Monday, December 31, 2012

Good Hair Day

Last week, we looked at some guys who were a little tonsorially challenged.  This week, we take a look at some guys who may have gone a little overboard in the other direction.  

Instead of not knowing what a comb is for, these fellas seem to have spent a little too much time at their stylist’s and taken a few too many haircare products home with them.  So, put those combs down guys, step away from the mirror, and let’s see how you look …


Nothing too unusual here.  In fact, poor Bruce doesn’t have a lot to work with, does he?  For you geography nerds out there, though, doesn’t his ‘do look a lot like Antarctica?

Bruce Brubaker played in two – count ‘em, two – major league games.  In those two games, he pitched 3 1/3 innings, faced 16 batters, and gave up five hits, five runs, and two homers.  Hence his less-than-stellar 13.50 ERA and 1.80 WHIP.  Over a full season, tells me Bruce would have given up 68 dingers.  Ouch!

I believe it’s called a “pompadour.”  I also believe it makes Gino look like a dinosaur, one of those dinosaurs that had a huge bump on their head that they used for cooling themselves down, or attracting mates, or battling others of their species, or something like that.  

We’ve met Gino Cimoli before, where he was missing some important parts of his anatomy.  In that post, I also mentioned that Gino, a San Francisco native, was the first MLB player to bat on the West Coast, in a game in San Fran.  I may have neglected to mention that he also struck out.


Chuck’s done a really nice job hiding that nasty point on the top of his head, don’t you think?

Chuck Harrison was up for five years, but only started in one.  Overall, he finished with over 1000 at bats, but had only 17 homers and a .238 average. Not really what you want for your corner infielder.

Found an old article about Chuck in Baseball Digest, from 1967. It’s all about his search for a batting stance he could settle on.  It also mentions that his nickname was “Pound Cake.” Man, I used to love that magazine.


I believe it’s called a “marcel.”  And I also believe it makes Gary look like an ankylosaurus.  

Not a bad pitcher, Gary Bell finished with over 100 wins and a 3.68 ERA, and was also a three-time All Star.  He may be more famous for being Jim Bouton’s roommate in Ball Four.  For fans of the book, Gary was behind the catchphrases “smoke ‘em inside” and “poor devil.”  God, I loved that book.

And, yes, his nickname was “Ding Dong.”

Derrell always leaned a little to the left.  In fact, sometimes he fell over.

Derrell Griffith showed some promise, having shined in the minors, then in his first year in the bigs.  As an MLB rookie, Derrell was second on the Dodgers with a .290 average.  

After that, though, pretty much everything fell apart.  The next year, he hit .171.  The year after that, he hit .067. And that was pretty much that.


Remember those plastic wigs from the back pages of those comics you used to read when you were a kid?  No???  Well, John sure did.

Wikipedia lists six different John O’Donoghues.  Only our John and his son (another major league pitcher) were not from the Old Sod.  

John Sr. saw a little more action than John Jr.  Dad was up for nine years with five clubs and tallied 751 innings (though with a woeful 39-55 record).  Junior was up for one year, pitching 19 innings and finishing with an 0-1 record.


Hey, it’s Travis Bickle.  Hi Travis!

Joe Nossek (great name) was up for six years in the bigs, but only totaled a single season’s worth of at-bats.  In those 579 at-bats, he “hit” .228, and “clubbed” three homers.

His coaching career, on the other hand, outlasted his playing career by 14 years.  He was most famous for his ability to steal signs

I have no idea what he thought about Jodie Foster.  Sorry.


Vic Roznovsky was known as the Blond Liberace.

Hey, we haven’t had a classic backup catcher in awhile, have we?  Well, here you are ...  Five years, only one time over 100 at-bats, .218 career average.

There’s a site out there that says Vic was something of a “lady killer.”  Yeah, I’m sure all those elderly ladies from Cleveland and Chicago all thought his piano-playing was just divine.


Lum knew he was a looker.  Just look at that shit-eating grin, would ya.  Just give Lum a comb and some Brylcreem, and he’s ready to show those young kids a thing or two.  Hey, hey, hey …

As a player, Lum Harris got in six forgettable years, almost all with the A’s and almost all during WWII.  He led the AL in losses in 1943, going 7-21.

As a manager, Harris was good for eight years, finishing 466-488.  Most of that was with the Braves, whom he led to a division title in ’69 before losing to the Miracle Mets in the NL championship.

