Friday, July 3, 2020

NL Batting Leaders (#61, #63, #65)

These are the 1969 NL leaders in batting average, RBI, and home runs. Willie McCovey gets 2/3 of a triple crown, and was 5th in batting average, 28 points behind Pete Rose.


I was surprised to see Lee May among the home run leaders. He finished ahead of Ron Santo and Jimmy Wynn, who are usually among the leaders (along with automatics McCovey and Hank Aaron). May's 38 were one less than his career-high in 1971. He's also 5th in RBI with a career-high 110.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Born on the Same Day - 9/21/1942

Another installment in my "Born on the Same Day" series, featuring players who were born on the same day (!) and year. 

This is post #27 in the series: Sam McDowell and Billy Wilson - both born on 9/21/1942.


Wow, has there ever been 2 players in this "Born on the Same Day" series with such different careers?

Sam McDowell was the AL strikeout king from 1965-1970. He pitched 425 games (winning 141) over 15 years, and was a 5-time All-Star.

Billy Wilson was just another Phillies' pitcher not named Steve Carlton back in the early 1970s. He pitched 83 games (all in relief) between 1969 and 1973, posting a career record on 9-15.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Dick Drago (#37)

It's April, and time for some spring cleaning on my blogs. Gone are the sidebar lists of "Oldest Living Players Not Blogged" and "Top 20 Players to be blogged". In their place are extended "On-deck" lists of who's next.

I was also reviewing what I had left to post, and found about 50 for my 1969 blog, 30 for 1970, only 12 for 1968, and only 12 combined for my 1967 (wow, I was caught napping there!), 1966, and 1965 blogs. 

So as I rotate through these blogs, the 1969 blog will take a double shift, while the 1965-68 blogs will alternate in each lap. (Those last 4 blogs have all the remaining planned posts listed in the "Final Countdown" sidebars.) Who knows, when I get to the end I may just free-lance as the spirit moves me.


This is Dick Drago's first solo card. (He appeared on a Royals Rookies car in 1969.)

Drago was signed by the Tigers in September 1964. He got into a few games that year in the Florida Instructional League, then pitched the next 4 seasons in the Tigers' farm system.

Unlike many of the youngsters on the 4 expansion teams in 1969, Drago did not get a look-see by his former team in September 1968 before being exposed to the expansion draft.

He was selected by the Royals in the draft and made his major-league debut on April 11, 1969. Drago played the next 13 seasons for various American League teams: 5 with the Royals, 2 with the Red Sox, 1 ½ with the Angels, a half-season with the Orioles, and back to Boston for 3 more years before finishing up with the Mariners in 1981.


As a rookie in 1969, Dick was the Royals' #2 starter behind the veteran Wally Bunker (actually they were both 24 years old). He started 26 games along with 15 relief appearances.

In 1970 he was the staff ace, pitching 240 innings (26 more than the next guy) although slumping to a 9-15 record. Drago rebounded in 1971 to win 17 games, and maintained his spot atop the rotation through the 1972 season.

With the arrival of Paul Splittorff in '72 and Steve Busby the following year, by 1973 Drago slipped to #3 in the rotation. After the season he was traded to Boston for pitcher Marty Pattin.

His role changed in Boston. A swingman in 1974, he converted to full-time bullpen duty in 1975 (and for the rest of his career), collecting 15 saves in 72 innings over 40 games. He also appeared in 2 ALCS games and 2 World Series games.

Drago was traded to the Angels before the 1976 season and to the Orioles in mid-1977. While with the Angels, in July 1976 he gave up Hank Aaron's 755th and final home run.

After being granted free agency in October 1977, he re-signed with the Red Sox. (Boston also signed Drago's former Royals teammate Tom Burgmeier in that off-season.)
Dick led the staff in saves in 1979, and was a setup man for Bob Stanley ('78) and Burgmeier ('80) in the other years.

Drago was traded to the Mariners the day before the 1981 season for pitcher Manny Sarmiento. After one season there he was released the following April.

Friday, March 27, 2020

50 Years Ago - 1970 Opening Day Lineups (AL)

Here are the American League opening day lineups from half a century ago. Teams are shown in order of their 1970 finish.

East Division:

Elrod Hendricks caught more games than Andy Etchebarren, but the other 7 were everyday regulars.


Danny Cater was the primary 1st baseman, with Jerry Kenney playing mostly at 3rd base.


Yaz moved in to play first base this season, with George Scott moving over to 3rd base. Billy Coniglaro was the primary left fielder.


Not pictured are the regular 3rd baseman (Don Wert) and center fielder (Mickey Stanley). Jim Northrup and Al Kaline shared the right field starts.


Vada Pinson was the regular right fielder, otherwise this was the Tribe's regular lineup. (Tony Horton custom card courtesy of the late Bob Lemke.) 


The Senators made a lot of changes, before settling on Tim Cullen at 2B, Aurelio Rodriguez (acquired from the Angels) at 3B, Ed Stroud in CF and Lee Maye in RF.


West Division:

The Twins had a fairly stable lineup, with only Danny Thompson replacing the injured Rod Carew at 2nd base.


The Athletics were the only team whose 1970 Opening Day lineup was their regular lineup all season.


The Angels traded Aurelio Rodriguez to the Senators for 3B Ken McMullen. Jay Johnstone was the regular center fielder, pushing Roger Repoz to right field.


Ed Kirkpatrick, Bob Oliver, Cookie Rojas (acquired from the Cardinals in June), and Paul Schaal were the regulars at C, 1B, 2B, and 3B. Shortstop and the outfielders were as shown above.


As you would expect from a disaster only one year removed from the Seattle Pilots, this lineup was unstable. The regulars were: C-Phil Roof, 1B-Mike Hegan, 2B-Ted Kubiak, SS-Roberto Pena, 3B-Tommy Harper, LF-Danny Walton, CF-Dave May, RF-Bob Burda.


Ahhh, those White Sox. In 1969 they finished behind the expansion Royals but ahead of the expansion Pilots. Now the Pilots/Brewers have passed them too.

Ed Herrman and Duane Josephson split the catching. 1st and 2nd base were manned by Gail Hopkins and Bobby Knoop respectively, while Ken Berry was the center fielder. Bill Melton actually played more games at 3B and also in RF that any other player.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

50 Years Ago - 1970 Opening Day Lineups (NL)

This season is temporarily on hold, but 50 years ago next week was Opening Day 1970.

April 6, 1970 featured the traditional opening games in Cincinnati and Washington. All other teams began the following day. (Cincinnati always hosted the NL's first game, because it is the oldest NL team. Washington hosted the AL's first game so that the president could throw out the first pitch.)

Here are the National League opening day lineups from half a century ago. Teams are shown in order of their 1970 finish.

East Division:
 
The Pirates won the division with this regular lineup, except for Manny Sanguillen (C ) and Bob Robertson (1B).


Randy Hundley did most of the catching. Jim Hickman replaced Ernie Banks at 1st base, and Joe Pepitone came over from the Astros to play center field.


Donn Clendenon and Ken Boswell were the regulars at 1B and 2B, otherwise those above were the regulars.


Joe Torre split his time between catcher and 3rd base, with rookie Ted Simmons catching many games. Dick Allen was the primary 1st baseman in his only season with the Cardinals. Leron Lee and Joe Hague shared right field.


The Phillies were assembling a good infield, but their pitching and corner outfielders were still sub-par. Johnny Briggs was the primary left fielder, while Byron Browne and others played right field.


John Bateman was the #1 catcher, and Mack Jones took over the left field job.


West Division:

The Reds had most, but not all of their "Big Red Machine" parts together. Dave Concepcion and Woody Woodward split the shortstop duties.

These were the everyday 8 starters except for Bill Grabarkiewitz (3B), Manny Mota (LF), and Andy Kosco (RF).


These were the everyday players all season except for 2nd base, where Ron Hunt split time with Tito Fuentes.


Bob Watson was the primary 1st baseman this season. By mid-season, the outfield was Jim Wynn in left, rookie Cesar Cedeno in center, and Jesus Alou in right.


Bob Tillman caught more games than Bob Didier, and Sonny Jackson shared the shortstop job with Gil Garrido.


This was the Padres' regular lineup all season, except for Ed Speizio at 3B and Al Ferrara in left field. (Van Kelly custom card courtesy of the "When Topps Had (Base)Balls" blog.) 


Tomorrow: The AL starters
.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Angel Bravo (#283)

Angel Bravo is the oldest living player (with a card in the 1966-70 sets) that I have not yet featured on a blog.

He had a very brief major-league career with the White Sox (1969), Reds (1970-71), and Padres (1971).

He was signed by the White Sox in 1963, and played in the minors every season from 1963 to 1972, except for the 1970 season. He also played in the Mexican League from 1973-76, and the Inter-American League in 1979.

After 3 seasons in class-A ball, he advanced to AA in 1966. He played at the AA and AAA levels in '67 and '68. In 1969 he led the Pacific Coast League with a .342 batting average.


Angel made his major-league debut with the White Sox in June 1969, and started 2 dozen games in center field, mostly in late-June and mid-September. After the season he was traded to the Reds for pitcher Gerry Arrigo.

Bravo spent the entire 1970 season on the Reds' roster (his only season not in the minors). The Reds lineup being what it was, Bravo rarely got any playing time, starting only 6 games in center field (to Bobby Tolan's 146 starts), and was the team's 8th outfielder (behind even Johnny Bench and Jimmy Stewart). Although only playing parts of 22 games in the field, he did get into 43 other games as a pinch-hitter.

In mid-May 1971 he was traded to the Padres for OF Al Ferrara. Once again he was mostly a pinch-hitter, since the Padres had Cito Gaston and Ollie Brown as everyday outfielders, along with Larry Stahl, Leron Lee, and Ivan Murrell all sharing left field. Bravo’s last major-league games came in September 1971.

He played all of 1972 for San Diego's AAA team in Hawaii, then played in Mexico for 4 seasons. In 1979 he played 15 games in the ill-fated Inter-American League before it folded.

---

The Inter-American League lasted only 3 months in 1979. It planned to play 130 games, but 2 teams (Panama and Puerto Rico) dropped out in mid-June. Two weeks later the league folded.

The standings at that time were:
1. Miami (72 games played)
2. Caracas (64)
3. Santo Domingo (67)
4. Maricaibo (67)
5. Panama (51)
6. Puerto Rico (55)

Monday, March 16, 2020

Dan McGinn (#364)

Dan McGinn was the Expos’ first closer. He was the Reds’ 1st-round pick in 1966, and made his major-league debut with 14 games (12 innings) in September 1968.

McGinn was selected by the Expos with the 27th pick in the October 1968 expansion draft. He appeared in 74 games as a rookie in 1969 (30 more than the next guy) and led the Expos with 6 saves. He also hit the first home run in Expos’ history.


In 1970 he pitched in 52 games, but unlike the previous year he spent some time in the rotation, making 19 starts (compared to 1 in 1969). He ended up with the same 7-10 record as in 1969, and with similar innings pitched (130 vs. 132). On the down side, his ERA ballooned from 3.94 in ‘69 to 5.44 in ’70.

The wheels began to fall off in 1971, as McGinn began the season in AAA, rejoining the Expos in mid-May to pitch in 28 games (posting a 1-4 record).

A week before the start of the 1972 season he was traded to the Cubs for 1B Hal Breeden and SS Hector Torres. (P Bill Kelso was later sent to the Cubs as part of the deal.) Dan pitched 42 games for the Cubs in 1972, but that would be his last season in the majors.

He spent the 1973 season with the Cubs’ and Cardinals’ AAA teams before retiring.