Saturday, March 31, 2018

Final Card - Mike White

This is the final card for Mike White (#31). It's also one of the few 1965 cards that shows the ".45s" logo on the cap.

1965 was the first season the team was named "Astros", and Topps wasn't up to speed at the start of the season. The Astros' cards in the first few series all have "Houston" on the pennant and either capless or airbrushed photos. This is one of the few (also Turk Farrell and Walt Bond) that escaped the airbrusher.

White was signed by the Indians in 1959, and played 2 seasons in their organization as a 3rd baseman before he was released in December 1960.

The expansion Angels signed him in April 1961, and after 1 season with their double-A team, he was drafted by the Colt .45s in the minor-league draft.

White only played 3 seasons for Houston. His debut came with 3 games in a September 1963 call-up, then 89 games during 1964. His final major-league action was 8 games in 1965, the last coming on May 5th.

After that it was back to the bush leagues, with the Astros ('65), Angels ('66), and Cubs ('67-'69) before retiring.

Mike's father Jo-Jo White played for the Tigers in the 1930s.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Bob Sadowski (#156)

Unlike most of the players I have posted on this 1965 blog, this is not the final card for Bob Sadowski. His last card came in the 1966 set, but that is one of the 8 final cards I am missing from that set, so this card will have to do.

He is one of two players named Bob Sadowski who played in the early 1960s. (The other was an infielder, who passed away last year.)

Sadowski was signed by the Cardinals in 1958. In June 1963 he was traded to the Milwaukee Braves (along with catcher Gene Oliver) for pitcher Lou Burdette. 4 days later, Bob made his major-league debut.

Bob pitched in 104 games for the Braves over the next 2 ½ seasons, spending all of ’64 and ’65 with Milwaukee. In 1965 he started the final home game for the Braves in Milwaukee.

After the 1965 season, he was traded to the Red Sox with pitcher Dan Osinski for 1st baseman Lee Thomas and pitchers Arnold Earley and Jay Ritchie. Sadowski only pitched 11 games for the Sox during the first half of 1966, then he was sent down to triple-A for the 2nd half.

He wrapped up his career in 1967 with the Braves’ double-A team.

Bob’s brother Ed was a catcher for the Red Sox (1960), Angels (1961-63) and Braves (1966). Another brother (Ted) pitched for the Senators/Twins from 1960-62.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Final Card - Bill Pleis

This is the final card for Bill Pleis (#122), at age 80 the oldest living player from the 1965-70 period that I have not yet featured on any of my blogs. Because this is his last card, and I didn’t collect cards prior to 1966 until recently, I didn’t know anything about him.

Pleis had a 6-year career (1961-66), all with the Twins. He was primarily a reliever, only making 10 starts among his 190 games.

Bill began his pro career in 1956, pitching for the unaffiliated Orlando Seratomas in the class-D Florida State League. By mid-August, he was acquired by the Washington Senators, and spent the next 4 seasons working his way up the ladder in their organization.

Although he never played for the Senators, following the team’s move to Minnesota prior to the 1961 season he made the team out of spring training. Pleis pitched most of ’61 and half of ’62 with the Twins, and was the team’s top lefthander in the bullpen as a rookie. In 1961 he won the first Twins’ home game in their new location.

Bill played fulltime with the Twins from 1963 to 1965, and led the team in games pitched (47) in 1964.

By 1966, his time with the Twins was winding down. He had been edged out of a job by newcomers Dave Boswell, Jim Merritt, and Pete Cimino, all at least 5 years younger than Pleis. Bill spent most of the season with triple-A Denver, and only pitched 8 games for the Twins in his last major-league season, all during the second half.

Pleis pitched 44 games for the Senators’ AAA team in 1967 and 23 games for the Red Sox’ AAA team in 1968 before retiring.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Final Card - Wayne Schurr

This is Wayne Schurr's final card (#149). His only other card is a late-series National League Rookie Stars card in the 1964 set.

