Friday, April 30, 2010

1976 Topps #425 - Rennie Stennett

  • Rennie Stennett played in the majors from 1971-1981. I remember when the Giants signed him before the 1980 season how he was supposed to be a great second baseman, but injuries slowed him down and he only played two years for the Giants.
  • Stennett was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1969. He played in the minors from 1969-1971 and was brought up in July of 1971 after batting .344 at AAA Charleston. Rennie batted .353 in 50 games but wasn't on the postseason roster.  
  • Rennie played 2B, SS, and all three OF positions in 1972 and batted .286 in 109 games. He batted .286 in five games in the Pirates' loss to the Cincinnati Reds in the NLCS. Stennett, like several other Pirates, struggled in 1973 after the death of Roberto Clemente. He batted .242 in 128 games as a utiltyman.
  • Stennett was given the starting second base job in 1974 (he beat out Dave Cash and Willie Randolph). Rennie batted .291 during the regular season and .063 against the LA Dodgers in the 1974 NLCS.
  • Rennie batted .286 in 148 games in 1975. He had one great game on September 16 when he went 7 for 7 in a nine-inning game. He is the only 20th (or 21st) century player to accomplish the feat. Stennett batted .214 in the 1975 NLCS. Stennett batted .257 in 157 games in 1976.
  • Rennie had his best season in 1977. He batted .336 and would have been eligible for the batting title if he would have had 12 more plate appearances. Teammate Dave Parker won the title with a .338 batting average. Rennie broke his right ankle on August 21 and missed the rest of the season. The injury hampered Stennett for the rest of his career.
  • Stennett came back in 1978 but wasn't the same player. He batted .243 in 106 games. Down & out - Pennant race is passing Rennie Stennett by - Beaver County Times September 3, 1978. He was the starting second baseman for the Pirates in 1979 but he didn't start many games after July. Rennie batted .238 in 108 games. In the postseason he made one defensive appearance in the NLCS and singled in his only at bat in the World Series.
  • After the 1979 season Stennett left the Pirates and signed with the Giants (5 years, $3 million). He batted .244 in 120 games in 1980. In 1981 Rennie played in only 38 games (only five after the strike) and batted .230 in 87 at bats. The Giants acquired Joe Morgan before the 1982 season and Stennett was released during spring training. He played for a while with Montrealss AAA Wichita club and batted .309 in 55 games but he didn't make it back to the majors.
  • After his playing career Rennie went back to his home in Florida and worked for a sports management firm. Stennett wonders why, not what if - The Pittsburgh Press June 23, 1986. On the Pirates: Stennett Reflects on Sweet Seven - Pittsburgh Post Gazette May 31, 2009.
  • Liked to face: Dan Spillner (.579 in 19 AB); Bob Shirley (.556 in 18 AB); Elias Sosa (.455 in 22 AB)
  • Hated to face: Max Leon (.000 in 14 AB); Bob Gibson (.069 in 29 AB); Ron Reed (.091 in 44 AB)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

1976 Topps #424 - Phil Roof

  • Phil Roof spent 15 years in the majors between 1961 and 1977. Phil was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1959. He spent a lot of time in the minors from 1959-1964. Roof played in one game with the Braves in 1961 but didn't have a plate appearance. He was 0 for 2 in one game in 1964 with the Braves. After the 1964 season Roof was traded to the California Angels.
  • Roof didn't play  much for the Angels in 1965. Phil batted .136 in nine games and on June 15 he was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Bubba Morton. Phil batted .173 in 61 at bats for the Indians to finish the 1965 season. After the 1965 season he was traded with Joe Rudi to the Kansas City A's for Jim Landis and Jim Rittwage. (whoops)
  • Phil was a regular catcher for the only two years of his career in 1966 and 1967. Roof batted .209 in 127 games in 1966 and .205 in 114 games in 1967. Even though he didn't hit much, Phil was credited with helping the young A's pitching staff develop. Manager Alvin Dark said that Roof was the glue that held them together.
  • Roof became the third catcher in 1968 as the A's decided to go with Dave Duncan and Jim Pagliaroni for most of the time. Phil batted .188 in 34 games in 1968. He played more in 1969 and batted .235 in 106 games. After the 1969 season Roof was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers.
  • Phil split time with Jerry McNertney behind the plate in 1970. Roof batted .227 in 110 games and hit a career-high 13 home runs.
  • Phil suffered a beaning by Bert Blyleven early in the 1971 season. He spent several days in the hospital and didn't play much when he came back (.193 in 41 games). Roof was traded to the Minnesota Twins for Paul Ratliff on July 8 (see page 12 of the newspaper page for the first part of the article). Roof batted .241 in 31 games for the Twins in 1971.
  • Phil spent the next 4 1/2 seasons as a backup catcher for the Twins. He batted .205 in 146 at bats in 1972, .197 in 117 at bats in 1973, and .196 in 97 at bats in 1974. Roof had an unusually good offensive year in 1975 when he batted .302 with 7 home runs in 126 at bats and had a .484 slugging percentage.
  • In 1976 Roof batted .217 in 18 games for the Twins before being waived in early August. The Chicago White Sox picked Phil up and he played ten games in the minors before going 1 for 9 (.111) in four games with the White Sox. After the 1976 season Roof was traded to the expansion Toronto Blue Jays for a player to be named later (which turned out to be Larry Anderson). Phil went 0 for 5 in three games with the Blue Jays and was released after the 1977 season.
  • After his playing career Phil was a bullpen coach for three teams and managed in the Twins' minor league system for 16 years before he retired in 2005. Phil's wife battled brain and lung cancer during Phil's last year with the Rochester Red Wings in 2005. He and his wife also cared for her younger brother, who has Down syndrome, after her parents passed away.
  • Liked to face: Paul Splitorff (.400 in 20 AB); Fritz Peterson (.362 in 47 AB); Jim Perry (.353 in 54 AB)
  • Hated to face: Catfish Hunter/Jim Perry (.000 in 12 AB); Clyde Wright (.071 in 28 AB); Dick Drago (.087 with 11 strikeouts in 23 AB)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

