Sunday, January 31, 2010

1976 Topps #340 - Jim Rice

  • Jim Rice was a left fielder and designated hitter for the Boston Red Sox from 1974-1989. Rice was drafted by the Red Sox in 1971 and played in the minors from 1971-1974. He was called up in August 1974 and batted .269 in 24 games.

  • Jim's excellent rookie season was overshadowed by teammate Fred Lynn. Rice batted .309 with 22 HR and 102 RBI in 144 games in 1975. He injured his wrist at the end of the '75 season and missed the ALCS and World Series. Jim was second in Rookie of the Year voting -- he probably would have won in most other years -- and third in MVP voting. Jim Rice: Boston's 'Other' Rookie - December 1975 Baseball Digest

  • Rice batted .282 with 25 HR and 85 RBI in 1976. Jim led the AL in home runs with 39 in 1977. He batted .320 and had 120 RBI. Rice was an AL All Star for the first time in 1977 (he was 1 for 2) and finished 4th in MVP voting.

  • Jim's best year was in 1978. He led the AL in games (163), at bats (677), hits (213), triples (15), home runs (46), RBI (139), and slugging (.600). Rice was the starting LF in the All Star Game (he went 0 for 4) and was the AL Most Valuable Player. Jim Rice: The Batter Pitchers Hate to Face - August 1978 Baseball Digest

  • Rice had another good year in 1979, batting .325 with 39 HR and 130 RBI. He went 1 for 5 as the starting RF in the All Star Game and was 5th in MVP voting. Jim missed about 5 weeks of the 1980 season with an injury and batted .294 with 24 HR and 86 RBI in 122 games. He was an AL All Star but didn't play due to injury.

  • Jim's numbers weren't all that great (by his standards) in 1981. In the strike-shortened season he batted .284 with 17 HR and 62 RBI in 108 games. Rice's stats took an upward climb in 1982 (.309, 24 HR, 97 RBI). On August 7, 1982, in a nationally televised game, Rice came to the aid of a young child who had been hit by a Dave Stapleton foul ball. He scooped up the child and carried him down to the Boston clubhouse where he was treated. A news story is here (embedding is disabled).

  • Rice was an All Star again in 1983. He started in LF and went 2 for 4 with a run and a RBI. Jim batted .305 and led the AL with 39 HR and 126 RBI. Rice won the Silver Slugger Award and was 4th in MVP voting. In 1984 Jim was an All Star (he struck out as a pinch hitter) and batted .280 with 28 HR and 122 RBI. Jim Rice: He's Alone in the Fenway Spotlight - July 1984 Baseball Digest. Rice batted .291 with 27 HR and 103 RBI in 1985. He also was an All Star again (0 for 3 as the starting left fielder).

  • Jim finally got a chance to play in the post season in 1986. He had a good year, batting .324 with 20 HR and 120 RBI. Rice finished third in MVP voting behind teammate Roger Clemens and Don Mattingly. Jim batted .161 in the ALCS but homered twice and knocked in six runs. He batted .333 in the World Series. Jim was an All Star for the final time in 1986 (he struck out as a pinch hitter).

  • Jim had injury problems (an injured elbow) in 1987 and had several time periods where he missed 7-10 days. In 108 games Rice batted .277 with 13 HR and 62 RBI. Jim Rice: He Prefers to Avoid the Spotlight - September 1987 Baseball Digest. In 1988 Rice batted .264 with 15 HR and 72 RBI. Is it Twilight Time? - March 28, 1988 Sports Illustrated. He had knee surgery and eye problems in 1989. Jim played in only 56 games in 1989 and batted .234 with 3 HR and 28 RBI. He played in his last game on August 8 and retired after the season.

  • After his retirement Rice was a roving hitting coach for the Red Sox from 1992-1994. He was ahitting instructor from 1995-2000 and has been an instructional batting coach in the Red Sox from 2001 to the present. He is also an analyst for the New England Sports Network. Jim was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2009.

  • Liked to face: Steve Stone (.568 in 37 AB); Storm Davis (.467 in 30 AB); Scott McGregor (.429 in 42 AB)

  • Hated to face: Danny Darwin (.109 in 46 AB); Nolan Ryan (.150 in 40 AB); Jimmy Key (.125 in 24 AB)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

1976 Topps #339 - John Denny

  • John Denny pitched in the majors from 1974-1986. Denny was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1970 as a 17-year-old out of Prescott High School in Arizona. He was in the minors from 1970-1974 and pitched in two games for the Cardinals in September 1974.
  • Denny started the 1975 season with the Cardinals. He went to the minors for six weeks in May and June and then came back to the Cards to stay. John was 10-7 with a 3.97 ERA in 24 starts for the Cardinals in 1975. Even as a young player Denny wasn't afraid to call 'em like he saw 'em, as this September 23, 1975 article from the Prescott Courier shows.
  • In 1976 John led the NL with a 2.52 ERA. He started 30 games and had an 11-9 record. Denny missed about five weeks of the 1977 season and started only 26 games (8-8, 4.51 ERA). John came back to have a good year in 1978. He was 14-11 with a 2.96 ERA in 34 starts.
  • John's last year with the Cardinals was 1979. He slumped to an 8-11 record and had a 4.85 ERA in 31 starts. After the 1979 season he and Jerry Mumphrey were traded to the Cleveland Indians for Bobby Bonds.
  • Denny was injured in 1980 and didn't pitch after July 15. He was 8-6 with a 4.39 ERA in 16 starts. John had a good year in 1981, going 10-6 with a 3.15 ERA in 19 starts. In 1982 John started with the Indians and was 6-11 with a 5.01 ERA. He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies on September 12 for the stretch drive but he was 0-2 in four starts as the Phillies fell short.
  • John's best year was 1983. He won the Cy Young Award and led the NL with 19 wins. He was 19-6 with a 2.37 ERA in 36 starts. Denny started game 2 of the NLCS and lost to Fernando Valenzuela. In the 1983 World Series John won game 1 (the only win for the Phillies in the series) and lost game 4. Here is a December 4, 1983 article about John from The Prescott Courier.
  • Denny was hurt again in 1984 and missed about nine weeks. He pitched well when healthy, going 7-7 with a 2.45 ERA in 22 starts. John was 11-14 with a 3.82 ERA in 33 starts in 1985. After the 1985 season he was traded with Jeff Gray to the Cincinnati Reds for Gary Redus and Tom Hume.
  • In his only season with the Reds John was 11-10 with a 4.20 ERA in 27 starts. He became a free agent after the 1986 season but wasn't signed by anyone.
  • After his playing career John did some coaching. He coached for the Arizona Diamondbacks. John' son (also named John) runs a baseball training facility in Florida.
  • Liked to face: Bill Almon (.081 in 37 AB); Larry Parrish (.111 in 36 AB); Carlton Fisk (.000 in 13 AB)
  • Hated to face: Reggie Smith (.520 in 25 AB); Jack Clark (.467 in 30 AB); Claudell Washington (.452 in 31 AB)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Can you name the NL Rookies of the Year from 1949-2009?

Can you name the NL Rookies of the Year since 1949?

How did you do?

