Saturday, December 8, 2012

Lowell Palmer (#252)

Here is the rookie card for "Mr. Cool", Lowell Palmer. I have 3 Palmer cards ('70, '71, '72) and he's wearing shades on all 3 cards. Lest you think he was only photographed in dark glasses, see here.

Palmer was the Phillies' #1 draft pick in 1966, and made his major-league debut in June 1969. He started 9 of 26 games during his rookie season. Lowell spent the entire 1970 season with the Phillies, pitching mostly in relief (along with 5 starts). His 102 innings pitched was 8th among the staff.

In 1971, Palmer was back in triple-A for most of the season, only pitching 3 games for the Phillies, all in late-June.

After the '71 season, he was sold to the White Sox, who kept him long enough for him to get a card in the '72 set. Palmer was released on May 16th, then picked up the same day by the Cardinals. He was up and down with St. Louis for a few months, then claimed by the Indians in mid-September.

Palmer spent the 1973 season in the minors, first with Cleveland then the Yankees. In May 1974, the Yankees sold him to the Padres, where he resurfaced in the majors for 22 games.

Lowell pitched all of 1975 and 1977 in the minors (missing the '76 season) before retiring.

This is the final post in my cross-blog series of the 70 players (with cards) appearing for the Phillies from 1966 to 1969.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Al Raffo (custom)

Here is the only known card for Phillies' relief pitcher Al Raffo. Although it appears to be a 1970 Topps card, it is actually a creation of John Hogan from the Cards That Never Were blog.

Raffo was signed by the Phillies in 1962, and toiled in their minor-league system for 7 seasons (mostly as a starter) before making his major-league debut in late-April 1969.

Why it took so long to promote him to the Phillies' suspect bullpen of the mid-to-late 1960s is a mystery to me, given his 12-6 and 11-7 records in '67 and '68. The non-Dick Farrell/Dick Hall portion of the Phillies' bullpen was generally in shambles, and it looks like Raffo could have contributed a year or 2 earlier.

Al was called up in late April 1969 and made 45 appearances out of the bullpen. His final line was 1-3, 4.11 ERA, 38 K, 25 BB in 72 innings.

His final major-league appearance was on September 26, 1969, as he found himself back in the minors for 2 more seasons before retiring.

Monday, October 15, 2012

1969 Post-Season Cards

1969 was the first season of divisional play, and Topps expanded their subset accordingly. Both '69 divisional series were 3-game sweeps, as the Orioles' and Mets' pitching easily overmatched their opponents.

The Mets went from last place to World Champions, winning the series with great pitching, timely hitting, and unbelievable outfield defense. They won it all in their 8th year of existence. Hey Pirates, who says rebuilding has to last forever?

The summary stats on the last card are so small as to be unreadable (even holding the card in your hand) so posting it sideways makes no difference.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Phillies Rookies: Joe Lis / Scott Reid

Here is the first of 2 Phillies Rookies cards in the 1970 set (#56). Larry Bowa and Denny Doyle were on the other card, and had significantly longer Phillies' careers than these two.

Joe Lis was signed by the Phillies in 1964, and played in their minor league system from 1964-70, and part of 1972. Except for 1969 and 1970, Lis rarely played the outfield in the minors, and was primarily a 3rd and 1st baseman. I suppose he was converted because the Phillies had many infield prospects (Bowa, Doyle, Don Money, John Vukovich, Greg Luzinski), but not many for the outfield.

Joe made his major-league debut during a September 1970 call-up, then was with the team for all of 1971, and the second half of 1972 as a spare outfielder. After the '72 season, he was traded to the Twins for Cesar Tovar. After 1 1/2 seasons with Minnesota, he was traded to the Indians, but spent most of 1975-79 in the minors.

Scott Reid was drafted by 4 teams between 1965 and 1967, but did not sign with the first 3; finally signing with the Phillies in June 1967.

He played with Phillies' minor-league teams from 1967 to 1973, while also seeing action with the Phillies in 1969 (13 games) and 1970 (25 games). The zenith of his career was the week of 5/28 - 6/3/1970, when he started 5 of 6 games in center field.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ron Stone (#218)

Ron Stone was, at best, a 5th outfielder, but this being the 1970 Phillies he was one of the team's regular outfielders. He finished the 1970 season with the 3rd-most playing time in the outfield, as he shuffled between the corner spots, sharing left with John Briggs and right with Byron Browne.

Stone was signed by the Orioles in 1963, and played 2 seasons ('63, '65) in their farm system (missing the 1964 season). In November 1965, he was selected by the Kansas City Athletics in the Rule 5 draft. After 26 games with the A's in 1966 (almost exclusively as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner), he was returned to the Orioles on July 1st, and promptly resumed his minor-league career.