So far on this blog, I have only been posting players whose final card is in the 1965 set. Wayne is the first player posted here whose major-league debut was in 1964.

Schurr was signed by the Giants in 1959 and made his way to the Cubs in the Rule 5 draft after the 1963 season. His only major-league action came in 1964, when he appeared in 26 games in relief during the first half of the season.

By late-July '64 he was back in the minors, where he stayed through the 1966 season. (Normally, Rule 5 players are returned to their original team if their new team doesn't keep them on the roster the entire year, but I guess the Giants didn't want him back.)

After the 1966 season, he and catcher Chris Krug were traded to the Angels for ex-Colt .45s outfielder Mike White (who will be featured on this blog 3 posts from now), but Schurr did not play after 1966.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Final Card - Frank Bolling

At age 85, Frank Bolling is the oldest living player from the 1965-70 time period that I have not yet blogged about.

This is Frank’s final card (#269), even though he continued to be the Braves’ starting 2nd baseman for part of the 1966 season (a job he held since the start of the 1961 season).

Bolling was signed by the Tigers in June 1951. He played in the minors for the rest of that season, and all of 1952-53.

He made his major-league debut in April 1954, taking over the starting 2nd base job that was manned in ’53 by Johnny Pesky and others.

After missing 1 year (1955) in military service, Bolling returned to the Tigers as their regular 2nd baseman for the next 5 seasons, and had more than 640 plate appearances in 2 of those seasons. Frank also won a Gold Glove award in 1958.

In December 1960, Bolling and outfielder Neil Chrisley were traded to the Milwaukee Braves for pitcher Terry Fox, catcher Dick Brown, 2nd baseman Chuck Cottier, and center fielder Bill Bruton.

Frank matched his season-high home run total with 15 in 1961, and was an All-Star in his first 2 seasons with the Braves. He was the regular 2nd baseman through the 1965 season, starting 141 games in his final season as a regular.

In 1966 he only started 57 games, since shortstop Woody Woodward was splitting his time between shortstop and 2nd base, and the Braves were also working rookie Felix Millan into the lineup.

Bolling’s last game was on 9/15/1966, and he was released after the season, ending his 12-year career. In 12 seasons he played 12,983 innings, and all at 2nd base!

Frank’s brother Milt was an infielder for the Red Sox in the 1950s.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Final Card - Bill Virdon

Here is the final card for long-time Pirates' center fielder Bill Virdon (#69).

Although mostly known as Pirate, Virdon was signed by the Yankees in 1950, and began his major-league career in 1955 with the Cardinals (having been traded for Enos Slaughter). Bill hit .281 in 144 games and won the Rookie of the Year award in 1955.

After 2 full seasons with the Cards, Virdon was traded to the Pirates in May 1956 for pitcher Dick Litlefield and outfielder Bobby Del Greco. (Whaaaaat? I never heard of Littlefield, but his record seems to indicate he was a journeyman starter/reliever whose career was winding down, and Del Greco was a young outfielder, but only progressed to so-so role player for bad teams like the Phillies and Athletics.)

Meanwhile, Virdon put in 10 solid seasons as the Pirates' every-day center fielder, playing alongside Roberto Clemente every year.

Virdon retired after the 1965 season, and became a coach for the Pirates. During the 1968 season he was activated for 6 games in July. One of our fellow bloggers has made a custom card documenting Virdon's 1968 season, which can be found in this collection of 1968 custom cards.

Bill also managed 4 teams, beginning in 1972. He manage the Pirates in '72 and '73. They won the NL East but lost the NLCS to the Reds. The following season he was replaced by 4-time Pirates' manager Danny Murtaugh in the final month. He moved on to the Yankees for 1974 and the first 100 games of 1975, until meeting the fate of many Yankee managers.

