Saturday, December 26, 2015

Final Card - Dick Sisler

After a long playing career, Dick Sisler (#158) had a very short career as a manager for the Reds. He split the managing duties with the ailing Fred Hutchinson in 1964, then put in a full season in 1965 before he was dismissed following the season.

Sisler (whose father George was a Hall of Fame 1st baseman for the St. Louis Browns in the 1910s and 1920s, and was the AL MVP in 1922) was signed by the Cardinals in 1939, and played for St. Louis in ’46 and ’47.

He may be best known as an outfielder for the Phillies’ “Whiz Kids” teams from 1948-51, playing alongside Richie Ashburn and Del Ennis. (Actually, he played 1st base in ’48 and ’49).

After the 1951 season, he and others were traded to the Reds for catcher Smoky Burgess and others. After 11 games, he returned to the Cardinals, where he played through the 1953 season.

After his playing career, he managed in the minors, then became a coach for the Reds from 1961 until his appointment as manager. He later returned to coaching for the Cardinals, Padres, and Mets.

His brother Dave was a pitcher for several teams from 1956-62.

Disk Sisler passed away in 1998 at age 78.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Final Card - Tony Kubek

Staying with my plan to feature only those players whose final card is in the 1965 set, today we have Yankees’ shortstop Tony Kubek (#65). 

Kubek was signed by the Yankees in 1954, and made his major-league debut in April 1957. He was a regular for each of his 9 seasons (1957-65) with the Yanks, although he missed much of the 1962 season while in military service. Normally the starting shortstop, he played all over the diamond in ’57 and ’59.

With veteran Gil McDougald holding down the shortstop job in 1957, Kubek started several dozen games at SS, 3B, and LF, and hit .297 in 475 plate appearances as a rookie. That was good enough to land the AL Rookie of the Year award, snaring 23 of the 24 1st place votes. He was also 8-for-28 (.286) with 2 homers and 4 RBI in the 1957 Fall Classic, although they lost to the Braves.

In 1958 McDougald moved to 2nd base, opening up shortstop for Kubek. His playing time soared to 597 plate appearances, and although his batting average dropped to .265, he made his first of 3 All-Star games. The Yankees returned to the World Series and won the re-match with the Braves. Kubek however, only hit .048 in the post-season.

Tony started almost half the team’s games at shortstop in 1959, while also making a few dozen starts at each outfield position, and at 3rd base. He made his 2nd All-Star team, but the Yankees did not make the post-season (for only the 2nd time in that decade).

Kubek played almost exclusively at shortstop for the remainder of his career. In 1960 he reached double-digits in home runs (14) and in ’61 made his 3rd and final All-Star team. He also played in the World Series 4 more times (1960-63).

In 1962 Tony played only 45 games, as he spent most of the year in the military. It was the only year he hit over .300 (.314).

A few years ago I was watching a replay of the 1964 World Series between the Yankees and the Cardinals. I was surprised to see that Kubek did not play in any of the games (must have been injured). Kubek had been the leadoff batter all season, and I thought it was odd that Kubek’s replacement (the light-hitting Phil Linz) was kept in the leadoff spot for the World Series.

Tony retired after the 1965 season, due to a back injury. He became a TV broadcaster with NBC for 24 years, often paired with Curt Gowdy or Bob Costas. He also broadcast the Toronto Blue Jays games from 1977-89.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Final (Baseball) Card - Dave DeBusschere

Here is the last of Dave DeBusschere's three baseball cards (#297). Although his only solo cards are in the ’64 and ’65 Topps sets, he spent those 2 seasons pitching in triple-A.

Dave was signed by the White Sox in April 1962 and was pitching in Chicago later that same month. He appeared in 12 games for the Sox in his rookie season, but was sent to the minors in June.

DeBusschere returned to the White Sox for all of the 1963 season, starting 10 of his 24 games and fashioning a 3.09 ERA in 84 innings. He pitched for the Sox’ AAA team in Indianapolis for the next 2 seasons, before hanging up his glove and focusing solely on basketball.

Other MLB players (including Dick Groat, Steve Hamilton, and Ron Reed) also played in the NBA, but none to the level of DeBusschere.

