Thursday, December 29, 2011

Just Plain Goofy, Action Shots ('50s Version)

Between them, Topps and Bowman produced over 3600 cards during the 1950s.  Chances are at least a few of those were going to turn out turkeys. 

And guess what improves the chances of generating some goofiness almost 23%*?  Just ask somebody to pose.

I had kids on my T-ball team who looked less goofy than Mike here.

Mike Sandlock was a super-sub type who played catcher, second, short, and third.  He played five seasons for three teams.  His nickname was “the Commuter.”  I kid you not.

Hey, it's Mike Sandlock again.   Hold on a minute.  Wait, no, we got somebody else here.  

Billy Consolo was another one of those bonus babies who just didn't work out.  On the Red Sox bench at age 18, he played another nine years, without ever getting more than 250 at bats in any one season.  A little short, a little second, a little third - it just never added up.  His main claim to fame - at least in this blog - is his being traded, with Murray Wall, for Herb Plews and Dick Hyde.

Thurman looks like he’s about to hit one out of the park – either that or swing violently at a change-up, miss the ball by a foot, and end up on his keister. 

Thurman Tucker's nickname was Joe E., as he looked somewhat like Joe E. Brown.  That was not a compliment, by the way.

Positively uncanny.  All this needs is the glasses.

But you do see what I mean about the compliment, don’t you?

Earl was a lefty, so this is his follow through.  Talk about violent swings.  I’m surprised his glasses and hat didn’t fly off.

Earl Torgeson was a pretty decent hitter who simply didn’t look like a ballplayer.  This shot, in fact, makes him look rather athletic.  He was such a winner, I decided to give him his very own post.

The author, on the courts – a case in point when it comes to posing.

Check out next week's post, where some guys prove that all they have to do is look at the camera to look goofy.  And here's some '60s and some '70s goofiness.

* Totally bogus statistic, but it sure sounds good, doesn't it?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cap, Backwards ('52 Bowmans)

Okay, now on to some ’52 Bowmans.  For some reason, it seems every catcher that year had the same pose.  I’m not sure what that’s all about, but my guess is “particularly unimaginative photographer.”

Interestingly, though, that photographer also managed to capture some pretty unusual expressions, from narcoplepsy to nirvana.  Here we go ...

Matt Batts again (see here for another version).  Not too sure what’s going on here.  Matt’s body is telling me he’s not too concerned about that pop-up.   His eyes, though, make it look like something very unusual, almost epochal, might be going on up there.

Smoky Burgess again,  I’m not sure if ol' Smokes here actually looks more determined or more just plain peeved.  If the latter, I’m assuming that’s directed at the photographer, though, and not the pop-up.

I really think “Smoky” should really have been “Pudge.”  He ‘s officially listed as 5’8” and 185 lbs.  I understand he was pushing 300 in his late 30s.

Little known fact: Burgess was behind the plate for Harvey Haddix’s 13-inning perfect game.  You’d think he’d get at least a little credit for that.

More Smoky here, here, and here.

Ed here definitely has some concerns about that pop-up.  Will he be able to snag it?  Where should he throw his mask?  What’s that batting cage doing directly behind him in the middle of a game?

Ed Fitz Gerald (note the spelling) was a classic back-up catcher, getting 300 at-bats or more only twice over a 12-year career.   He was a league leader once though.  Unfortunately, it was in passed balls.

Del, meanwhile, looks like his whole career might depend on snagging that thing.  Considering he looks like he’s about 70 on this card (he was actually only 32), I can’t say I blame him.

Another classic back-up backstop, Del Wilber got over 200 at-bats only once in an eight-year career.  He was a longtime major league coach and minor league manager, and won the only game he managed at the major-league level.

His full name was Delbert Quentin Wilber.  Not to be confused with Wilber Quentin Delbert, Quentin Delbert Wilbert, or Dilbert Wilbert Quilbert.  His nickname was “Babe.”  With an average of just over two homers a year, he’s probably just as confused as I am as to where that nickname came from.

