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.)

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