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 1961 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.


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 to 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.