1976 Topps #338 - Bob Bailey

  • Bob Bailey played in the major leagues from 1962-1978. He was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1961. He didn't do much as an 18-year-old minor leaguer in 1961, but in 1962 Bob batted .299 with 28 home runs. Bailey was brought up to the Pirates at the end of the 1962 season and batted .167 in 42 at bats. He apparently got a $175,000 bonus to sign with the Pirates.
  • Bailey was the starting third baseman for the Pirates in 1963. He batted .228 with 12 HR and 45 RBI in 154 games. Bob wasn't exactly known for his fielding -- he made 32 errors and had a .933 fielding percentage. In 1964 Bailey played in 105 games at third and 36 games in the outfield. He batted .281 with 11 HR and 51 RBI.
  • Bob was the regular third baseman again in 1965. His fielding wasn't all that great (.939 fielding percentage), and this would be his last season as the regular at third base for the Pirates. Bailey batted .256 with 11 HR and 49 RBI in 159 games.
  • Bailey split time between third base and the outfield in 1966. He batted .279 with 13 HR and 46 RBI for the Pirates in '66. After the 1966 season Bailey and Gene Michael were traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Maury Wills.
  • In 1967 Bailey started about half of the time at third base and subbed in the outfield and at first base the rest of the time. He slumped to a .227 average and homered only four times in 116 games. Bob repeated his .227 average in 1968 and hit 8 HR in 105 games. After the 1968 season Bailey was purchased by the expansion Montreal Expos.
  • The move to Montreal was a good one for Bailey. He credits Gene Mauch with helping him become a good player. In 1969 he batted .265 with 9 HR and 53 RBI in 111 games. He spent most of his time at first base in '69. Bob's best season was probably 1970. He batted .287 with 28 HR and 84 RBI in 131 games. He split his time between third base, the outfield, and first base.
  • Bob spent the next three seasons as the starting third baseman for Montreal. He batted .251 with 14 HR and 83 RBI in 1971. In 1972 Bailey slipped to .233 with 16 homers and 57 RBI.
  • Bailey's 1973 season was almost as good as 1971. He batted .273 with 26 HR and 86 RBI in his last season as the regular third baseman. Bob split his time between left field and third base in 1974. He batted .280 with 20 HR and 73 RBI. In 1975 Bailey was more of a bench player. He played in 106 games and batted .273 with 5 HR in 227 at bats. After the 1975 season Bailey was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Clay Kirby.
  • The 1976 Reds were loaded so Bailey didn't have much of an opportunity to play. He batted .298 in 124 at bats as a backup left fielder and third baseman. He wasn't used in the postseason in 1976. Bailey started the 1977 season with the Reds and batted .253 in 79 at bats. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox on September 19 for a minor leaguer and cash. Bob was hitless in two at bats for the Red Sox to finish the 1977 season.
  • Bailey's last season was 1978. He batted .191 in 94 at bats, mostly as a designated hitter and pinch hitter. Bob retired after the 1978 season.
  • Bob started managing in the minor leagues in 1979 and spent most of the 1980s managing at various levels. Bailey was the last-ever manager of the Hawaii Islanders in 1987. Bob also spent several seasons as a minor league hitting instructor. He now works for a company selling timeshares. Here is an article featuring Bailey looking back at his career.
  • Liked to face: Mike Cuellar (.471 in 34 AB); Fred Norman (.450 in 40 AB); Curt Simmons (.367 in 30 AB)
  • Hated to face: Dock Ellis (.000 in 20 AB); Mike McCormick (.043 in 23 AB); Gaylord Perry (.115 in 61 AB)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

1976 Topps #337 - Bud Harrelson

  • Bud Harrelson was a major league shortstop from 1965-1980. He had the vast majority of his success with the New York Mets. Harrelson was signed by the Mets in 1963. He played in the minors from 1963-1966 and never hit above .251. Bud had a September call-up in 1965 (.108 in 37 AB) and was called up for good in mid August 1966. He batted .222 in 99 AB in 1966.
  • Harrelson became the regular shortstop for the Mets in 1967. He played in 151 games and batted .254. In 1968 Bud missed almost a month (mid-May to mid-June) and played in 111 games, batting .219. He was a classic "good field / no hit" shortstop, but he was a valuable part of the Mets ballclub.
  • Harrelson had another 3-week gap in his season in 1969 from late June to mid July. He played in 123 games and batted .248. He didn't do much with the stick in the postseason (.182 in the NLCS and .176 in the World Series). Bud Harrelson: The Game I'll Never Forget - January 1983 Baseball Digest.
  • Bud's two best seasons were probably 1970 and 1971. In 1970 he made the NL All Star team and was 2 for 3 with 2 runs scored in the game. Harrelson batted .243 in 157 games. Mets Fans Are Happy Bud Harrelson Has Finally Arrived - May 1970 Baseball Digest. Bud was the starting shortstop for the NL All Stars in 1971 and was 0 for 2 in the game. He won the Gold Glove and batted .252 in 143 games in 1971.
  • Harrelson missed almost the entire month of August in 1972. Bud batted .215 in 111 games. Harrelson missed five weeks of the 1973 season (early June to early July) and batted .258 in 106 games. He batted .167 in the NLCS but is best known for a fight with Pete Rose in game 3. It started when the Reds were 2-hit by Jon Matlack in game 2. Harrelson said after the game that Matlack made the Reds look like Harrelson was hitting for them. Before game 3 Joe Morgan came up to Harrleson and said that Pete wasn't happy with the quote. In the top of the 5th inning with the Mets leading 9-2 Rose singled. Morgan hit a grounder to Jon Milner. Milner threw to Harrelson at second base. Rose slid into Harrelson with his hands up high. Harrelson went after Rose and the benches cleared. It took a while for order to be restored. In the next inning the fans threw objects at Rose in left field and Reds manager Sparky Anderson pulled his team off of the field. Several Mets (including Willie Mays and manager Yogi Berra) went out to left field to calm the fans and prevent a forfeit to the Reds. Here is a story about the fight. The Mets went on to win the series and Harrelson batted .25o in the 1973 World Series.
  • In 1974 Bud played in 106 games and batted .227. Bud Harrelson: Quiet Leader of the Mets - January 1974 Baseball Digest. He missed a huge chunk of the 1975 season -- he didn't play from May 26 to September 1. Harrelson batted .219 in 34 games in 1975. Bud batted .234 in 118 games in 1976. He slumped to .178 in 107 games in 1977. During spring training in 1978 Bud was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Fred Andrews and cash.
  • Harrelson spent two seasons with the Phillies as a backup infielder. In 1978 he played in 71 games and batted .214 in 103 at bats. Bud played in 53 games in 1979 and batted .282 in 71 at bats. He was released by the Phillies at the end of spring training in 1980. In early May Harrelson signed with the Texas Rangers and batted .272 in 87 games. Harrelson retired after the 1980 season.
  • Bud managed the Mets after Davey Johnson was fired in May 1990. Harrelson finished the 1990 season and managed the Mets for most of the 1991 season before he was fired with a week to go in the '91 season. Harrelson is now a co-owner, vice president, and first base coach for the unaffiliated Long Island Ducks baseball team.
  • Liked to face: Tom Griffin (.448 in 29 AB); Dock Ellis (.395 in 38 AB); Dave Giusti (.341 in 41 AB)
  • Hated to face: Alan Foster (.095 in 21 AB); Mike McCormick (.127 in 28 AB); Ron Bryant (.115 in 26 AB)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

1976 Topps #336 - Vic Albury

  • Vic Albury pitched for the Minnesota Twins from 1973-1976. He was originally drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 1965. Albury didn't pitch in the minors until 1969 because he got called into the military soon after he was drafted.

  • Vic pitched for his hometown Key West club (Class A, Chicago Cubs) in 1969. He moved on to the San Diego Padres organization in 1970 then was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the minor league draft in December 1970.

  • Albury was a reliever in 1971, appearing in 66 games. In 1972 he had surgery to remove bone spurs from his pitching elbow and appeared in only 12 games. Vic was mostly a starter for AAA Tacoma in 1973 and was brought up to the Twins in August of 1973. Vic was 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in 14 games for the Twins in '73.

  • In 1974 Albury was mostly a starter (29 games - 19 starts) and was 8-9 with a 4.12 ERA. Vic split time between the rotation and the bullpen in 1975. In 32 games (15 starts) he was 6-7 with one save and a 4.53 ERA. He walked 97 batters in 135 innings.

  • The 1976 season was Albury's last season in the majors. He appeared in 23 games (all in relief) and was 3-1 with a 3.58 ERA. Vic pitched for AAA Syracuse (Yankees organization) in 1977 and for AAA Tacoma (Indians organization) in 1979 but didn't get back to the majors.

  • After his playing career Albury did some minor league coaching.