Another Del, but this guy just looks plain weird.  Not only does he look totally unconcerned about that pop-up, I’d go as far to say he’s on some serious pain medication.  I think he's having a hard time keeping his eyes from crossing.

Del Rice was a pretty decent catcher, getting over 4000 at-bats, but known mostly for his defense.  He also managed the Angels for a year.  A considerable 6’2” (for then), he also played in the NBA for four year, with the Rochester Royals.

Did you catch last week's catchers with their caps backwards?  Want some more?  Here are some from the '60s.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cap, Backwards ('50s Version)

Sometime in the 1980s, wearing a baseball cap backwards became something of a fashion statement.  I’m not totally sure what it was stating (“I’m a moron”?), but, hey, that’s fashion for you. 

Previously, that look had been reserved for catchers and village idiots.  (Note that there may have been some overlap between these two groups.)  Images of convicts and bakers also come to mind.   Suffice it to say, it’s not a good look. 

So, here’s a look at some bearers of the tools of ignorance … and of a really bad fashion statement.

See what I mean?  It’s pretty obvious Matt’s no brain surgeon.  I can see him changing my oil though.

Yes, this is the famous Matt Batts.  With a name like that, you know he’s going to grace this blog again.  Like here and here!

Don was probably about 20 in this photo, and definitely looks it.  He actually made his MLB debut at age 18, sitting on the Reds bench for a couple of years as a classic bonus baby.

Even as an older player, though, Don Pavletich was never anything more than your standard backup catcher.  He played 12 seasons, mostly with the Reds, never getting more than 250 or so at bats in any one of them. 

The upward angle of the camera, the lighting from below, and the slight nimbus behind Smokey (and, of course, Smoky's classic smirk) are what make this one.  Pretty genius, if you ask me. 

Forrest Harrill “Smoky” Burgess was born in Caroleen, NC.  It’s a tiny town on the way to nowhere, but boasts two other major leaguers, Don Padgett and Claude Crocker.

Smoky was definitely the star though.  A decent catcher, he was probably one of the best pinch-hitters of all time.  His pinch-hitting abilities earned him an All-Star berth and induction into the Cincinnati Reds and NC athletic halls of fame. 

I probably should have made a whole post for Smoky.  I do mention him in posts on more head wear and the ravages of age, as well as one pointing out his uncanny resemblance to Rush Limbaugh and Son of Sam. 

Aw, come to papa! 

If Ray’s looking a little grandfatherly in this one, there’s a good reason.  This card (it’s a ’51 Bowman) represents the last year of a 14-year career.  That’s a lot of foul tips! 

Iron man Ray also just happened to have set the then NL record for consecutive games caught (233, in the mid ‘40s).  Mueller wrapped up a pretty decent career with an all-star nomination and a no-hitter (catching it, not pitching it).

The glasses, the ears, the backwards cap …  It doesn’t get any better than this, folks.

Interestingly, Steve turns out to be the brainiac in the bunch.  Before joining the Senators for four years in the early 50s, he got a degree from George Washington.  After his short stint in the majors (58 games, lifetime average of .159), Korchek returned to GW, got his PhD, and became a college president.  Who’d a thunk it?

Make sure to check out next week's post, where we look at 1952, an especially good year for backward caps.  Oh, and the look was still popular in the '60s as well.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Do You Like My Hat? (‘50s Version)

Are you familiar with Go, Dog, Go!?  Perhaps you remember it from when you were a kid, or read it to your kids, or both.  It’s mostly silly, Dr. Seuss-like stuff about green dogs and blue dogs, big ones and little ones, some on top of a house and some below it.  Tolstoy it ain’t.

There is, however, a “slow-to-bud romance between the cheerfully oblivious yellow dog and the mincing pink poodle [that] explains more succinctly than most self-help books what goes on in many grown-up relationships” (Amazon).  Um, if you say so.

These two appear every so many pages, where the girl dog asks the boy dog, “Do you like my hat?”  He typically replies, “No, I do not like your hat.”  Until the end, when she finally conquers him with some incredibly over-the-top, Carmen-Miranda-like creation (not sure what this was telling the youth of America).

