Tuesday, October 30, 2012

#425 Del Crandall

California's Del Crandall played 16 seasons in the Major Leagues, including 11 years with the Milwaukee Braves from 1953-63. He began his career with the Boston Braves in 1949. Crandall spent two years in the military from 1951-52 before joining the Milwaukee Braves. He was an eight-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner as a catcher. 

As a Brave he played in the 1957 and 1958 World Series and hit a homer in each. 

Following 11 seasons in Milwaukee, he spent aseason each with the Giants, Pirates and Cleveland Indians. He had a .254 career batting average with 179 home runs and 657 RBI in 1,573 games. With the glove Crandall made a mark in the NL. He led the league in putouts three times, in assists six times, runners caught stealing five times. He also led the NL in Total Zone Runs six times. I have absolutely no idea what that means, and I don't really care that I don't.

Crandall was back in Milwaukee as manager of the Brewers from 1972-75, where he went 271-338. He also managed the Mariners, coached for the White Sox and managed in the minors. He was a White Sox broadcaster as well. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal has an interview with the former Braves star online.

Hard to say where this shot was taken. Polo Grounds? Yankee Stadium maybe (World Series time?). Dunno. What I do know is that any card with a close up of the spectacular Braves' "M" cap is a winner.

Monday, October 29, 2012

#178 Ruben Amaro

Ruben Amaro Sr. is the son of a Mexican League star and the father of the current Phillies GM as well as a couple of other budding ballplayers. Born to a Cuban father and Mexican mother Amaro came up through the Cardinals chain as a good fielding/fair hitting shortstop and made his debut with the Redbirds in 1958.

Traded to the Phillies after that season he spent a year plus in their chain and emerged again midway through 1960 as their regular shortstop. He remained with the Phils as a 'semi regular' through the 1965 season, spelling Bobby Wine at short and any number of other infielders.

((Semi-relevant sidebar))-->
Amaro was a member of one of my favorite non-Oriole teams, the 1964 Phillies who were famous for their challenge for the pennant that was derailed by Gene Mauch's use of his starting staff (or so goes the theory). That club featured Dick Allen (his remarkable rookie year), Johnny Callison, Wes Covington and a couple of one-time O's catchers, Gus Triandos and Clay Dalrymple. And on and on. They had a seven some odd game lead in August and ended up finishing a game back of the Cards. I saw them sweep two doubleheaders from the Mets at Shea that year!!!
<--((End semi-relevant sidebar))

Amaro won a Gold Glove for that 1964 club. He did it despite starting only 76 games in the field. Traded to the Yanks for the '66 season he was their regular shortstop in 1967 for a perfectly horrible ballclub. But his career was winding down and after a brief fling with the Angels and a stint back in the Phils minor league chain he was finished as a player after 1971. He remained in the game as a coach, scout and minor league manager. Amaro currently serves as a member of the board of the Baseball Assistance Team (BAT) an organization founded to help former Major League, Minor League, and Negro League players through financial and medical hardships.

Looks to be the Polo Grounds behind Amaro in the card's photo. The Phils logo is a nice accent to the red framed card. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

#565 Wes Covington The Sporting News All Star

This subset carries the "'59 All Star Selection" label. I wish I could uncover the process used. Wes Covington was not a member of the NL All Star Squad in 1959 (or '58 or any other year for that matter). By looking at Covington's numbers it's apparent that The Sporting News chose the players based on previous seasons. In 1958 Covington hit .330 with 24 homers. He did that in less than 300 at bats.

And I guess The Sporting News held strictly to position because Covington did have the best numbers of any left fielder who started over 75 games. So there ya go.

Coincidentally Night Owl showed off his 'new' '61 Topps Covington in a recent post. I'm sure I was aware of this card at some point but I didn't remember it. It's pure baseball card art! I saw it and just knew I had to go find myself a copy. When I pick it up I may have to add it to my 'Favorite Non-Oriole Baseball Card' page. In the meantime enjoy an image of it I found online.

