Friday, September 5, 2014

Dave Leonhard (#674)

A few months ago, I offered up some 1968 Topps Playing Card inserts in trade for something on my want list (which is mostly made up of 1966 and 1970 high numbers). 

To date I have had one response, from blog reader Dave of Middletown, MD. Dave sent me four 1970 high-numbered cards in excellent condition, in return for a handful of 1968 playing cards. Here is the first of those four cards.

Dave Leonhard had a six-year career (all with the Orioles) from 1967 to 1972. I consider him to be in the “2nd tier” of Orioles’ starters of that era (along with Tom Phoebus and Jim Hardin), behind the “1st tier” of Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, and even Steve Barber. (Let’s make Wally Bunker tier 1-A, losing points for lack of longevity.)

Leonhard was signed by the Orioles in 1963, and played 5 seasons in the minors. After winning the International League Pitcher of the Year award in 1967, he made his major-league debut in September.

Dave was a starter in the minors, and also during the 1968 season when the O’s were short on quality starters. (Palmer missed all of 1968 with a sore arm, Bunker was ineffective, and Cuellar had not yet arrived from Houston.)

With the return of Palmer and the acquisition of Cuellar for 1969, Dave was relegated to the bullpen, where he remained for the next 4 seasons. After pitching 94 innings over 37 games (3 starts) in 1969, Leonhard was limited to just 28 innings (over 23 games) in 1970, compiling a 0-0 record with a 5.08 ERA, and was rarely used during the second half.

That bought him a trip back to the minors in 1971, where he was once again used as a starter. Dave didn’t return to Baltimore until July 10th, and played in only 10 games for the Orioles that year.

In 1972 he played in only 14 games. His games were scattered throughout the season, and he didn’t play in the minors that year. It seems like he either spent a lot of time on the DL, or the last seat in the bullpen.

Dave’s final big-league game was on September 20, 1972. In June 1973 he was traded to the Angels for utility man Jim Hutto. Over the next 4 years, Dave bounced around from the Angels to the Cubs to the Expos, playing in AAA in ’73 and ’74, and in AA in ’75 and ’76.