What does this have to do with baseball?  I’m not entirely sure.  I do know that my wife and I read Go Dog Do! to our two boys literally hundred of times.  As a result, one of our family catch phrases has always been “Do you like my hat?”  This is typically uttered in any situation where someone is wearing a hat.  Families are kind of creative that way.

So, without further ado, here are some hats where I think we can all say, “I do not like your hat” …


The card companies sometimes resorted to this pose when they were uncertain who the subject was going to play for between the end of one season and the beginning of another.  Funny thing, though, is that appears to be a Yankees cap the photographer’s trying so desperately trying to obscure.  Too bad.  It definitely gives poor Murry that Jim Nabors look.

Murry Dickson actually had a pretty good career, pitching for 18 years and winning 171 games.  Too bad it was mostly for the Pirates though.  In fact, he led the NL three straight years in losses.  Poor Murry. 


His name might not strike a bell, but Bob had a pretty decent career.  He was in the bigs for 16 years, getting into almost 1500 games.  After retirement, he managed the Cubs and A’s, as well as siring another player / manager, Terry Kennedy.

A tip of the hat to you, Bob!


Charley seems to not want to mess up his ‘do. 

Charley Rabe was in the bigs for a mere 27 innings.  He didn’t do too bad (3.67 ERA) but never recorded a win, finishing 0-7.  That, though, is an accomplishment in itself.  How do you lose seven games over a mere 27 innings?

That’s a hat?  It looks more like the top on my Solara convertible, or maybe a poorly-put-together circus tent.  C’mon, how hard can it be to draw a stinkin’ hat?

Bill Miller was up for four years, making the World Series (but not pitching in it) for two of those years.  Being a Yankee sure helped guys do that back in those days.

Bill was part of one of the biggest trades in MLB history, a 17-player deal between the Yankees and Orioles.  Needless to say, the Yankees got the better of it.

What do they calls those guys who stand outside Buckingham Palace?  No, no, not the Beefeaters.  You know the guys with the tall, funny hats, like Sheldon here.  Oh yeah, the Coldstream Guards.  Now, what do they call those hats …?

Sheldon Jones played 8 years in the Show, and was a regular starter for the Giants in the late 40s. 

Sheldon’s nickname was “Available.”  I was hoping there was some great story behind this involving doubleheaders and freak injuries, but it’s really just based on a character from Lil’ Abner.  Boring.


Hey, Tom, how do you get your hat to do that?  (Also, what’s going on with your mini-me over there?  In fact, I’m not totally sure that’s anatomically possible.)

Tom’s is quite an interesting story.  He signed out of high school for the then-unbelievable amount of $40,000.  It was all downhill from there though.

In his first year in the majors, Quarles had an ERA of 162.00 (six runs and one out).  He had a couple of more cups of coffee with the Phils, one real year with the White Sox, then retired with no wins in 34 games. 

And that’s Tom’s claim to fame.  Four baseball cards and not one win.  No one else has ever been able to match that!

Tom must have showed his trick to ol’ Granny here.

Yup, that was the guy’s nickname.  Terrible to start out as the rather aristocratic Granville Hamner of Richmond, VA and end up as “Granny” with the Filthies.

A very steady performer, Granny/Granville played 17 seasons, getting in over 1500 games.  All but one year was with the Phils.


No, really, how do you get your hat to do that?

Another local boy – Greensboro NC and UNC.  Hal Brown was in the majors for 14 years, was a starter for most of that time, but only ended up with 85 wins.  Playing mostly for the Orioles during that period will do that for you.

Hal was a knuckleballer, and went by the name of “Skinny.”  I’m not sure what he put under his hat to get it to do that.  I’m thinking can of shaving cream.

* - author has this card

Voulez-vous plus encore des chapeaux?  Et voila.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hey, Four Eyes! ('50s Version)

Hard to believe, but eyeglasses were the steroids of their era.  Before the '20s, no self-respecting ballplayer would wear them, and they were often referred to as “cheaters.”  “Specs” Toporcer  is usually recognized as the first major leaguer to wear them, followed closely by Hall of Famer Chick Hafey.