The bat rack, shoulder patch, cap, stirrups, the kids in the background, Covington's pose.... great stuff. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

#158 Walt Dropo

Big Walt Dropo had a fabulous rookie season in 1950. The Connecticut native had signed with the Red Sox in 1947 and got a taste of the bigs in 1949. He took over at 1B for the Sox in '50 and hit .322 with 34 homers and 144 RBIs. He was elected as Rookie of the Year, made the AL All Star team and finished sixth in MVP voting.

Unfortunately Dropo spent the next twelve seasons trying to recapture that rookie magic. It didn't happen. Whether or not that was due to the fractured wrist he suffered in 1951 is open for conjecture. He had a couple of good years. He hit .290 with 29 homers and 94 RBIs in 1952 and came back with 96 RBIs the next year. But nothing ever approached that rookie year. He spent time with the Tigers, White Sox, Reds and Orioles before he retired after the 1961 season.

Dropo had been a star at UConn playing baseball, basketball and football. He had pro offers from teams in all three sports and chose baseball. He remains the holder of the second highest scoring average as a UConn hoops player. That's pretty impressive considering the strength of that program. And at the SI Vault site there is a nice retro story/interview with Big Walt.

From his New York Times obit:
After baseball, he worked in insurance, investments, his family’s fireworks business and in the land-development business. He remained active in UConn alumni affairs, and his family established the university’s first fully endowed scholarship.
I sure like the black framed cards in the 1959 set. The portrait of Dropo is pretty routine though. He seems to be asking the 'man above' why he never could replay that dream season of 1950. Still a nice card. Looks like the Los Angeles Coliseum in the background.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

#155 Enos Slaughter

Pictured here with the Yankees, Enos 'Country' Slaughter made his name as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. He played for the Cards for 13 seasons beginning in 1938 with a three year break for military service during WWII. During his tenure in St. Louis Slaughter made 10 NL All Star squads and finished in the top ten in MVP voting several times.

He hit .305 for the Cards and thought he was going to remain with them for his entire career. He was extremely disappointed (to the point of tears it seems) when he was dealt to the Yanks just prior to the 1954 season for three players including a young Bill Virdon. After a disappointing '54 season in pinstripes he was traded to Kansas City in May of 1955 but came back to the Yanks via waivers in 1956. (There's that Yankees-Athletics underground railroad again.)

His days as a regular over, Slaughter played part time for the Yanks until he was waived and claimed by the Braves for the final weeks of the '59 season. That was his last fling on the ball field.

During his long career Slaughter played in five World Series, winning one with the Cards and three with the Yankees. He compiled a .291 post season average. In the 1956 Series win over the Dodgers Slaughter went 7 for 20 with a homer and four RBIs. At one time or another during his Cardinals career he led the league in hits, doubles, triples, extra base hits, outfield assists, fielding % as an outfielder and RBIs. In 1959 he was the oldest player in either league.

In the 1946 Series his Game Seven 'Mad Dash' accounted for the deciding run in the Cards' win over the Red Sox. The video is below.

Slaughter was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1985. There is speculation that his election wasn't done sooner because of the reported issues he had with Jackie Robinson debuting with the Dodgers. Slaughter was said to have led (along with teammate Terry Moore) a movement to strike in protest of Robinson's playing. Slaughter always maintained he had no part in that and that the on the field incident (a hard slide) was just a routine part of playing his no holds barred game. That aspect of his career, and a lot more, is detailed here. As usual a great bio of Slaughter can be found on the SABR site.

In his 1959 Topps picture Slaughter looks like he's still upset at being traded off by St. Louis. Standard Yankee Stadium backdrop in a red frame makes this a nice card of a Hall of Famer. I believe it's his last regular Topps card. I'm sure one of the three readers on this blog will correct me if I'm wrong on that.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

#427 Charlie Neal

The '59 Charlie Neal card was issued during his best season in the majors. Not only was he a member of the World Champion Dodgers, hitting .373 with two dingers, but he was an All Star, led the NL in triples, won a Gold Glove and scored 103 runs. Oh, yeah... his homer in Game Two of the '59 series was the shot that led to poor Al Smith getting a beer shower. We've looked at that before.

