Friday, November 25, 2016

Walt Bond (#109)

When I began this blog last year, it was not my intent to post cards for players I had already posted elsewhere. However, while returning the Gene Stephens card to my 1965 binder after a recent post, I was browsing through it and found several cards of interest that were not the player's final card. The previous post with 4 manager cards were some that fell into that category, as does this card of Walt Bond.

I previously posted Walt Bond's final card on my 1967 blog six years ago, therefore I will not repeat his career exploits again. I am posting this card for several reasons:

1) This is one of the few 1965 "Houston" cards that escaped the Topps Airbrush Treatment. Although the pennant says "Houston", we see a nice shot of the Houston Colt .45s' cap. I can only recall this card and Turk Farrell's card that show the .45s logo

2) Walt is looking very pensive in this photo.  It is all the more somber with the realization that just over 2 years after this card hit collectors' hands, Bond will have passed away from leukemia in September 1967, after having played for the Twins earlier that season.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?"

Oh, for the days of interesting manager cards!

The title of this post was famously attributed to Mets' manager Casey Stengel, but here we have three other guys giving him a run for his money in the Exasperated Manager Sweepstakes.

Casey is discussing his team's chances: "I don't know what I'm gonna DO with these guys!"

Al Lopez seems to be channeling Vince Lombardi or Hank Stram: "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON OUT THERE?!?!?!"

Birdie Tebbetts looks simply too worn out to say anything.

"Head Coach" Bob Kennedy is thinking "Momma said there'll be days like this!"

There is a poll on the sidebar for you to pick your favorite card from these four. ----------->

Monday, November 21, 2016

Final Card - Gene Stephens

On my other blogs, I have been tracking the oldest living players with cards in the 1966-70 sets who I have not blogged yet. For now, the oldest over there is age 78. 

I just realized yesterday that I have the 1965 cards for about a dozen players (whose final card is in the 1965 set) who are still with us and in their early 80s. So, I have added a list gadget to this blog, similar to what I have on the other blogs. 

Gene Stephens is the oldest, at age 83. My intent has not been to maintain a mortality checklist, but rather to prioritize and recognize these players with blog posts while they are still with us. 

Gene Stephens (#498) was an outfielder who saw most of his playing time with the Red Sox in the 2nd half of the 1950s. He was signed by Boston in 1951, and after clubbing 22 homers at Class D High Point-Thomasville, NC that season, he was promoted to the Red Sox at the start of 1952. [Hmm… I remember having a "77 Sunset Strip" comic book in the early 1960s, and the story occurred in High Point, NC. All I remember about it was something to do with a trident.] 

After playing 9 games, he was sent back down to the minors, spending the year with A and AAA teams until getting a September call-up.

Gene split the ’53 season between the BoSox and AAA Louisville, and had 3 hits in one inning for Boston that year, the first time that was done in this century. No matter, he was back with Louisville again for all of 1954.

Stephens made the Sox for good in 1955, and was the team’s 4th outfielder (behind Ted Williams, Jackie Jensen, and Jim Piersall) for the next 4 seasons. In 1959 Gene split the left field starts with Williams, who only played 75 games that season.

In June 1960, Stephens was traded to the Orioles for outfielder Willie Tasby. Gene started 47 games over the rest of the season, and was the team’s #3 outfielder, but far behind the top 2 in terms of playing time.

The following June it was on to Kansas City, by this time a part-time player. After 65 games in ’61 and only 5 games in ’62, he was dealt to the White Sox.

Stephens spent most of 1963 in the minors, appearing in only 6 games for Chicago. In his final big-league season (1964) he played only half the games. He retired after 2 more seasons in the minors (’65, ’67) and 1 in Japan (’66).

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Final Card - Joey Amalfitano

Here is the final card for Cubs’ infielder Joey Amalfitano (#402), even though he played in 1966 and very briefly in 1967. Others have made custom cards for those years, which I’ve included at the end of this post.

