Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Pilots Team (#713)

Today we will take a closer look at the Seattle Pilots' team card, which I first posted as part of my Pilots Team Review on my 1969 blog back in January.

I got this card last Fall, the first baseball card I acquired in about 2 years (except for some 1964 Topps Giant cards). After accumulating all the 1970 Phillies cards sometime in the 1980s, I began collecting the full 1970 Topps set in 2010, and now need about 40 to complete the set. Like most of the remaining 40, this Pilots Team card is in the high-numbered last series.

The team only played in Seattle for the 1969 season. In the off-season, the team was put up for sale, which was not finalized until sometime in March. They went to spring training 1970 as the Pilots, and broke camp as the Milwaukee Brewers. For continuity, Topps showed all the players as members of the Seattle Pilots, even cards that went to press after the move.

The statistical leaders of the team were:

Don Mincher - Slugging 1st-sacker from the Angels, who was the Pilots' only all-star representative. He was the Pilots' first selection in the expansion draft.

Tommy Harper - Drafted from the Indians with their 2nd pick, this ex-Reds' corner outfielder split his 1969 season between 2B and 3B.

Tommy Davis - Selected from the White Sox with their 8th pick, but traded away in the closing weeks of the season.

Gene Brabender - He was acquired from the Orioles a few days before the start of the season, and topped most pitching categories.

I read my brother's copy of Ball Four during a cross-country trip in the summer of 1971.  Last year I found an updated edition, which I began reading but haven't picked up for several months.  Now that the Phillies' season is going down the chute, I may get back into that book so that I can find some baseball entertainment this summer.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Carlos May (#18)

I have already posted the center fielder for the 1969 Topps All-Rookie team, so I’m skipping ahead to the final player on the 1969 All-Rookie Team, Carlos May.

Topps failed to include the All-Rookie Team trophy on this card, just like they did in 1968 with Rick Monday, Dick Hughes, and Rich Nye.

Carlos is the younger brother of Reds’ first baseman Lee May (who was a member of the Topps 1967 All-Rookie Team). During his stay with the White Sox, Carlos wore #17, thereby advertising his birthday ("MAY 17").

May was a 1st-round draft pick by the White Sox in 1966. He played 3 seasons in the minors (none higher than class-A) before making his major-league debut in September 1968. Carlos started the final 14 games of the 1968 season, including the last 12 in left field, replacing veteran Tommy Davis.

In 1969, he started 76 of the first 85 games in left field, then moved over to right field, where he started 20 games in July and early August. May also made his first of 2 all-star appearances. After starting both games of the August 8th doubleheader, Carlos missed the rest of the season, having blown off part of his thumb in a mortar accident while in the Marine Reserves. Still, his 18 homers and 62 RBI propelled him to third place in the Rookie of the Year voting. He was also named the Rookie of the Year by The Sporting News.

May returned at the start of the 1970 season, starting 141 games in left field while batting .285 with 12 homers and 68 RBI in his first full season. He moved to first base for the final 7 games of the 1970 season, and remained there for most of 1971. In addition to his 123 starts at 1st base, he started 9 games in left field.

With the arrival of Dick Allen in 1972, May was back in left field, making 144 starts at his usual post. He also started 2 consecutive games at 1st base in late June, with Allen inexplicably moving over to 3rd base. Carlos primarily played left field for the next few years, then split his time between left and 1B in 1975, with Allen having been unloaded traded away to the Braves for backup catcher Jim Essian.

In May 1976, Carlos was traded to the Yankees for pitcher Ken Brett. He saw his only post-season action that year in the ALCS and World Series. Carlos also played for the Yankees for most of 1977, until moving on to the Angels for the final 2 weeks of the season.

May finished his career by playing in Japan from 1978 to 1981.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Lou Piniella (#321)

I’ve posted the Topps All-Rookie shortstop and 3rd baseman earlier, so let’s skip ahead to the left fielder, Lou Piniella.

Piniella was signed by the Indians in 1962, and played in the minors for 6 seasons (1962-68). After one season in the Indians’ chain, he was drafted by the Senators and spent all of ’63 and part of ’64 with them until he was traded to the Orioles for pitcher Buster Narum. Prior to the 1966 season, the O’s traded him back to the Tribe for catcher Cam Carreon. Lou appeared in a few games for the Orioles in ’64 and the Indians in ’68.

In October 1968 the Seattle Pilots selected him from Cleveland in the expansion draft. This is Piniella’s first solo card. He previously appeared on Rookie Stars cards in 1964 (Senators), 1968 (Indians), and 1969 (Pilots).

Piniella showed up at the Pilots spring training camp in 1969, but (according to Jim Bouton in “Ball Four”) he had a chip on his shoulder, and instead of keeping his yap shut like most rookies, he let it be known that if he was sent down to the minors he wouldn’t report, so the Pilots may as well just trade him.

Pilots’ management decided they didn’t need this young hothead telling them what to do, so on April 1st they traded him to the other AL expansion team, the Kansas City Royals, for pitcher John Gelnar and outfielder Steve Whitaker.

All Piniella did that season was win the AL Rookie-of-the-Year award! He started 122 games in left field, and hit .282 with 68 RBI and 11 homers.

Lou was the Royals’ regular left fielder through the end of the 1973 season. In 1972 he led the AL with 33 doubles, and made his only all-star appearance. After the ’73 season, he and pitcher Ken Wright were traded to the Yankees for veteran reliever Lindy McDaniel.

Piniella spent the remainder of his career (1974-84) with the Yankees. He was the regular left fielder in 1974, but lost that job to veteran Yankee Roy White for the next 3 seasons.

Lou reclaimed the left field job from 1978-80, then finished out his career as a role player (although he frequently DH-ed in 1982). His final game was on June 16th, 1984.

Piniella played in the post-season for the Yankees in '76, '77, '78, '80, and '81.

After his playing career, Lou managed the Yankees (1986-88), Reds (1990-92), Mariners (1993-2002), Devil Rays (2003-05), and Cubs (2007-10). His 1990 Reds won the World Series, while the Mariners won their division 3 times, and the Cubs twice under his watch.

Former Mets’ 1st baseman Dave Magadan is Lou’s cousin.