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. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Dick Bertell (#27)

Dick Bertell’s final card was in the 1966 set, but since that is one of the 6 dozen cards I am missing from that set, this card will have to do.

Bertell began his career with 5 games in 1960, and ended it with 2 games in 1967. In-between, he played for 5 seasons (1961-65) as the Cubs’ #1 catcher, although he never started more than 105 games in a season, and some years started less than half the games.

Dick was signed by the Cubs in 1957, and played in the minors until making his debut in September 1960.

For the next 4 seasons, he would platoon with others behind the plate, but played more than any other Cubs' catcher.

In May 1965 Bertell and outfielder Len Gabrielson were traded to the Giants for pitcher Bob Hendley, catcher Ed Bailey, and outfielder Harvey Kuenn. Dick finished up the ’65 season as a backup catcher with the Giants, and although he spent the entire 1966 season with the Giants’ AAA team, he had a card in the ‘66 Topps set.

Just days before the start of the 1967 season, the Giants traded him back to the Cubs, where he played 2 games (starting the first 2 games of the season) then was relegated to the bench until he was released in late-May.

Bertell passed away in 1999 at age 64.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Final Card - Bill Stafford

Here is the final card for Yankees’ starting pitcher Bill Stafford (#281). Stafford was one of the top 10 Yankees pitchers during the 1960s, in terms of playing time. For the others, see here.

Stafford was signed by the Yankees in 1957, and pitched from 1957-60 in their farm system. He made his debut with the Yankees in August 1960 and went 3-1 in 11 games in his rookie season, joining the rotation of Whitey Ford, Art Ditmar, Ralph Terry, and Bob Turley. He also pitched 6 innings in relief in the World Series vs. the Pirates.

In ’61 and ’62, Bill was among the team’s top 3 starting pitchers (with Ford and Terry), finishing with a 14-9 record in both seasons. He also compiled a 1-0 record in the World Series each year.

Stafford began the ’63 season as a starter, but by mid-season he moved to the bullpen, as Jim Bouton (21-7), rookie Al Downing (13-5), and Stan Williams (9-8) joined the rotation that year.

In 1964 he only made 1 start, as he spent the season in the Yankees’ crowded bullpen.

In 1965 Bill was back in the rotation, as the #5 starter behind Mel Stottlemyre, Ford, Downing, and Bouton. He finished up with a poor 3-8 record, and that would be his last season in pinstripes.

Stafford found himself back in the minors to start the 1966 season, and in mid-June was traded (with pitcher Gil Blanco and outfielder Roger Repoz) to the Kansas City Athletics (where else?) for pitcher Fred Talbot and catcher Bill Bryan. He started 8 games for the A’s in June and July, but did not play in August or September.

After beginning the ’67 season in the minors, he relieved in 14 games for the Athletics in August and September. That was the end of his MLB career.

Stafford continued in the minors for 2 more seasons, playing for Oakland’s and the Angels’ AAA teams in 1968, and for the Giants’ and White Sox’ AAA teams in 1969. The addition of 4 expansion teams could not get him back to the majors.

Bill Stafford passed away in 2001 at age 63.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Final Card - Casey Stengel

Here is the final card for long-time New York manager Casey Stengel (#135).

Casey hailed from Kansas City (hence the nickname “Casey”) and later was known as “The Old Perfessor”.

Stengel was an outfielder for the Dodgers, Pirates, Phillies, Giants, and Braves from 1912-1925. He was a regular in 1913-17, 1920, and 1924. In 1914 he hit .316 and led the NL with a .404 on-base percentage.

After retiring as a player, Casey managed the Brooklyn Dodgers (1934-36) and Boston Braves (1938-43), before moving on to the scene of his greatest triumphs.

Stengel managed the Yankees from 1949 to 1960. In those 12 seasons, the Yankees won the AL pennant TEN times and were World Champs 7 times (including 5 straight from 1949-53).

The Yankees fired him after losing the 1960 World Series to the Pirates, and he hooked on with the expansion Mets 2 years later (probably more for name recognition and ticket sales than anything else. He was 71 years old when the Mets hired him.)

Stengel retired as Mets manager in August 1965, after breaking a hip.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame (as a manager) in 1966, and passed away in 1975 at age 85.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Final Card - Nellie Fox

Snowed-in today. Good time to catch up on some blogging… 

Here is the final card for Nellie Fox (#485), the long-time White Sox’ 2nd baseman. He was a player-coach in his final season.

Fox was signed by the Philadelphia Athletics in 1944, and worked his way up through the minors (with a detour into military service in 1946), while playing a few games with the A’s in ’47 and ’48.

Nellie made the Athletics for good at the start of the 1949 season, and after riding the bench for 2 months, was their starting 2nd baseman for almost every game after mid-June. After the ’49 season he was traded to the White Sox.

Fox was the White Sox’ every-day 2nd baseman from 1950 through the end of the 1963 season. He was an All-Star every season from 1951-61, and again in 1963. Fox also won the AL MVP award in 1959, the year the Sox made it to the World Series. He led the AL in hits 4 times, and in triples once. He also led the league in at-bats 5 times.

After the 1963 season, he was traded to the Houston Colt .45s for pitcher Jim Golden and outfielder Danny Murphy. (Murphy later converted to pitcher and played for the Sox in ’69 and ’70.) Fox was the Colts’ 2nd baseman in 1964, until losing the job to September call-up Joe Morgan.

Nellie was released after the 1964 season, and joined the coaching staff. In 1965 he was activated from May 12th to July 31st, and played in 21 games, mostly as a pinch-hitter but also at all 3 bases.

He continued coaching for the Astros though the 1967 season, then coached for the Senators/Rangers from 1968-72.

Fox passed away in 1975 (from cancer) at age 47.

He received 74% of the vote in his final year of eligibility on the ballot, but was eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans’ Committee in 1997.