  • Liked to face: Sandy Alomar (.000 in 10 AB); Boog Powell (.000 in 11 AB); Reggie Jackson (.083 in 12 AB)
  • Hated to face: Bert Campaneris (.545 in 11 AB); George Brett (.467 in 15 AB); Cookie Rojas (.462 in 13 AB)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

1976 Topps #335 - Bob Grich

  • Bobby Grich was drafted in the first round by the Baltimore Orioles in 1967. He played in the minors from 1967-1970 and was brought up to the Orioles in late June of 1970 after batting .383 in 63 games with AAA Rochester. He batted .211 in 30 games for the Orioles and didn't play in the postseason.
  • Grich spent the 1971 season in Rochester and batted .336. He batted .300 in 7 September games for the Orioles. Bobby was the starting shortstop for the American League in the 1972 All Star Game (he was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts). He batted .278 with 12 HR and 50 RBI in 133 games. Bobby Grich: The Best is Yet to Come - November 1972 Baseball Digest
  • Before the 1973 season the Orioles traded Davey Johnson in order to make room for Grich at second base. Bobby played in all 162 games and won his first Gold Glove (.995 fielding percentage). He batted .251 with 12 HR and 50 RBI while walking 107 times. Grich batted .100 in the 1972 ALCS. Bobby Grich: The Next Big Star for the Orioles? - June 1973 Baseball Digest
  • In 1974 Grich won another Gold Glove, made the AL All Star team (he went 1 for 3), and batted .263 with 19 HR and 82 RBI. He was also hit by a pitch 20 times, which led the American League. Grich usually had on-base percentages around .370 and never had an on-base percentage below .354 after his first two seasons. Bobby batted .250 in the 1974 ALCS.
  • Grich won his third straight Gold Glove in 1975 and batted .260 with 13 HR and 57 RBI. Orioles' Bobby Grich: He's A Talent and A Winner - January 1975 Baseball Digest He won his fourth (and last) Gold Glove in 1976 and batted .266 with 13 HR and 54 RBI. Bobby was the starting second baseman for the AL All Stars and went 0 for 2. After the 1976 season Grich became a free agent and signed with the California Angels.
  • Bobby had a tough first season with the Angels. The Angels had Jerry Remy at second base, so Grich was moved to shortstop. He was injured and didn't play after June 8. Grich batted .243 in 52 games. In 1978 he moved back to second base and batted .251 with six HR and 42 RBI in 144 games.
  • Grich came all the way back from his injury in 1979. He was 8th in MVP voting and made the AL All Star team (he struck out in his only at bat). Bobby batted .294 with 30 HR and 101 RBI for the Angels in '79. Bobby's struggles in the postseason continued as he batted .154 in the ALCS. The Game I'll Never Forget: Bobby Grich - February 1986 Baseball Digest.
  • Grich made the AL All Star team again in 1980 (he walked in his only plate appearance) and batted .271 with 14 HR and 62 RBI. Bobby led the AL with 22 home runs and a .543 slugging percentage in 1981, batted .304, and won the Silver Slugger Award.
  • Bobby made his sixth (and last) All Star team in 1982. He started at second base and had a walk and a strikeout in two plate appearances. He batted .261 with 19 HR and 65 RBI and batted .200 in the 1982 ALCS.
  • Grich continued to be the Angels' starting second baseman through the 1985 season. In 1983 Grich batted .292 with 16 HR and 62 RBI. Bobby batted .256 with 18 HR and 58 RBI in 1984. The 1985 season was Bobby's last full season. In 144 games he batted .242 with 13 HR and 53 RBI.
  • Grich was slowing down in 1986 and played in only 98 games, splitting time with Rob Wilfong at second base. He batted .268 with 9 HR and 30 RBI in his final season. He hit a big 2-run homer in the bottom of the 6th inning of game 5 that put the Angels ahead 3-2. They eventually lost the game in heartbreaking fashion and went on to lose the series. Bobby batted .208 in the 1986 ALCS and announced his retirement after the series.
  • Here is a "Where are they now" article from 2002.
  • Liked to face: Bill Champion (.462 in 26 AB); Tom Underwood (.433 in 30 AB); Jim Kaat (.433 in 30 AB)
  • Hated to face: Danny Jackson (.080 in 25 AB); Bill Travers (.111 in 27 AB); Jim Clancy (.133 in 30 AB)

Monday, January 25, 2010

1976 Topps #334 - Dennis Leonard

  • Dennis Leonard pitched for the Kansas City Royals from 1974-1986. Leonard was drafted by the Royals in 1972. He pitched in the minors from 1972-1974 and then was called up in September 1974. Dennis was 0-4 in 5 games (4 starts) with an ERA of 5.32.

  • Leonard spent the first month of the 1975 season in the minors. He was called up in early May and went 15-7 with a 3.77 ERA in 32 games (30 starts). Dennis went 17-10 with a 3.51 ERA in 1976. He started games 1 and 5 of the ALCS but didn't last long in either game (2.1 innings with a 19.29 ERA in the two games combined).

  • Dennis led the AL with 20 wins in 1977. He was 20-12 with a 3.04 ERA and was fourth in AL Cy Young Award voting. Leonard had a complete game victory in game 3 of the ALCS. He came on in relief in the 9th inning of the deciding game 5 and took the loss.

  • In 1978 Leonard led the AL with 40 starts and was 21-17 with a 3.33 ERA. He started game 1 of the ALCS and allowed 4 runs in a 7-1 loss. Dennis started game 4 against Ron Guidry and pitched a complete game but was on the short end of a 2-1 score.

  • Leonard missed almost a month of the 1979 season from late May to mid June. He was 14-12 with a 4.05 ERA in 32 starts. Dennis led the AL with five shutouts. Dennis Leonard: My Goal is the Hall of Fame - Baseball Digest May 1979.

  • Dennis led the AL with 38 starts in 1980. He was 20-11 with a 3.79 ERA. He started and won game 2 of the ALCS. Leonard started and lost game 1 of the World Series and then started and won game 4.

  • The 1981 season was Leonard's last big year. He led the AL in starts and innings pitched. In 26 starts Dennis was 13-11 with a 2.99 ERA. He was the starting pitcher in game 1 of the ALDS and lost 4-0. Three of the four runs he allowed in eight innings pitched were unearned.

  • Leonard started to have injury problems in 1982. He didn't pitch for the Royals from May 21-August 8. Dennis pitched a few rehab games in the minors during that time. He was 10-6 with a 5.10 ERA in 21 starts.

  • Dennis was off to a good start in 1983 before blowing out his knee on May 29. He missed the rest of the 1983 season and all of 1984. Dennis was 6-3 with a 3.73 ERA in 10 starts before the injury.

  • Leonard also missed most of the 1985 season. He pitched in two September games but that was it for the year. In 1986 Dennis had his only losing season besides his rookie year in '74. He was 8-13 with a 4.44 ERA. The Royals released him after the season and Dennis retired. Dennis Leonard - The Game I'll Never Forget Baseball Digest February 1990.

  • Liked to face: Harold Baines (.000 in 15 AB); Len Randle (.036 in 28 AB); Jim Spencer (.136 in 59 AB)
  • Hated to face: Rod Carew (.449 in 49 AB); Rickey Henderson (.441 in 34 AB); Andre Thornton (.405 with 6 HR in 37 AB)

    Dennis discussing his 1983 knee injury in 2009.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

1976 Topps #333 - Bob Coluccio

  • Bob Coluccio was drafted by the Seattle Pilots in 1969 and started playing minor league ball when he was 17 years old. He played in the Seattle/Milwaukee system from 1969-1972.
  • In 1973 Bob made the Brewer ballclub, beating out Gorman Thomas for a regular outfield job. He played all three outfield positions and spent most of his time in right field. In 124 games Coluccio batted .224 with 15 HR and 58 RBI. He was the Brewers main center fielder in 1974. Bob batted .223 with six HR and 31 RBI in 138 games in '74.
  • In 1975 Coluccio started with the Brewers. On May 8 he was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Bill Sharp. Combined for the two teams Bob batted .202 with 5 HR and 18 RBI in 83 games.
  • Bob spent the 1976 season with AAA Iowa. He also spent most of 1977 in Iowa. The White Sox brought Coluccio up in September 1977 and he batted .270 in 37 at bats.
  • Coluccio was released during spring training in 1978. He was signed by the Houston Astros and was assigned to AAA Charleston. On June 8 Bob was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Frank Riccelli. He split time between AAA and the Cardinals. In his two stints with the Cardinals Bob was 0 for 3 in five games. The Cardinals released Coluccio on October 2, 1978. Coluccio was asked to manage the family's affairs after his father passed away, so he retired.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

1976 Topps #332 - Charlie Williams

  • Charlie Williams was drafted by the New York Mets in 1968. He played in the Mets' system from 1968-1970. Williams spent the entire 1971 season with the Mets. In 31 games (9 starts) he was 5-6 with a 4.78 ERA. Charlie was the only Met who was born in Flushing, N.Y.

  • Williams started the 1972 season with AAA Tidewater. On May 11 he was sent to the San Francisco Giants (along with $50,000) for Willie Mays. Charlie pitched in three games for the Giants (0-2 with an 8.64 ERA) and then went to AAA Phoenix for the rest of the season.