After several more seasons on the farm, Stone was traded to the Phillies in January 1969 for veteran catcher Clay Dalrymple. Ron reported to the Phillies' camp that spring and tore the cover off the ball, earning both the "phenom" tag and the starting left field job. After 4 games that experiment was over, and Stone was relegated to bench duty for the rest of the season although he did start 2 dozen games in left and in right field and another 5 games at 1st base.

His playing time increased in 1970, as Johnny Callison was gone, Richie Allen was gone (meaning an end to Deron Johnson's days as an outfielder), and Ron blended into the mix of average outfielders including Briggs, Browne, and rookie Oscar Gamble.

Just the opposite occurred in 1971. With Willie Montanez joining the team as the everyday center fielder, and newly-acquired Roger Freed becoming the almost-everyday right fielder, Stone, Gamble, Browne, and others were all vying for time in left field. (Rookie Greg Luzinski was called up on September 1st, and although he started the last 27 games at 1st base, Greg would move out to left field at the start of the 1972 season, putting an end to the pretenders that had played there from 1969-71.)

Stone began the 1972 season in Philly, but spent all of July and August in the minors. His September call-up would be his last time in the majors. He spent all of 1973 with the Phillies' and Royals' AAA teams, before retiring.

(The Phillies did additional outfield housecleaning after the 1972 season, sending suspects Oscar Gamble and Roger Freed to the Indians for starting center fielder Del Unser.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Billy Wilson (#28)

Billy Wilson was one of several so-so pitchers promoted by the Phillies from their farm system in the 1969-71 time period. This is Wilson's first solo card, but he appeared on Phillies Rookie Stars cards in the 1967 and 1969 set.

Wilson was signed by Philadelphia in 1961 (wow, I didn't realize he went that far back!) and played minor-league ball for EIGHT seasons before making his major-league debut in April 1969. Billy was a starting pitcher from 1961-63, but was converted to a reliever in 1964. He didn't reach the triple-A level until 1966, then regressed to AA in '67 before spending the entire 1968 season back in triple-A.

Wilson played his entire major-league career (1969-73) with the Phillies, pitching in 179 games (all in relief) and compiling a 9-15 career record. Along the way, he spent about a dozen games back in the minors in 1970 and in 1971.

In 1971, he played 1/3 of an inning at 3rd base, as manager Frank Lucchesi brought in another pitcher to face 1 batter before returning Wilson to the mound. (The Phillies made a similar move in 2011 with Cliff Lee.)

Following the 1973 season, Wilson was traded to the Brewers for veteran reliever Frank Linzy, but  was released by Milwaukee in spring training. He caught on with the Phillies' AA team in Reading, PA for his last pro season in 1974.

Wilson passed away on 8/11/1993 at age 50.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Terry Harmon (#486)

Terry Harmon was the Phillies' good-field/no-hit backup infielder from 1969-1977. (He also made a few pinch-running appearances in 1967.) This is Harmon's first solo card. In the 1969 set, he appeared on one of the last-series "National League Rookies cards.

As far as I know, Harmon is one of only 3 players to have played their entire career (of at least 10 seasons) with the Phillies (along with Mike Schmidt and Larry Christenson). Jimmy Rollins will join that group, unless he gets off-loaded to another team in the next few years.

Harmon was signed by he Phillies in 1965, and played in the minors during the 1966-68 seasons. Terry was called up to the Phillies for a few games in mid-1967 while Johnny Briggs was on the DL, and appeared only as a pinch-runner. It appears he was "loaned out" to the Buffalo Bisons in the Washington Senators' organization for the 1968 season.

During his rookie season in 1969, Harmon started 36 games at shortstop for the Phillies, including all 24 games between June 13th and July 4th, in place of regular SS Don Money. Terry also started 12 games at 2nd base and saw action in another few dozen games.

In 1970, hotshot rookies Larry Bowa (SS) and Denny Doyle (2B) joined the team, further cementing Harmon's status as a backup. Still, he started 18 games at short and 10 at 2nd base.

Terry caught a break in 1971, as Doyle only played in 95 games, enabling Harmon to start 49 games in his place. 1972 was more of the same, with Terry starting 41 games at 2B along with 5 at shortstop.

With Cesar Tovar (and Billy Grabarkiewitz in mid-season) joining the Phils in 1973, both Harmon and Doyle had their playing time cut back at 2nd base, although Harmon was still the #2 man behind Doyle. Over at shortstop, rookie Craig Robinson took most of the starts that Bowa didn't make.

Terry played four more seasons with the Phillies, but with his starts cut way back. Dave Cash was the team's regular 2nd baseman from 1974-76, making a backup all but unnecessary. Harmon retired after the 1977 season.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Billy Champion (#149)

Yes, this now seems like an all-Phillies blog, and will be for just the next 8 posts, as I complete my multi-blog  "Phillies players from 1966 to 1969" series...

