Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Final Card: Jose Tartabull

Here is the final card for outfielder Jose Tartabull (#481). Jose is back on the team he began his career with, after 3 seasons with the Red Sox.

Tartabull was signed by Giants in 1958. After 4 seasons in the low minors, he was traded to the Kansas City Athletics in December 1951 and was immediately promoted to the big leagues at the start of 1962. (I’m guessing the 1962 Athletics were a much worse team than the 1962 NL Champion Giants, so opportunities abounded for a prospect!) 


In 1962 and 1963 Tartabull shared the center field job evenly with aging veteran Bobby Del Greco.

Del Greco moved on after 1963, so you would think Tartabull would be upgraded to full-time center fielder. Wrong! Ex-Cubs backup Nelson Matthews was acquired in the off-season and started 150 games in the center garden, relegating Jose to just 9 starts in 1964 (none after 7/31). He spent most of the season as a pinch-hitter and defensive replacement in left or center.

1965 was more of the same, except that this time it was long-time White Sox’ outfielder Jim Landis imported to man center field. Tartabull started 51 games that year, but also played in triple-A for almost 100 games.

From 1963 to 1966, the Athletics employed a revolving door in the outfield, with 11 different players getting the most innings at the 3 outfield slots. Only Mike Hershberger held a position more than 1 season (RF: '65-'66).

It seemed like Tartabull found a home in 1966, starting every game in through May 20th. Not so fast – after a few weeks on the bench he was traded to the Red Sox (with pitcher John Wyatt) for pitcher Ken Sanders and outfielder Jim Gosger. Jose’s time in Boston was highlighted by a throw that gunned down a runner at home plate in a late August 1967 game, preserving a Red Sox win. (The Sox won the AL pennant by one game that year.)

After 2 ½ seasons as the Sox’ 4th outfielder, he was traded back to the Athletics in May 1969. Jose played parts of ’69 and ’70 and all of ’71 in the minors, then retired after playing in Mexico during 1971.

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Tartabull’s son Danny played for various teams for 13 seasons beginning in 1984 (14 seasons, if you count the 3 games for the Phillies at the start of the 1997 season, before he milked a season-long stay on the disabled list with a stubbed toe!)

Here's something currently on Danny Tartabull's Wikipedia page (apparently his gold-bricking was not limited to 1997!):

"Tartabull is currently a fugitive from justice. A warrant was issued for his arrest on May 12, 2012 after he failed to appear for a 180-day jail sentence, and is on the Most Wanted List for Los Angeles County Child Services Department. He has been named the top deadbeat dad in Los Angeles after allegedly failing to pay more than $275,000 in child support for his two sons."

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Ellie Rodriguez (#402)

Ellie Rodriguez was the starting catcher for some bad teams from 1969-75, thus staying pretty much under everyone's radar.

He was signed by the Kansas City Athletics in 1964. After 1 season in the minors he was drafted by the Yankees and played 3 full seasons on their farm.

Ellie made his big-league debut for the Yankees in 1968, playing 9 games (mostly in late-May and early-June), but spent most of the ’68 season with triple-A Syracuse, where he alternated at catcher with journeymen Hawk Taylor and Merritt Ranew.


Rodriguez was selected by the Kansas City Royals as the 13th pick in the expansion draft prior to the 1969 season. He was their primary catcher in 1969 (making the All-Star team as a rookie), and split the catching chores in 1970 with ex-Angel Ed Kirkpatrick.

After the 1970 season Ellie was traded to the Brewers, and once again became his team’s #1 backstop. He was the regular for 2 seasons, and made the All-Star team in ’72. In 1973 he split the catching with rookie Darrell Porter, who had played briefly with Milwaukee in the previous 2 seasons. Porter started slightly more games than Rodriguez.

With Porter entrenched behind the plate, E-Rod was dealt to the Angels in the off-season. Accompanying him to California were outfielders Ollie Brown and Joe LaHoud, and pitchers Skip Lockwood and Gary Ryerson. In return, the Brewers acquired pitchers Steve Barber and Clyde Wright, outfielder Ken Berry, and catcher Art Kusnyer.

Rodriguez continued the pattern that was his career – two seasons as his team’s #1 catcher, then time to move on. However at this stop (Angels) there was to be no All-Star selection, despite 1974 being his best season with the bat (7 homers, 36 RBI).

Ellie’s final major-league season was in 1976, where he was a backup for the Dodgers. LA released him in May 1977 (having not played so far) and he spent the remainder of 1977 with the Pirates’ AAA team.

He also played in Mexico from 1978 t0 1982 before retiring.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Preston Gomez (#513)

And now, the eighth consecutive expansion-team post on this blog: Padres' manager Preston Gomez.

Gomez' major-league career consisted of 8 games (4 as a pinch-runner, 4 as a middle infielder) in 1944 for the Senators. He played minor-league ball from 1944 to 1954, then switched to managing.


After managing in Mexico from 1957-58, he was a minor-league skipper from 1959-64 for the Reds, Dodgers, and Yankees.

Preston joined the Dodgers' coaching staff as their 3rd base coach from 1965-68, including 2 trips to the World Series.

Ex-Dodgers' executive Buzzy Bavasi hired him to be the Padres' first manager in 1969, where he lasted until late-April 1972.

Gomez moved on to the Astros, coaching in '73 and managing from '74-'75.

After 4 seasons as a coach for the Cards and Dodgers, Preston landed his 3rd and final big-league managing job in 1980, for the Cubs. He was fired in mid-season, with his team in last place.

His last stop was with the Angels, where he coached and scouted from 1981-2008.

Gomez died in January 2009 at age 85, after being hit by a car 10 months earlier.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Wayne Comer (#323)

Here is the only card of Wayne Comer pictured in a Seattle Pilots uniform. I read Jim Bouton’s book “Ball Four” during the summer of 1971, and I recall that Comer was one of the players Bouton definitely did not get along with. Wayne’s rookie card is a capless job in the 1969 set.


Comer was signed by the Senators in 1962 (I learned something new today, previously thinking he started with the Tigers). After 1 season in the minors he was traded to the Tigers for 1st baseman Bobo Osborne.

Wayne played in the Tigers’ farm system from 1963-68, also playing 4 games with Detroit in September 1967 and 48 games in 1968 after his late-May recall. In 1968 he was used as a pinch-hitter and left field backup, only making 4 starts that season. (Let’s face it, when your team has Al Kaline, Willie Horton, Jim Northrup, and Mickey Stanley ahead of you in the outfield, you are not going to play much.) Wayne did get 1 at-bat in the 1968 World Series.

Comer was selected by the expansion Seattle Pilots after the 1968 season, and was their #1 outfielder in 1969, playing in 139 games including 85 starts in center field and 40 starts in right field. His 15 home runs were 2nd on the team behind Don Mincher’s 25 dingers.

Wayne lost a starting outfield spot to the newly-acquired Russ Snyder at the start of the 1970 season, and after only playing 13 games (2 starts) he was traded to the Senators in mid-May for outfielder Hank Allen and 2nd baseman Ron Theobald. He played in 77 games for the Sens that season, as a pinch-hitter and 6th outfielder.

After the 1970 season the Tigers purchased his contract, but Comer played all of ’71, most of ’72, and all of ‘73 with Detroit’s AAA team in Toledo. He also played 27 games in the middle of the 1972 season, mostly as a pinch-runner and pinch-hitter (no starts).

Comer’s career ended after the 1974 season, where he played for the Phillies’ double-A team in Reading, PA. Looking back, Wayne’s best season was 1969 with the Pilots.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Final Card: Jerry Adair

Here is the final card for Jerry Adair (#525), not counting his appearance as a coach on Athletics’ manager Dick Williams’ card in 1973. Adair had his own card every year from 1961 through 1970.

Adair was a 2nd baseman for the Orioles, White Sox, Red Sox, and Royals from 1961 through 1969. He had a few cups of coffee from 1958-60, and played a few games in his final season of 1970 before getting his release in early May.

Jerry was signed by the Orioles in September 1958 out of Oklahoma State University, and with the minor league season already completed, he played 11 games with the Orioles that month.


In ’59 and ’60 he played 1 season in AA and AAA (respectively), mostly as his team’s regular shortstop. Coincidentally, he made 638 minor-league plate appearances each season, and played a few games with the O’s each year.

Adair made the Orioles' squad at the start of the 1961 season, and started 96 games at 2nd base, to Marv Breeding’s 62 starts. (Breeding had been the incumbent for the previous season, starting 151 of the team’s 154 games.)

In 1962 he slid over to shortstop, starting 103 games there because Ron Hansen missed much of the season due to military service. Jerry still managed 29 starts at 2B.

The Orioles acquired shortstop Luis Aparicio from the White Sox prior to the 1963 season, so Adair was back to his 2nd base home for 100 starts, with Bob Johnson (newly-acquired from the Senators) starting 45 times.

Jerry started almost every game for Baltimore in 1964 and 1965. In 1966, rookie Dave Johnson won the 2nd base job out of spring training, and Adair (having only played 17 games so far) was shipped out to the White Sox in mid-June for pitcher Eddie Fisher. With regular shortstop (and former Orioles’ teammate) Ron Hansen missing the 2nd half of ’66 with a back injury, Adair once again filled in for Hansen.

In June 1967 he was traded to the Red Sox for reliever Don McMahon, and helped Boston get to the World Series, filling in for shortstop Rico Petrocelli, 3rd baseman Joe Foy, and 2nd baseman Mike Andrews. Jerry started 78 games over the 2nd half of the season, and started the first 4 games of the World Series.

Adair played all of 1968 with the Red Sox, but in a utility infield role. His only extended string of starts came in August, filling in for Petrocelli for several weeks. After the season, he was left unprotected for the expansion draft and was selected by the Royals.

He was the primary 2nd baseman for the upstart Royals in 1969, starting 105 games from day 1 until mid-September, when ex-Dodger Luis Alcaraz (who had spent most of the season in AAA) took over.

Jerry missed much of spring training 1970 with family issues, so the Royals began the season with Alcaraz at 2nd base. Adair started a few games in late April but was soon released, ending his 13-year career.

He played in Japan in 1971, then coached for the Athletics and Angels from 1972-75.

Adair passed away from cancer in 1987, at age 50.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Nate Colbert (#11)

Nate Colbert was the first star for the fledgling San Diego Padres, leading the expansion squad in homers (24) and RBI (a paltry 66). (Regardless of how you feel about the borders, the 1970 cards have some nice photos, particularly for the 4 recent expansion teams who were poorly represented (photographically) in the 1969 set.)

Colbert was signed by the Cardinals in 1964, and played in the minors for 5 seasons before becoming the regular 1st baseman for the 1969 Padres.

Between those two years, he spent 1966-68 in the Astros’ farm system, banging 28 homers in 1967. Nate played 1st base in A-ball in 1966, but split his time between 1B and the outfield in double-A in 1967, since 1st baseman Bob Watson was also on his team. In 1968 Colbert exclusively played outfield in triple-A, because the Astros also had 1st base prospect John Mayberry on the same team.


Colbert played a few games with the Astros in ’66 and ’68, but was clearly expendable, with Watson and Mayberry ahead of him on the path to Houston. The Padres selected him in the expansion draft prior to the 1969 season.

Nate had 5 solid seasons with the Padres from 1969-73, twice hitting 38 home runs and making the All-Star team 3 times. In 1972 he hit FIVE home runs in a doubleheader on August 1st, as the Padres swept the Braves.

After slumping to .207 in only 119 games in 1974, Colbert was traded to the Tigers for shortstop Ed Brinkman. By mid-June 1975 he moved on to the Expos, where he lasted until the following June.

A week after his June 2nd release, the Athletics signed him, but he spent the rest of the ’76 season in the minors, save for 2 games at the end of the season. Colbert was with the expansion Blue Jays in spring training in 1977, but did not make the team.

In his 10-year career, he hit 173 homers and collected 520 RBI, but NEVER played for a team that didn’t finish in last place (not counting the 2 games he played for Oakland at the end of the 1976 season).

He was inducted into the Padres’ Hall of Fame in 1999, its inaugural class.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Dave Baldwin (#673)

Here is relief pitcher Dave Baldwin, ostensibly with the Seattle Pilots. Baldwin never played with the Pilots, having spent the entire 1969 season with the Washington Senators. The Pilots became the Milwaukee Brewers during spring training 1970 – too late for Topps to make any changes.

Like the recently-posted Dave Bristol card, we see Baldwin in what I refer to as their “dress uniform”, complete with scrambled eggs and extra gold braid on the cap (something we didn’t see on the late-1969 Pilot cards), and his pilot’s wings on his chest. These were worn during spring training, which is the only time we would have seen Baldwin or Bristol in a Seattle uniform.

Dave pitched for the University of Arizona for 3 seasons, and played in the 1959 College World Series (tossing a 2-hitter). He was signed by the Phillies in 1959, and played his first two seasons with class-A Williamsport, where some of his teammates were Art Mahaffey, Bobby Wine, and Ted Savage (on their way up) and Curt Simmons (on his way down).


After 3 more seasons in the Phillies’ chain, Dave was sold to the Mets in January 1964. Released by New York on May 30th, he was picked up by the Houston Colt .45s two days later, but they only kept him for one month before also releasing him. Two weeks later Baldwin signed with the Senators.

He labored in the minors for 2+ more seasons until making his major-league debut in September 1966. Although Baldwin was a starter and reliever in the minors, he only worked from the bullpen in the majors. Dave was a fixture in the Nats’ bullpen for the next 3 seasons. It appears that he was the right-handed short man, as he averaged just over 1 inning per game. He picked up 12 saves as a rookie in 1967 (2 less than lefty Darold Knowles) and led the staff with a 1.70 ERA in 68 innings over 58 games.

In 1968 Dave went 0-2 with a 4.07 ERA in 40 games, also spending some time in the minors. Back in the majors for all of 1969, he was the #5 reliever in terms of appearances and innings pitched. He also had a similarly poor ERA and won/lost record as in the previous season.

After the 1969 season, Dave was traded to the Pilots for well-traveled starting pitcher George Brunet. Baldwin split the 1970 season between the Brewers and their AAA team in Portland, Oregon.

The following spring, he was purchased outright by the Padres’ AAA team in Hawaii. After 2 full seasons in the minors, the White Sox purchased him in March 1973. He played 3 games for Chicago in late-July/early-August 1973, but otherwise spent most on ’73 and all of ’74 in the minors, before calling it a career.

After his playing career, he earned a Ph. D. and became something of a renaissance man in the fields of science, art, and literature.

Monday, April 18, 2016

John Bateman (#417)

Here is Expos’ catcher John Bateman under the Daytona Beach palm trees during spring training, possibly practicing gunning out runners (maybe the slow-footed Ron Brand?) [I was at the Expos' spring training in Daytona in 1974, but by then Bateman had retired.] 

Bateman and Brand were the top 2 catchers for the Astros for several seasons, then both were selected by the Expos in the expansion draft after the 1968 season. I think this is an interesting photo, not a typical vanilla pose, nor is he looking up in the sky for a popup like on some catchers’ cards.


Bateman was signed by the Houston Colt .45s in 1962, and after just one season in the minors he became the Colts’ #1 catcher in 1963, starting 111 games behind the dish.

He opened the ’64 season as the starting catcher, but by mid-June rookie Jerry Grote was catching more games than John. By late-July, Bateman was sent back to triple-A and didn’t play another game for Houston until mid-September.

In 1965, Grote was in the minors for the entire season, while Bateman was back with the big club. However, Rule 5 pickup Ron Brand got 94 starts to Bateman’s 38 (with veteran Gus Triandos picking up the scraps).

Bateman was the clear #1 backstop in ’66 and ’68, while sharing the duties with Brand in ’67.

The Expos selected John with their 3rd pick in the expansion draft (and also selected Brand with their next-to-last pick). Bateman started 136 and 133 games behind the plate in his 2 full seasons with Montreal.

1972 was a different story. Veteran utilityman John Boccabella caught most of the games early-on, with Bateman only making 5 starts in mid-May.

On June 14th, he was traded (inexplicably straight-up) to the Phillies for catcher Tim McCarver. (!?!?!?) A few years ago, I asked long-time Philly sportswriter Stan Hochman if he recalled the circumstances around that trade. Why would the Phillies possibly trade a quality catcher in McCarver for Bateman, who on his best days was merely serviceable? Especially in the midst of Steve Carlton’s magical 27-10 season? Who messes with that chemistry? And for what? Hochman couldn’t recall the reasons for the trade.

Bateman finished up his career with the Phillies in the summer of ’72, and was released the following spring. He played with The King and His Court softball team from 1977-80.

Bateman passed away in 1996 at age 56.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Dave Bristol (#556)

As I mentioned on my sidebar a while ago, this 1970 blog is going to focus on cards of the 4 expansion teams for the foreseeable future. 

Today we have Pilots’/Brewers’ manager Dave Bristol, complete with gold piping on his cap and a ship’s wheel on his uniform. Bristol never actually managed the Pilots. Joe Schultz was the manager for their lone 1969 season. Nor was Bristol a Pilots’ coach, having been the Reds’ manager in 1969. So, a rare “kudos” to Topps for getting this photo!

Bristol never played in the major leagues, but was a 2nd baseman in the Reds’ organization from 1951 to 1961. He was also a minor-league manager for them from 1957 to 1965. The overlap indicates that he was a player-manager for several years.


Midway through the 1966 season, Dave (then only age 33) took over the Reds’ managerial job from rookie manager Don Heffner. He continued at the helm through the 1969 season, finishing 4th, 4th, and 3rd in his 3 full seasons. (The Reds replaced him with Sparky Anderson for the 1970 season.) Dave’s time with the Reds were his only winning seasons.

Bristol took over the mess that was the Seattle Pilots in early 1970. The team went to spring training as the Pilots, and broke camp as the Milwaukee Brewers, thanks to a Milwaukee used-car salesman named Bud Selig. Dave managed the team for 1970, 1971, and 30 games into the 1972 season until he was shown the door.

He later managed the Braves (1976-77) and Giants (1979-80). During the 1977 season, Braves’ owner Ted Turner replaced Bristol with himself (?!?) until the commissioner ruled that a team manager could not also own a team, so Bristol returned to finish out the season.

Dave was also a 3rd base coach for the Reds (‘66, ’89, ’93), Expos (’73-’75), Giants (’78-’79), and Phillies (’82-’85, ’88).