Saturday, September 21, 2019

Tom Hilgendorf (#482)

This is Tom Hilgendorf's rookie card. On the back, it shows that he made his major-league debut in 1969, pitching only 6 games (and 6 INNINGS!) To which I say "Why does he have a card?" Surely he only rates half of a Cardinals Rookie Stars card?

I'm also labeling this post as "new to me", because back in the day I only collected cards from 1967-69, and also in 1972. Either he wasn't in the 1972 set, or I wasn't paying attention to relievers on teams I didn't follow. So I was not aware of Tom for many years. I got this card just a few years ago as I was building the 1970 set prior to starting this blog.

Truth be told, my first awareness of him was when I got his 1976 Phillies card sometime in the 1980s, while I was completing my 1964-present run of Phillies cards. Still, although I followed the Phillies closely from 1967 to the mid-1980s, I have absolutely no recollection of him pitching 53 games for Philly in 1975. (Surprising, because I DO remember many forgettable appearances by Phillies' relievers Mike Wallace, Dave Wallace, Ron DiOrio, Frank Linzy, John Montague, Ed Farmer (in his 1st go-round), Jesus Hernaiz, Pete Richert, and George Culver.)

Anyway, Tom began his career in the Cardinals' organization way back in 1960. After 6 seasons on the farm, he missed the '66 and '67 seasons.

Hilgendorf returned to the Cards' organization in 1968 and made his major-league debut in August 1969. In both 1969 and 1970, he played for the Cardinals and for their AAA team.

After the 1970 season, he was traded to the Royals but played all of 1971 in the minors.

Tom began the '72 season in the minors but was traded to the Indians in mid-June. He pitched 19 games for the Tribe in the second half. From 1973 to 1975 he managed to stay out of the minor leagues. Tom was the Indians' top man in the bullpen in 1973, leading the relievers in innings pitched and saves (6). In '74 he dropped to the #4 reliever slot.

During spring training in 1975, he was traded to the Phillies for a minor-leaguer and spent his final MLB season pitching 96 innings (all in relief) slotted behind Tug McGraw and Gene Garber.

The Phillies released him the following April, and although he was picked up by the Pirates, he played the 1976 season in triple-A before retiring.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Doug Rader (#355)

This is Doug Rader’s 3rd solo card, but anyone familiar with vintage Topps cards will know that the '68 and '69 Astros cards are not much to look at.  Rader also appeared on an Astros Rookies card in 1967.

Rader was signed by the Astros before the 1965 season. After just 2 ½ seasons, he made his major-league debut in July 1967.

He played a bit at 3rd base, but was mostly used at 1st base during his rookie season, starting 33 games there during the 2nd half. (In early-August, the Astros traded veteran Eddie Mathews to the Tigers, opening up 1st base for Rader.)

Rader was back on the bench at the start of 1968, but with long-time regular (and original Colt .45) Bob Aspromonte out of the lineup for a month beginning in mid-June, Doug began a streak of 32 starts at 3rd base. Even after Aspro’s return, Rader played most of the time.

Aspromonte was traded away after the ’68 season, so Rader was the full-time 3rd baseman, starting almost every game until early-September 1975.

Doug also won the Gold Glove award every season from 1970 to 1974.

In December 1975 he was traded to the Padres for pitchers Larry Hardy and Joe McIntosh. He started 136 games at the hot corner in 1976, an improvement over the 7-man committee playing there in 1975. 

He started 47 of the first 55 games in 1977, then was sold to the expansion Blue Jays in early-June.

Rader played 96 games with Toronto that year, split between 3B and DH. He was released during spring training in 1978.

After his playing career he became a manager. He coached for the Padres in 1979, then managed their AAA team from 1980-82. He also managed the Rangers (1983-85), White Sox (1986), Angels (1989-91), and Marlins (1993-94).