1976 Topps #423 - Ed Halicki

  • Ed Halicki pitched in the majors from 1974-1980. Halicki was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 1972. He spent the entire 1972 and 1973 in the minors and then split time between the Giants and AAA Phoenix in 1974 and 1975. Ed Halicki, John Montefusco, and Bob Knepper were three young pitchers who came up at about the same time and were expected to do great things for the Giants.
  • Ed made his major league debut on July 8, 1974. He went 1-8 with a 4.24 ERA in 18 games (11 starts) in '74.
  • On August 24, 1975 Halicki threw a 6-0 no-hitter against the New York Mets. There were 24,132 fans in attendance which was a lot for the Giants of that era. It was the last home no-hitter for the Giants until Jonathan Sanchez did it in 2009. Ed went 9-13 with a 3.45 ERA in 23 starts in 1975.
  • Halicki went 12-14 with a 3.62 ERA in 1976. His best season was probably 1977 when he went 16-12 with a 3.32 ERA in 32 starts.
  • In 1978 Ed went 9-10 with a 2.85 ERA in 28 starts. Halicki pitched a 1-hit shutout against the Expos and a 3-hit shutout against the Reds in June. He also led the NL in WHIP (he probably didn't know it at the time -- I don't know when that stat was developed).
  • The wheels started to come off in 1979. The Giants had problems with injuries and clubhouse dissension. Ed was fined for drinking on a team flight. Ed was on the disabled list for part of the season and finished 5-8 with a 4.58 ERA in 33 games (19 starts).
  • Halicki's last season in the majors was 1980. He started with the Giants and was 0-0 with a 5.40 ERA in 11 games (4 starts) before being waived in mid-June. Ed was picked up by the California Angels  and went 3-1 with a 4.84 ERA in 10 games (6 starts). Halicki was released after the 1980 season. He tried out with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1981 but didn't make the club. That was it for Ed's career.
  • Halicki now lives in Reno, Nevada and manages a furniture store in Carson City.
  • Liked to face: Roger Metzger (.056 in 36 AB); Chris Speier (.105 in 19 AB); Garry Maddox/Greg Luzinski (.125 in 25 AB)
  • Hated to face: Biff Pocoroba (.667 in 15 AB); Ed Kranepool (.455 in 22 AB); Cesar Geronimo (.424 in 33 AB)

A Giant Strat-O-Matic Contest

The Strat-O-Matic Game Company is providing me with three copies of the game to give away in a contest. The contest is on my other blog (A Giant Blog). It's a great game -- head on over if you would like to enter. :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

1976 Topps #422 - Johnny Grubb

  • Johnny Grubb played major league baseball from 1972-1987. Grubb was drafted by several teams but didn't sign because he was loyal to his junior college coaching staff. After being named to the College World Series all tournament team in 1970 (he played for Florida State University and they were the runners-up) Johnny was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 1971. He played in the minors in 1971 and 1972 and batted .333 in 21 at bats for the Padres as a September call-up in 1972.

  • San Diego manager Don Zimmer gave Grubb a chance to play regularly in 1973. Johnny batted .311 in 389 at bats and finished 6th in NL Rookie of the Year voting. In 1974 Grubb was the starting center fielder and batted .286 in 140 games. Johnny represented the Padres in the All Star Game in 1974 and popped out to the shortstop in his only at bat.

  • Grubb set a team record (since broken) with 36 doubles in 1975. He batted .269 in 144 games. In 1976 Johnny went on the disabled list for 32 days. It was the first of nine career trips to the DL for Grubb. He batted .284 with a .391 on base percentage in 109 games. After the 1976 season Grubb was traded (along with Fred Kendall and Hector Torres) to the Cleveland Indians for George Hendrick.

  • Johnny missed most of the 1977 season with injuries. He batted .301 in 34 games. In 1978 Johnny batted .265 in 113 games for the Indians. On August 31 Grubb was traded to the Texas Rangers for Bobby Cuellar and a minor leaguer. He batted .394 in 21 games for the Rangers to finish the 1978 season.

  • In 1979 Grubb missed most of August with an injury. In 102 games he batted .273 and had a 21-game hitting streak. Grubb batted .277 in 110 games in 1980. He was used more as a pinch hitter and backup outfielder that year.

  • Johnny had a rib removed in 1981 to relieve a circulatory problem in his arm. He had his worst season (except for his final season) as a major leaguer in 1981, batting .231 in 67 games. Grubb batted .279 in 103 games in 1982. During spring training in 1983 Johnny was traded to the Detroit Tigers for Dave Tobik.

  • Johnny spent the rest of his career as a DH and backup outfielder. In 1983 he batted .254 in 57 games. Grubb finally made it to the playoffs with the 1984 Tigers. He batted .267 with a .395 on base percentage in 86 games during the 1984 season. Grubb batted .250 (1 for 4) in the ALCS and .333 (1 for 3) as a pinch hitter in the World Series.

  • Grubb batted .245 in 78 games in 1985. He had one of his best years in 1986, batting .333 with 13 home runs in 81 games. Grubb batted .202 in 114 at bats in 1987 but batted .571 (4 for 7) in the 1987 ALCS. Johnny was released after the 1987 season. He tried to catch on with Atlanta's AAA Richmond club but didn't do well and retired.
  • Grubb was the assistant coach for the Colorado Silver Bullets women's baseball team from 1994-1997. Johnny coached varsity baseball at Meadowbrook High School in his hometown of Richmond, VA for several years in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Remembering Former Outfielder Johnny Grubb - Baseball Digest December 2006.
  • Liked to face: Paul Hartzell (.588 in 17 AB); Juan Marichal (.474 in 19 AB); Dennis Eckersley (.432 in 44 AB)
  • Hated to face: Alan Foster/Pete Vuckovich (.000 in 11 AB); Milt Wilcox (.080 in 25 AB)

Monday, April 26, 2010

1976 Topps #420 - Joe Morgan

  • Joe Morgan was one of the greatest second basemen in baseball history. He played from 1963-1984 and gained most of his fame by being an integral part of the 1970s Cincinnati Reds teams. Morgan was signed by the Houston Colt .45s in 1962. Joe was having trouble with his swing because he kept his back elbow down too low. Nellie Fox suggested to Joe that he should flap his back elbow to keep his elbow up. That became the most distinctive part of Joe's stance at the plate.

  • Morgan played in the minors in 1963 and 1964. He had a brief September stint with Houston in 1963 (.240 in 8 games). Joe batted .323 with 113 runs, 90 RBI, and 47 stolen bases for AA San Antonio in 1964 and was judged to be ready for the majors. He batted .189 in 10 games for the Colt .45s at the end of the 1964 season.

  • Joe had an excellent rookie season. He batted .271 and led the NL with 97 walks. He was in double figures in doubles, triples, and home runs. Morgan finished second to LA Dodger Jim Lefebvre in NL Rookie of the Year voting. It was an odd vote since Joe had superior stats in every category except RBI and home runs (Morgan trailed 14 to 12 in that category). It must have been some sort of "pennant-winning team" effect. Little Joe Rookie of the Year? - September 1965 Baseball Digest.

  • Morgan made his first NL All Star team in 1966 (he didn't get in the game) and batted .285 in 122 games. He missed about six weeks from late June to early August with an injury. Joe played in 133 games in 1967 and batted .275. Morgan missed three weeks in June with an injury.

  • Joe was hurt and missed most of the 1968 season. He played in six games in April and made four pinch hitting appearances in May. Morgan ended up batting .250 in 10 games.

  • Morgan came back to play in 147 games in 1969 but his offense wasn't all the way back yet. He batted .236 but walked 110 times to boost his on base percentage to .365. Joe also stole 49 bases -- it was the first of nine straight years of stealing 40 or more bases. He improved to .268 in 1970 and went to his second All Star game (he was 1 for 2 with a run scored).

  • Morgan led the NL with 11 triples in 1971 and batted .256 in 160 games. Astros manager Harry Walker wanted more power in the lineup so after the 1971 season Morgan was traded (with Cesar Geronimo, Jack Billingham, Dennis Menke, and Ed Armbrister) to the Cincinnati Reds for Lee May, Tommy Helms, and Jimmy Stewart. The trade ended up being a great one for the Reds.

