Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Bobby Tolan (#409)

Bobby Tolan played for 5 teams over his 13-year career (1965-79). His greatest success came during his time with the Reds (1969-73).

Tolan began with the Cardinals, debuting in 1965 at age 19. The Cards primarily used him as a backup to 1st baseman Orlando Cepeda and center fielder Curt Flood, (which is to say he spent a lot of time as a pinch-hitter!) With the departure of Alex Johnson after the 1967 season, Tolan became Roger Maris' backup in right field for 1968.  Bobby played in the World Series in both '67 and '68.

After the '68 season, Tolan was traded to the Reds (with pitcher Wayne Granger) for center fielder Vada Pinson. Bobby was the Reds' everyday center fielder in 1970 and 1972, and split his time between center and right fields in '69 and '73.

In 1969 he reached career highs in home runs (21) and RBI (93) while batting .305. The following year his power numbers dropped but his batting average peaked at .316. Tolan also led the NL with 57 stolen bases in 1970.

After missing the entire 1971 season due to injury, be returned for 2 more laps with the Reds, but with all his numbers steadily declining from year-to-year. While with the Reds, he appeared in the post-season in 1970 and 1972, and hit .417 in the 1970 NLCS.

Tolan was traded to the Padres after the 1973 season for pitcher Clay Kirby. He was the team's primary right fielder in 1974. In 1975 he was the primary left fielder, but also started a few dozen games at first base and right field.

The Padres released him in February 1976, but he was picked up by the Phillies in spring training, and spent the season as Dick Allen's backup at first base, starting 40 games there in addition to a few dozen starts in the outfield.

Tolan was released by the Phillies in late-May '77, but caught on with the Pirates a few weeks later.

After the 1977 season, he was granted free agency, but got no takers for more than a year. He played in Japan during the 1978 season, then the Padres re-signed him in July 1979, where he finished up the season (and his career) playing 22 games (all but 1 as a pinch-hitter).