Billy Champion was one of the many pitchers not named Steve Carlton who haunted the Phillies' pitching staff in the early 1970s.

Champion was signed by the Phillies in 1965, and was a starting pitcher for their class-A teams for 4 seasons, followed by a half-season in triple-A before making his major-league debut in June 1969. Champion's minor-league seasons were so-so, except for 1968 (15-5, 2.03 ERA) and 1969 (7-1, 1.66 ERA).

In 1969, long-time veteran Chris Short was the opening day starter, but after 2 starts he was lost for the season. The team carried on with 4 starters until Champion was recalled in early June, becoming the 5th starter. Billy responded with a 5-10 record and a 5.01 ERA in 23 starts.

He found himself back in the minors for most of 1970, while also pitching 7 games for the Phillies (14 innings and an ERA over 9.00) in August and September. Somehow, that won him a fulltime job with the team for 1971, when he was used mostly as a reliever.

The 1972 season opened with Steve Carlton as the new man on the staff, and I must have gotten swept up in the euphoria, because I remember thinking to myself back then that Champion "just might" give the Phillies a 1-2 punch along with Carlton. (If only we had back then, I might have avoided such nonsensical thoughts!)

The 1972 season was a disaster for every Phillies' pitcher not named Carlton. On the bright side, the team cleaned house in the off-season, getting rid of suspects like Champion, Ken Reynolds, and Jim Nash, along with the aging Short and Woodie Fryman, and brought in Jim Lonborg, Ken Brett, Dick Ruthven, Larry Christensen, and Wayne Twitchell, so that Carlton didn't have to account for half the team's wins again.

Champion was shipped to the Brewers along with 3rd basemen Don Money and John Vukovich for Lonborg, Brett, and others. He pitched for 3 full seasons in Milwaukee, with the high point coming in 1974 when he compiled an 11-4 record in 31 games (23 starts).

Billy began the 1976 season with the Brewers, but played his last major-league game on June 5th, 7 years and 1 day after his debut. He was released in late June and spent the remainder of the '76 season with the Braves' AAA team in Richmond. His final season was in 1977, back with the Phillies' AAA team.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

John Briggs (#564)

John Briggs was first of several young outfielders developed by the Phillies' farm system in the mid-1960s (along with Alex Johnson, Adolfo Phillips, and Larry Hisle). Although Briggs' Phillies' career began before, and ended after, the other three players, like all of them he found his greatest success after leaving the Phillies.

Johnny was signed by the Phillies late in 1962, and spent just one season (1963) at class-A Bakersfield before becoming a full-time major-leaguer at the start of 1964. Briggs was primarily used as a left-handed pinch-hitter during his rookie season, but also played 20 games in the outfield. He accumulated 66 at-bats in 61 games that season.

His role expanded in 1965, as he shared the starting center field duties evenly with another lefthander, Tony Gonzalez. Briggs ended up with the 4th-most innings played by the outfielders, due to Gonzalez' significant playing time in left field.

1966 was more of the same for Briggs, although in addition to Gonzalez, he was now sharing center field with veteran Jackie Brandt and, to a lesser extent, utilityman Cookie Rojas.

In 1967 Briggs moved over to left field, and began the season in a strict platoon with rookie SS-OF Gary Sutherland. By mid-season, he had moved back to center field, and platooned with Don Lock, while Lock's former platoon partner Gonzalez became the full-time left fielder.

1968 brought some change to the familiar Phillies' outfield routine. Richie Allen, fresh off a wrist injury that ended his 1967 season (and never a defensive whiz at 3rd base anyway) moved to left field fulltime for 1968. With veteran Johnny Callison in right, this threw everyone else (Briggs, Gonzalez, and Lock) into the center field mish-mash. Previously always a center fielder or left fielder, Briggs also spent most of July as the starting 1st baseman (replacing veteran Bill White) and part of August as the regular right fielder, since Callison missed several weeks in late summer.

The logjam worked itself out in 1969, as White was dealt back to the Cardinals, Gonzalez was lost in the expansion draft, and Allen moved in to play 1st base. With rookie Larry Hisle scheduled to take over the center field job, that left Briggs in sole possession of left field. Well, that plan was sidelined by rookie Ron Stone, who tore up the Grapefruit League in March. Stone began the season in left field, sending Briggs to the bench. The spring phenom's inevitable cool-off sent Briggs back to left, until he was replaced by Deron Johnson. Only Johnson's trip to the DL, followed by Allen's month-long suspension in mid-summer got Briggs back into the left field starting job.

Briggs and Stone shared the left field job during 1970, then Johnny was traded to the Brewers in April 1971 for 2 minor-leaguers.