  • Joe started a string of great years with the Reds in 1972. He made the All Star team every year he was with the Reds (1972-1979) and won five straight Gold Gloves (1973-1977). In 1972 Morgan was fourth in MVP voting as he led the NL in runs (122), walks (115), and on base percentage (.414). Morgan batted .292 and hit 16 homers. He was named the All Star MVP after he singled in the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning. The Big Red Machine Rolls Again - October 1972 Baseball Digest. Morgan batted .250 in the 1972 NLCS and .125 in the World Series. Joe Morgan Talks about Base-Stealing Strategy - December 1972 Baseball Digest.

  • Morgan finished 4th in MVP voting again in 1973. He batted .290 with 26 HR and 116 runs scored. Joe batted .100 (2 for 20) in the 1973 NLCS. Morgan batted .293 with 22 HR in 1974 but the Reds were beaten out in the NL West by the LA Dodgers that season. Little Joe...Big Man in Reds' Lineup - May 1974 Baseball Digest

  • In 1975 Morgan won the first of two straight MVP awards. He batted .327 with 17 HR and 94 RBI, walked 132 times, stole 67 bases, and had a .466 on base percentage. Joe had his best postseason in 1975. He batted .273 and stole four bases in the Reds' 3-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Morgan batted .259 in the World Series. Little Joe Morgan: Destsined for the Hall of Fame - October 1975 Baseball Digest.

  • Morgan batted .320 with 27 HR and 111 RBI in 1976 and was the NL MVP again. He went 0 for 7 (but walked five times and scored four runs) in the Reds' sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS and batted .333 in the World Series. Joe Morgan, Baseball's Most Complete Player in 1976 - December 1976 Baseball Digest.

  • Joe's stats started to drop in 1977. He was an All Star again (a home run in 4 at bats) and batted .288 with 22 HR and 78 RBI. It was the last season in which he would walk over 100 times (117) or steal more than 40 bases (49). Morgan also won his fifth and final Gold Glove in 1977.

  • Morgan dropped to .236 in 1978. The fans voted him into the All Star game (1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored) but it was probably his worst season as a regular player.

  • Joe's last season in Cincinnati was 1979. He made the All Star team as a reserve (Davey Lopes was voted in as the starting 2B by the fans) and went 0 for 1 with a walk. It was Joe's last All Star game. Morgan batted .250 in 127 games. He went 0 for 11 in the NLCS as the Reds were swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Morgan became a free agent after the 1979 season and signed with the Houston Astros. Joe  Morgan Hits the Comeback Trail with Houston - May 1980 Baseball Digest.

  • In 1980 Morgan led the NL with 97 walks. He batted .243 in 141 games and batted .154 in 4 games in the NLCS. Joe  Morgan Played Pivitoal Role in Rise of Astros - Baseball Digest January 1981. Joe was released  by the Astros after the 1980 season. He later signed with the San Francisco Giants.

  • Morgan batted .240 in 90 games in the strike-shortened 1981 season. He had a good year in 1982, batting .289 and winning the Silver Slugger Award at second base. Joe homered in the last game of the 1982 season to win the game and knock the LA Dodgers out of the NL West race.

  • After the 1982 season Joe was traded with Al Holland to the Philadelphia Phillies for Mike Krukow, Mark Davis, and a minor leaguer. He rejoined former teammates Pete Rose and Tony Perez on the Phillies. A Love Triangle: Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, and Baseball - May 1983 Baseball Digest.  Morgan batted .230 with 16 HR and 18 stolen bases. He batted .067 (1 for 15) in the NLCS and .263 in the World Series. The Phillies released Morgan after the 1983 season.

  • Morgan went back home to Oakland to finish his career with the Oakland A's. He batted .244 in 116 games and retired after the season. Joe Morgan Recalls His Favorite Major League Tutor - October 1984 Baseball Digest. Joe was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990. Hall of Fame Inductee Joe Morgan Remembers His Early Mentor - August 1990 Baseball Digest.

  • After his playing career Morgan went on to become a broadcaster. He started off doing broadcasts for the Cincinnati Reds (1985), San Francisco Giants (1986-1994), and the Oakland A's (1995). He also announced for ABC (1988-1989) and NBC (1994-2000). He is most noted for his Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts with Jon Miller that he has been doing on ESPN since 1990. Joe Morgan Decries Decline of Running Game in the Majors - October 1999 Baseball Digest.
  • Here is Night Owl's take on Joe Morgan's 1975 card. He did his entry just two days before mine.

  • Liked to face: Ray Washburn / Mike Marshall (.462 in 26 AB); Wayne Twitchell (.455 in 33 AB); Tony Cloninger (.455 in 44 AB)

  • Hated to face: Sammy Ellis (.045 in 22 AB); Pascual Perez (.048 in 21 AB); Joe Sambito (.125 in 24 AB)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

1976 Topps #421 - Oakland A's

Even though they started losing players to trades and free agency, the Oakland A's were still a force to be reckoned with in 1976. They had six players who stole 20 or more bases, including Bill North (75) and Bert Campaneris (54), and Don Baylor (52). After the 1976 season the bottom fell out and the A's took a few years to get back to contention. They didn't have a manager when this card was printed, but they were able to hire a manager (Chuck Tanner) for the '76 season.

  • Team Record: 87-74 (2nd in AL West, 2.5 games behind Kansas City)

  • Team Attendance: 780,593 (11th in AL)

  • Team Batting: .246 (9th in AL)

  • Team Home Runs: 113 (4th in AL)

  • Team Stolen Bases: 341 (1st in AL)

  • Team ERA: 3.26 (3rd in AL)

  • Team Fielding: .977 (7th in AL)

  • Batting Average Leader: Bill North (.276)

  • Home Run Leader: Sal Bando (27)

  • RBI Leader: Joe Rudi (94)

  • Stolen Base Leader: Bill North (75)

  • Wins Leader: Vida Blue (18)

  • Losses Leader: Vida Blue (13)

  • Saves Leader: Rollie Fingers (20)

  • AL Batting Leaders: Bill North (stolen bases - 75, caught stealing - 29); Don Baylor (hit by pitch - 20)

  • AL All Stars: Rollie Fingers (P); Phil Garner (2B)

  • AL Gold Gloves: Joe Rudi (OF)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

1976 Topps #419 - Reggie Cleveland

  • Reggie Cleveland pitched for four teams from 1969-1981. During his career Reggie had trouble with his weight and “living the major league lifestyle.” Cleveland was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1965 and pitched in the minors from 1966-1970. Reggie started a game for the Cardinals on October 1, 1969 and allowed four runs in four innings (he didn’t get a decision in that game).

  • Reggie came to the majors to stay in August of 1970. He pitched in 16 games (1 start) that year for the Cardinals and was 0-4 with a 7.62 ERA. Cleveland became a regular starting pitcher in 1971. He went 12-12 with a 4.01 ERA in 34 starts in 1971.

  • Reggie was a pretty solid starter for the Cards for the next two seasons. In 1971 he was 14-15 with a 3.94 ERA in 33 starts. Cleveland was 14-10 with a 3.01 ERA in 1973. After the 1973 season Cleveland was traded to the Boston Red Sox in a multi-player trade.