  • Charlie didn't pitch much in 1973. He started five games for Phoenix and pitched in 12 games (2 starts) for the Giants from late May to early July. His record with the Giants in '73 was 3-0 with a 6.65 ERA.

  • Williams became a reliever and spot starter in 1974, a role he would have for the rest of his career. In 39 games (7 starts) Charlie was 1-3 with a 2.78 ERA in 1974. In 1975 Williams was 5-3 with 3 saves and a 3.49 ERA in 55 games (2 starts).

  • Charlie was 2-0 with 1 save and a 2.96 ERA in 48 games (2 starts) in 1976. Williams had career highs in innings (119.2), games (55), and wins in 1977. He was 6-5 with a 4.00 ERA in '77.

  • Williams didn't pitch as much in 1978. He appeared in 25 games (1 start) and was 1-3 with a 5.44 ERA. According to Baseball Reference Williams also spent some time with Houston's AAA club during the 1978 season but I don't see where that could fit in with his major league appearances. There is also no record of a transaction involving Williams going to the Astros.

  • Williams retired after the 1978 season.

  • Liked to face: Darrell Evans (.000 in 11 AB); Ken Reitz (.091 in 11 AB); Al Oliver (.111 in 18 AB)
  • Hated to face: Marty Perez (.700 in 10 AB); Reggie Smith (.538 in 13 AB); Greg Gross (.533 in 15 AB)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Can you name the NL MVP Winners since 1931?

Can you name the NL MVP winners since 1931?

How did you do?

1976 Topps #331 - San Diego Padres

Fans of the 1976 San Diego Padres didn't have a whole lot to cheer about. The Padres had a future HOFer on the way up (Dave Winfield) and a future HOFer having a really tough year (Willie McCovey). Randy Jones pitched well for them but he didn't have a lot of help in the rotation besides Brent Strom. The Padres had a lot of guys who were once good players but were on the way down (Tito Fuentes, Willie Davis, Randy Hundley, Bobby Tolan). They would have to make more moves before becoming a contender.
John McNamara managed the Padres from 1974 until May 1977. The 1976 season was the best of those seasons. Previously John had managed the Oakland A's for 13 games in 1969 and for the entire 1970 season (2nd in NL West). After his tenure with the Padres McNamara went on to manage the Cincinnati Reds for 3 1/2 years (1979 until mid-1982), the California Angels for two seasons (1983 and 1984), the Boston Red Sox for 3 1/2 years (1985 to mid-1988), the Cleveland Indians (1990 to mid-1991), and the Angels again (28 games in 1996). McNamara won the NL West with the 1979 Reds and went to the World Series with the 1986 Red Sox. His lifetime managerial record was 1,167 — 1,242 (.484).
Team Record: 73-89 (5th in NL West, 29 games behind Cincinnati)
Attendance: 1,458,478 (4th of 12 in NL)
Team Batting: .247 (8th in NL)
Team Home Runs: 64 (11th in NL)
Team ERA: 3.65 (9th in NL)
Team Fielding: .978 (5th in NL)
Cy Young Award: Randy Jones
All Stars: Randy Jones (starting pitcher)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

1976 Topps #330 - Nolan Ryan

  • It would take several posts to do Mr. Ryan justice. He's a legend. We didn't always think so though. Perhaps it was his winning percentages. He was usually right around .500 and he also never won a Cy Young Award.

  • Here's a list of his accomplishments:

7 no-hitters

12 one-hitters

8 All Star games

Strikeout leader 11 times

ERA leader twice

Lifetime record: 324-292 (.526)

All time strikeout leader (5714)

All time walk leader (2795)

27 major league seasons (all-time record)

Number retired by the Angels (#30), Astros (#34), and Rangers (#34)

Major League All Century Team

Hall of Fame in 1999 (98.79% of the vote)

  • Seven of the ten pitchers with the highest similarity scores are in the Hall of Fame. Two others will be there (Randy Johnson and Bert Blyleven) and the tenth might get there if the writers don't hold the 'roids against him (Roger Clemens).

Nolan Ryan's 5000th Strikeout August 12, 1989

Nolan Ryan's 7th No-Hitter

Nolan Ryan on the soap opera Ryan's Hope in September 1975.

Nolan Ryan vs. Robin Ventura

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

1976 Topps #329 - Joe Ferguson

  • Joe Ferguson was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1968. He played in the minors from 1968-1972. Ferguson had some cups of coffee with the Dodgers in 1970 (.250 in 4 AB), 1971 (.216 in 102 AB), and 1972 (.292 in 24 AB). On July 18, 1971 Joe hit a leadoff home run in the 9th inning to break up a no-hit bid by Luke Walker of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • Ferguson was the regular catcher for the Dodgers in 1973. In 113 games he batted .263 with 25 HR and 88 RBI. He also set a major league record for catchers with the fewest errors in a season (3).
  • In 1974 Steve Yeager came up to the Dodgers. The Dodgers came up with a way to keep both players in the lineup as much as possible. Yeager caught against left-handed pitchers while Ferguson played right field. Ferguson usually caught against right-handed pitchers. Joe played in 111 games in 1974 and batted .252 with 16 HR and 57 RBI. Ferguson had two big moments in the 1974 World Series. In game 1 RF Ferguson cut in front of CF Jimmy Wynn to catch a fly ball and then threw out Sal Bando (who had tagged up at third base) at the plate. In game 2 Joe hit a 2-run homer to lead the Dodgers to their only win in the series.
  • In 1975 Ferguson didn't play after July 1. He batted .208 with 5 HR and 23 RBI in 66 games. Joe was used mostly in right field by the Dodgers in 1976 as Yeager took over the full-time catching duties. Ferguson was batting .222 with six homers on June 15 when he and two others were traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Reggie Smith. The Cardinals started Joe in 45 games behind the plate. Altogether it wasn't a great season for Ferguson -- he batted .211 with 10 HR and 39 RBI. After the 1976 season Joe was traded to the Houston Astros.
  • Joe had a better year in 1977. He was the starting catcher for the Astros and batted .257 with 16 HR and 61 RBI. Ferguson got off to a slow start in 1978 (.207 in 150 at bats) and was traded back to the Dodgers for two players to be named later (which turned out to be Rafael Landestoy and Jeffrey Leonard). Joe hit a little bit better for the Dodgers and altogether batted .224 with 14 HR and 50 RBI in 348 at bats. Ferguson was hitless in two at bats during the NLCS and he doubled twice in four at bats in the World Series.
  • In 1979 Ferguson returned to his familiar role as a catcher/right fielder. He batted .262 with 20 HR and 69 RBI in 122 games. Joe was used as a backup and a pinch hitter in 1980, batting .238 with 9 HR and 29 RBI in 172 at bats. On October 3, 1980 Ferguson hit a 10th inning game-winning home run against the Houston Astros. It was the first of three games in a row the Dodgers won in order to force a playoff for the NL West title. Joe also sparked a bench-clearing brawl during that series when he kneed Alan Ashby while tagging him out in a play at the plate.
  • Ferguson couldn't get it going in 1981. The Dodgers brought up Mike Scioscia, which really diminished Joe's playing time. In fact he didn't spend any time at catcher for the Dodgers that year. Ferguson was batting .143 in 14 at bats when he was released on August 13. He was picked up by the California Angels on September 1 and batted .233 in 30 at bats.
  • Joe spent his last two seasons as a backup and pinch hitter. In 1982 he batted .226 with 3 HR in 84 at bats. In 1983 Ferguson was batting .074 in 27 at bats when he was released on July 6.
  • After his playing career Ferguson coached and managed at various levels. He coached with the Texas Rangers from 1986-1987 and with the Dodgers from 1988-1994. He managed in the minors most of the time since '94, mainly in the Baltimore Orioles organization. Joe managed the Camden Riversharks of the Atlantic League in 2008 and 2009.
  • Liked to face: Jim Kaat (.412 in 17 AB); Steve Rogers (.370 in 27 AB); Bob Forsch (.350 in 20 AB)
  • Hated to face: Dale Murray (.053 in 19 AB); Jim Lonborg (.077 in 26 AB); Fred Norman (.093 in 43 AB)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