He was a full-time regular with Milwaukee for 4 seasons, hitting 21, 21, 18, and 17 homers during that time. After playing 1st base for all of 1971, he moved out to left field to make room for George Scott. John began the 1975 season as the Brewers' left fielder, and after a mid-June trade to the Twins, he finished out the season (and his MLB career) as Minnesota's 1st baseman.

Briggs played the 1976 season in Japan, before retiring.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rick Wise (#605)

Using all my blogs, I've been posting 1 card for everyone who played for the Phillies from 1966-1969. Of the 77 players in that time span, five didn't have a card, and two (Ed Roebuck and Howie Bedell) had cards, but not in the years serviced by my blogs. I have 15 Phillies' players to go, about half of them in the 1970 set.

Rick Wise was one of the Phillies' best starting pitchers from 1969-71. He had a breakout season in 1971, pitching a no-hitter, hitting 2 home runs in that no-hitter, and at 17-14, was one of only 2 Phillies' pitchers to compile a winning record that season. After that season, he was famously traded to the Cardinals for 20-game winner Steve Carlton.

Wise was signed by the Phillies in June 1963. After just a half-season of class-A ball, Wise was rushed to the majors in April 1964. He appeared in 25 games as a rookie, all but 8 out of the bullpen. Rick's 2nd starting assignment was in game 2 of the Fathers' Day doubleheader against the Mets, where his teammate Jim Bunning pitched a perfect game in the opener. Although rarely used as a starter, Wise did string together 4 starts in August.

Rick spent the entire 1965 season at triple-A Little Rock, and started the '66 season with San Diego, the new home of the Phillies' AAA team. Recalled in early June, Wise remained with the team for the rest of the season, pitching in 22 games (13 starts).

Wise's minor-league days were now over, as he began the '67 season as the 5th starter, but soon supplanted newly-acquired veteran Dick Ellsworth as the #4 starter. Rick was a fixture in the Phillies' rotation for the next 5 years. With Bunning's trade to the Pirates after the 1967 season, Larry Jackson's retirement after '68, and Chris Short missing all but 2 games of the 1969 season, Wise continued to assume a bigger role on the staff.

Following his trade for Carlton, Rick won 16 games in each of his 2 seasons in St. Louis, then was swapped to the Red Sox for outfielder Reggie Smith after the '73 season. He missed most of the 1974 season, but turned in 3 good seasons in Boston after that, including winning 19 games for the AL champs in 1975.

In March 1978, he was traded to the Indians for pitcher Dennis Eckersley. Two seasons in Cleveland were followed by two full seasons in San Diego (all as a starter). After 1 relief appearance at the start of the 1982 season, he was released on April 16th, ending his 18-year career.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Larry Hisle (#288)

Here is Larry Hisle's first solo card. He previously appeared on an NL Rookies card in 1968, and a Phillies Rookies card in 1969. Too bad Topps couldn't get a better picture of the centerfielder on their all-rookie team, who played the entire 1969 season with the Phillies.

Hisle's early major-league career followed that of teammate (and previous post subject) Don Money. Like Money, Hisle was handed a starting job in spring training 1968. They both made their major-league debut in the '68 season opener. Like Money, Larry faltered and was sent back to triple-A in late April. Like Money, Hisle re-booted his career in 1969, snaring a starting position vacated by a player lost in the expansion draft, and played well enough to earn a Topps all-rookie team slot.

Larry was signed by the Phillies in 1965, and began playing ball in 1966 with the Phillies' low-A team in Huron, SD. The following year he advanced to high-A Tidewater, where he clubbed 23 homers and hit .302 in 136 games. This earned him a (rushed) trip to Philly in 1968. After 7 games with the Phillies in '68, he was sent back to triple-A San Diego, where he finished the season with a .303 average but only hit 6 home runs.

Larry's big years with the Phillies were 1969 and 1970. He took over the starting center field job on opening day, and started 124 of the first 129 games there. Following that, he shared the position with veteran Johnny Briggs during the month of September.

1970 was a little less stable for Hisle. After starting the first 29 games in center, he moved over to right field while Oscar Gamble and others got their shot there. By mid-June, he was spending a lot of time on the bench, then strung together a series of starts in center field in July and again in August. By season's end, Larry logged more playing time than the other outfielders, but there were 5 players in the starting outfield rotation.

1971 brought a lot of change to the Phillies' outfield. Rookies Willie Montanez and Roger Freed won the center and right field jobs, so everyone else (Hisle, Briggs, Gamble, Ron Stone, and Byron Browne) was thrown into the left field mix. Hisle only played 36 for the Phillies that season, while playing 62 games in triple-A.

After the season, he was traded to the Dodgers for 1st baseman Tommy Hutton. Larry spent the entire 1972 season in the minors, then in late October was traded to the Cardinals, who flipped him to the Twins a month later.

