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.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Jackie Hernandez (#686)

Jackie Hernandez was the Kansas City Royals’ first starting shortstop. Earlier, he had played 2 seasons for the Twins, and later wrapped up his career with the Pirates.

Hernandez was signed by the Indians in 1961, and was initially a catcher. He switched over to shortstop during his 2nd pro season, although still catching a few dozen games from ’62 to ’64.

The Indians released him in May 1965, and he was quickly snapped up by the Angels. He made his major-league debut with 1 game in September 1965.

Jackie was with the Angels for all of the 1966 season, but only played in 58 games. He was used as a pinch-runner in 37 of those games (sort of a pre-Herb Washington!) and also backed up the infield positions.

In April 1967, Hernandez was sent to the Twins as the “player to be named” in the Dean Chance for Don Mincher, Jimmie Hall, and Pete Cimino deal. Jackie spent most of the ’67 season in triple-A, but played 29 games for the Twins in August and September.

The Twins traded their starting shortstop Zoilo Versalles to the Dodgers after the 1967 season for a bunch of players, and handed Jackie the starting job for 1968. He started the first 29 games (and 58 of the first 80 games), but was sent down to the minors for most of July and all of August, when the Twins tried Ron Clark and Rick Renick at the position.

In October 1968, Hernandez was selected by the Royals in the expansion draft, and became their everyday shortstop in 1969. He started 139 games, and played in 6 more. His 145 games played tied him with Joe Foy for most games played by a Royal in 1969. He was also 2nd (to Foy) in plate appearances and at-bats. Not a bad turnaround for someone who up until then appeared to be destined to be a utility scrub.

Jackie started off the 1970 season as the starting shortstop, but by mid-June was benched in favor of rookie Rich Severson and the newly-acquired Tom Matchick.

After the 1970 season, Hernandez (along with pitcher Bob Johnson and backup catcher Jim Campanis) were traded to the Pirates for shortstop Freddie Patek, catcher Jerry May, and pitcher Bruce Dal Canton.

Hernandez spend the next 3 seasons as a backup to Gene Alley. He started quite a bit over the last 6 weeks on the 1971 season, and also started all the games in the NLCS and all but 1 game in the World Series (maybe Alley was injured?)

Jackie was traded to the Phillies in January 1974 for catcher Mike Ryan, but was released in late April, without having played for the Phillies. The Pirates resigned him the same day, but he played the entire season for their triple-A team,

Hernandez finished out his career playing in Mexico from 1975-76.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Final Card: Cisco Carlos

Cisco Carlos (#487) had a brief 4-year career for the White Sox (1967-69) and Senators (1969-70). This is his final Topps card. He previously appeared on a White Sox Rookies card in the 1968 set, and had his own card in the 1969 set. Since this ’70 card is a capless mess, I am also going to post his 1969 card below.

Carlos pitched in the 1960 College World Series with the University of Northern Colorado, then was signed by the White Sox before the 1961 season. He worked his way up their organizational ladder, finally spending 3 full seasons in double-A ball (1964-66).

Cisco began the 1967 season with the White Sox' AAA team, and made his major-league debut with the Sox in late-August 1967. He won 2 games in the final weeks of the ’67 season as the Sox tried to keep pace with the Red Sox and 2 other teams.

Carlos returned for a full season in Chicago in 1968 (the only year he was not also in the minors). He had been primarily a starting pitcher in the minors and majors through the 1968 season, but after a 4-14 record in 1968, Carlos was relegated to the bullpen the following season.

He began the 1969 season with 6 games for Chicago’s AAA team, then pitched 25 games for the Sox between late-May and mid-August. On August 25th he was sold to the Senators.

Carlos pitched 6 games for the Nats in September 1969 (starting 4), then was in the minors for all of 1970 until he was recalled in September, and played his final 5 big-league games.

He kicked around in the minors from 1971-73 (with his final season in the Astros’ organization) before retiring.