1976 Topps #328 - Carl Morton

  • Carl Morton pitched in the major leagues from 1969-1976. Morton was originally signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1964. He started as an outfielder who dabbled in pitching in 1965. Carl became a full-time pitcher in 1968. After the 1968 season Carl was taken by the Montreal Expos in the expansion draft. He started the 1969 season with the Expos, started five games and then was assigned to AAA Vancouver. Carl came back up to Montreal in September and ended up with an 0-3 record with a 4.60 ERA in 8 games (5 starts).
  • Morton was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1970. He went 18-11 with a 3.60 ERA and led the NL with 125 walks. In 1971 Carl's record experienced a reversal. He went 10-18 with a 4.80 ERA. Morton was 7-13 with a 3.92 ERA in 1972. After the 1972 season he was traded to the Braves for Pat Jarvis.
  • Carl had three straight winning seasons with the Braves. In 1973 he was 15-10 with a 3.41 ERA. Morton was 16-12 with a 3.15 ERA in 1974 and led the NL with 293 hits allowed. Carl led the NL in hits allowed (302) again in 1975 and was 17-16 with a 3.50 ERA.
  • In 1976 Morton slipped to a 4-9 record with a 4.17 ERA in 24 starts. He made his last start of the season on August 21. It ended up being the last start of his career as well. After the 1976 season Carl was traded with four other players and $250,000 to the Texas Rangers for Jeff Burroughs.
  • Morton didn't make the Rangers ballclub in 1977 and was released at the end of spring training. The Philadelphia Phillies signed him and assigned him to AAA Oklahoma City. Morton was released by the Phillies after the 1977 season. He signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1978 but was released during spring training.

  • Carl Morton died of a heart attack in the driveway of his parents' home after jogging with his son on April 12, 1983 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  • Liked to face: Nate Colbert (.143 in 35 AB); Ken Boswell (.167 in 42 AB); Greg Luzinski (.179 in 39 AB)
  • Hated to face: Ron Santo (.486 in 37 AB); Tommy Helms (.457 in 35 AB); Lou Brock (.431 in 58 AB)

Monday, January 18, 2010

1976 Topps #327 - Dave Moates

  • Dave Moates had a very short (1974-1976) major league career. He was drafted by the Washington Senators in 1969. Moates played in the minors for several years and put up good offensive numbers most of the time. He batted over .300 for AAA Spokane in both 1973 and 1974. Dave's biggest asset was his ability to steal bases. He stole 20 or more bases in most of his minor league seasons and stole 42 in '74.
  • At the end of the 1974 season Moates made one pinch running appearance for the Rangers. Dave started the 1975 season with Spokane and was brought up to the Rangers in mid-July. He batted .274 in 175 at bats for Texas in 1975.
  • Dave stuck with the Rangers in 1976. He appeared in 85 games and batted .241 in 137 at bats. Moates was put in as a pinch runner in 28 of those games.
  • In 1977 Dave started the season in AAA again (this time it was Tucson). He was purchased by the New York Yankees on May 23 and played the rest of the 1977 season for the Yankees' AAA Syracuse club. For both clubs he batted .308 with 40 stolen bases and 93 runs scored. Dave didn't make it back to the majors and he retired after the 1977 season.
  • Moates teaches PE and coaches baseball for Lakewood Ranch High School in Florida (at least he coached until last year). He had two sons (Robbie and Jeff) who played baseball for State College of Florida. Robbie is an assistant baseball coach for LRHS.
  • Liked to face: Mike Torrez (4 for 6)
  • Hated to face: Jim Palmer (1 for 12)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

1976 Topps #326 - Dick Pole

  • Dick Pole was a major league pitcher from 1973-1978. He was signed by the Boston Red Sox in 1969. He spent several years in the minors and was called up in 1973 after going 12-9 with a 2.03 ERA in 23 starts for AAA Pawtucket. Pole went 3-2 with a 5.60 ERA in 12 games (7 starts) for the Red Sox in 1973.
  • In 1974 Dick went back and forth between Pawtucket and Boston. He was 1-1 with one save and a 4.20 ERA in 15 games (2 starts) for Boston. Pole stayed up with the Red Sox in 1975 and went 4-6 with a 4.42 ERA in 18 games (11 starts). Dick was hit by a Tony Muser line drive on June 30 and sustained a broken jaw and damage to the retina of his right eye. Pole eventually lost 90% of the vision in his right eye. He wasn't used in the 1975 ALCS. Dick pitched to two batters in game 5 of the World Series and walked both of them. One of them scored, so he ended up allowing one run in zero innings pitched (infinite ERA).
  • Pole was a swingman in 1976. He appeared in 31 games, 15 of them starts. Dick was 6-5 with a 4.33 ERA in '76. After the season Pole was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the expansion draft.
  • In 1977 Pole was 7-12 with a 5.15 ERA in 25 games (24 starts) for the Mariners. Dick was 4-11 with a 6.48 ERA in 21 games (18 starts) for the Mariners in 1978. He pitched in his last major league game on July 18, 1978. After that he was sent to AAA San Jose. Dick was released by the Mariners during spring training in 1979. He pitched in the minors in the Pittsburgh and Detroit organizations from 1979-1981 and also played in Mexico for a while.
  • Pole became a pitching coach after his playing career. He worked in the Chicago Cubs system from 1983-1988 and then coached on Don Zimmer's coaching staff in Chicago from 1989-1991. Greg Maddux has said that Dick had a big influence on him by suggesting that he not try to strike everyone out all the time.
  • Dick coached with the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox in 1992 and then coached with the San Francisco Giants from 1993-1997. He coached with various other teams from 1998-2005, then joined the coaching staff of the Cincinnati Reds after the 2006 season. He was relieved of his duties as Reds pitching coach after the 2009 season.
  • Liked to face: Dan Meyer (.000 in 12 AB); Darrell Porter (.125 in 16 AB); Aurelio Rodriguez (.123 in 21 AB)
  • Hated to face: Rod Carew (.583 in 12 AB); Don Money (.556 in 18 AB); Don Baylor (.370 in 27 AB)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

