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.


Eric C. Loy said...

This card has always bugged me. Check out his hat. It looks like Topps cut-and-pasted a Dodgers logo on a different hat. What we can see of the uniform does not look like a Dodgers or Cubs uni...maybe an A's? That doesn't make sense with the hat, though. I don't remember Topps airbrushing any other logos on hats for 1970...

Jim from Downingtown said...

Yeah, it looks like an iron-on patch that you would get for a quarter in a vending machine.

Douglas said...

Hard to say but think it is a Spokane Indian uniform Norman is wearing. I always thought it was one of the least complementary looking card with its rusted chain link fence and Norman's dishelved five o'clock shadow look. On the bright side, it is much better the 69 and 70 Topps cards of Zoillo Veralles.