Thursday, August 20, 2009

1976 Topps # 181 - Willie Montanez

  • Willie "Hot Dog" Montanez played for nine teams from 1966-1982. He had a .275 lifetime batting average. Montanez was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1965. He was picked by the California Angels in the Rule 5 draft in 1966 and appeared in eight games for the Angels in early 1966. Willie was sent back to the Cardinals and spent the next four seasons in the Cards' minor league system.

  • In 1970 Montanez was sent to the Philadelphia Phillies as compensation in the Curt Flood trade after Flood refused to report to the Phillies. He played in AAA in 1970 and was called up by the Phillies in September 1970. Willie batted .240 in 25 at bats.

  • Montanez became the Phillies' starting center fielder in 1971. He hit a career-high 30 home runs and had 99 RBI. Willie finished second to Earl Williams in NL Rookie of the Year voting in '71. Willie played center field again in 1972 and led the NL in doubles with 39. He batted .247 with 13 home runs. In 1973 Montanez split time between center field and his natural position (1B). He batted .263 with 11 homers.

  • He became the full time first baseman in 1974 and played only one game in the outfield. Willie didn't play a fielding position other than first base again until his final year in 1982. Montanez batted .304 with 33 doubles in 1974.

  • Montanez started the 1975 season with the Phillies. On May 4 he was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Garry Maddox. He had a similar year in 1975 (.302 with 34 doubles and 101 RBI). Willie also led the NL in times grounded into double plays with 26 that year. In 1976 he started the season with the Giants but was sent to the Atlanta Braves on June 13 in a multi-player trade that sent Darrell Evans to the Giants. Willie ended up playing in 163 games in 1976 due to the trade (the Giants had played one more game than the Braves at that point) and batted .317 with 29 doubles and 84 RBI. He again led the NL in grounded into double plays with 26.

  • Willie made the NL All Star team in 1977 as the Braves' representative. He was 0-2 with a strikeout in the game. Montanez batted .287 with 20 home runs that year. Before the 1978 season Willie was part of a complicated 4-team trade (Atlanta, Pittsburgh, New York Mets, and Texas). He ended up with the Mets and batted .256 with 17 homers and 96 RBI in '78.

  • In 1979 Willie had a bad start (.234 in 109 games) and was traded to the Texas Rangers in August. He batted .319 for the Rangers in the remainder of the 1979 season. Willie was shipped to the San Diego Padres before the 1980 season and batted .272 for the Padres. On August 31 he was sent to the Montreal Expos and he finished the season as a pinch hitter for the Expos.

  • In 1981 Willie was a pinch hitter and backup first baseman for Montreal. He didn't do much (.177 in 62 at bats) and he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for John Milner on August 20. He had the same role with the Pirates and batted .263 for the remainder of the 1981 season for the Pirates.

  • Willie's last year was 1982. He started with the Pirates and had some success as a pinch hitter and backup OF/1B (.281 in 32 at bats) but was released by the Pirates on July 1. Montanez was signed by the Phillies on August 10 and sent to AAA Oklahoma City for eight games. He came back to the Phillies but was 1-16. Willie was released after the season, didn't sign with anyone, and retired.
  • I have no idea what he's been doing since his major league career. Does anyone know?


  1. Hey! It's the Zest soap guy!
    Sorry, never saw him play, so always asssociate him with the '78 Zest soap set...

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  3. I remember him as 'Willie the Phillie." He always seemed to kill the Cubs (though that could be said of alot of players!).

  4. Willie had an interesting career in that he was a 1B in the minors. He came up and hit, so the Phillies put him in CF. Willie hit 30 HR's, but never approached that number again. He became a very average ball player with a lot of potential.