1976 Topps #325 - Tony Perez

  • Tony Perez signed with the Cincinnati Reds in 1960. He played in the minors from 1960-1964 and showed that he was ready for the big time by batting .309 with 34 home runs and 107 RBI in 1964. Tony was brought up to the Reds at the end of the 1964 season and batted .080 in 12 games.
  • Perez shared time with Gordy Coleman at first base in 1965. He batted .260 with 12 HR and 47 RBI in 281 at bats in 1965. In 1966 Tony again shared time with Coleman at first base. Lee May was also on his way up for the Reds. Perez batted .265 but homered only 4 times and had 39 RBI in 257 at bats.
  • Perez was moved to third base in 1967. In his first season with regular playing time Tony batted .290 with 26 HR and 102 RBI. Perez made his first All Star Game and hit the go-ahead home run in the top of the 15th inning (he was the All Star Game MVP). Tony was also 8th in NL MVP voting.
  • Tony batted .282 with 18 HR and 90 RBI in 1968 and made the All Star team again (he played third base in the bottom of the 9th inning). In 1969 Tony batted .294 with 37 HR and 122 RBI. He struck out in his only at bat in the All Star Game.
  • Tony's best season was probably 1970. He was third in MVP voting and was an All Star for the fourth straight year (he started at third base and was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts). Perez batted .317 with 40 HR and 129 RBI for the NL Champions. Tony batted .333 in the NLCS but batted only .056 in the World Series. Baseball's Little-Known Superstar--Tony Perez - September 1970 Baseball Digest
  • In 1971 Perez batted .269 with 25 HR and 91 RBI. It was his last season as a third baseman. After Lee May was traded to Houston as part of the Joe Morgan deal Tony moved back to first base. He never played any other position (except DH) for the remainder of his career.
  • Perez batted .283 with 21 HR and 90 RBI in 1972. He batted .200 in the NLCS and .435 in the World Series. In 1973 Tony batted .314 with 27 HR and 101 RBI. He slumped in the NLCS (2 for 22). Why Reds Call Tony Perez 'The Big Dog' - August 1973 Baseball Digest
  • Tony made it back to the All Star Game in 1974 (he was 0 for 1 as a pinch hitter) and batted .265 with 28 HR and 101 RBI. In 1975 Tony batted .282 with 20 HR and 109 RBI. In the All Star Game he struck out in his only at bat. Perez batted .417 in the NLCS and although he batted only .179 in the World Series, he homered three times and had seven RBI. Tony Perez: The Biggest Bargain of Them All - December 1975 Baseball Digest
  • The 1976 season was the last one for Tony's first tour with the Reds. He made the All Star team again and walked in his only plate appearance. Perez batted .260 with 19 HR and 91 RBI, batted .200 in the NLCS, and .313 in the World Series. After the 1976 season the Reds wanted to make room for Dan Driessen and they felt that Tony was getting up there in years. Perez was traded with Will McEnaney to the Montreal Expos for Woodie Fryman and Dale Murray. When this happened (I was 10 years old) I couldn't believe it. I was really bummed out that they would think of breaking up the Big Red Machine!
  • Tony spent three seasons in Montreal. In 1977 Perez batted .283 with 19 HR and 91 RBI. Perez batted .290 with 14 HR and 78 RBI in 1978. It was the first season since 1966 in which Tony didn't knock in at least 90 runs. In 1979 Perez batted .270 with 13 HR and 73 RBI. After the 1979 season Tony became a free agent and signed with the Boston Red Sox. Tony Perez - He's Still A Baseball Favorite - July 1979 Baseball Digest
  • Perez was with the Red Sox from 1980-1982. In 1980 he batted .275 with 25 HR and 105 RBI for the Red Sox. It was his last season as a regular player. Perez played in 84 games in 1981 and batted .252 with 9 HR and 39 RBI. Tony was used more as a DH in 1982 and batted .260 with six homers and 31 RBI.
  • Tony was released after the '82 season and signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, rejoining former teammates Pete Rose and Joe Morgan as part of the "Wheeze Kids." Perez played some first base for the Phillies and batted .241 with six HR and 43 RBI in 253 at bats. He got a hit in a pinch hitting appearance in the NLCS and was 2 for 10 in the World Series. After the 1983 season Tony was purchased by the Reds.
  • Perez spent the last three seasons of his career as a part-time first baseman. When the Reds hired Pete Rose as player-manager in August 1984 Tony became part of a first base platoon with Rose. In 1984 Perez batted .241 with 2 HR and 15 RBI in 137 at bats. Tony batted .328 with 6 HR and 33 RBI in 1985. In 1986, his last season as a 44-year-old, Perez batted .255 with 2 HR and 29 RBI. Tony retired after the '86 season.
  • After his playing career Tony worked for the Reds' front office and got a shot at managing in 1993. Perez managed only 44 games (20-24) before being fired. He moved on to the Florida Marlins organization to work in the front office and coach. Tony finished the 2001 season as manager of the Marlins and was 54-60.
  • Tony has a son, Eduardo, who played in the majors for 13 years. Tony is now a special assistant in the Marlins' front office.

  • Liked to face: George Stone (.538 in 39 AB); Milt Pappas (.469 in 32 AB); Woodie Fryman (.391 in 46 AB)
  • Hated to face: Tug McGraw (.114 in 35 AB); Bob Gibson (.121 with 28 strikeouts in 58 AB); Fred Norman (.152 in 33 AB)

Friday, January 15, 2010

1976 Topps #324 - Jim Bibby

  • Jim Bibby was signed by the New York Mets in 1965. He pitched in the Mets organization through the 1971 season and then was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in a multi-player deal. He started the 1972 season with AAA Tulsa and was called up in September 1972. Jim was 1-3 with a 3.35 ERA in six starts for the Cardinals in '72.

  • Bibby started the 1973 season with the Cardinals but wasn't very effective (0-2 with a 9.56 ERA in six games). On June 6 Jim was traded to the Texas Rangers. Bibby put up pretty good stats for the awful 1973 Rangers -- he was 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA in 26 games (23 starts). On July 30, 1973 Jim pitched a no-hitter against the Oakland A's. In 1974 Jim started 41 games (which didn't even lead the league) and was 19-19 with a 4.74 ERA.

  • Bibby started the 1975 season with the Rangers. He was 2-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 12 starts when he was traded to the Cleveland Indians in part of the deal that brought Gaylord Perry to the Rangers. Jim was 5-9 with a 3.20 ERA for Cleveland in 24 games (12 starts).

  • Jim had a swingman role in 1976. He pitched in 34 games (21 starts) and was 13-7 with a 3.20 ERA. Bibby was 12-13 with a 3.57 ERA in 37 games (30 starts) in 1977. On March 6, 1978 Jim was granted free agency and a week later he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

  • In 1978 Bibby was a 5th starter / middle reliever type of pitcher for the Pirates. He was 8-7 with one save and a 3.53 ERA in 34 games (14 starts). Jim had the same role in 1979 and was 12-4 with a 2.81 ERA in 34 games (17 starts). Bibby started game 2 of the NLCS and allowed 1 run in 7 innings (the Pirates won the game in the 10th inning). Jim started games 4 and 7 of the 1979 World Series and had a 2.61 ERA in the two games but wasn't involved in either decision.
  • Bibby was on the NL All Star team in 1980 (he pitched a scoreless 8th inning) and finished 3rd in Cy Young Award voting. Jim was 19-6 with a 3.32 ERA in 34 starts. In 1981 Bibby was 6-3 with a 2.50 ERA in 14 starts. On May 19, 1981 Jim allowed a hit to leadoff batter Terry Harper of the Braves. He then retired the next 27 batters in a row to end up with a 1-hit shutout. Bibby missed a lot of time due to an August rotator cuff injury (and because of the strike).
  • Bibby missed the entire 1982 season. In 1983 he struggled, going 5-12 with an ERA of 6.69 in 24 games (12 starts). Jim became a free agent after the season and signed with the Rangers. In 1984 Bibby pitched in eight games for the Rangers and had an ERA of 4.41. He was released on June 1 and he signed with the Cardinals on June 9. Bibby spent a month with the Cards' AAA Louisville club but was released on July 1 and that was it for his career.
  • Jim is the oldest brother of former NBA player Henry Bibby and the uncle of NBA player Mike Bibby. Here is a March 2, 1981 Sports Illustrated article about Jim and Henry.
  • Liked to face: Glenn Hubbard (.048 in 21 AB); Jeff Burroughs (.083 in 24 AB); Ken Henderson (.107 in 28 AB)

  • Hated to face: Ted Simmons (.667 in 15 AB); Claudell Washington (.436 in 39 AB); Gene Tenace (.410 with 5 HR in 39 AB)

Can you name the 25 winningest managers?

Can you name the 25 winningest managers?

How did you do?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

1976 Topps #323 - Rob Sperring

  • Rob Sperring was a utility infielder and played parts of four seasons from 1974-1977. He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1971.
  • Sperring made it to the Cubs in early August 1974. He played in 42 games and batted .206 in 107 at bats. In 1975 Rob played in 65 games and batted .208 in 144 at bats. Sperring started the 1976 season in the minors and came back to the Cubs in late July. He played in 43 games and batted .258 in 93 at bats.
  • On February 11, 1977 season Sperring was traded with Bill Madlock to the San Francisco Giants for Bobby Murcer, Steve Ontiveros, and a minor leaguer. He never played with the Giants -- on March 26 he was traded with Willie Crawford to the Houston Astros for Rob Andrews and cash. Rob played most of the 1977 season with the Astros and batted .186 in 129 at bats. Sperring spent the 1978 and 1979 seasons with AAA Charleston but never made it back to the majors.
  • Rob has two sons: Trey played baseball for Rice University and now plays for the University of Oklahoma; Jayme played baseball for Rice and in the Baltimore Orioles' system (2000-2003).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