Hisle's best years were spent with the Twins (1973-77), playing left and center fields. In 1977 he led the AL with 119 RBI, while batting .305 and hitting 28 home runs. He also made his first of two all-star appearances.

Larry was granted free agency after the 1977 season, and signed with the Milwaukee Brewers. In his first season there he collected 600 at-bats, 34 home runs, 115 RBI, and an all-star appearance. The next 4 seasons he was relegated to part-time playing roles, retiring on May 6, 1982 after appearing in only 9 games.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Don Money (#645)

This is Don Money's 2nd card, and his first in a Phillies' uniform. Don's rookie card was in the 1969 set, where he appeared on a Phillies Rookie Stars card in a hatless photo from his Pirates' days. He is one of 2 Phillies who made the Topps all-rookie team in 1969 (along with center fielder Larry Hisle).

Money was acquired from the Pirates in December 1967 along with pitcher Woodie Fryman and two minor-league pitchers for veteran pitcher Jim Bunning.

Don's major-league debut came in April 1968. He was handed the starting shortstop job in spring training, but after a week or so, it became apparent that he was overmatched, and was sent down to triple-A in late April. (The same thing occurred for rookie teammate Hisle).

After the 1968 season, the Phillies lost all 3 of their major-league shortstops (Bobby Wine, Roberto Pena, and Gary Sutherland) in the expansion draft, clearing the way for Money in 1969. Don played 4 full seasons with the Phillies, making 503, 507, 482, and 590 plate appearances, respectively. He was the regular shortstop as a rookie, before sliding over to 3rd base at the start of 1970, making room for rookie Larry Bowa.

In 1971, he moved around a few times: to left field for the month of July, when the Phillies tried rookie John Vukovich at 3rd base, and over to 2nd base for the month of September, when rookie Greg Luzinski was called up and installed at 1st base for the balance of the season (causing 1st baseman Deron Johnson to move over to 3rd base).

Money was back at 3rd base for 1972, then moved on to the Brewers after the season, traded with pitcher Billy Champion and 3rd baseman John Vukovich for pitchers Jim Lonborg, Ken Brett, and others. His 3rd base job in Philadelphia would be given to Mike Schmidt at the start of 1973.

Don spent his remaining 11 seasons with the Brewers, 4 as the starting 3rd baseman, then one as the 2nd baseman, before becoming a swingman and, finally, a backup. He made 4 all-star teams between 1974 and 1978, and retired following the 1983 season.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Final Card: Rick Joseph

This is the final card for Rick Joseph (#186), and his first Phillies' card featuring him in a Phillies' uniform. (His 1968 and 1969 Phillies cards use the same hatless closeup of Joseph in a Kansas City Athletics' uniform.)  Looking at this card reminds me that Joseph used to wear an inside-the-cap insert instead of a batting helmet (as did his teammate Tony Taylor).

Joseph was from San Pedro de Macoris, DR, the hotbed of major-league infielders, although he came before many of the big names of the 1970s and 1980s.

Rick was signed by the Giants in 1959, and after 5 seasons was selected by the Athletics in the minor-league draft. He made his major-league debut with Kansas City in 1964, playing 17 games as a corner-infeld reserve. After that, it was back to the minors, including a half-season in the Tigers' chain, before being returned to the Athletics' farm.

The Phillies drafted him after the 1966 season, and he spent most of 1967 with their triple-A San Diego Padres team, which was more like an old-age home for ex-major-leaguers than a launching pad for future prospects. Joseph was called up to Philadelphia in late August when 3rd baseman Richie Allen's season was ended by a hand injury. Joseph spent the next 3 seasons with the Phillies as a backup at 1st base and 3rd base, behind the likes of Allen, Bill White, and Deron Johnson.

Rick was traded to the White Sox on January 14, 1971 for pitcher Darrell Brandon. Joseph spent the 1971 season with the Padres' AAA team in Hawaii, then wrapped up his career playing in triple-A for the Braves and Pirates in 1972, and in Mexico in 1973.

Joseph passed away in September 1979 from diabetes, at age 40.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Final Card: Jeff James

This is the last of two Topps cards for Jeff James (#302).  In 1968, the Phillies injected some youth into their pitching rotation. Veteran pitcher Jim Bunning was traded to the Pirates for Woodie Fryman, and James replaced aging veteran Dick Ellsworth as the #5 starter.

James was signed by the Phillies in 1960, and was a starting pitcher in their farm system for 7 seasons (1961-67), finally making it to triple-A in 1967, where he compiled a 13-5 record.

Jeff made his major-league debut in mid-April, and was with the Phillies for the entire 1968 season. Pitching in 29 games, his 13 starts came mostly in July and August. His spot in the starting rotation was taken over by fellow rookie Jerry Johnson for the rest of the season.

