Thursday, January 12, 2017

Final Card - Don Lee

This is the final card for pitcher Don Lee (#595). He had a card every year from 1957-65, except for 1958. Although he already had a card in the 1957 set as a Tiger, his 1959 card was a Sporting News Rookie Stars card.

Lee was signed by the Tigers in 1956, and played in the minors from 1956-59, while also appearing in 11 games for Detroit in '57 and one game in '58.

During the 1959-60 off-season, he was traded to the Braves, then selected by the Senators in the Rule 5 draft. He made the majors for good at the start of 1960, and pitched in 44 games (20 starts) while logging the 2nd-most innings of any Sens’ hurler that year. (Not bad for a Rule 5 pickup!)

The team careened to a 73-81 finish in their last season before moving to Minnesota. In September 1960, Red Sox' slugger Ted Williams hit a home run off of Lee. Teddy Ballgame had also hit a homer off Lee’s father in 1939, thus becoming the only player to go yard against a father and a son.

Don pitched mostly out of the Twins' bullpen in 1961, and in May 1962 was traded to the Angels. Lee remained with the Angels through June 1965. Initially a starter, by 1964 he was mostly a reliever.

The Angels traded Lee to the Astros in June 1965 for outfielder Al Spangler. One year later, he was flipped to the Cubs. He appeared in 25 games (but only 37 innings) in 1966, his final season.

He pitched in the minors in '66 and '67 before retiring.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Final Card - Ted Wills

Here is the final card for Ted Wills (#488). I wonder why he even had a card in this set, since his last action was in 1962. His only MLB experience after 1962 was 15 games in the first 2 months of 1965, but that was with the White Sox, not the Reds.

Wills was signed by the Red Sox in 1955, and after winning 15 games in 3 seasons (’55, ’56, ’58), he made his major-league debut with Boston in late-May 1959. He pitched in 9 games (8 starts) through the middle of July that season.

Ted split the ’60 and ’61 seasons between the Red Sox and their AAA team. He pitched in 15 and 17 games for the Sox those years, all in relief.

Wills only appeared in 1 game for the BoSox in 1962, pitching in 1 game. Because he gave up 1 earned run but got no outs (thus zero innings), his record shows an ERA of "infinity". He was traded to the Reds in early May, and appeared in 26 games for Cincinnati. 1962 was his only season NOT in the minors.

Wills spent the next 2 years playing for the Reds’ AAA team. After appearing briefly with the White Sox in early, he pitched the remainder of that season for the Indians’ and Cardinals’ AAA teams.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Final Card - Billy Moran

Billy Moran (#562) had a 7-year career from 1958-65, with most of his playing time coming as the Los Angeles Angels’ regular 2nd baseman during their first few years.

Moran was signed by the Indians in 1952, and played 3 seasons in the low minors, including Spartanburg, SC and Reading, PA. (Hmm… beginning in the mid-1960s, these 2 teams became Phillies’ affiliates.) 

After missing the ’55 and ’56 seasons while in military service, he resumed his career in 1957 with the AAA San Diego Padres (also a Phillies’ outpost in the mid-1960s!)

Moran played the entire 1958 season with the Indians, starting 52 games at 2nd base and 21 at the hot corner. He was back in triple-A for most of 1959 and all of 1960.

After the 1960 season, he was purchased by the Toronto Maple Leafs, an independent AAA team in the International League. Billy had played for Toronto in 1960 when it was an Indians’ affiliate, but Toronto became unaffiliated in ’61, and retained Moran by buying his contract from the Indians.

The following June, the Leafs traded him to the expansion Angels, where he replaced incumbent Ken Aspromonte as the 2nd baseman.

Moran was the Angels’ regular 2nd baseman in ’62 and ’63, starting 159 and 150 games in those 2 seasons. He was also selected to the All-Star team in 1962.

Billy lost the starting 2nd base job to Bobby Knoop in 1964, and in June he was returned to the Indians in a 3-team deal. The Indians sent 2nd baseman Jerry Kindall to the Twins, while the Twins sent 1st baseman Vic Power and outfielder Lenny Green to the Angels. The Angels also sent INF-OF Frank Kostro to the Twins.

Moran was a backup for the Indians in his final 2 seasons. He started 32 games at 3rd base (behind Max Alvis) in 1964, and played mostly in AAA in 1965 – only getting 22 at-bats in 24 games in 1965.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Final Card - Frank Baumann

This is the final card for 11-year veteran Frank Baumann (#161). He played 5 years with the Red Sox and 5 years with the White Sox, then wrapped up his career playing for the Cubs in the first month of the ’65 season.

Baumann (BOW-man) was signed by the Red Sox in 1952, and after 2 seasons in the minors, he missed all of ’54 and part of ’55 while in military service. Upon his return he was assigned to the parent club in July and pitched in 7 games over the 2nd half of the season.

From 1956 to 1958, Frank played mostly in the minors, but also pitched for the Red Sox each season. His only full season with Boston was 1959, appearing in 26 games but with an ERA over 4.

In November 1959 he was traded to the ChiSox for backup 1st baseman Ron Jackson. Baumann’s best season was 1960, when he pitched in 47 games (starting 20) and compiled a 13-6 record along with an AL-leading 2.67 ERA.

Baumann never duplicated his 1960 success. He lost 13 games the following season and saw his ERA balloon to 5.61. His career continued to go downhill from there.

Frank was traded to the Cubs after the 1964 season for journeyman backup catcher Jimmie Schaffer. He pitched in 4 games (4 innings total) during the first 4 weeks of the season, then spent the rest of 1965 with the Cubs’ AAA team before retiring.

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).