Neal's first pro baseball experience was as a member of the Negro Leagues. He signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950 and spent six seasons clawing his way up the talent-rich Dodger system. He debuted in 1956 as a second baseman hitting .287 in 62 games. He played with the Dodgers in the World Series that season.

In '57 he took over as the club's regular shortstop. He moved back to second when the team went west in 1958 and he made the All Star team that year. After that eventful 1959 season Neal's hitting and playing time diminished. A Sports Illustrated story that was published after his death mentioned that Neal was never the same after 1959. From that story:
But Neal never hit well again. Plagued by injuries and, perhaps, lethargy—"I quit on myself," he said after batting .235 in 1961—Neal was traded to New York in December 1961, where in his last hurrah he helped the Mets lose 120 games. 
As mentioned Neal was traded to the fledgling Mets and after '62 was passed on to the Reds where he finished his career after 1963.

As I read about Neal I didn't see his fielding prowess mentioned until I read that SI article.
Hall of Famer Billy Herman often said that one of his successors as second baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Charlie Neal, made the double play better than any man who ever lived, and to be sure, Neal turned the pivot with a godsent grace.
That's pretty high praise.

Nothing special about this card, though. Looks like the LA Coliseum in the background. My copy has nice corners but is seriously off center. As far as Neal cards go I'd pick his '57 as my favorite. Love the Ebbets Field rightfield scoreboard and wall in the background.

Friday, October 19, 2012

#78 Pedro Ramos

My Dad called him 'Pistol Pete' for no reason I can discern. Pedro Ramos was a Cuban born righthander who broke in with the Washington Senators in 1955. As a starter he led or tied for the AL lead in losses four straight years before the end of the decade pitching for some brutal Nats teams.

The Nats became the Twins and in 1962 they traded Ramos to the Indians with whom he began transitioning to the bullpen. Late in 1964 the Yanks dealt for Ramos and he had a terrific month down the stretch with 8 saves in 12 games as the Yanks won the pennant.

After a couple more good seasons in New York he began a whirlwind tour of the bigs pitching for the Reds, Phils, Pirates and finally found himself back in Washington with the Senators in his last big league stop in 1970. He pitched a bit in the minors before hanging up his glove.

The return to D.C. made him one of the few players to pitch for both the original and expansion Senators. In 15 seasons he went 115 and 160 with 55 saves and was an All Star in 1959. He missed his chance for the post season in 1964 because he was traded for by the Yanks after the deadline.

There are some 'interesting' stories floating around (one told in a book by David Halberstam) about Ramos and  Ted Williams and the signing of a baseball that Ramos used to whiff The Splinter. These don't seem to have any validity. But one story that can't be disputed is the fact that Mickey Mantle blasted a Ramos pitch off the Yankee Stadium facade in May of 1956. One of The Mick's more prodigious blasts for sure. (See the picture/diagram below.) The quote below comes from themick.com which is a page associated with the video bio of Mantle called The American Dream Comes To Life. 

"Pedro and I were friends. He used to challenge me to a foot race before games. In one game one of our pitchers, I don't remember who, knocked down one of the Washington players – you could tell it was a knockdown – and Ramos had to knock down one of our players to protect his guys."I was leading off the next inning and I didn't even think about the knockdown. Everybody on our bench and everybody on their bench and even some of the fans knew I was gonna get a knockdown, but I didn't even think about it."Sure enough, Pedro hit me with his first pitch. It didn't make me mad – he didn't try to hit me in the head or anything, you know, just in the butt – but after the game he came up to me and said, 'Meekie, I'm sorry I have to do that.' I said, 'That's okay. But the next time you do it I'm gonna drag a bunt toward first base and run right up your back.' He said, 'You would really do that?'"The funny thing about it was that the next time up was the time I almost hit one out of Yankee Stadium. It hit the fa├žade. After the game he came up to me and said, 'I'd rather have you run up my back than to hit one over the roof!'"