Amalfitano was signed by the New York Giants in 1954 as a bonus baby. As such, he was required to be carried on the major-league roster for 2 seasons. He played 9 games in 1954 and 36 games in 1955, and was used almost exclusively as a pinch-runner.

After the 1955 season, he went to the minors for the inevitable “seasoning”.

After 3 years on the farm, the Giants released him in December 1958. He was picked up by the unaffiliated Toronto Maple Leafs, a triple-A International League team. He played all of 1959 with Toronto, then was reacquired by the Giants in the Rule 5 draft. Joey collected 328 at-bats in 1960 as the team’s backup 2nd and 3rd baseman.

In 1961, he was the Giant’s primary 2nd baseman, sharing the job with Chuck Hiller. Most of Joey’s starts came in the 2nd half of the season.

The expansion Houston Colt .45s selected him in the draft following the 1961 season, and was the regular 2nd baseman in their inaugural season. After just 1 season in Houston, Amalfitano was traded back to the Giants for outfielder Manny Mota, and spent the 1963 season backing up Hiller at 2nd base.

With the sudden death of 2nd baseman Ken Hubbs in February 1964, the Cubs scrambled for a replacement, and acquired Joey in late-March. He was the primary 2nd baseman in ’64, with utility infielder Jimmy Stewart playing almost as many games there. It was purely a stopgap move, as Glenn Beckert would take over in 1965 and beyond.

Amalfitano settled into a utility role for the remainder of his career with the Cubs, playing only 67 and 41 games (12 and 8 starts) in ’65 and ’66. He was released by the Cubs after the 1966 season, then re-signed in late-May 1967, where he appeared in 4 games over the next month, finishing his career the same way it started – as a pinch-runner.

Released again on July 6th, he immediately joined the Cubs coaching staff, and coached with the Cubs, Padres, Giants, and Cubs again through the late 1970s. Joey managed the Cubs from 1979-81, and was the Dodgers’ 3rd base coach from 1983-98. Since then he has worked in the Giants’ minor-league operations.

A true baseball lifer!

Custom Cards:

By John @ Cards That Never Were:

By Steve @ White Sox Cards:

I don't remember where I found this one:

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Final Card - Herm Starrette

This is the final card for Herm Starrette (#539), a reliever for the Orioles from 1963-65. His rookie card was in the 1964 set. Herm’s floating-head also appeared on Braves’ manager Eddie Mathews’ card in 1974. I first heard of Starrette when he was hired as the Phillies’ pitching coach during the Dallas Green regime from 1980-81.

Starrette was signed by the Orioles in 1958 and played 5 seasons in the low minors. From 1963 to 1965, he split each season between the Orioles and their AAA team in Rochester, NY. His best big-league season was 1963, pitching in 18 games.

Starrette retired after pitching all of 1966 with Rochester. He had played in 27 games over his 3-season major-league career, all in relief.

After his playing career, he was the Orioles’ minor-league pitching coach from 1967-73, where he oversaw the development of their young pitchers.

Beginning in 1974, he spent the next 28 years in a variety of positions (major-league coach, minor-league instructor, farm system director) for the Braves, Orioles, Giants, Phillies, Brewers, Cubs, Expos and Red Sox. He was the Phillies’ pitching coach during their World Series championship season in 1980.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Final Card - Doc Edwards

Doc Edwards (#239) was a backup catcher for the Indians, Athletics, and Yankees in the mid-1960s.

He was signed by Cleveland in 1958 and played 4 full seasons in their farm system, before making his major-league debut with the Indians in April 1962. As the backup to Johnny Romano, Doc started 34 games as a rookie, mostly in August and September.

In May of the following season, he was traded to the Athletics for catcher Joe Azcue and shortstop Dick Howser (quite a haul for an unproven 2nd-year backup catcher!) Edwards alternated with Haywood Sullivan for a month, then shared the job with Charley Lau (acquired from the Orioles on July 1st) for the rest of the season. Kay-Cee used 4 backstops that season, with Edwards getting the most starts (58).

Doc was the #1 catcher in 1964, making 71 starts while sharing the load with Billy Bryan (who had opened the ’63 season as the starter before returning to the minors) and Lau.