  • In 1974 Cleveland reported to camp overweight and with a bad knee. He started the season as a long reliever but eventually started 27 games and relieved in 14 more. Reggie went 12-14 with a 4.31 ERA.

  • Reggie made 31 appearances (20 starts) in 1975 and was 13-9 with a 4.43 ERA. He had a DUI incident on the night of June 29 – Reggie rolled his car in Boston’s Summer Tunnel and needed stitches around his mouth and right ear. The incident went unreported and Cleveland pitched the next day. Cleveland started game 2 of the 1975 ALCS and allowed 3 runs in 5 innings (he didn’t get the decision). He made a relief appearance in game 3 of the 1975 World Series and became the first Canadian-born pitcher to start a World Series game when he started game 5. Cleveland took the loss in that game. He appeared in the 9th inning of game 7 and would have been in line for the win if Boston had been able to make a comeback. The Red Sox lost the game 4-3.

  • In 1976 Cleveland spent more time in the bullpen than in the rotation. He made 41 appearances (14 starts) and was 10-9 with a 3.07 ERA. Reggie was in 36 games (27 starts) in 1977 and went 11-8 with a 4.26 ERA. On September 25 Cleveland allowed 18 hits in a 12-5 complete game victory over the Detroit Tigers.

  • Cleveland was sold to the Texas Rangers for $125,000 early in the 1978 season after making one relief appearance for the Red Sox. Reggie was the 11th man on a 10-man Red Sox staff. Reggie made 53 appearances (all in relief) for the Rangers in 1978. He went 5-7 with 12 saves and had a 3.09 ERA. Rangers owner Brad Corbett was having some money problems and Reggie was sold to the Milwaukee Brewers for $200,000 after the 1978 season.

  • Cleveland wasn’t happy about the trade and reported to the Brewers camp in 1979 with a sour attitude and a larger waistline. He went 1-5 with a 6.71 ERA in 29 games (1 start). Reggie turned things around during the winter of 1979-1980 and reported to the 1980 spring training camp one week early and 25 pounds lighter. Cleveland pitched in 45 games (13 starts) and went 11-9 with a 3.73 ERA.

  • In 1981 Reggie had a tough time. He over-trained to get ready after the strike and developed tendonitis in his pitching arm. He was also drinking more and having family problems. Cleveland made 35 relief appearances in 1981 and was 2-3 with a 5.15 ERA. Reggie was released after the 1981 season and retired.

  • After his baseball career Cleveland moved back to Canada with his second wife. One of his sons (John) was a three-time Olympic swimmer for Canada, and the other son (Todd) played shortstop for the University of North Florida. Reggie sold cars for several years and then was a minor league pitching coach for a few years in the early 1990s. Cleveland became a US citizen in 1980 and moved to Dallas in 2005. He sells cars for Park Place Lexus in Dallas.

  • Liked to face: Cleon Jones (.000 in 11 AB); Freddie Patek (.042 in 24 AB); Larry Bowa (.119 in 42 AB)

  • Hated to face: Kiko Garcia (.563 in 16 AB); Tim McCarver (.519 in 27 AB); Mickey Rivers (.441 in 34 AB)

Friday, April 23, 2010

1976 Topps #418 - Jose Morales

  • Jose Morales played parts of 12 seasons with five teams from 1973-1984. He was especially valuable as a pinch hitter. Morales was signed by the San Francisco Giants in 1963. He played in the Giants’ system for five years and then was drafted by the Oakland A’s in the minor league draft. Jose played in the A’s system for five more years and finally got his chance in the majors in August 1973. Part of his problem was that he wasn’t much of a defensive catcher. Jose led four different minor leagues in errors. Morales played in 6 games (.286 in 14 at bats) and was sold to the Montreal Expos on September 18. Jose was 2 for 5 in five games with the Expos in 1973.

  • In 1974 Morales started the season in AAA and was called up in July. He batted .269 in 26 at bats for the Expos in ’74. Jose batted .301 in 163 at bats as a pinch hitter and backup catcher / first baseman in 1975.

  • Morales batted a career-high .316 in 158 at bats in 1976. He had a big drop-off in 1977, batting .203 in 74 at bats. Morales was purchased by the Minnesota Twins during spring training in 1978. Jose came back in 1978 and batted .314 in 242 at bats as a DH and utility player.

  • In the next two seasons Jose was a DH, first baseman, and occasional catcher for the Twins. He batted .267 in 191 at bats in 1979 and .303 in 241 at bats in 1980. After the 1980 season Morales became a free agent and signed with the Baltimore Orioles.

  • Jose didn’t get much playing time in 1981 and batted .244 in 86 at bats. He started the 1982 season with the Orioles (.000 in 3 at bats) and was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Leo Hernandez on April 28. Morales batted .300 in 30 at bats for the Dodgers in 1982. He batted .283 in 53 at bats in 1983 (mostly as a pinch hitter). Morales went 0 for 2 in the 1983 NLCS. In 1984 Jose batted .158 in 19 at bats. The Dodgers released him on June 7. Morales signed with the Expos two weeks later and played for AAA Indianapolis but retired after batting .188 in 80 at bats.

  • After his playing career Jose worked as a batting instructor in the Baltimore, Cleveland, and Florida organizations.

  • Liked to face: Larry Gura (.591 in 22 AB); Dave LaRoche (.529 in 17 AB); Ron Guidry (.375 in 24 AB)

  • Hated to face: Ron Reed (.100 in 10 AB); Rudy May (.143 in 14 AB); Andy Hassler (.111 in 9 AB)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

1976 Topps #417 - Gene Clines

  • Gene Clines played for four teams from 1970-1979. Clines was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1966. In his five seasons (1966-1970) in the minors Gene stole 130 bases, including 63 in 1969 for AA York. Clines played in 31 games for the Pirates in 1970 and batted .405 in 37 at  bats.

  • Clines was a fourth outfielder for most of his career and played all three OF positions. In 1971 Gene played in 97 games and batted .308 in 273 at bats. He  batted .333 (1 for 3) in the NLCS and .091 in 11 at bats in the World Series.

  • Gene's best season was in 1972 when he batted .334 in 311 at bats. Clines was 0 for 2 with a run scored in the 1972 NLCS. In 1973 Clines batted .263 in 304 at bats. Gene's offense really dropped off in 1974 as he batted .225 in 276 at bats. He was 0 for 1 with a run scored in the 1974 NLCS. After the 1974 season Clines was traded to the New York Mets for Duffy Dyer.

  • Clines batted .227 in 203 at bats for the Mets in 1975. After the 1975 season he was traded to the Texas Rangers for Joe Lovitto. Clines got the most at  bats (446) of his career in 1976 and batted .276. After the 1976 season Gene moved on again. He was traded (along with some cash) to the Chicago Cubs for Darold Knowles.

  • Gene batted .293 in 239 at bats for the Cubs in 1977. He batted .258 in 229 at bats in 1978. Clines batted .200 (2 for 10) as  a pinch hitter in 1979 before being released by the Cubs on May 11.