James was back in triple-A for most of the 1969 season (compiling a 13-10 record), and only returned to Philadelphia in September, when he pitched in his last 6 big-league games.

Jeff pitched the '70 and '71 seasons in triple-A before retiring. He passed away in 2006 at age 64.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mike Ryan (#591)

Today we have Phillies' backup catcher Mike Ryan. Although 1970 was Mike's 3rd season with the Phils, it was his first card featuring him in a Phillies uniform. It seems like Topps took it's time getting new photos for players that changed teams, preferring to stick with hatless photos well beyond their expiration date:

1967 Bob Buhl
1967 Bob Uecker
1967 Don Lock*
1968 Don Lock
1969 Don Lock
1968 Woody Fryman*
1969 Woody Fryman
1968 Turk Farrell
1969 Turk Farrell
1968 Mike Ryan*
1969 Mike Ryan
1968 Rick Joseph
1969 Rick Joseph

* These could be excused as their first season with the Phils, except that Topps was able to get Dick Hall in a Phillies uniform in 1967, his first season with the team.

But I digress....

I first became casually aware of Mike Ryan by his 1967 card while a member of the AL champion Red Sox. After the season, the Phillies acquired him in exchange for pitcher Dick Ellsworth and catcher Gene Oliver. (The same day, they also traded Jim Bunning for 4 players, including Woody Fryman and Don Money.)

Great! I thought. After plodding along the previous season with a platoon featuring aging veterans Clay Dalrymple, Bob Uecker, and Gene Oliver, we're finally getting a young, up-coming catcher. Not so fast... Ryan platooned with Dalrymple for the '68 season, then took over as the regular backstop in 1969 when Dalrymple was traded to the Orioles. Although a great defensive catcher, Ryan couldn't hit a lick. (I guess that's implied when someone is referred to as "a great defensive catcher").

After one season at the controls, Mike returned to the bench in 1970, since former all-star and 2-time World Series champion Tim McCarver was acquired in the Dick Allen trade prior to the season. However, Ryan got a break when McCarver broke his hand on a Willie Mays' foul tip on May 2nd. Mike actually DID get a "break" later that same inning: breaking HIS hand while applying a tag at home plate. (The Phillies used 2 minor-league catchers and a hastily-reactivated bullpen coach to fill in for the next few months.)

Ryan caddied for McCarver through June 1972, then played behind John Bateman for the remainder of that season. In 1973, rookie Bob Boone took over as the #1 catcher. The team had acquired veteran Tom Haller from the Tigers to mentor Boone, but when Haller refused to report, they kept Ryan on for one more season.

After playing for the Pirates in his final season (1974), Mike returned to the Phillies as a minor-league coach for a few seasons, then as their major-league bullpen coach from 1980-1995.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Deron Johnson (#125)

In case you haven't noticed, I've recently been using my blogs to present a card for each of the 66 players (having a card) who played for the Phillies from 1966-1969. I'm about 2/3 of the way there, with most of the remaining cards to be posted on the '69 and '70 blogs. (The 1970 Phillies cards have more players in Phillies' caps than the 1969 set.)  

Deron Johnson was acquired by the Phillies in 1969. His big bat was the reason Phillies' 1st base prospect Greg Luzinski moved to left field when he came up in 1971.

On the first Deron Johnson card I got (1967), his position was listed as "INF-OF", a designation usually reserved for utility schmoes like Jim Stewart, Frank Kostro, and Jim Barbieri. Johnson was clearly not a utility player, but was a regular at 3 different positions (1B-3B-LF) in rapid succession, and led the NL with 130 RBI in 1965.

Johnson was signed by the Yankees in 1956 and played 5 seasons in their minor-league system, the last 3 in triple-A. Deron started as an outfielder, but in his last 2 minor-league seasons, played as much at 3rd base as in the outfield. He made his major-league debut in September 1960, and played a half-dozen games at 3rd base that season.

Johnson began the 1961 season with the Yankees, but after only playing in 13 games (3 starts) by mid-June, he was traded to Kansas City (as many Yankees were in those days) with veteran pitcher Art Ditmar for pitcher Bud Daley. Johnson spent the remainder of 1961 as a swing man between LF, RF, and even some 3B, playing in 83 games for the Athletics. He missed most of the 1962 season while in military service, playing only 17 games that season (almost all in August).

The Cincinnati Reds purchased Johnson in April 1963, and he spent the entire season at triple-A San Diego (maybe for a refresher course on "good baseball" after almost 2 years in Kansas City?). Anyway, he led the PCL with 33 home runs and was the league's all-star 1st baseman.