1965 began with Edwards and Bryan splitting the catching duties again, but a month later Doc was traded to the Yankees for catcher John Blanchard and pitcher Rollie Sheldon. Edwards started 34 games behind Elston Howard over the next 2 months, but was sent down to the minors for the 2nd half of the season when the Yankees decided to go with young Jake Gibbs as the backup.

In January 1966, he was returned to the Indians in exchange for outfielder Lou Clinton, but spent the entire season in triple-A. One year later, the same thing: traded to the Astros with outfielder Jim Landis for outfielder Lee Maye, but played all of 1967 in the minors.

Edwards major-league career appeared to be over, as he moved on to the Phillies’ organization and played in triple-A for the ‘68 and ’69 seasons.

Prior to the 1970 season, the Phillies installed a new manager (Frank Lucchesi) and a new coaching staff, with Edwards as the bullpen coach. It appeared he would settle into the coaching ranks, until both Phillies’ catchers (Tim McCarver and Mike Ryan) broke their hands in the same inning of a game on May 2nd. The Phils called up their 2 AAA catchers Mike Compton and Del Bates the next day. (Neither played in the majors before or after 1970.)

After 1 month, Bates and his .133 batting average was sent back down, and Edwards was activated to help out. Doc got into 34 games (28 starts) over the next 3 months alternating with Ryan (who had returned in early July) and Compton. McCarver returned to active duty on 9/1, spelling the end Doc’s playing career.

Edwards coached for the Phillies for a few more seasons, then managed in the minors from 1973-85.  After managing the Indians from 1987-89, he again managed in the minors from 1993-2012.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Final Card - Ed Roebuck

Ed Roebuck pitched in 460 games during his 11 year career, but only 1 as a starting pitcher. He pitched 7 ½ seasons with the Dodgers, and parts of 2 seasons with the Senators before wrapping up his career with 2-plus seasons with the Phillies. Philadelphia released him after the 1965 season, then resigned him early in 1966, but too late for Topps to include him in the 1966 set.

Roebuck was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949 and played 6 seasons in the minors, including the Dodgers’ AAA Montreal Royals from 1952-54, where some of his teammates were Tommy Lasorda, Jim Gilliam, Johnny Podres, Don Hoak, and Roberto Clemente. (Yes, Clemente once was a Dodgers’ farmhand, who the Pirates selected in the Rule 5 draft!) 

Roebuck made his major-league debut with Brooklyn in 1955, and led the staff with 12 saves as a 23-year-old rookie. He was a key member of their bullpen for the next 4 seasons, and pitched in the ’55 and ’56 World Series.

After spending the 1959 season in triple-A, he returned to the Dodgers the following year and pitched 116 innings over 58 games, compiling an 8-3 record. He was limited to 5 games in 1961, but bounced back in ’62 with another good season: a 10-2 record in 64 games (119 innings).

In July 1963 he was traded to the Senators for infielder Marv Breeding. Ed only lasted in Washington until the following April, when the Phillies purchased his contract to bolster their bullpen, which featured ace Jack Baldschun along with 18-year-old rookie Rick Wise, aging veterans Bobby Shantz and Johnny Klippstein, and organizational schmoes John Boozer and Dallas Green.

Roebuck compiled a 5-3 record with a 2.21 ERA and notched 12 saves in 1964, 2nd behind Baldschun's 21 saves. In 1965 Ed slipped to last-man-in-the-bullpen, behind Baldschun, newcomers Gary Wagner and Bo Belinsky, and ex-starter Art Mahaffey.

Ed was released after the 1965 season, but resigned with the Phils early in the 1966 season. After 6 games (totaling 6 innings) between mid-June and early-July the Phillies released him again, ending his major-league career. He played the remainder of '66 and 1967 with the Phillies' AAA team in San Diego.

After his playing career, Roebuck was a scout for the Dodgers, Phillies, Braves, Reds, Pirates, and Red Sox.

With this post, I have now featured every player (having a baseball card) who suited up for the Phillies between 1966 and 1970.