His longest managerial stint was wit the Astros. Hired in the final weeks of the '75 season, he stayed on until midway through 1982.  Along the way, his team won the NL West in 1980 (losing to the Phillies) and won the second half of the strike-split 1981 season, losing to the Dodgers in the playoffs.

Virdon's final manager job was with the Montreal Expos (1983-84). Since then, he coached off-and-on for the Pirates, and more recently is a spring training instructor for the Pirates.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Final Card - Frank Lary

For the past year or so, I’ve been trying to post a card for the oldest living players from the 1965–1970 time period who I have not blogged about yet.

I thought I had topped out with those at ages 77 or 78, but recently I found that several with final cards in the 1965 set (Wally Moon, Frank Lary, Bill Virdon, Frank Bolling) are in their mid-80s. So here we go… 

Frank Lary (#127) was signed by the Tigers in 1950, after playing for the University of Alabama for 2 seasons and pitching in the College World Series. He played in the minors in 1950, then missed the next 2 seasons while in military service. He returned in 1953 for 2 seasons in triple-A (winning 17 and 15 games), and made his debut with Detroit in September 1954.

Frank was a fixture in the Tigers’ starting rotation from 1955 to 1962. In 1955, Lary (age 25) and Billy Hoeft (age 23) were the Tigers’ top 2 starting pitchers.

In 1956 Frank led the AL with 21 wins, and also starts (38) and innings (294). He led the AL in complete games in ’58, ’60, and ’61.

Jim Bunning joined the rotation in 1957, and with Bunning as the ace, Lary, Hoeft, and Paul Foytack formed the rotation’s backbone for several seasons (with Bunning and Lary all the way to 1963).

Frank was selected for the All-Star team in ’60 and ’61, and also won a Gold Glove award in 1961. The same year, he won 23 games and finished 3rd in the Cy Young voting.

After 7 seasons as a workhorse, Lary missed some time in '62 and '63. Shoulder problems caused him to spend 2 months on the DL in 1962, and he was rehabbing in the minors for May and June 1963. He rejoined the team in July, but compiled a 4-9 record in only 16 games.

Lary’s final 2 seasons (1964-65) were spent bouncing from the Tigers to the Mets, Braves, Mets again, and White Sox. His combined record for those 2 seasons was 5-8 in 46 games (28 in relief).

He was released by the White Sox after the 1965 season, ending his 12-year career. He later coached and scouted for several teams.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Final Card - Wally Moon

Here is the final card for outfielder Wally Moon (#247). Wally played for 12 seasons (1954-65), the first 5 with the Cardinals and the last 7 with the Dodgers.

Moon played in the minors from 1950-53, then made his debut with the Cardinals in April 1954. Wally hit .304 in 151 games as a rookie, winning the Rookie of the Year award that season.

Moon was an every-day player for the Cards in his 1st 4 seasons. Initially the center fielder, he moved to 1st base for the 2nd half of 1955 and the 1st half of 1956, before finishing the ’56 season as the team’s right fielder (swapping positions with Stan Musial). Wally was named to his first All-Star team in 1957.

In 1958, his playing time decreased when rookie Curt Flood took over the center field job, leaving everyone else to compete for time at the corners. After the ’58 season Moon was traded to the Dodgers for outfielder Gino Cimoli.

Wally was the Dodgers’ regular left fielder from 1959-61, batting .302, .299, and .328 in those seasons. He made the All-Star team again in ’59 and won a Gold Glove in 1960.

Moon was relegated to backup status in his last 4 years with Los Angeles. With Tommy Davis, Willie Davis, and Frank Howard in the outfield, there was not much playing time left for Wally. He filled in at the corner outfield spots and at first base occasionally, and in 1962 did find increased playing time at the corners, although the Dodgers still used the same 3 starting outfielders through the 1964 season.

Frank Howard was traded away prior to the ’65 season, but that just opened a spot at 1B for young Wes Parker (with Ron Fairly moving to right field). By this time, Moon’s career was coming to an end, only appearing in 53 games in his final season.