Beginning in 1964, Johnson turned in 4 solid seasons as a regular with the Reds. Playing 1st base for all of '64, 3rd base in '65, and left field for '66, he appeared in 140+ games per season, and had a monster year in 1965, leading the NL with 130 RBI in 159 games. 1967 was his last season with the Reds. With Tony Perez, and now Lee May joining the team, Johnson's playing time slipped to 108 games as he shuttled between 1st base and 3rd base.

After the season he was traded to the Braves for a bag of beans pitcher Jay Ritchie and outfielders Mack Jones and Jim Beauchamp. After one season in Atlanta, he was sold to the Phillies.

With Dick Allen already at 1st base, Johnson alternated between left field and 3rd base, before taking over at 1st base following Allen's off-season trade. Deron had two excellent seasons in '70 and '71, clubbing 27 and 34 home runs along with 93 and 95 RBI.

Injuries limited him to 96 games in 1972, and in May 1973 he was traded to Oakland for a minor-league catcher. Johnson played 4 seasons in the American League as the designated hitter and sometimes first baseman for Oakland, Milwaukee, Boston, and Chicago before being released in June 1976.

He later coached for several teams, including the Phillies and Angels. Johnson died of lung cancer in 1992 at age 53.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Jim Bunning (#403)

Jim Bunning returned to the Phillies in 1970, after a 2-year hiatus. He was the team's opening-day pitcher in 1971, the first-ever game at Veterans Stadium.

Bunning was signed by the Tigers in 1950 and pitched in the minors for 7 seasons (1950-56). In those last 2 seasons, he also pitched 15 games for the Tigers.

1957 was Jim's first full season in the majors, and he marked the occasion by winning 20 games, leading the AL with 267 innings pitched, and making his first of 7 all-star appearances. Bunning starred for the Detroit for 6 more seasons, twice leading the AL with 201 strikeouts.

After the 1963 season he was traded to the Phillies with catcher Gus Triandos for outfielder Don Demeter and pitcher Jack Hamilton.

Jim was the Phillies' ace for the next 4 seasons, winning 19 games 3 times. During his 1st season in Philly, he pitched a perfect game against the Mets on Fathers' Day. He won 17 in his final season, then moved on to the Pirates for 4 players, including pitcher Woody Fryman and shortstop prospect Don Money.

After two off-years in Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, Bunning returned to the Phillies for 2 seasons before retiring after the 1971 season at age 39. (The Phillies would acquire Steve Carlton months later.)

Bunning spent some time managing in the Phillies' farm system before entering politics. He was a congressman, then a US Senator from Kentucky from 1987 to 2011.

With this post, all Phillies' planets are aligned:

Normal orbits will resume shortly, except for this 1970 blog, which will feature Phillies for the next few posts.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Final Card: John Roseboro

This is the last card for long-time Dodgers' catcher John Roseboro (#655). John was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1952, and played in their minor-league system from 1952 to 1957, except for missing the 1954 season while in military service.

Roseboro made his major-league debut in June 1957. He got into 35 games for the Brooklyn Dodgers, as the 3rd-string catcher behind veterans Roy Campanella and Rube Walker. John took over the #1 spot for the 1958 season (the team's first season in Los Angeles) due to Campanella's automobile accident. Roseboro remained a fixture behind the plate for 10 seasons in Los Angeles, making the all-star team 3 times as a Dodger.

After the 1967 season, John was traded to the Twins (along with relief pitchers Ron Perranoski and Bob Miller) for pitcher Jim Grant and shortstop Zoilo Versalles. After 2 seasons as the Twins' starting catcher (and another all-star appearance), John was released after the 1969 season.

The Senators picked him up in the off-season, and 37-year-old Roseboro spent 1970 as the Sens' 3rd-string catcher behind Paul Casanova and Jim French. His last game was on August 11, 1970, and he was released a week later, ending his 14-year career. Besides catching 1476 games, he also played 6 games at 1st base, 2 at 3rd base, and 5 in the outfield.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Expos Team (#509)

Topps didn't issue team cards in the 1969 set (maybe because they didn't know what to do with the 4 expansion teams?), but all 24 teams returned in the 1970 set. Here is the very first Montreal Expos team card. I assumed it was the 1969 team pictured on the card, but since this is a relatively high-numbered card, it could be a photo from spring training 1970.

(I wonder if Staub and Stoneman were given hefty raises for leading the team in just about every category!)

For the first 5 years of their existence, the Expos generally battled the Phillies for last place in the NL East.

Here are some other blog posts about the Montreal Expos:

1969 NL expansion

Check out the 5th comment in this post

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Roberto Clemente (#350)

Look! Topps finally relented after 15 years and acknowledged his first name to be Roberto, not Bob.

