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

1 comment:

  1. My first Bob Veale card was the 1967 card. I thought he was wearing silver/chrome frames, but now seeing all the pix together, it's probably just the camera's flash reflecting off black frames.

    On his 1968 card, I think he's saying "Put me down for TWO pairs of those glasses."