Ramos' SABR page has a lot of great insight into the colorful Cuban including the story behind the All Cuban Triple Play. ESPN's Page Two has an article about the 'Cuban Senators'. It's a good read, stuff I had never given any thought to. Looks like Ramos is wearing the Nats' home pinstripes in this shot which makes this a rare non-Yankee Stadium shot among the '59 American League players' cards.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

#187 Bubba Phillips

Bubba Phillips (real name: John Melvin Phillips) was a native of Mississippi who was signed by the Tigers in 1949 after a year in the minors with an independent club in Pennsylvania. Phillips, who had played at Mississippi Southern College (now U of Southern Miss.) was apparently much better known for his football prowess than for what he did on the diamond in those days. 

He took a two year detour to serve his country while making his way to the bigs where he debuted in 1955 as a 27 year old rookie in a Tigers uni. One year there and he was traded to the White Sox where he stayed through the 1959 season getting an American League championship and World Series losers check. In that Series versus the Dodgers Phillips went 3 for 10 including a double.

For the ChiSox Phillips had been an on again, off again starter at third and in the outfield. Traded to Cleveland for the 1960 season Phillips began a run as an every day player that lasted through 1963 which was his first of two back with the Tigers. 

His 1961 season stands out as his best. He had 18 homers to go along with 72 RBI's and a .264 average. Following the 1964 season as a bench option with the Tigers Phillips he was released and he spent a year with the Braves AAA club in Atlanta playing alongside dozens of future big leaguers. 

The seafoam green, the facade, even the bank of lights mark this shot as one of the prototypical 'Yankee Stadium visitors side' photos that grace the Topps sets of the time. I think my next set related project will be to tally the photo locations that comprise the set. I'll get right on that.

I had a snarky comment typed about this card and the crowds I've been seeing at Yankee Stadium in the post-season but I figured I'd leave well enough alone.

Monday, October 15, 2012

#184 Harvey Haddix

I consider Harvey Haddix the 'cover boy' for my 1959 Topps set. I keep the cards in one of those wide binders that has a sleeve attached to the spine and I keep a copy of this card in that sleeve. When it comes time to get a new run of posts done I reach for my 'Harvey binder'.

Most folks that bother to look at this blog likely have a sense of baseball history and are aware of the remarkable game that Haddix pitched on May 26, 1959 when, while pitching for the Pirates, he tossed 12 perfect innings against the Milwaukee Braves before losing the game in the 13th inning. It was a remarkable effort by an under-the-weather Haddix and it's been chronicled all over the place. One of the most well written accounts can be found on the SI Vault site located here

An interesting recollection of the night is supplied by a New York Times staffer in this story. A shorter account can be found on the History.com site or just google Harvey Haddix perfect game and click any of the 36,000 hits.

Harvey Haddix pitched for 14 years and went 136-113 with a 3.63 ERA. All but two of those seasons came with National League clubs, the Cardinals (he won 53 games for them after signing in 1947 and working his way up to the bigs in 1952), the Phils (22 wins in two seasons), the Redlegs (one season but he was shown as a Redleg on this '59 card even after being dealt to the Bucs in January), and the Pirates (five seasons and a couple of wins in the 1960 World Series).

His best season was his actual rookie year of 1953 when he won 20 games for St. Louis and led the league with six shutouts. He finished second to Jim Gilliam in the Rookie of the Year balloting.

Haddix closed out his career with two seasons with the Orioles in their bullpen and he saved 10 games in 1964. Haddix had made three NL All Star squads and won three Gold Gloves. One odd note... in 1965 the Orioles sold Haddix to the Braves late in the year but was returned to the Orioles two days later. Since he didn't patch after that point (and had been getting shelled out of the pen for Baltimore for a few weeks previous) I would assume he was found to be 'damaged goods' by Milwaukee and sent back to Charm City for a refund. 