1976 Topps #322 - Glenn Abbott

  • Glenn Abbott pitched for three teams from 1973-1984. Glenn was 6'6" and weighed 200 pounds. He had most of his playing time with the Seattle Mariners in the late 70s and early 80s. Abbott was drafted by the Oakland A's in 1969. He was in the minors from 1970-1973. Glenn pitched in one game for the A's in July 1973 and in four more games in September 1973. Abbott ended up with a 3.79 ERA and a 1-0 record in five games (three starts).
  • Abbott bounced betwen AAA Tucson and Oakland in 1974. In 19 games (17 starts) Glenn was 5-7 with a 3.00 ERA. He didn't see action in the postseason. In 1975 he again bounced between Tucson and Oakland. It was hard for Glenn to crack the great A's pitching staffs of those years. Abbott pitched in 30 games (15 starts) for the A's and was 5-5 with a 4.25 ERA. On the last day of the 1975 season Abbott combined with three other Oakland pitchers on a no-hitter of the California Angels. Glenn pitched one inning in the ALCS without allowing any runs.
  • It looks like Glenn had some injury problems in 1976. He missed three weeks in three different periods of time during hte season. In 19 games (10 starts) Abbott was 2-4 with a 5.49 ERA. After the season Abbott was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the expansion draft.
  • Abbott became a main part of the Seattle rotation in 1977. He got hammered in four of his first six starts but righted the ship and ended up with a 12-13 record with a 4.45 ERA in 36 games (34 starts). In 1978 Abbott was 7-15 with a 5.27 ERA in 29 games (28 starts). He had two three-week absences that season.
  • Glenn battled injury again in 1979. He had one 3-week period and another 4-week period in which he didn't pitch. He didn't make any starts (just three relief appearances) after July 28. Abbott ended up 4-10 with a 5.17 ERA in 23 games (19 starts).
  • Abbott bounced back in 1980 and made 31 starts. He was 12-12 with a 4.10 ERA. In 1981 Glenn was 4-9 with a 3.94 ERA in 22 games (20 starts).
  • Glenn got a few starts in AAA Salt Lake City before returning to the Mariners in June 1983. He made 14 starts for Seattle and was 5-3 with a 4.59 ERA before being sold to the Detroit Tigers on August 23 for $100,000. He was the last of the original Seattle Mariners. Glenn started 7 games for the Tigers and was 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA.
  • Abbott started the 1984 season with the Tigers but wasn't very effective and wasn't getting regular work. He spent some time with AAA Evansville, came back to the Tigers, and was released on August 14. His record with the Tigers before his release was 3-4 with a 5.93 ERA in 13 games (8 starts).
  • Since his retirement Abbott has been coaching for various minor league teams. Here is a "where are they now" article about Abbott written in 2002. Abbott was the pitching coach for the AAA Portland Beavers (San Diego Padres) in 2008 and 2009 and will be the pitching coach for the San Antonio Missions (AA - Padres).
  • Liked to face: Buck Martinez (.080 in 25 AB); Wayne Gross (.111 in 36 AB); Alfredo Griffin (.133 in 30 AB)
  • Hated to face: Rickey Henderson (.600 in 20 AB); Fred Lynn (.516 in 31 AB); Jorge Orta (.450 in 40 AB)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

1976 Topps #321 - Jose Cruz

  • Jose "Cheo" Cruz played outfield for three teams from 1970-1988. Jose came from Puerto Rico and had two brothers (Hector and Tommy) and a son (Jose Jr.) play in the major leagues. Cruz was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1966. He played in the minors for a few years and was brought up in 1970 after batting .300 for AA Tulsa. Jose played in 6 games for the Cardinals in 1970 and batted .353 in 17 at bats.
  • In 1971 Cruz started with AAA Tulsa and was batting .327 when he was brought up to the Cardinals in late June. Jose played in 83 games for the Cardinals and batted .274 in 292 at bats. In 1972 Cruz played a lot of center field and was used in the other outfield positions as well. He batted .235 in 332 at bats.
  • Jose was the starting center fielder in 1973 but didn't do a whole lot with the bat. He batted .227 with 10 home runs in 406 at bats. In 1974 Cruz was a fifth outfielder and pinch hitter/runner. He played in 107 games but had only 161 at bats, batting .261. After the 1974 season Jose was sold to the Houston Astros.
  • Cruz would spend most of the rest of his career with Houston and kept getting better as he aged. In 1975 he was a fourth outfielder and batted .257 in 315 at bats. Jose had his breakout season in 1976. He was the starting left fielder and batted .303 with 28 stolen bases in 439 at bats.
  • Cruz had an even better season in 1977. He batted .299 with 44 stolen bases and 87 RBI as Houston's starting right fielder. Jose was in double figures in doubles (31), triples (10), and home runs (17). He also led the NL with 10 sacrifice flies. In 1978 Cruz batted .315 with 10 HR and 83 RBI and 37 stolen bases. Jose moved back to left field and batted .289 with 9 HR and 72 RBI in 1979.
  • Jose made his first NL All Star team in 1980 but didn't get into the game. He was third in NL MVP voting (behind unanimous selection Mike Schmidt and Gary Carter) as he helped the Astros to their first division title. He batted .302 with 11 HR and 91 RBI in the regular season and batted .400 in the NLCS.
  • In 1981 Jose had a different type of year. He batted .267 and although he hit 13 homers in 107 games, the rest of his stats were not Cruz-like. He still finished 14th in MVP voting that year. He batted .300 in the NLDS in 1981. Jose Cruz of the Astros: Under-Rated no Longer - February 1981 Baseball Digest
  • Cruz batted .275 with 9 HR and 68 RBI in 1982. He was 6th in MVP consideration and won a Silver Slugger award in 1983. Cruz batted .318 with 14 HR and 92 RBI and led the NL with 189 hits. Jose had another nice year in 1984 as he won another Silver Slugger award. He batted .312 with 28 doubles, 12 triples, and 12 homers and knocked in a career-high 95 runs. Jose Cruz: A Steady Hitter with an Unorthodox Style - August 1984 Baseball Digest.
  • Jose returned to the All Star game in 1985 (he was 0 for 1 with two walks and a stolen base) and he batted .300 with 9 HR and 79 RBI. Jose Cruz: The Big Leagues' Most Unheralded Star - August 1985 Baseball Digest. In 1986 Cruz batted .278 with 10 HR and 72 RBI and batted .192 in the NLCS.
  • Cruz slowed down in 1987 (he was 39 years old) and batted .241 with 11 HR and 38 RBI in 365 at bats. After the 1987 season he became a free agent and signed with the New York Yankees. He played in 38 games in 1988 and batted .200 in 80 at bats. He missed a month from late May to late June and played five games for AAA Columbus (probably a rehab assignment). The Yankees released Jose on July 22.
  • After his playing career Jose coached for several years. He was in the first base coaching box as Craig Biggio broke a lot of his Houston team records. Jose's #25 was retired by the Astros in 1992. He also managed and coached in the minors and for the Puerto Rico national team.
  • Liked to face: Dave Freisleben (.484 in 31 AB); Paul Moskau (.462 in 26 AB); Tom Hume (.422 in 45 AB)
  • Hated to face: Tom Browning (.115 in 26 AB); Bob Knepper (.146 in 41 AB); Mike Marshall (.156 in 32 AB); Tom Seaver (.186 with 26 strikeouts in 97 AB)

