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.)