Haddix served with several clubs as pitching coach after his active career. Like some other recent cards shown of National Leaguers, this pic was taken in Seals Stadium in San Francisco. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

#121 Bob Conley The Sporting News Rookie Stars

After signing with the Phils out of Kentucky in 1953 Bob Conley pitched his way up the minor league ladder until he was called up for a September look in 1958.

A seven inning, six hit debut versus the Dodgers was followed by an early KO at the hands of the Cubs a few days later. And that was all there was to Conley's career. He threw for a couple more seasons in the minors before hanging up his glove in 1960.

Not surprisingly Conley info is hard to find. He reportedly worked in the restaurant business after his retirement and lived in New Jersey. That's all I got.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

#294 Hank Foiles

Don't let the pink framed card, the round face and the fact that you probably never heard of him cause you to sell him short. Hank Foiles is an interesting guy. He was a Yankee signee in 1947 but the Yanks were not one of the seven franchises he played for. In eleven major league seasons, three or four of them as a platoon catcher Foiles batted .243 in 608 games.

Ok, now for the interesting stuff....

-Foiles made the 1957 National League All Star team since he was batting .313 at the break with the Pirates. He singled as a pinch hitter in the ninth and scored the final run in a 6-5 loss.

-He was befriended by Joe DiMaggio when he was a Yankee farmhand and the two remained friends throughout DiMaggio's life.

-He was on the roster of four clubs during the 1960 season. Traded after the '59 campaign by the Pirates to the A's he was traded back to the Pirates in June of '60. But Foiles was to be assigned to the minors and he refused. The Pirates allowed him to engineer his own trade so the next day he was dealt to the Indians. In late July Foiles was traded again, this time to the Tigers. To add to the fun he was drafted after the season by the Orioles. So, to sum it up... between December of 1959 and November of 1960 Foiles followed this path: Pirates->Athletics->Pirates-Indians-Tigers-Orioles!!!

-His '60 stay with the Indians was actually his second go-round with that club. He had been with the for several years in the early 1950s. He was purchased by the Reds from the Orioles in 1962 and that made the second time he was with that franchise as well. He'd debuted as a Red in 1953 after being aquired from the Yanks. He finished with the Angels in 1964.

-He was an amateur battery-mate of Herb Score in Virginia and starred in several sports.

-He's written an autobiography which received some nice reviews.

-Known as a good through the mail signer Foiles has refused to sign one card, the 1991 Crown Oil Oriole card. He maintains that the company did not receive permission to include him (or any other player for that matter) and he was not compensated for is being included. (Somewhere in my tightly packed card/memorabilia closet I have that 500+ card set. If I had more ambition I'd dig it out and scan his).

You go, Hank!!! Rock that pink '59 Topps.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

#169 Ted Abernathy

Seeing so much of the Orioles' Darren O'Day lately has reminded me of Ted Abernathy. Early in his career Abernathy had arm surgery that caused him to adapt the side arm delivery that evolved into what the sportscasters always referred to as 'a submarine' delivery. Don't think you hear that term much these days.

Abernathy signed with the Senators in 1952 and won 20 games as a starter in the Nats chain. He was in the military in 1954 but returned for a half decade run of bouncing back and forth between the Senators and their minor league clubs as he evolved from a starting role into a reliever. It was during this time that he had his arm problems that led to his pitching style change.

He reestablished himself with the Indians in 1963 after a time in the Braves organization and a trade two years prior and became a top bullpen man for a few seasons in the mid-60s. He was reliever of the year in Chicago with the Cubs in 1965 and led the league in saves with a then record 31. He duplicated that feat with the Reds in 1967. During that mid-60s era Abernathy was a workhorse as he led his league in appearances three times.

From there his career ebbed and flowed for a handful of clubs through 1971 when he found himself with the Royals and had a 23 save season which was good enough for second in the category in the AL. In 14 major league seasons he collected 148 saves.