  • After his release as a player Clines became the Cubs' first base coach. He continuted to coach first for the Cubs until 1981 and then moved on to the Houston Astros where he was a roving minor league instructor through 1987. Gene was Houston's hitting coach in 1988 and then was the hitting coach for the Seattle Mariners (1989-1992) and the Milwaukee Brewers (1993-1994). He spent eight years (1995-2002) with the San Francisco Giants as a hitting coach and outfield coach. FOX had Gene miked during the World Series and he screamed, "OH MY GOD!!!" when Barry Bonds hit his first World Series homer. Clines went back to the Cubs to coach from 2003-2006 and is now the outfield and base running coordinator in the Los Angeles Dodgers system.

  • Liked to face: Ken Reynolds (.500 in 16 AB); Carl Morton (.471 in 17 AB); Doug Rau/Mike Marshall (.438 in 16 AB)
  • Hated to face: Don Sutton (.071 in 14 AB); Tug McGraw (.111 in 18 AB); Larry Dierker/Tommy John (.118 in 17 AB)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

1976 Topps #416 - Tommy John

Tommy John was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1961. Tommy pitched in the minors from 1961-1964. He had a brief look late in 1963 and was 0-2 with a 2.25 ERA in 6 games. In 1964 John was 2-9 with a 3.91 ERA in 25 games (14 starts). After the 1964 season John was traded to the Chicago White Sox as part of a complicated three-team trade. He Isn't Afraid to Throw It - July 1964 Baseball Digest.

John became a starting pitcher in 1965. He appeared in 39 games (27 starts) and went 14-7 with a 3.09 ERA. Tommy led the AL in shutouts in 1966 (5) and 1967 (6). He was 14-11 with a 2.62 ERA in 1966 and 10-13 with a 2.47 ERA in 1967.

John was selected to the AL All Star team in 1968 (he pitched to two batters in the 8th inning and allowed a hit and then got a double play grounder) and went 10-5 with a 1.98 ERA in 25 starts. Tommy was injured during a game on August 22 and didn't pitch the rest of the season. Tommy John Paid The Price - March 1969 Baseball Digest.

Tommy spent three more seasons with the White Sox. He had sub-.500 records and his ERA was above 3 in all three of those seasons. After the 1971 season John was traded with Steve Huntz to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Dick Allen.

John went 11-5 with a 2.89 ERA in 29 starts in 1972. In 1973 John led the NL with a .696 winning percentage. He went 16-7 with a 3.10 ERA for the Dodgers.

Tommy was off to a great start in 1974. He was 13-3 with a 2.59 ERA in 22 starts when he hurt his arm in a game against the Montreal Expos on July 17. John had the surgery that now bears his name and missed the rest of the 1974 season and all of the 1975 season. At the time it was a new and experimental surgery and Dr. Frank Jobe had given Tommy a 1 in 100 chance of coming back to pitch. Tommy John Surgery A Career-Saving Procedure for Many Pitchers - May 2004 Baseball Digest.

John came back in 1976 to go 10-10 with a 3.09 ERA in 31 starts. Tommy John: The Bionic Pitcher - February 1976 Baseball Digest. Tommy had his best season for the Dodgers in 1977 when he went 20-7 with a 2.78 ERA. He finished second in NL Cy Young Award voting and 12th in MVP voting. John went 1-0 in two starts in the 1977 NLCS. Tommy started and lost game 3 of the 1977 World Series.

Tommy was 17-10 with a 3.30 ERA in 30 starts in 1978. John was named to the NL All Star team but he didn't pitch in the game. He pitched a 4-hit shutout in game 2 of the NLCS. John started and won game 1 of the 1978 World Series and he started game 4 but didn't get the decision. After the 1978 season John became a free agent and signed with the New York Yankees. The Pitcher with the Pinpoint Control - February 1978 Baseball Digest.

John pitched well for a Yankee team that was having a tough year. He finished the '79 season 21-9 with a 2.96 ERA. Tommy was named to the AL All Star team but didn't get into the game. John finished second to Mike Flanagan in AL Cy Young Award voting. Tommy John: The Pitcher with the Bionic Arm - September 1979 Baseball Digest.

Tommy had another good year in 1980. He went 22-9 with a 3.43 ERA and led the AL with 6 shutouts. John made the AL All Star team again but took the loss, allowing 3 runs in 2.1 innings. He started game 3 of the ALCS and allowed 2 runs in 6.2 innings but didn't get the decision.

In 1981 John went 9-8 with a 2.63 ERA in 20 starts. He was 0-1 in the ALDS and was 1-0 in the ALCS and in the World Series. Tommy started the 1982 season with the Yankees and was 10-10 on August 24 when he was traded to the California Angels for Dennis Rasmussen. Tommy went 4-2 for the Angels the rest of the way and helped them to an AL West title. John won game 1 of the ALCS but took the loss in game 4.

John turned 40 in 1983 and he started to have tougher seasons. Pitcher with the Bionic Arm Still Going Strong! - March 1983 Baseball Digest. He went 11-13 with a 4.33 ERA in 1983 and was 7-13 with a 4.52 ERA in 1984. In 1985 Tommy started the season with the Angels (2-4, 4.70 ERA) but was released on June 19. He signed with the Oakland A's on July 12 and was 2-6 with a 6.19 ERA.

Tommy became a free agent after the 1985 season but didn't sign with anyone. The Yankees finally signed him on May 2. He went 5-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 13 games (10 starts) in 1986. John had a pretty good season in 1987 (13-6, 4.03 ERA in 33 starts) and went 9-8 with a 4.49 ERA in 32 starts in 1988. Tommy didn't pitch well in 1989 (2-7, 5.80 ERA in 10 starts) and was released on May 30. That ended a 26-year career that was almost good enough for the Hall of Fame.

In 2009 John resigned from his job as manager of the independent Connecticut Bluefish due to financial issues to work as a "corporate manager" for a company in Texas. Tommy had been managing the Bluefish since 2006.

Liked to face: Lee May (.069 in 29 AB); Mario Mendoza (.077 in 27 AB); Tim Foli (.081 in 37 AB)
Hated to face: Ned Yost (.833 in 12 AB); Pat Tabler (.520 in 25 AB); George Mitterwald (.442 in 43 AB)

Monday, April 19, 2010

1976 Topps #415 - Vada Pinson

  • Vada Pinson was retired when this card was made. His last game was September 28, 1975. He was a good outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds in the early 1960s and came close to getting 3,000 hits for his career (he had 2757).

  • Vada Pinson was signed by the Cincinnati Redlegs in 1956. He played in the minors from 1956-1958. Vada batted .367 with 40 doubles, 20 triples, and 20 home runs for Class C Visalia in 1957 and .343 for AAA Seattle in 1958. He started the 1958 season with the Reds but was sent back down when he was batting .200 in mid-May. He was called up in September and batted .271 in 96 at bats for the Reds in 1958.

  • Pinson became Cincinnati's starting center fielder in 1959. He would hold that position until he was traded away after the 1968 season. Vada made the NL All Star team in 1959 (he appeared as a pinch runner in the second game) and led the NL with 131 runs scored and 47 doubles. Pinson batted .316 and also hit 20 home runs.