Lum , huh?  Well, I guess that’s better than his given name, “Chalmer Luman.”  Didn’t anybody ever hear of “Skip” or “Buck” or “Sparky” around here?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bad Hair Day

The ‘60s were the decade of the Beatles, the musical Hair, Joe Namath, afros, and Tiny Tim.  Looking at baseball cards from that era, though, you’d never have a clue.  
But, hey, we’re dealing with jocks with high-school educations from blue-collar families and small Southern towns, right?  They’re going to be at least ten years behind any trend, I guarantee.

That said, there certainly was no shortage of interesting hairdos on their baseball cards.  Not sure why.  Maybe it was just a presage of the incredibly interesting things (Joe Pepitone, Oscar Gamble, et al.) we’d see in the ‘70s.

So, brother, can you spare a comb?


Hat head?  Very humid day?  Both?

John C. Powers (please, don’t forget the middle initial) was primarily a pinch hitter.  He got in 151 games, but only 44 of those were in the field.  That said, he was definitely no Manny Mota.  His lifetime average was .195.  Go figure.


I love it.  John’s perfectly coiffed, but either a stray breeze or a raging cowlick has totally destroyed the whole look.  That thing seems sentient, and looks like it wants to reach out and grab you.

There are no less than 91 John Andersons on Wikipedia.  These include a famous seismologist, “diplomatic writer,” sprint canoer, “controversialist,” Irish hurler, Norwegian-American publisher, Scottish conjurer, and “former Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for Lethbridge-East.”

Our John got in 24 games over three years with four teams.  He finished with no wins, a 6.45 ERA and 1.75 WHIP.  


Here, the stray breeze has turned into a small boat advisory, with winds out of the southeast at 20 knots.

Continuing our theme of incredibly common names, “Bob Miller” comes in second at 34 Wikipedia entries.  These include an ichthyologist, “gallerist,” Jamaican diplomat, Australian yacht designer, and “equine behaviorist.” 

In baseball, there have actually been four Bob Millers.  Our Bob was, if nothing else, well-traveled.  Miller played for ten teams over 18 years.  Great bio right here.

And here's Bob with a very different look.

Jimmie here really doesn’t have a lot to work with.  Somehow or other, though, he’s still managed to screw it all up.  

Your basic backup catcher (how many times have I had to use that phrase on this website?), Schaffer was up for five years, without ever getting 200 at-bats once.  And, no, sorry, there are not 43 other Jimmie Schaffers out there.

More Jimmie right here.

Fred’s nickname was “Bed Head.”  Fred “Bed Head” Whitfield, the pride of Vandiver, AL.  I’m kidding.

Fred Whitfield was an outfielder, rodeo star, and NBA executive.  Wait a minute …  I think that’s three different guys.  We’re returning to our ridiculously common names theme again, aren’t we?  

Our Fred was not too bad.  He was up for nine years, getting over 20 homers in three of those.  His real nickname was “Wingy,” for a “less than powerful throwing arm.”  I’m not sure I get it.  “Bed Head” makes more sense than that.


Now we move onto the guys who came straight off the playing field – and maybe should have headed into the showers instead of over to the photographer.  Anyway, Chuck has at least had the decency to run a comb through that sweaty mess.  

It’s Chuck’s expression that I absolutely love here though.  I’ve seen that on guys who know you’ve pulled something over on them, but aren’t smart enough to know what exactly it was.  “Did you just call me ambidextrous?  Huh?  Is that what you called me?”

Though Stobbs was cited as “one of the greatest athletes ever to come out of Virginia” and is in the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, his main claims to fame in the majors are leading the AL in losses, earned runs, and walks per nine innings, as well as giving up probably the longest home run in major league history (Mantle’s monster 565-foot shot that left Griffith Stadium in 1953).


No comb for Mike here. 

And wouldn’t you know … we’re back to our old way-too-common-name theme again.  Wikipedia lists 30 Mike Ryans, including a fencer, a hurler, a “British media hoaxer,” a chef, and a mass murderer.

Mike actually rose above backup catcher status for three of his nine years.  Not totally sure how that happened – his lifetime .193 average is the second lowest of all non-pitchers with at least 1000 at bats (numero uno is Ray Oyler, BTW).


You know, George, you could always just put on a cap.

