Friday, June 24, 2011

Ed Spiezio (#718)

Here's the last of the five 1970 cards (all high numbers!) I received from Deans Cards a few months ago. Poor Ed Spiezio - he went from back-to-back trips to the World Series with the Cardinals in '67 and '68, to the expansion Padres in 1969. At least he was getting some playing time now!

Spiezio was signed by the Cardinals in 1963, and spent 4 seasons in the minors. Beginning in 1965, he began to play a good number of games in the outfield, as well as his usual 3rd base position. Ed also played in several dozen games with the Cardinals from 1964 to 1966.

In 1967, Ed finally made the team for the entire season. He was primarily used as a pinch-hitter, but also saw action at 3rd base or the outfield, especially when the regulars were injured or away on National Guard duty. (He was rarely brought into a game in late innings for defensive purposes, that was Phil Gagliano's job.) Ed also appeared in the 1967 World Series against the Red Sox.

Spiezio played the same role in 1968, but less often. His playing time that year was about half of his 1967 action. Once again, he appeared in the World Series, this time against the Tigers.

After the season, Ed was traded to the expansion Padres for pitcher Dave Giusti. Spiezio was the team's starting 3rd baseman from day 1 until he was replaced by Garry Jestadt in late August 1971.

In July 1972, Ed was traded to the White Sox, and retired after the season.

Ed's son Scott was an infielder for the Athletics, Angels, and others from 1996-2007.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Chuck Manuel (#194)

This is the rookie card for outfielder Chuck Manuel. (Ok, it's actually current Phillies' manager Charlie Manuel in disguise.)

Charlie was signed by the Twins in 1963, and spent 6 seasons playing A and AA ball before making his major-league debut in April 1969 with the Twins. During his rookie season, Charlie was one of 4 players sharing the starting assignments in left field, along with veteran Bob Allison, fellow rookie Graig Nettles, and Twins' regular center fielder Ted Uhlaender.

I guess Twins' management didn't like Manuel's .207 batting average, because he spent much of the next 2 seasons in triple-A, although also playing in 77 games for the Twins over the two seasons.

In 1972 Charlie was back with the Twins for the entire season, but saw action in just 63 games, more than half of them as a pinch-hitter. Charlie's .205 batting average in '72 was better than the .188 and .125 he posted in the previous 2 partial seasons, but it wasn't enough to keep him in the majors. He spent the entire 1973 season back in the minors, after which he was traded to the Dodgers.

Charlie's 2 seasons with the Dodgers were spent mostly with triple-A Albuquerque, although he made a few pinch-hitting appearances with the Dodgers in '74 and '75.

From 1976 to 1981 Charlie played baseball in Japan. His career took a 180-degree turn in Japan, as he turned into a hitting machine:

1977 - .316, 42 HR, 97 RBI
1978 - .312, 39 HR, 103 RBI
1979 - .324, 37 HR, 94 RBI
1980 - .324, 48 HR, 129 RBI

Charlie hit 25 home runs in the first 8 weeks of the 1979 season. Many thought that an American should not break the Japanese home run record, so he was beaned during a game in June and missed 6 weeks with a broken jaw. He still managed to hit 37 homers and was voted the league MVP.

Charlie later managed the Indians from 2000-2002, and has managed the Phillies since the 2005 season.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Final Card: Dave Watkins

Not only is this Dave Watkins' final card (#168), it's also his rookie card. To top it off, he didn't even play for the Phillies in 1970.

Watkins was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 1963, and played in their farm system that year as a catcher. After the season, he was drafted by the Phillies, and played for 5 seasons in their minor-league system. He was an outfielder for his first 4 seasons there before switching back to catcher in 1968. Dave made his major-league debut on April 9, 1969.

From 1964 to 1967, the Phillies only carried 2 catchers. In 1968 and 1969 they carried 3 catchers. I used to think this was due to differing philosophies of managers Gene Mauch and Bob Skinner, but I later realized it was because with Cookie Rojas on the team, a 3rd catcher wasn't necessary. (Rojas had played every position for the Phillies, including pitching 1 game in 1967, and making several appearances as an emergency catcher. True, Rojas was still on the team in '68 and '69, but by then he was firmly established as their #1 2nd baseman.)

Anyhoo, after the 1968 season, longtime regular catcher Clay Dalrymple was shipped off to the Orioles for rookie outfielder Ron Stone, so the #1 job belonged to Mike Ryan, who had shared it with Dalrymple in 1968. As a rookie in 1969, Watkins caught 54 games, starting 33 of them. He also played 5 games in the outfield.

The back of this card states that "Dave is expected to become the Phillies backup catcher to Tim McCarver in 1970." However, the last sentence says he was assigned to [triple-A] Eugene on 11/25/69. (This kind of note is usually a last-minute add-on to a card.)

Not only did Dave not back up McCarver in 1970, but he wasn't even one of the SIX catchers used by the Phillies in 1970. (During the 6th inning of a game with the Giants on May 2nd, a foul ball by Willie Mays broke McCarver's hand. He was replaced by Ryan, who had HIS hand broken later in the SAME INNING while applying a tag at home plate. Utilityman Jim Hutto finished out the game, but the next day the Phillies called up their 2 triple-A catchers Mike Compton and Del Bates, and also activated their bullpen coach Doc Edwards, a former catcher who last played in the majors in 1965. Neither Compton or Bates ever played in the majors before or after 1970.)

Where was Watkins during all of this? I don't know, maybe he went into the furniture refinishing business. He was out of baseball in 1970. It seems odd that after finally making it to the majors after 6 years in the minors, and getting a good amount of playing time, that his career would be over before the next season.