Thirty years later, in the golden age of baseball and baseball cards, eyeglasses were much more accepted.  Not exactly fashion statements … but there were players willing to pose for their baseball cards with “cheaters” firmly ensconced. 

Ah yes, fashion …  It changes.  What might look incredibly hip and cool one year may well look dorky and lame a couple of years later.  But, heck, ballplayers aren’t exactly known as fashion plates to begin with, are they?

So, here they are …  Fashion statements from the 50s, fashion mis-statements, and fashion non-statements.

I think I know this guy ...  I’ll bet you didn’t know this Hall of Fame manager was also something of a playuh.  Yup, eight seasons, four teams, 25 home runs, lifetime OPS of .529 …  Well, maybe not much of a playuh …

I’ll bet you also didn’t know his real name was Dorrel Norman Elvert Herzog either.   Makes “Whitey” sound real good, doesn’t it?  Of course, his other nickname – “The White Rat” – beats ‘em all.


Even without the glasses, Dick Hyde doesn’t look much like of a ballplayer.  I have a hard time imagining him as “Moose,” or “Hawk,” or “Bull” (though I might buy “The White Rat”).

It’s the glasses that really make this one though.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like these before.  Okay, you’ve got your basic John Lennons.  But then you add this weird supporting piece.  Is that how they made “sports glasses” back in the 1950s?  Scary.

Dick was a stockbroker after retiring.  What a surprise!  Those glasses have “stockbroker” written all over them.

Jim’s got the same glasses as Dick, but with a very different look.  Actually, if his hair were just a little longer, this card wouldn’t look that out of place in the ‘70s.  Somehow, those specs look just so much cooler on Jim.

Jim Baxes had some major stick-to-itiveness.  He spent 12 years in the minors before breaking in with the Dodgers at age 30.  That was his only year in the majors though.  It was back to Portland for two after that.  Nonetheless, he did pretty well for that one year in the Show.  Not sure how many other one-year wonders have had 17 dingers.

Hey, I know this guy.  Didn’t he win the gold medal for crossed-eyed guys, 1950s division?

Somehow, Bowman has managed to give Tom a totally different look this time, but still make him look really weird.  Poor guy.

They’ve definitely given him a little bit of a tan.  And do I detect a little shading in those glasses? 

Hey, it’s the same guy!  No, wait a minute.  This one looks a little thinner.  And Tom’s eyes are no way near that buggy.  I wouldn’t be surprised if these two weren’t related somehow though.

Walt Masterson had a pretty good career, including starting the All Star game in ‘48.  The definite highlight for me, though, had to be his going 16 shutout innings against the White Sox in ’47.  Can you imagine asking a modern starter to do that?

And here's one of Walt sans specs.

Hmm …  Same vague family resemblance.  Maybe all Don here needs is a little tint to his glasses and a little time in the sun.

What I particularly like about this one, though, is the utter incompetence with which poor Don’s glasses are rendered.  I know these particular cards (Bowman ‘51) started out as paintings, but glasses … just … don’t … look … like ... that.

Don Richmond made it to the bigs four times between the years ’41 and ’51.  As you can imagine, that was basically just four cups of coffee.  He only got 34 at bats lifetime.

Dizzy?  Are you sure it wasn’t Goofy? 

Paul Howard Trout was classified 4-F during WWII because of hearing loss.  That allowed him to dominate the AL during those years.  He led the league in wins in ’43, and in ERA the next year. 

He also tried a comeback in ’57, at age 42.  That didn’t go so well (81.00 ERA kind of says it all).

After that, Dizzy announced Tiger games for a couple of years, as well as hosting a sports show for kids.  He was well-loved for his “self-effacing humor, scrambled syntax, and folksy demeanor” (at least according to Wikipedia).  Dizzy?  Yes.  Goofy?  Definitely.

More dizziness right ici.

* - author has this card

Wanna see what glasses looked like in the '60s?  Click here.  '70s?  Right this way.