George Brunet rivals Bob Miller in his ability to hang around the majors and pack and unpack his bags quickly.  Brunet was up for 15 years, with eight clubs.  He bounced around the minors quite a bit too, ending his career in Mexico at age 53.  He holds the all-time minor league record for strikeouts, 3,175.  

Another look at George right here.


It looks like Clay may have spent some serious time on his hair at one time.  Before the three-hour workout perhaps?  

Also, why do I just keep thinking Jack Nicholson?  In The Shining?

Clay Carroll was a pretty decent reliever.  He was up for 15 years and finished with 143 saves.  He set a then record for saves in one season, with 37 in 1972  He was a big part of the Big Red Machine and finished with an excellent 1.39 ERA in 22 postseason appearances for them.

Did George sleep out in the woods for a couple of days before this shot was taken?  In a pile of leaves?  In the rain?

Witt’s was a pretty short, uneventful career, lasting six years and totaling only 66 games.  That said, I was able to learn some rather interesting things about George on the Internets, including:
  • “He has also been a High School physical education instructor, a science teacher, and a baseball and tennis coach; as well as a former Foreign Study League group leader, leading high school students through a number of European foreign capitols comparing different governmental systems.”
  • “He opposed vivisection and was an ardent environmentalist.”

* - author has this card

And don’t forget to tune in next week, kids, and we’ll take a look at some guys with purdy hair – real purdy hair.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Just Plain Goofy (’60s Version)

For some reason, ballplayers were much more goofy in the ‘50s than in the ‘60s.  Heck, I managed to fill two whole posts with stupid poses, lopsided grins, bug eyes, and other more winning looks.  For the ‘60s, though, all I’ve got is this single measly post.  Sigh …

It’s not like the guys from the ‘60s weren’t trying though …

Way to get that butt down, Larry! You do have a butt, don’t you?  And a crotch?  You have a crotch, right?  Right, Larry?

You’ve met Larry Burright before, with a mouth stuffed full of tobacco.  By the way, Larry’s got an awesome nickname, “Possum.”  Based on this card, I think “The Human Crab” would have been a good fit too.

There’s a fine line between the ready position and looking like you’re straining on the pot to let one loose.  Too bad I can’t use Photoshop, or I’d really show you what I mean.

Larry Brown’s been in here before, where I made wicked fun of his eyebrows.  I didn’t mention it then, but Larry was up for 12 seasons, starting for a number of years for the Tribe at short.  He led AL shortstops in fielding in 1965.

“Aw, c’mon guys.  Throw me da ball.  Throw it to me right here.  C’mon.”

He’s a handsome fella, isn’t he?  Yup, you saw him before, in ugly mugs of the ‘50s.  One thing I forgot to mention there was that, when he played for the Yankees, Bobby Del Greco was often used as a defensive replacement for none other than Mickey Mantle.  At the end of the Mick’s career, of course.

No sudden moves, okay?

Dave “Quick Draw” Stenhouse was up for three years with the Nats.  Some interesting Stenhousiana:
  • He was an All-Star one of those years
  • His middle name was Rotchford
  • He was the baseball coach at Brown
  • His son, Dave Stenhouse Jr., also made the majors

How about a little more Stenhouse? Just click here.


"Come at me, bro."

Juan Pizarro was a decent, very well-travelled pitcher.  He pitched for 18 years, spanning three decades, from the ’50s to the ‘70s.  He played for nine teams and wore 13 different jersey numbers.

Oh, and make sure you don’t confuse this Juan Pizarro with this Juan Pizarro:

Remember, one’s a pitcher and the other’s a conquistador.  Pitcher, conquistador.  Pitcher, conquistador.  See, it’s easy!

"Whuh?  Whuh did I do?"

Max Alvis held down third base for some very bad Indian teams through most of the ‘60s.  He got 600 at bats for them for three of those years, hitting over 20 HRs in each.  He was also a two-time All Star.

Bet you didn't know Max was blessed with a unibrow, now did you?


"Please, sir, may I have some more?"

Davey Johnson is best known these days as a manager. You may remember him best as the guy who managed the Mets over the Red Sox in the ’86 World Series. He’s actually managed five teams, over 16 years, and with a .588 winning percentage.

Personally, I remember him much better as a player. He was the second baseman for some great Orioles teams of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Want more goofy? How about some from the '70s.