Monday, January 11, 2010

1976 Topps #320 - Willie Horton

  • Willie Horton played for six teams from 1963-1980. He spent the bulk of his career with the Detroit Tigers. Willie was the youngest of 21 children. He was on a city-championship high school team (Detroit Northwestern) in 1959 and was signed by the Tigers in 1961. Willie played in the minors in 1962 and 1963 and was given a look-see in September 1963. He hit his first major league home run off of Robin Roberts (a pinch-hit HR in his second at bat). For the season Horton batted .326 in 43 at bats.
  • In 1964 Horton started with the Tigers and was sent to AAA Syracuse in mid May. He batted .288 with 28 HR for Syracuse and was recalled in September. Horton didn't see much action with the Tigers in 1964 and batted .163 in 80 at bats. Horatio Horton June 1964 Baseball Digest.
  • Horton became the starting left fielder for the Tigers in 1965 and had a great season. He was the starting left fielder on the AL All Star team (he was 0 for 3 with a walk) and batted .273 with 29 HR and 104 RBI in 143 games. Willie finished 8th in MVP voting in 1965.
  • Willie's 1966 season was almost as good. He batted .262 with 27 HR and 100 RBI. In 1967 Horton batted .274 with 19 HR and 67 RBI. During the 1967 12th Street riot in Detroit Willie tried to calm the mob by standing on a car in his Tiger uniform and pleading for calm. Unfortunately it didn't work.
  • Horton's best season was probably 1968. In that piching-dominated year Willie was 4th in the AL in batting average (.285) and was 2nd in home runs (36). Horton was the starting left fielder in the All Star Game and was 0 for 2. Willie was 4th in MVP voting behind unanimous selection Denny McLain, teammate Bill Freehan, and Ken Harrelson. Horton batted .304 in 23 at bats in the World Series. Toward the end of the season Tiger manager Mayo Smith employed a creative lineup in order to keep Horton's bat in the lineup. Willie played left field, Mickey Stanley (normally an outfielder) played shortstop, and Jim Northrup played center field. If the Tigers were ahead late in a game, Roy Oyler (the epitome of a good-field/no-hit shortstop) went in at SS, Stanley moved to CF, and Northrup (or Kaline) moved to LF. The Effervescent Tiger - August 1968 Baseball Digest.
  • Willie batted .262 with 28 HR and 91 RBI in 1969. In 1970 Horton was an AL All Star again (he was 2 for 2 and was intentionally walked once). He was on his way to a great season but didn't play after July 24 due to an injury. In 97 games Horton batted .305 with 17 HR and 69 RBI. On June 9, 1970 Willie homered three times against the Milwaukee Brewers.
  • Horton was out for a month from late August to late September 1971. He batted .289 with 22 HR and 72 RBI. In 1972 Horton had his poorest season. He batted .231 with 11 HR and 31 RBI in 108 games. He was 1 for 10 in the 1972 ALCS.
  • Willie made his last AL All Star team in '73 (he struck out in a pinch hitting appearance) and batted .316 with 17 HR and 53 RBI. Willie Horton: The Thinking Man's Hitter December 1983 Baseball Digest. In 1974 Horton played in only 72 games and didn't play after July 7. He batted .298 with 15 HR and 47 RBI. On April 14, 1974 he hit a popup that struck and killed a pigeon at Fenway Park.
  • After Kaline's retirement at the end of the 1974 season Horton became the full-time DH. For the remainder of his career he would only play 22 more games in the outfield. Willie was named the AL's Outstanding Designated Hitter in 1975. He batted .275 with 25 HR and 92 RBI in 1975. Horton dropped to .262 with 14 HR and 56 RBI in 1976.
  • Willie played one game for the Tigers in 1977 before being traded to the Texas Rangers for Steve Foucault. Horton batted .289 with 15 HR and 75 RBI in '77. After the 1977 season he was traded with David Clyde to the Cleveland Indians for Tom Buskey and John Lowenstein. After batting .249 with 5 HR and 22 RBI in 50 games Willie was released by the Indians on July 3. On July 13 he was signed by the Oakland A's and he batted .314 with 3 HR and 19 RBI in 32 games. Willie was then traded to the Toronto Blue Jays with Phil Huffman for Rico Carty. In 33 games Horton batted .205 with 3 HR and 19 RBI.
  • After the 1978 season Horton became a free agent and signed with the Seattle Mariners. He was named AL Comeback Player of the Year and AL Designated Hitter of the Year after batting .279 with 29 HR and 106 RBI. In 1980 Horton slumped to a .221 average with 8 HR and 36 RBI in 97 games. He was on the shelf for two one-month periods. The Game I'll Never Forget August 1980 Baseball Digest.
  • After the 1980 season Willie was traded to the Rangers as part of a large multi-player trade. He didn't make the club in 1981 and was released in spring training. Willie hooked on with the Pittsburgh Pirates and played for their AAA Portland club in 1981 and 1982 but didn't get back to the majors. In 1983 Horton played in the Mexican League.
  • After his playing career Horton coached for the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox. In 2000 a statue of Willie was placed in Comerica Park and his #23 was retired (the only Detroit non-HOFer with that honor). Since 2003 he has been a Special Assistant to Dave Dombrowski (President/CEO/GM for the Tigers).
  • Liked to face: Jesse Jefferson (.458 in 24 AB); Bill Lee (.452 in 42 AB); Clyde Wright (.419 with 9 HR in 43 AB)
  • Hated to face: Lindy McDaniel (.083 in 24 AB); Camilo Pascual (.111 in 27 AB); Al Downing (.125 in 40 AB)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

1976 Topps #319 - Larry Gura

  • Larry Gura pitched for three teams from 1970-1985. He pitched for Arizona State University and was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1969. He had pitched two no-hitters in the National Baseball Congress Tournament in 1968. Larry was in the minors in 1969. He split time between the minors and the Cubs in 1970, going 1-3 with 1 save and a 3.79 ERA in 20 games (3 starts) for the Cubs.
  • Gura was in the minors for most of 1971 except for six games (one save and no runs in 3 innings) as a September call-up. In 1972 Larry got rocked in two relief appearances in April and was sent to the minors until September. After he got back to the Cubs he allowed only two earned runs in five appearances to bring his ERA down to 3.65. One reason why Gura wasn't used much in these years was because manager Leo Durocher didn't trust him and preferred veteran pitchers.
  • In 1973 Gura was a spot starter and mop-up man for the Cubs (the Cubs' record during his appearances was 4-17). In 21 appearances (7 starts) Larry was 2-4 with a 4.87 ERA. He also spent a few weeks in the minors in '73. After the 1973 season Gura was traded to the Texas Rangers as the "player to be named later" in an earlier deal. He was assigned to the Rangers' AAA Spokane club and on May 7, 1974 was traded with cash to the New York Yankees for Duke Sims. Gura was assigned to the Yankees' AAA Syracuse club where he was 7-7 with a 2.14 ERA in 16 starts. Larry was brought up to the Yankees in late August and went 5-1 with a 2.41 ERA in eight starts.
  • Gura was 7-8 with a 3.51 ERA in 26 games (20 starts) for the Yankees in 1975. In 1976 Yankee manager Billy Martin didn't care for Gura and didn't use him. Martin thought Larry didn't have enough stuff to consistenly pitch at the major league level and didn't like some of Gura's training regimen. On May 7, 1976 Larry was traded to the Kansas City Royals for Fran Healy. Larry had some injury problems in '76. He hadn't pitched for the Yankees before his trade to the Royals, then Larry pitched in three games for the Royals in late May before going on the shelf again until July 4. Gura ended up going 4-0 with one save and an ERA of 2.30 in 20 games (2 starts). Gura started two games in the ALCS and was 0-1 with a 4.22 ERA.
  • Larry was a reliever and spot starter for the Royals in 1977. In 52 games (6 starts) he was 8-5 with 10 saves and a 3.13 ERA. Gura started game 4 of the ALCS, pitched 2 innings, allowed 4 runs and took the loss. In game 5 he and two other Royal pitchers were unable to shut the door on the Yankees in the 9th inning. Dennis Leonard took the loss. Gura pitched to one batter (Mickey Rivers) who singled in the go-ahead run.
  • In 1978 the Royals made Gura a starter (at least for most of the season). Larry was 16-4 with a 2.72 ERA in 35 games (26 starts). In game 2 of the ALCS Larry shut out the Yankees in the first six innings and then allowed two runs in the 7th inning. The bullpen was able to hold the lead and Larry earned the win. The Royals slumped in 1979. Larry was 13-12 with a 4.47 ERA in 39 games (33 starts).
  • Larry and the Royals bounced back in a big way in 1980. Gura made the AL All Star team (he didn't pitch) and was 18-10 with a 2.95 ERA in 36 starts. He got a complete game victory in game 1 of the ALCS and the Royals finally got past the Yankees and into the World Series. Larry started two games in the World Series and had a 2.19 ERA, but wasn't involved in the decision in either game.
  • Looking back, it's interesting to see just how close the Royals came to beating the Yankees from 1976-1978. In both '76 and '77 the Yankees won in the 9th inning of game 5. In 1978 the Yankees won 3 games to 1, but the last two games were both one-run games.
  • Larry was 11-8 with a 2.72 ERA in 1981. He started and lost game 3 of the ALDS as the Royals were eliminated by the Oakland A's. Gura was 18-12 with a 4.03 ERA in 1982.
  • Gura started to lose his effectiveness in 1983. He led the AL with 18 losses. Larry was 11-18 with a 4.90 ERA in 34 starts. In 1984 Gura was 12-9 with a 5.18 ERA in 31 games (25 starts). In 1985 Larry pitched in three games for the Royals (1 save, 12.46 ERA) before being released on May 18. He was signed by the Cubs on May 28 . He went to the Cubs' AAA club and was 7-3 with a 2.54 ERA in 10 starts. Larry went back up to the Cubs and was 0-3 with an 8.54 ERA in four starts before being released on August 14.
  • Liked to face: Wayne Gross (.045 in 22 AB); Lee May (.063 in 32 AB); Otto Velez (.100 in 30 AB)
  • Hated to face: Jose Morales (.591 in 22 AB); Jim Anderson (.476 in 21 AB); Lou Piniella (.407 in 59 AB); Richie Zisk (.395 in 43 AB)