Clemente was a fixture in the Pirates' outfield since 1955. His only season in the minors was 1954 with the Montreal Royals (the Brooklyn Dodgers' triple-A team). According to, Roberto was signed by the Dodgers before the 1952 season, but didn't play until 1954.

The Pirates selected him in the Rule 5 draft following the 1954 season. I wonder if the Dodgers ever stopped kicking themselves for that mistake?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Clarence Gaston (#604)

This is the first "full" card for Clarence "Cito" Gaston. He previously appeared on a 1969 Padres Rookies card. Topps didn't begin referring to him as Cito until he became a manager.

Gaston was signed by the Braves in 1964 and spent 5 seasons playing in their minor-league system. His only big-league experience with the Braves was 9 games in September 1967.

Cito was the Padres' last (30th) pick in the October 1968 expansion draft. His minor-league days were now behind him, as Gaston made the Padres at the start of the season, and took over the starting center field job from Tony Gonzalez in game #4.

Cito's best season was 1970, when he hit 29 homeruns, batted .318, and was named to the all-star team. He was the team's regular center fielder for 3 seasons, then slid over to right field for 1972 and 1973. His final season with the Padres was 1974, which he spent as a pinch-hitter and part-time right fielder.

In November 1974 Cito was traded back to the Braves for pitcher Danny Frisella. He spent his last 4 seasons ('75-'78) as a pinch-hitter and outfield backup for Atlanta. On September 22, 1978 he was sold to the Pirates, and played 2 games for them before retiring after the season.

Gaston had greater success as a manager, piloting the Toronto Blue Jays from 1989 to 1997, and again from 2008 to 2010. His team finished in 1st place 5 times, including World Series championships in 1992 and 1993.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Back on Topps' Radar: Fred Norman

This is Fred Norman's first appearance in the Topps set (#427) since he appeared on a Cubs Rookies card in the 1965 set. His rookie card was a Cubs Rookies card in the 1964 set. (I first became aware of him back in the day when I got his 1972 card. By that time, he was with the Padres.)

Fred was signed by the Kansas City Athletics in 1961, and spent 3 seasons as a starting pitcher in their minor league system. He also pitched 2 games for the Athletics in each of 1962 and 1963. After the 1963 season, he was traded to the Cubs for outfielder Nelson Mathews.

Norman spent the 1964-66 seasons as a starter in the Cubs' organization, while pitching a few games for Chicago in 1964 and 1966. He began the 1967 season with the Cubs, but after only one appearance, he was traded to the Dodgers on April 26th for pitcher Dick Calmus.

In what is now becoming a familiar pattern, Fred spent 3 seasons (1967-69) back in the minors, this time alternating between triple-A Spokane and double-A Albuquerque. He wouldn't resurface in the majors until 1970, and would remain topside for the rest of his career, except for a brief stint in triple-A during 1971.

Norman spent the entire 1970 season in the Dodgers bullpen - well almost. After pitching 62 innings over 30 games for LA, on September 28th he was claimed by the Cardinals, and pitched 1 inning for them. His time in St. Louis was short though, as in addition to a brief trip to the minors in 1971, he was dealt to the Padres in mid-June for pitcher Al Santorini.

Fred pitched in the Padres rotation from June 1971 to June 1973. During his only full season in San Diego (1972) he was the Padres' #3 starter, and the only lefthander in the rotation. Midway through 1973, he was traded to the Reds, where he enjoyed his greatest success.

Norman pitched for the Reds for 6 1/2 seasons, and finished with double-figure wins every year. He was always in the rotation, early-on with Gary Nolan, Jack Billingham, and ex-Padres teammate Clay Kirby, then in later years right behind the newly-acquired Tom Seaver.

Fred became a free agent after the 1979 season, and signed with the Expos. He spent his final season (1980) in Montreal's bullpen, and was released during spring training 1981.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Danny Murtaugh (#532)

Danny Murtaugh returns to the Topps card set for the first time since 1964.

Murtaugh was a 4-time manager, all with the Pirates. He managed Pittsburgh for 7 1/2 years, from midway through the 1957 season through the end of 1964, including skippering the 1960 World Champs.

Danny returned to finish out the 1967 season, when Harry Walker was fired after 83 games. After a 2-year experiment with Larry Shepard, Murtaugh was back at the start of the 1970 season, and piloted the team to first-place finishes in 1970 and 1971, and won the 1971 World Series.

He retired following the Series, and the Pirates hired their former center fielder Bill Virdon to manage the team in 1972, but Murtaugh was back at the helm in September 1973, and for 3 additional seasons beyond that. In Danny's last 3 full seasons, the Pirates won their division twice (losing the NLCS both times), and in 2nd place once. He retired for good after the 1976 season.

Prior to managing, Murtaugh was an infielder for the Phillies and Pirates from 1941 to 1951, except for his military service in 1944-45.