* - author has this card

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bob Veale, the Guy with the Glasses

As we saw last week, the ‘60s were a kind of golden age of fashionable eyewear for major league ballplayers.  Interestingly, though, I could have probably covered all the ground I needed to cover with just one player, Bob Veale.

I’m not sure what caused Bob to change his glasses every season – or what caused him to make such interesting choices.  I do know he was a fading star when I first started rooting for the Bucs as a kid in the early ‘70s. 

He had been a real mainstay of the Pirates staff in the ‘60s.  A true fireballer, he beat out Bob Gibson to lead the NL in Ks in 1964 and set the all-time Pirate single-season record with 276 in 1965.  And as so often happens with hard throwers, he was pretty wild too, leading the NL in walks no less than four times. 

Oh, and did I mention he was 6’6” and 212 pounds?  I don’t know about you, but I’m just not feeling real comfortable about stepping in the box against this guy – especially if his eyesight ain’t that great.

Overall, Bob finished 120-95 with a 3.07 ERA and over 1700 strikeouts.  When I was rooting for him, his main accomplishments included winning a World Series game and coming in to relieve for the first game in MLB history that featured an all-black lineup. 

I also missed all those groovy specs.  Sigh …


1969.  Nothing too wild here.  Just your basic aviators, which weren’t too uncommon in the late ‘60s.  You’ve got to remember, though, it’s the end of Bob’s career.  There are better things to think about than fashion when you’re in your mid-thirties. 

This card is for the year Bob had a 2.09 ERA but finished with a losing record.  And that’s a record – the lowest ERA for a losing record in MLB history.

That might explain his frown.  Poor Bob, he was around for some of the Bucs’ best years, but only after his star had faded.


1965.  Oooh, clown glasses! 

This card is for the year Bob led the league in strikeouts – and walks. 

Did I mention the other propensity Bob was prone to?  He also led the NL in home runs allowed per nine innings this year.  Sounds like, if you were somehow able to get your bat on one of those heaters, it might actually be headed somewhere.


1968.  More clown glasses.

And another year leading the league in walks.


1964.  Hmm, what are these?  And is that wood grain?  Did Bob make these himself, from an old station wagon?

This card was for the last year before Bob’s career really took off.  


1966.  Yeah, Bob definitely made these, probably in shop class.

Another year leading the league in walks and home run rate.  He was an All Star that year though.


1967.  I actually had this card as a kid, and always wondered what Bob was trying to do here.  Is he showing me how to throw a slider?  Is it some sort of Black Power gesture?  Or is he merely signaling, “It is safe to land here, my Romulian masters.”

Another trip to the All Star game for Bob, his last one.

* - author has this card

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hey, Four Eyes! (’60s Version)

You’re a jock.  It’s the early ‘60s.  Facial hair is pretty much verboten.  What are you going to do to make yourself stand out from the crowd, just a little bit?

In a couple of years’ time, you could opt for Joe-Pepitone-style sideburns, or Rollie Fingers’ mustache, or Oscar Gamble’s afro.  Right now, though, the options are definitely limited.

What’s a man to do?  How are you going to say, “Hey, it’s me world.  It’s me, Arnold Earley!”?

Read on …


It’s a good look.  You take your basic nerdy looking guy, give him some even nerdier looking glasses, then pull his cap down over his eyes.  I’m sure he struck fear into the heart of every batter he faced.

You’ve met Pete Mikkelsen before, under Are You Sure You’re a Ballplayer?  There, we learned that that cap is covering a particularly unattractive crew cut, and also that Pete was a Marine.  I’m sorry, I’m just having a real hard time believing that last part.

Just to let you know that that particular style of eyewear was popular with Cy Young Award winners and MVPs too.  “Dennis,” though, has opted to go with the high-hat look instead of the pull-it-down-over-your-eyes one.

In addition to the Cy Young and MVP awards, Denny McLain was also the last pitcher to win 30 games.  He was also an excellent pilot, cut some records as an organist, was an underwear model, got involved with organized crime, and served some time in prison.  A well-rounded fellow, if in a rather roundabout kind of way.

More Denny here and here.


And here we have Fred, who has elected to go sans chapeau.

Fred Gladding was a decent reliever who led the NL in saves in 1969.  He also was arguably one of the worst hitters in major league history.  He holds the record for lowest non-zero batting average, going 1 for 63 and finishing at .016 lifetime.  I really want to know how he got that hit.

