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: