Sunday, December 2, 2018

Larry Stahl (#494)

Larry Stahl had the misfortune of playing on some bad teams during his career: Kansas City Athletics (1964-66), Mets (1967-68), and Padres (1969-72). He finally received some payback by wrapping up his career with the 1973 Reds, and appeared in the 1973 NLCS, going 2-for-4 in spot duty.

Stahl was signed by the Athletics in 1960, and labored in the minors for 5 seasons before making his major-league debut in September 1964.

He played briefly for the A’s in 1965 (June and September), then was with the team for all of 1966, playing in 119 games. It’s odd that with all that playing time, he was left out of the 1967 Topps set. (Meanwhile, a stiff like Bruce Brubaker and his previous grand total of ZERO major league games got a card that year.)

Stahl was picked up by the Mets after the 1966 season, and played most of 1967 with them (except for mid-May to mid-June, and for the 2nd half of the 1968 season. Unfortunately for him, the Mets had guys like Cleon Jones, Tommie Agee, and Ron Swoboda patrolling the outfield, so Larry was left exposed to the expansion draft and was selected by the Padres, thus missing out on the Mets’ 1969 miracle season.

Even with the fledgling Padres, Larry was no better than 6th outfielder, behind starters Ollie Brown, Cito Gaston, and Al Ferrara, along with Tony Gonzalez and Ivan Murrell. Stahl stuck around with the Pads for 4 seasons (except for spending the first 2 months of 1970 in triple-A).

To his credit, by 1971 he had advanced to being a co-starter in left field (along with Murrell and Leron Lee), and was actually 3rd among outfielders in innings played (behind Brown and Gaston), although he spent some time in right field as well.

In one of his final games with the Padres in September 1972, the Cubs’ Milt Pappas had retired the first 26 batters, only to walk Stahl, blowing a perfect game.

After the 1972 season, the Reds purchased his contract, and he spent his final season as the Reds’ 7th outfielder, being one of 5 players the Reds used in right field (along with Bobby Tolan, Andy Kosco, Johnny Bench, and Ken Griffey Sr).

Friday, November 9, 2018

Gil Garrido (#48)

Gil Garrido is another one of those players (like Tom Timmermann and Paul Doyle) that didn’t play much (or at all) in the 1960s, and I probably would not have blogged about him had he not showed up on my list of “oldest players not yet blogged”.

I did learn 2 things from this card. 1) Garrido first played for the Giants back in 1964 (news to me), and 2) Topps misspelled his first name on the front of the card. (It’s spelled correctly on the back.)

Garrido was signed by the Giants in 1960, and had a 14-game stint with them from late-April to mid-June 1964, starting 7 games at shortstop. Then it was back to the minors for 4 years.

A May 1966 trade sent him to the Braves, and he was promoted in late-August 1968 where he started 14 games at shortstop over the final 5 weeks of the season. Was he auditioned for the job? Maybe so. He made the Braves from the get-go in 1969, and for the next 2 seasons, he and Sonny Jackson split the shortstop duties about evenly.

That arrangement ended in 1971, when rookie shortstop Marty Perez sent Jackson to center field and Garrido to the bench. Gil hung on for 2 seasons as a backup infielder, then played for the Braves’ AAA team in 1973 before retiring at the ripe old age of 32.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Eddie Watt (#497)

Eddie Watt was the Orioles' closer from 1968 through the 1972 season. He pitched 411 games over his 10 seasons, all in relief except for 13 starts late in his rookie season.

Watt was signed by the Orioles in September 1961 and made his major-league debut in April 1966.

As a rookie, he appeared in 43 games, mostly in relief except for 13 starts from mid-July to mid-September. He returned to the bullpen for the final 2 weeks of the season, and stayed there for the remainder of his career. Eddie collected 102 strikeouts in his 1st year, 3rd on the team behind Dave McNally and Jim Palmer.

After another season under the wing of veteran Moe Drabowsky, Watt became the top man in the bullpen for the next 5 seasons. He led the team in saves in '68, '69, and '71, and was 1 behind the leader in '70 and '72.

In 1969 he fashioned a 1.65 ERA, and appeared in 7 post-season games between 1969-71. (The O's won their first World Series in his rookie year of 1966, but Baltimore swept the Dodgers in 4 games (including 3 complete game shutouts) so most of the bullpen didn’t even play that Fall.) 

After dropping to 3rd on the bullpen depth chart in 1973 (but with another post-season appearance), Watt was sold to the Phillies after the season, and pitched 1 year for Philadelphia.

The Phillies released him during spring training in 1975, and he was soon picked up by the Cubs, where he pitched only 6 games (the last coming in mid-June 1975) and finished the season with the Cubs' AAA team, then was released in early-September.

Watt pitched for the Padres’ AAA team in '76 and '77, and 2 games for their class-A team in 1978 before retiring.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Dick Bosman (#175)

Dick Bosman was one of several young hurlers to come up through the Senators’ system in the mid-1960s (along with Joe Coleman, Barry Moore, and Casey Cox).

Actually, he was signed by the Pirates (I did not know that!) before the 1963 season, and then drafted by the Giants in the minor-league first-year draft after that season (didn’t know that either). He made his way into Washington’s organization 1 year later via the minor-league draft.

After playing all of 1965 for the Senators' AA team in York, PA, Bosman split the '66 season between the majors and AAA, then was back in the minors for most of 1967, until his recall for the final month of the season.

Dick was a key member of the Nats' staff for several seasons beginning in 1968. In '68 he was mostly a reliever, but was 4th on the team with 139 innings pitched in his 46 games (10 starts).

The following season, he was primarily a starter, posting a 14-5 record with a 2.19 ERA as the team's #2 starter behind Coleman.

In 1970 he was the team's only pitcher with double-figure wins, finishing with a 16-12 record and a 3.00 ERA.

After that season, Coleman (and others) were traded to Detroit for Denny McLain and others. However, McLain was a shadow of his former self, leaving Bosman as the team's pitching ace in 1971.

Dick slipped to 12 wins in '71, and 8 wins in '72 (the team's first in Texas). He started the last game in Washington Senators history, and the first in Texas Rangers history.

In May 1973 he was traded to the Indians, and pitched a no-hitter for them in 1974.

In May 1975 he was traded again – this time to Oakland for pitcher Blue Moon Odom. Bosman won 11 games for the A’s in 1975 (his last as a fulltime starter), then wrapped up his career in 1976 with a 4-2 record, making 15 starts and 12 relief appearances.

He was released near the end of spring training in 1977.

After his playing career he was a pitching coach for the White Sox, Orioles, and Rangers. More recently he has been a minor-league coach for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Clyde Wright (#543)

Clyde Wright was another of the young Angels’ pitchers who debuted in the 1966-69 time frame, but who went ignored by Topps until several seasons into their career. (Others were Rickey Clark, Tom Burgmeier, Marty Pattin, Andy Messersmith, and Tom Murphy.)

Look at the chart below. In 1967 and 1968, the Angels’ pitching staff was filling in with some nice young talent, but Topps missed the boat on their rookie cards. None of the pitchers in the top half of the chart received their first card until 1969 or 1970, and by then Burgmeier and Pattin were playing for expansion teams.

Instead, Topps chose the pitchers in the lower half of the chart to feature on their Angels Rookie Stars cards from 1967 to 1969, clearly whiffing on these selections.

(It seems odd that Clark's first card came after a season where he only pitched 9 innings!)

Clyde Wright was signed by the Angels in June 1965, and made his major-league debut in June 1966. He split the ’66 and ’67 seasons between the Angels and the minors, then joined the Angels fulltime in 1968.

In ’68 and ’69 Wright was primarily a reliever, but was one of their top starters from 1970-73, winning 22 games in 1970. He also made his only All-Star team that season, and finished 6th in the Cy Young voting.

He was the team’s pitching ace in 1970, then shared that designation with Messersmith in 1971. With the addition of Nolan Ryan in 1972, Wright was pushed down to #2 in the rotation, and then to #3 in 1973 when Bill SInger came aboard.

Clyde followed up his excellent 1970 season by winning 16 and 18 games in the next 2 seasons, but after posting a 11-19 record in 1973, he was traded to the Brewers (along with pitcher Steve Barber, outfielder Ken Berry, and catcher Art Kusnyer) for outfielders Ollie Brown and Joe Lahoud, pitcher Skip Lockwood, and catcher Ellie Rodriguez.

After a disappointing 9-20 season for Milwaukee in 1974, Wright was traded to the Rangers and pitched his final big-league season in 1975.

He also played in Japan from 1976-78.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

New Teams, New Uniforms, New Photos

One of the best things about the 1970 set is all the new photos of players for the 4 new teams, shown in their brand-new uniforms. It's quite a change from the early-series' cards in the 1969 set!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Paul Popovich (#258)

Paul Popovich was a backup middle infielder, mostly for the Cubs, but he also played briefly for the Dodgers and Pirates.

Popovich was signed by the Cubs in 1960. He played 7 seasons in their farm system, almost exclusively at 2nd base. During this time he managed to appear for the Cubs in 1 game in April 1964 and 2 games in September 1966.

Paul made the Cubs' team in 1967, and played 49 games in his rookie season. He started 26 games at shortstop (every game that Don Kessinger did not start) including most of the games in early June and early July. In November 1967 he was traded to the Dodgers for outfielder Lou Johnson.

Surprisingly (even to me now), Popovich was the Dodgers' primary 2nd baseman in 1968. He started 80 games there (to Jim Lefebvre's 53 starts). I can only assume that Lefebvre was out of the lineup with injuries. Popovich also started another 35 games at shortstop, giving the newly-acquired bust Zoilo Versalles some (much-needed) time off.

All in all, Paul started 115 games for LA that season and played in 134 total games, making 462 plate appearances – all career highs for him. The following year, he would return to utility infielder status for the remainder of his career.

With 1969 ROY Ted Sizemore's arrival, Popovich was without a position in 1969. He only started 12 games during the season's first half, then was traded to the expansion Expos in mid-June (with outfielder Ron Fairly) for shortstop Maury Wills and outfielder Manny Mota.

The same day, Montreal flipped him to the Cubs for pitcher Jack Lamabe and center fielder Adolfo Phillips. Now back in Chicago, Popovich picked up where he left off in 1967 – giving the Cubs’ regular infielders (mostly 2B Glenn Beckert, but also Kessinger and 3B Ron Santo) a day off now and then. This continued through the 1973 season.

Just before the start of the 1974 season, he was swapped to the Pirates for pitcher Tom Dettore. Paul was the backup 2nd baseman to Rennie Stennett (the Pirates had just lost Dave Cash to the Phillies in the off-season) for the next year and a half. He also appeared in 3 games in the 1974 NLCS.

Popovich was released at the end of July 1975 to make room for mid-season call-up Willie Randolph.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Rollie Fingers (#502)

Here is Rollie Fingers’ first solo card. (He appeared in a late-series AL Rookie Stars card in the 1969 set.) Fingers pitched for the Athletics (1968-76), Padres (1977-80), and Brewers (1981-85) in his 17-year career.

He was signed by the Athletics in December 1964, and after 4 seasons in the minors, he got his feet wet with Oakland in 1 game in September 1968.

Always a starter in the minors, he was primarily a reliever with Oakland, but started 8 games in 1969, 19 in 1970, and 8 in 1971. Beginning in 1972, it was only bullpen work for Rollie for the remainder of his career (except for 2 starts in 1973).

Fingers was an All-Star with the Athletics every season from 1973-76, and led the AL in games pitched in ’74 and ’75. Rollie pitched in every post-season from 1971-75 with the Athletics.

After the 1976 season he was granted free agency, and signed with the Padres. He pitched 4 seasons in San Diego, leading the NL in saves in ‘77 and ’78, and making the All-Star team in 1978.

Traded to the Cardinals in December 1980 in an 11-player deal, 4 days later he was sent to the Brewers in a 7-player deal.

Fingers made the All-Star team in his first 2 seasons in Milwaukee, and led the AL in saves in 1981. He also won the Cy Young and MVP awards in 1981. Although he pitched in the ’81 ALDS, he missed the entire 1982 post-season (including the World Series) due to injury.

After missing the 1983 season with that injury, he returned for 2 more seasons with the Brewers (still with a full workload at age 37 and 38) before getting his release after the 1985 season.

Rumor is that Pete Rose offered him a contract to play for the Reds in 1986, but he would have had to shave off his mustache per team policy, so he declined.

Fingers was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992, only the second reliever to gain entry to Cooperstown by that time.