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.