You’ve heard the expression coke-bottle glasses before, right?  These look like somebody cut the bottom off of a goldfish bowl.

Et encore de Fred, ici et ici.

Julian, meanwhile, has decided to introduce a little wrinkle by taking the basic nerdy look and making it cover his entire face.  And do I detect some shading???

Julian Javier nailed down second for the Redbirds for over ten years, getting in almost 6,000 at bats.  That was enough to get him into the Dominican Republic Baseball Hall of Fame and have the stadium named after him in San Pedro de Macoris, baseball hub of the universe. 

He’s also the father of major leaguer Stan Javier, who was named after Julian’s teammate with the Redbirds, Stan somebody (I forget the guy’s last name).


Clown glasses!  Bold statement, Frank.

Or should I say, “Hondo.”  Yup, that’s how I knew him as a kid growing up in Northern Virginia during the late ‘60s.  There was only one team in town, and they had only one star, so there wasn’t a whole lot of choice here.  Hondo did lead the AL in homers twice and RBIs once as a Nat.

Frank Howard was actually a man of many monikers – “Hondo,” “Chico,” “Capital Punishment,” and “The Washington Monument.”  That last one was particularly apt, as Frank was 6’7” and 255 lbs.


For some reason, this style was very popular in the ‘60s.  I have no idea why.  Cookie here is sporting the clear version.

Cookie Rojas was up for 16 years and got over 6,000 at-bats.  He was also a five-time All Star and led his league in fielding three times.  After his playing days were over, he coached, managed, and did (and still does) Spanish play-by-play for the Marlins.  A real baseball lifer.

Cookie probably deserves his own post. Elsewhere in this blog, I've got him down for more glasses, more glasses, bad handwriting, and looking oddly handsome.


Dave, meanwhile, favors the black and chunky look.  Note how it draws more attention to his googly eyes.  Nice touch, Dave!

A classic backup catcher, Dave Ricketts was up for six years, but got in only 200 at bats and hit just one home run.  Dave’s career post-retirement – like a lot of second-string backstops – was much longer.  He was a coach for over 20 years, a number of those with my beloved Bucs of the early ‘70s.

And here's what these babies look like with the always fashionable cap backwards look.


Now, here’s a man before his time.  Tell me, how many guys were fashion-forward enough to attempt aviators in 1964?

Don Mincher actually had a pretty decent career.  He played for 13 years, was a starter for a good ten of those, and ended up with 200 homers, on the nose.  He was a big boy (6’3” and 220 lbs.), but must have been something of a gentle giant, as he was universally beloved, as a player and as GM of the Huntsville Stars and president of the Southern League. 

Oh, and we can’t forget that he was the only All-Star the Seattle Pilots ever had.

But if it’s cool you’re after, you can always go with shades, like Ryne here.  Ray-Bans they ain’t, but you have to admit, the guy’s got style.

You’ve met Ryne Duren before, where he was definitely looking a little uncool and school-masterish

Interestingly, Ryne was a nickname.  His real name was Rinold.  Yup, Rinold.  And, yes, Ryne Sandberg was actually named after him.  Why?  I haven’t a clue.


Not everyone can make it work, unfortunately.  Poor “Herman” has combined shades with the chunky look and some bluish shading on the frames.  All I can think is “blind dude.”

Like Dave Ricketts, Herm Franks was the prototypical backup catcher sitting next to the manager on the bench.  He translated his six years into even more years coaching, managing, scouting, and in the front office. 

He’s probably most famous for (supposedly) stealing signs in the 1951 NL playoff, enabling Bobby Thompson to hit the “shot heard ‘round the world.”


Oh no! Looks that degenerative eye disease Ryne had has finally resulted in total blindness. Poor guy!

What … are … those … things?  These seem less like a fashion statement and more like a desperate plea for help. 

“Rookie star” designation aside, Steve Kealey had a pretty non-descript career – six years, eight wins, 214 IP, 4.28 ERA.  Nonetheless, this was enough to earn him a book-length bio on the Internet.  I think his mom might have written it.

Now, this is more like it.  Aviators, with yellow tinting!  Arnold Earley looks like he’s ready to join the highway patrol and start pulling over some speeders.

Another pretty non-descript career – eight years, 12-20 record, 4.48 ERA.  Arnold’s a Hall of Famer in my book though.

Dig specs?  Check out these four-eyed fellows from '50s.and '70s.

* - author has this card