Sunday, August 19, 2018

Clyde Wright (#543)

Clyde Wright was another of the young Angels’ pitchers who debuted in the 1966-69 time frame, but who went ignored by Topps until several seasons into their career. (Others were Rickey Clark, Tom Burgmeier, Marty Pattin, Andy Messersmith, and Tom Murphy.)

Look at the chart below. In 1967 and 1968, the Angels’ pitching staff was filling in with some nice young talent, but Topps missed the boat on their rookie cards. None of the pitchers in the top half of the chart received their first card until 1969 or 1970, and by then Burgmeier and Pattin were playing for expansion teams.

Instead, Topps chose the pitchers in the lower half of the chart to feature on their Angels Rookie Stars cards from 1967 to 1969, clearly whiffing on these selections.

(It seems odd that Clark's first card came after a season where he only pitched 9 innings!)

Clyde Wright was signed by the Angels in June 1965, and made his major-league debut in June 1966. He split the ’66 and ’67 seasons between the Angels and the minors, then joined the Angels fulltime in 1968.

In ’68 and ’69 Wright was primarily a reliever, but was one of their top starters from 1970-73, winning 22 games in 1970. He also made his only All-Star team that season, and finished 6th in the Cy Young voting.

He was the team’s pitching ace in 1970, then shared that designation with Messersmith in 1971. With the addition of Nolan Ryan in 1972, Wright was pushed down to #2 in the rotation, and then to #3 in 1973 when Bill SInger came aboard.

Clyde followed up his excellent 1970 season by winning 16 and 18 games in the next 2 seasons, but after posting a 11-19 record in 1973, he was traded to the Brewers (along with pitcher Steve Barber, outfielder Ken Berry, and catcher Art Kusnyer) for outfielders Ollie Brown and Joe Lahoud, pitcher Skip Lockwood, and catcher Ellie Rodriguez.

After a disappointing 9-20 season for Milwaukee in 1974, Wright was traded to the Rangers and pitched his final big-league season in 1975.

He also played in Japan from 1976-78.