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.