  • Vada led the NL in doubles (37) again in 1960 and batted .287 with 12 triples and 20 HR. He batted once and struck out in the first All Star Game and he walked in his only at bat in the second All Star Game.

  • Pinson's biggest year was in 1961. He finished third in MVP voting (behind teammate Frank Robinson and Orlando Cepeda of the Giants) and led the NL with 208 hits. Vada batted .343 with 16 HR and 87 RBI and won a Gold Glove award in the outfield. Pinson was only 2 for 22 in the 1961 World Series.

  • Vada had another nice year in 1962, batting .292 with 107 runs scored, 23 HR, and 100 RBI. He had a few "black ink" entries in 1963, leading the NL with 162 games played, 204 hits, and 14 triples. He batted .313 with 22 HR and 106 RBI in '63.

  • Vada's numbers were down in 1964. He batted .266 with 23 HR and 84 RBI and stole only 8 bases. In each of the previous five seasons Pinson had stolen at least 20 bases. In 1965 Pinson batted .305 with 22 HR, 94 RBI, and 21 stolen bases. Vada batted .288 in 1966 with 16 HR and 76 RBI. He led the NL with 13 triples in 1967 and batted .288 with 18 HR and 66 RBI.

  • Pinson's last year with the Reds was 1968. He batted .271 with 5 HR and 48 RBI in 130 games and missed three weeks in August with an injury. After the 1968 season Vada was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Bobby  Tolan and Wayne Granger.

  • Vada played right field for the Cardinals in 1969. He batted .255 with 10 HR and 70 RBI. Pinson was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Jose Cardenal after the 1969 season.

  • Pinson had a good comeback season for the Indians in 1970. He started in right field and batted .286 with 24 HR and 82 RBI. In 1971 Vada stole 25 bases but his other offensive stats were down. He batted .263 with 11 HR and 35 RBI in 146 games. After the 1971 season Vada was traded with Alan Foster and Frank Baker to the Caliornia Angels for Alex Johnson and Jerry Moses.

  • Vada spent two seasons with the Angels. In 1972 he batted .275 with 7 HR and 49 RBI as the starting left fielder. Pinson started in LF again in 1973 and batted .260 with 8 HR and 57 RBI. He was traded to the Kansas City Royals for Barry Raziano and cash after the '73 season.

  • Pinson finished up his career with the Royals. He started in right field most of the time in 1974 and batted .276 with 6 HR and 41 RBI. Vada was a pinch hitter, DH, and extra outfielder in 1975 and batted .223 with 4 HR and 22 RBI in 103 games. The Royals released Pinson after the 1975 season. He was invited to spring training by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1976 but was released before the 1976 season.

  • Pinson coached in the big leagues for several teams after he was finished playing. Vada died of a stroke in 1995.

  • Here is a link to a SABR biography.

  • Liked to face: Jack Baldschun (.621 in 29 AB); Mike  McCormick (.453 in 95 AB); Carlton Willey (.424 in 59 AB)

  • Hated to face: Bobby Shantz (.000 in 13 AB); Johnny Antonelli (.074 in 27 AB); Bill Hands (.140 in 50 AB)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

1976 Topps #405 - Rollie Fingers

  • Rollie Fingers has a cool name and a cool mustache. Fingers was signed by the Kansas City A's in 1964. He was a starting pitcher in the minors and in four seasons never posted an ERA above 3.00. Rollie had a brief look at the end of the 1968 season and gave up 4 earned runs in 1.1 innings.

  • In the first few years of his career Rollie was a swingman. Fingers pitched in 60 games (8 starts) in 1969 and was 6-7 with 12 saves and a 3.71 ERA. In 1970 Rollie was 7-9 with 2 saves and a 3.65 ERA in 45 games (19 starts). Fingers went 4-6 with 17 saves and had a 2.99 ERA in 48 games (8 starts) in 1971. He pitched in two games in the 1971 ALCS and had a 7.71 ERA in 2.1 innings.

  • The A's used Rollie exclusively as a reliever in 1972. He pitched in 65 games and went 11-9 with 21 saves and a 2.51 ERA. Fingers was 1-0 in three games in the 1972 ALCS and was 1-1 with 2 saves in the 1972 World Series. Rollie Fingers: The Man Who Shut the Door - December 1972 Baseball Digest.

  • Fingers made the All Star team for the first time in 1973 (he pitched a perfect 9th inning). Rollie started two games which were the last two games he would ever start. He pitched in a total of 62 games and was 7-8 with 22 saves and a 1.92 ERA. Rollie was 0-1 with 1 save in the 1973 ALCS and was 0-1 with 2 saves in the 1973 World Series. Rollie Fingers: Mr. Cool - August 1973 Baseball Digest.

  • In 1974 Fingers led the AL with 76 appearances and was 9-5 with 18 saves and a 2.65 ERA. He pitched the 8th inning of the All Star game and allowed two runs. Fingers appeared in 2 games in the 1974 ALCS and had one save. He was the 1974 World Series MVP as he was 1-0 with two saves.

  • Rollie was named to the 1975 AL All Star team but didn't pitch in the game. He finished third in AL Cy Young Award voting and 4th in MVP voting. Fingers appeared in a league-leading 75 games and was 10-6 with 24 saves and a 2.98 ERA. Rollie pitched four innings in game 2 of the 1975 ALCS and took the loss.

  • Rollie's last season in Oakland was 1976. He went 13-11 with 20 saves and a 2.47 ERA in 70 appearances. The A's sold Rollie to the Boston Red Sox on June 15 but the sale was voided by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn and Rollie returned to the A's. He was named to the 1976 AL All Star team but didn't pitch in the game. After the 1976 season Fingers became a free agent and signed with the San Diego Padres.

  • Fingers led the NL with 78 appearances and 35 saves in 1977. He went 8-9 with a 2.99 ERA in '77. He led the NL in saves again with 37 in 1978. He went 6-13 with a 2.52 ERA in 67 appearances. Rollie pitched the 6th and 7th innings of the 1978 All Star Game and allowed no runs on 1 hit. Rollie Fingers: The Fireman Who Didn't Burn Out - December 1978 Baseball Digest.

  • Rollie had a rough year in 1979. He went 9-9 with 13 saves and a 4.52 ERA. It was the first time he had an ERA above 3 since 1970. Fingers had a better year in 1980 as he was 11-9 with 23 saves and a 2.80 ERA. He was the NL Rolaids Relief Man of the Year in 1980 -- the third time in four years that he won the award. After the 1980 season Rollie was traded twice. First he went to the St. Louis Cardinals in a large multi-player trade. The Cards turned around and dealt Fingers to the Milwaukee Brewers along with Ted Simmons and Pete Vuckovich.

  • Fingers had a great season in 1981. He was the AL Cy Young Award winner and the MVP. Rollie was 6-3 with a league-leading 28 saves and a 1.04 ERA. He was 1-0 with 1 save in the Brewers' ALDS loss to the New York Yankees. Rollie Fingers: Greatest Relief Pitcher of All Time - January 1982 Baseball Digest.