After his final big league season Abernathy pitched for the independent Wilson (N.C.) Pennants of the Carolina League as a 40 year old. He was nearly twice the age of most of his teammates. One of those teammates was fellow North Carolina native John Donaldson who played the infield for the A's in the 60s. Turns out that Donaldson played in Wilson twice, with stints that came ten years apart. Funny what you find when you go down a Ted Abernathy-inspired rabbit hole.

Abernathy worked for his son's landscaping firm (among others) after retirement. He passed away in 2004.

This is one of those 'retouched-by-a-painter shots that are seen in Topps sets in the 50s. Most of those appear to be based on either spring training or minor league shots. Abernathy's card is no different. Looks like team execs, reporters or scouts in the background!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

#308 Norm Siebern

I don't care if it's a Yankee card.... I love this one. Absolutely love this card. Norm Siebern with a neat swinging follow-through pose, the iconic facade of Yankee Stadium, the whole thing lit by sunshine in a red frame. Damn, this is baseball art.

Oh, yes, Siebern. Well Norm Siebern signed with the Yankees in 1951 and, after three years in the minors which sandwiched a couple of years in the service, he debuted with the Yanks in 1956. He struggled in his 54 games there that year and spent 1957 back in the minors.

Returning to the Yanks in 1958 he took over the regular left-field job, hit .300 and won a Gold Glove. His numbers fell off a bit in '59 and he was traded to the Athletics in the deal that brought Roger Maris to New York.

Siebern had steadily improved numbers in Kansas City. His homer total peaked in '62 with 25. He made the AL All Star squads in 1962 and 1963. But after he showed some decline in '63 he found himself dealt to the Orioles in 1964.

After a couple of years with the Birds (he was an All Star again and led the AL in walks in '64) he was traded to the Angels in December of 1965. In return the Orioles got outfielder Dick Simpson. That's significant because a week after that deal Simpson was one of the players sent to the Reds in the Frank Robinson trade.

Siebern banged around with the Angels,Giants and Red Sox with whom he appeared in the '67 World Series as a pinch hitter. He was one for three. He had already won a ring with the '58 Yankees. After he retired Siebern scouted for the A's and Royals before opening an insurance agency in Florida where he continues to live. Much more on Norm Siebern can be found in his SABR biography.

Did I tell you I love this card?

SUNDAY MORNING NOTE: Talk about lousy timing!! I woke up this morning of all morning and realized I had a Yankee card scheduled to run today!!! So, in an attempt to reverse the vibes I'm feeling here is a  non-1959 Topps card. Something I rarely add to an entry. Hope your Sunday comes up 'aces'.

Friday, October 5, 2012

#457 Los Angeles Dodgers

Yup, it's the World Champs! Or to be precise the 1959 World Champs as seen on their 1958 team photo. But let's not get technical, ok?

The '59 Dodgers went 88-68 under Walt Alston, finishing 2 games in front of the defending NL champion Braves and 4 ahead of the rival SF Giants. Alston was in his sixth year of managing the Brooklyn/Los Angeles club and '59 was his second world title and third pennant. He was less than one third the way into his 23 season reign as Dodger manager.

The club's .257 average was below the league average but they scored more runs than the league average and they led the NL in stolen bases even though Maury Wills was a rookie part-time player a year away from displaying his base stealing skills.

On the mound Don Drysdale led the club with 17 wins. Sandy Koufax was still a rather raw 23 year old honing his craft. He went 8-6. The Dodgers' team ERA ranked third in the NL behind both the Braves and Giants. They had the most strike outs as a staff, easily.

The Dodgers were in third place on September 15 when the launched a 7-2 run over the last 9 games to surge past the Giants and tie the Braves. The swept a best of three playoff with Milwaukee to earn the right to face the White Sox in the 1959 World Series. They won the Series in six games and reliever Larry Sherry was named Series MVP.

The '59 Series is among the first ones I have clear memories of paying attention to. I know I rooted for the White Sox. I was an A.L. guy and my father had no use for the Dodgers or Giants back then.

