with the Athletics, appearing in 4 games in relief. In 1964 he pitched in 11 games, starting half of them. Those would be his last major-league starts except for his one game with the White Sox in 1967. 

After 4 relief appearances in 1966, the A’s sent him to the Astros in May, where he made 10 relief appearances. 

At the end of the 1966 season, the Astros sold him to the Reds, but he never played for the Reds in the majors or minors, and was released in mid-July. 

On the same day, the White Sox signed him, and after starting one game, he was cut a week later. On THAT same day, the Reds picked him up. (Essentially, he was loaned out to the White Sox for one game.) 

Monteagudo did not play for the remainder of 1967, but pitched for the Reds' farm teams for all of 1968 and the first half of 1969.

In June 1969 he was traded to the Cardinals for pitcher Dennis Ribant. Playing no games for St. Louis, he was selected by the Royals in the post-1969 minor-league draft. He started the ’70 season in the minors, but pitched 21 games for the Royals in the second half, before returning to the minors for all of 1971. (Wow, Topps had their hands full dealing with his yo-yoing career!) 

In November 1971 he was selected by the Brewers in the Rule 5 draft. (Ok, that explains his 1972 card with the Brewers.) However, he was released during spring training, having never played for Milwaukee. The same day, the Padres took THEIR turn on this merry-go-round, but by mid-June they swapped him to the Angels for infielder Ron Clark. 

Aurelio pitched 15 games for the Angels in the second half, then was dealt to the Phillies in December. Monteagudo never played for the Phillies, but did show up as a Phillie in the 1974 “Traded” subset. (If you couldn’t make the 1974 Phillies’ bullpen, you know it’s time to hang them up.) 

That’s exactly what he did, moving down to Mexico where he was primarily a starter for 4 different teams from 1974-80. 

There have been 3 players named Aurelio in major league history. All 3 were killed in car accidents between the ages of 44 and 52.


So, I have posted all the 1967 player cards I planned to, but that's not the end of this blog.  I still need to complete my team reviews for the Astros and the Mets, then just freelance whatever comes along.  

It was never my intent to post about every card in this or any other set.  Rather than blogging about cards, I have been blogging about players. My intention was to write about every player that appeared in the 1966 to 1969 sets, and every significant player in the 1970 set, but not necessarily repeat a player on multiple blogs. I have now reached that point on my '66 and '67 blogs, and I'm 6 cards away on my '68 blog. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Topps High Numbers Video

Earlier this week, FleerFan posted a video and some photos of the Topps 1967 cards on his Fleer Sticker Project blog. I wanted to also loop it into my blog.

Although the video was corny, it was a great find, and showed a bunch of kids playing with their 1967 Topps high numbers. (In the factory scene, the cards passing through the machine for packaging are from an earlier series, as evidenced by the Bill White card). 
This photo is just great. Imagine holding bunches of '67 high numbers in your hand - fresh out of the pack! Although I collected series 1 to 6 in 1967, the high numbers were not sold in my area, so I didn't get any of them until the 1980s, buying them individually at card stores for (as I recall) about $1.00 each. By the end of the 1980s, I had all but 5 of the high numbers. 
Right-to-left, I spy Bill Henry, Don Cardwell, another Bill Henry, Steve Hamilton, Sandy Alomar, another Don Cardwell, ANOTHER Bill Henry, Woody Woodward, and Cookie Rojas.
"Boys! How dare you deface those valuable high numbers by flipping them!" LOL