  • Rollie was 5-6 with 29 saves and a 2.60 ERA in 50 games in 1982.  He was injured and pitched his last game on September 2. Rollie missed the 1982 playoffs and the entire 1983 season. Fingers came back in 1984 and went 1-2 with 23 saves and a 1.96 ERA. He was hurt again and didn't pitch after July 23.

  • In 1985 Fingers went 1-6 with 17 saves and a 5.04 ERA. Rollie was released after the 1985 season.

  • At the end of his career, after being released by the Milwaukee Brewers the previous season, he was offered a contract by Pete Rose to play for the Cincinnati Reds for 1986, but owner Marge Schott had a "clean cut" policy for her players (all players must be clean shaven). Fingers reply to Reds general manager Bill Bergesch: "Well you tell Marge Schott to shave her Saint Bernard, and I'll shave my moustache". (from his Wikipedia entry)

  • Liked to face: Greg Luzinski (.000 in 17 AB); Ellie Rodriguez (.000 in 18 AB); Al Bumbry (.063 in 16 AB)
  • Hated to face: Bob Horner (.643 in 14 AB); Ken Griffey (.588 in 17 AB); Ed Herrmann (.500 in 26 AB)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

1976 Topps #414 - Wayne Garland

  • Wayne Garland pitched in the majors from 1973-1981. He was one of the first pitchers to get a big contract after becoming a free agent. Garland was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 1969. He pitched in the minors from 1969-1974. Garland had a hard time breaking into the Baltimore pitching staff. Wayne had a great season in AA in 1971 (19-5 with a 1.71 ERA) but still spent three more season in AAA Rochester before getting to the majors to stay.

  • Garland had a short stint in the majors in 1973 (0-1, 3.94 ERA in 4 games). He split the 1974 season between Rochester and the Orioles. Wayne was 5-5 with a 2.97 ERA in 20 games (6 starts) in 1974. He pitched 2/3 of an inning for the Orioles in the 1974 ALCS. In 1975 Wayne was mostly a reliever -- he pitched in 29 games (including 1 start) and was 2-5 with 4 saves and a 3.71 ERA.

  • Garland's big season was in 1976. He was 20-7 with a 2.67 ERA in 38 games (25 starts). He didn't join the rotation until mid-June. The Orioles tried hard to get Wayne his 20th win. In his last start on September 28 Wayne pitched 11 innings before getting the win. After the 1976 season Garland became a free agent and signed a 10-year, $2.3 million contract with the Cleveland Indians.

  • Garland started 38 games for the Indians in 1977 and led the AL with 19 losses. He was 13-19 with a 3.60 ERA in '77. He had torn his rotator cuff during spring training in '77 and tried to pitch through the injury. Wayne had rotator cuff surgery in 1978 and made only six starts (2-3, 7.89 ERA). In 1979 Wayne was a member of the rotation through June and then went on the DL for two months before rejoining the Indians in late August. Garland went 4-10 with a 5.23 ERA in 18 games (14 starts) in '79.

  • Wayne pitched in 25 games (20 starts) in 1980 and went 6-9 with a 4.61 ERA. Garland was 3-7 with a 5.79 ERA in 12 games in 1981. He was released after the 1981 season.

  • Garland made six starts for AA Nashville (New York Yankees organization) but was 1-3 with a 7.48 ERA.

  • After his playing career Wayne became a minor league pitching coach. He also managed the minor league Nashville Sounds for three games in 1988.

  • Here is a chapter about Garland in Our Tribe: A Baseball Memoir by Terry Pluto. Here is a chapter from Tales from the Tribe Dugout by Russell Schneider.

  • Liked to face: Lou Piniella (.000 in 17 AB); Jorge Orta (.083 in 24 AB); Bucky Dent (.115 in 26 AB)
  • Hated to face: Jeff Newman (.722 in 18 AB); Jerry Remy (.500 in 30 AB); Rick Miller (.441 in 34 AB)

Friday, April 16, 2010

1976 Topps #413 - Pete Varney

  • Pete Varney was drafted seven times by major league clubs between 1967 and 1971. He graduated from Harvard in 1971. Pete caught the 2-point conversion pass that tied the big game with Yale 28-28 in 1968. Pete was the first round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox in 1971.

  • Varney spent most of his playing career in the minors. He showed some power in 1973 (18 HR) and 1974 (16 HR). Pete had late season call-ups in 1973 (.000 in 4 at bats) and 1974 (.250 in 28 at bats). Varney spent the entire 1975 season with the White Sox and batted .271 in 36 games as the backup catcher for Brian Downing.

  • Pete played in 14 games and batted .244 in 41 at bats before being traded to the Atlanta Braves for Blue Moon Odom on June 15. Varney spent most of the remanider of the season at AAA Richmond. He batted .100 in 10 at bats for the Braves in '76. Pete was at Richmond again in 1977 and retired after the season.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

1976 Topps #412 - Toby Harrah

  • Toby Harrah was an infielder in the major leagues from 1969-1986. Harrah was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1966. He went undrafted because teams assumed he would attend college. When a Phillies scout found Harrah working in a factory he signed Toby. Harrah played in the minors in 1966 and then was drafted by the Washington Senators in 1967 in the minor league draft. Toby played in the minors for several more years. He got a brief look in 1969 (8 games, 1 at bat) but didn't come up to the big leagues to stay until 1971.

  • Harrah played for the Senators in 1971 in their last season before moving to Texas. He was at the plate in the Senators' last game in Washington when the club's last out was made (a caught stealing) and later ended up being the last player from that club to retire from the majors. Toby became the regular shortstop and batted .230 in 127 games.

  • In 1972 Toby represented the Texas Rangers in the All Star Game, but he didn't play in the game. Harrah batted .259 in 116 games.  He was injured and missed almost a month in August and early September. Toby played in 161 games in 1973 and batted .260 with 10 homers. In 1974 Harrah started to show the power that was rare for shortstops of that era. He hit 21 homers and batted .260.

  • Harrah made the AL All Star team again in 1975 but didn't get in the game. Toby finished 15th in AL MVP voting as he batted .293 with 20 HR and 93 RBI. Harrah finally got to play in an All Star Game in 1976 -- he started at shortstop and was 0 for 2. He batted .260 with 15 HR in '76. On June 25 Toby had a strange game. He played shortstop for the entire game without getting a single fielding chance. Toby Harrah: The Power Shortstop -- December 1976 Baseball Digest.

  • The Rangers signed Bert Campaneris in 1977 and Toby moved to third base. Harrah batted .263 with 27 HR and 87 RBI and also led the AL with 109 walks. Toby developed a great eye at the plate and had 80 or more walks eight times during his career. Harrah had a big drop-off in 1978 as he batted .229 with 12 home runs. After the 1978 season Toby was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Buddy Bell.

  • In 1979 Harrah batted .279 with 20 HR and 77 RBI. He scored 100 runs in 1980 and batted .267 with 11 HR and 72 RBI. In the strike-shortened 1981 season Toby batted .291.

  • Harrah returned to the All Star Game in 1982 but again didn't get into the game. He had his best season as a Cleveland Indian as he played in 162 games and batted .304 with 25 HR and 78 RBI. Toby slipped in 1983 and batted .266 with 9 HR in 138 games. After the 1983 season he was traded to the New York Yankees.

