Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Just Plain Weird: A ‘50s Miscellany (Part the Second)

It was a pretty weird time wasn’t it?  In fact, there was so much weirdness in the 1950s that I had to devote two posts to it.  Now, in last week’s post, the organization was … um … er … totally random.   So, in this week’s post, the organization will be … er … uhm … completely arbitrary.  I guess that’s all you can do with this stuff.

“I’m a little bit country …  Well, actually, I’m a lot country.”

Heck, the guy’s nickname was “Vinegar Bend.”  It comes from his birthplace, a small community in Alabama.  As if “Wilmer” wasn’t bad enough. 

Mizell had a pretty good career, finishing 90-88 with a 3.85 ERA and one All-Star berth.  It was after baseball, though, where he really made his mark.  He was an NC congressman from 1969 to 1975 and then served as an official in the Ford and Reagan administrations.

Hey, Mizell's hometown made it onto my funny town names blog.


Looks like we’re missing a few things here.  I’m thinking bat, left arm, right arm from the elbow down …  Hey, be careful with that X-ACTO knife, will ya?

Gino Cimoli bounced around the majors for 10 years, accumulating 3000 at bats and a .265 average.  He was an All Star in ’57 and led the AL in triples in 1962.   He was the first batter on the West Coast, leading off the Dodgers-Giants season opener in San Fran in 1958. 

Wondering what Gino's got under that cap? Click here.

Mr. Giles: “So, a blonde, a Pollock, and a rabbi walk into this bar …”
Mr. Harridge: “Are you trying to tell me a joke dealing with sexual and ethnic stereotypes as well as alcohol?”
Mr. Giles: “No, no.  I mean, er …  Heh, heh, heh.  Ya gotta hear this one.  It’s really good …”

Hard to believe Topps thought 10-year-olds would be interested in Oscar and Felix here, even if they both would make it to Cooperstown.


I could probably do a whole other blog on the backs of cards.  In particular, I love the cartoons.  You know what I mean.  There’s usually some little tidbit like “Bob led the Pioneer League in steals” or “Jim enjoys hunting and fishing.”  Then there’s some lame cartoon illustrating that point.  For the base stealer, for example, it might be a guy dressed up like a burglar (cloth cap, eye mask, striped shirt) with a base under each arm.  Get it?

For Hal Griggs, though, all the fine folks at Topps could come up with was that the poor guy really just couldn’t throw a strike.  I particularly love how they illustrated that with a guy getting beaned, who says, “Aww, Hal.” 

And don’t forget to read the more lengthy little bio.  Turns out Griggs has a “flashing fastball” and an “eerie curve.”  You can only use “blazing” and “deadly” just so much, you know.


And here he is in the flesh – Hal “the Praying Mantis” Griggs.

Okay, so how bad was it?  Lifetime, he was 6-26 (.188), had an ERA of 5.50 and a whip of 1.67, and once lost 18 straight games. 

Like a number of ballplayers, Griggs was married at the ballfield, but on the pitching mound, not at home plate.  Asked why, he pointed out that "I couldn't hit, so there was no sense getting married [there]."  Hate to break it to you, Hal, but you weren’t so good on the mound either.

Yup, it’s a true story.  Eddie Waitkus had a real live stalker, a 19-year-old girl by the name of Ruth Ann Steinhagen.  She followed Waitkus to Chicago, invited him to her hotel room, then shot him in the stomach with a .22 rifle.  She was committed to an asylum, but released three years later.  The story is the basis of Bernard Malamud’s The Natural.  I guess you could call all that a "thrill."

“I see a fastball in your future.  Yes, yes. it’s becoming clearer now.  I see it coming right under your chin …”

You’ve met Billy Loes before, here and here.  One thing I didn’t point out previously is that he was famous for quotes that were positively Stenglesque:
  • “I lost it in the sun [on a groundball he booted].”
  • “Never win 20 because they'll expect you to do it every year.”
  • “The Mets are a good thing.  They give everybody a job, just like the WPA.” [on being picked by the Mets in the expansion draft]


  1. Great post. The Wilmer Mizell card is one of my all time favorites.

  2. Hal Griggs "eerie curve" - maybe it was eerie because it didn't curve!