Dave began his NBA career the same time as his MLB career (1962-63), but after his 2 seasons with the White Sox, his b-ball career really blossomed. He played 7 seasons with the Pistons and 6 with the Knicks, retiring from the NBA after the 1973-74 season. He was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 1983.

DeBusschere passed away in 2003 at age 62.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Final Card - Warren Spahn

Here is the final card for hall-of-fame pitcher Warren Spahn  (#205). This card is one of three Spahn pieces in my collection. Spahn is featured as a player/coach, one of 3 cards in the 1965 set with that designation (Yogi Berra and Nellie Fox were the others).

Warren began his major-league career back in 1942, with the Boston Braves. After his rookie season, he missed 3 years to military service during World War II before returning to the Braves in 1946.

Spahn played for the Braves through the 1964 season, missing the Boston-Milwaukee-Atlanta trifecta by 2 years (something only accomplished by Eddie Mathews).

Spahn won 20 or more games 13 times, including a 6-year streak from 1956-61. He led the NL in wins 8 times, and his career high of 23 wins was achieved twice – in 1953 at age 32, and in 1963 at age 42! He won the Cy Young Award in 1957, and was the runner-up in '58, '60, and '61.

1965 was Warren’s last season, which he split between the Mets and Giants.

Warren was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973. He passed away in 2003 at age 82.

A few years ago, I was watching Bob Costas interview Willie Mays on the MLB Network, and the subject of a 16-inning duel in July 1963 between Spahn and Juan Marichal came up. Both pitchers went the distance, but at some point Giants’ manager Alvin Dark was going to lift Marichal from the game. The 25-year-old Marichal told Dark "See that guy on the mound? He's 42 years old. There's no way I'm coming out of this game before he does!"

Saturday, October 17, 2015


I know, I know. The last thing I need is another blog. And why 1965? Kevin has already done a great job with “The Great 1965 Topps Project”, completing that a few years ago.

In the past few months I decided to chase the 1965 Topps set. Prior to this year, I had about 100 of the cards. Here’s my 1965 back story:

1967 or 1968:
I only had the Stan Williams card and a badly-battered Deron Johnson card. I don’t know where I got them, since I wasn’t collecting 1965 cards then. Maybe they came from Billy across the street - he was a frequent trading partner for my brother and me in ’67 and ‘68. [Billy was my old army buddy, and by "army" I mean elementary-school backyard army. Did kids even play army in the 1970s and 1980s? They sure did in the 1960s. We had "Combat!" and "The Gallant Men" on TV every week, and Vietnam was not yet in the forefront of anyone’s mind. One of us (not me) even had the Johnny-7 One-Man Army (as mentioned by Sinbad in the movie "Jingle All the Way").]

Anyway, for all these years I assumed some kid penned-in the NY logo on Williams’ cap, until I saw his card on Kevin’s blog. It was also colored in! Good job, Topps!

Sometime in the 1980s, I set out to complete my 1967-1969 sets (all the high numbers), as well as all the Phillies cards from 1964 to the present. I met those goals, except for five 1967 high numbers and the 1973 Mike Schmidt rookie card. This increased my 1965 card total from 2 to a few dozen.

After being out of the hobby from 1993 to 2008, I jumped back in with 3 goals: resume collecting the Phillies' team sets, collect the 1966 Topps set (I only had the Phillies cards at that point), and get the "final cards" for any player in the 1962 through 1965 sets. Along with reaching the 85% mark for the 1966 set, I now had about 100 1965 cards.

Summer 2015: 
Frequent trips to the same local antiques store over the past 3 years have netted this and these. I noticed they also had a lot of reasonably-priced cards from the 1960s, so I put together my 1965 want list and hit that store several times in the past few months. I now have over 230 of the cards (40%). Last week, the set graduated from my 1960-65 binder to its own binder.

Going Forward:
Although this blog’s appearance is the same as my other blogs, I’m not sure what the content of each post will be yet. Kevin has already reviewed each player’s career in his blog – maybe I will take a different approach. I think for now I will focus on players who do not have cards in any post-1965 set.