  • Toby was a part-time player with the Yankees in 1984 and batted a career-low .217 in 88 games. After the 1984 season Toby was traded with a minor leaguer to the Rangers for Billy Sample.

  • Harrah was the starting second baseman for the Rangers in 1985 and batted .270 with 9 HR in 126 games. In 1986 Toby played second base and batted .218 in 95 games. He became a free agent and retired after the 1986 season after he wasn't signed by anyone.

  • Liked to face: Dick Bosman (.450 in 20 AB); Vida Blue (.424 in 59 AB); Jim Kaat (.404 in 52 AB)
  • Hated to face: Rich Gale (.077 in 26 AB); Dave Rozema (.080 in 25 AB); Dave Righetti (.083 in 24 AB)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

1976 Topps #411 - Bill Singer

  • Bill Singer was toward the end of his career in 1976. He pitched in the majors from 1964-1977. Singer was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1961. Bill pitched in the minors for five years (1962-1966) and had brief major league stints in 1964 (0-1, 3.21 ERA in 2 starts), 1965 (1 inning in 2 games) and 1966 (4 innings in 3 games).

  • Singer was in the majors to stay in 1967. There was no way he could possibly fill Sandy Koufax's shoes, but he had a good season. Bill was 12-8 with an ERA of 2.64 in 29 starts and also gave up the fewest (0.2) home runs per nine innings. The Singer Throwing Machine - June 1967 Baseball Digest. In 1968 Singer was 12-17 with a 2.88 ERA in 36 starts. Bill led the league with 8.0 strikeouts per nine innings.

  • Bill made the NL All Star team in 1969 and pitched two perfect innings. Singer went 20-12 with a 2.34 ERA in 40 starts. Singer was ill in 1970 and missed a total of 3 1/2 months of the season. He started three games in April and then didn't come back until late June. He also didn't pitch after mid-August. Bill pitched a no-hitter against the Phillies on July 20. Singer ended up 8-5 with a 3.13 ERA in 16 starts.

  • Singer struggled in his last two seasons as a Dodger. In 1971 he went 10-17 with a 4.16 ERA in 31 starts. Bill was 6-16 with a 3.67 ERA in 25 starts in 1972. After the 1972 season he was traded by the Dodgers with Billy Grabarkewitz, Frank Robinson, Mike Strahler and Bobby Valentine to the California Angels for Ken McMullen and Andy Messersmith.

  • Bill bounced back in 1973 to make the AL All Star team. He gave up three runs in two innings, including back-to-back home runs to Bobby Bonds and Johnny Bench. Singer went 20-14 with a 3.22 ERA in 40 starts in '73.

  • Singer was hurt in 1974 and didn't pitch after June 4. He ended up 7-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 14 starts. In 1975 Bill went 7-15 with a 4.98 ERA in 27 starts. Bill was traded to the Texas Rangers after the 1975 season for Jim Spencer and $100,000.

  • Bill had a good start in the 1976 season. He was 4-1 with a 3.48 ERA in 10 starts when he was part of a big trade with the Minnesota Twins that sent Bert Blyleven to the Rangers. Singer started 26 times for the Twins and went 9-9 with a 3.77 ERA. After the 1976 season Bill was picked by the Toronto Blue Jays in the expansion draft.

  • Singer started the first game ever for the Blue Jays in 1977. The Blue Jays won the game but Bill didn't go five innings so he didn't get the decision. Singer struggled with the Blue Jays and missed a lot of time due to injury. He started 11 games and then missed six weeks from early June to mid July. Bill pitched in two more games and then shut it down for the season. Singer went 2-8 with a 6.79 ERA in 1977. Singer tried to come back but was unable to do so and Toronto released him after the 1978 season.

  • After his playing career Bill was a scout and consultant for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Florida Marlins, and the Dodgers. Singer took a job as a special assistant with the New York Mets in 2003 but was fired after two weeks after making racially inappropriate remarks to Dodgers assistant general manager Kim Ng. Bill apologized and blamed the Atkins diet and being drunk, but it didn't save his job. He later became a scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks (2005) and now coordinates scouting operations in Asia for the Washington Nationals.
  • Liked to face: Jerry Terrell (.000 in 16 AB); Jim Holt (.000 in 15 AB); Frank White/Roger Metzger/Dick Dietz (.050 in 20 AB)
  • Hated to face: Fred Lynn (.571 in 21 AB); Rod Carew (.500 in 24 AB); Roberto Clemente (.448 in 29 AB)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

1976 Topps #410 - Ralph Garr

  • Ralph "Roadrunner" Garr played in the majors from 1968-1980. Garr was known for his great speed and ability to hit the ball to all fields. He didn't walk very often, but he didn't strike out much either. Ralph attended Grambling State University and was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1967. He had a hard time cracking the Braves starting outfield despite having some good years in the minors. Ralph batted .386 for AAA Richmond in 1970, which is still the highest batting average in the league since 1938.

  • Garr had short stints with the Braves in 1968 (2 for 7), 1969 (6 for 27), and 1970 (.281 in 96 at bats). Ralph got his chance in 1971 when left fielder Rico Carty broke his leg. Garr was batting .400 as late as May 20 and batted .343 for the season. He scored 101 runs and stole 30 bases. Two Beeps, A Cloud of Dust -- Sports Illustrated May 10, 1971. Sport: Beep Beep! - Time Magazine July 5, 1971. Ralph Garr Didn't Know When He Was Well Off - Florence Times - Tri City Daily June 8, 1971.

  • Ralph didn't do quite as well in 1972 but still batted .325 and hit a career-high 12 home runs. Ralph Garr: The Braves' Budding Superstar - February 1973 Baseball Digest. In 1973 Garr got 200 hits and stole a career-high 35 bases, but his average dipped to .299.

  • Garr had his best season in 1974. He led the NL in batting (.353), hits (214), and triples (17). Ralph made the 1974 NL All Star team and was 0 for 3 in the game. Ralph Garr: The Batter Without A Strike Zone - November 1974 Baseball Digest.

  • In 1975 Ralph's average dropped to .278. He led the NL in triples (11) and intentional walks (17). The lack of protection behind him was probably part of the problem with his production in 1975. After the season Garr was traded with Larvell Blanks to the Chicago White Sox for Dick Ruthven, Ken Henderson, and Ozzie Osborn.

  • Garr batted .300 in 1976 and again in 1977. He dropped to .275 in 118 games in 1978. Ralph spent most of the 1979 season with the White Sox (.280 in 102 games) and was sold to the California Angels for the stretch drive on September 20. Garr batted .125 in six games with the Angels and wasn't eligible to play in the post season. Ralph didn't get to play much for the Angels in 1980. Garr was batting .190 in 21 games when he was released on June 6. That was it for Ralph's playing career.

  • Liked to face: Milt Pappas (.500 in 30 AB); Jerry Reuss (.465 in 43 AB); Don Sutton (.426 in 61 AB)
  • Hated to face: Jim Colborn (.091 in 22 AB); Alan Foster (.136 in 22 AB); Nelson Briles (.139 in 36 AB)