In general I'm not a fan of the team cards in the '59 set. I don't like the color circle being used in place of the natural background as is the case with the base cards. But there is something about this Dodgers team card that just works. Despite the fuzzy photo and it being so mis-cut this is a really cool card.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

#26 Chuck Stobbs

Over 5 seasons, from 1947 through 1961 lefty Chuck Stobbs faced nearly 8400 major league batters. But he's known for one single pitch... the one Mickey Mantle turned into what is known as the longest recorded major league home run.

That shot, which supposedly traveled 565 feet and landed outside Griffith Stadium in D.C. on April 17th, 1953, made headlines and brought Stobbs the type of publicity that most players would rather not have.

Stobbs, a three sport high school athlete who considered football as his best sport, was a bonus signee of the Boston Red Sox in '47 and after a stint in the minors made his debut with the Sox late that year. It was 1949 before Stobbs became a regular part of the Sox staff. He had a better than .500 mark in each of his first three seasons as a full timer in Boston. He stayed in Boston until he was dealt to the White Sox in '52 and moved to the Senators in 1953.

Stobbs pitched for the Nats through 1960 although he was briefly with the Cards in 1958 as a free agent pick-up. He finished his career with the expansion Twins in 1961. In his career he won 106 games.

Stobbs' SABR bio is well worth the read. It includes stories of more about the Mantle homer, Stobbs' life in other sports and a great story of an amateur game in which Stobbs, his father and brother (the team's batboy!) were ejected in the same half inning. Yikes! A Jane Leavy story in the Washington Post published after Stobbs' death has a lot of background on the Mantle homer. Read it... it's great reading from a great writer. An excerpt:

During six years with the Senators and for the rest of his baseball life, Stobbs was asked one question. "His normal answer was, 'Thank God, it didn't come back through the box,' " said his friend Bob Kleinknecht, who met Stobbs on the basketball court in the 1940s.
It's hard to pinpoint where this shot was taken. Stobbs played only the second half of the 1958 season with the Cardinals. I at first thought it might be a '59 spring training picture but there is no way Topps could have obtained a shot for there in time to get this card into the first series. And besides, Stobbs was released by the Cards in January of that year. It doesn't appear to be an airbrushed logo on Stobbs' cap so it had to be taken late in the '58 year. It's those trees that make me wonder where.

Monday, October 1, 2012

#13 Dick Gernert

A short digression here before we look at Dick Gernert. The Venn diagram below represents my baseball awareness. The blue circle in the middle is my 'Awareness Sweetspot" and it runs from about 1958 to 1994. The red circle represents players from this 1959 set who's best years were played in the early to mid fifties and of whom I was for the most part unaware of (or at least unaware of their talents). Gernert, Mickey Vernon and Andy Pafko all in this circle.The green circle represents guys who played the majority of their career after the 1994 strike/lockout and of whom my familiarity is confined to having heard their names at best but not knowing much about them.

Off the top of my head I'd include Derek Lowe, Nomar Garciaparra, and Pat Burrell as guys I see on cards and can't really identify with. Chipper Jones is in the latter circle as well. When I heard he was getting the 'Farewell Tour' treatment I went and educated myself on him and his career. Heck of a ballplayer.

Anyway, back to Dick Gernert. The Pennsylvania native played basketball at Temple University before signing with the Red Sox in 1950. He debuted in Boston in 1952 and he hit 40 homers in his first two seasons. He played primarily in the minors for the next two years before he re-established himself on the Boston scene in 1956. From then through the end of the decade he shared first base duties with Vic wertz, Pete Runnels and others.

He played his last few seasons with the Cubs, Tigers, Reds and finally the Colt 45s. He hit more tahn 100 homers in the majors and finished with a .254 average. Once he retired he served as a coach, scout and minor league manager for many years. He looks a lot like Ed Kranepool I think.

Here is Dick Gernert:

Here is Ed Kranepool:

Maybe it's just me.