Monday, April 30, 2012

C’mon, Willard, Cheer Up!

Willard Nixon always seemed a little sad.   I’m not sure why.  I mean, the guy was known as a – perhaps “the” – Yankee killer.  In 1955, for example, a quarter of his 12 wins were against the Yankees.  The Evil Empire only scored four runs in five games against him.  If that’s not enough to make someone happy, I’m not sure what is.  C’mon, Willard, you are one special guy!

Things seem to have started out just fine.  This is Willard’s rookie card, a 1951 Bowman.

Ah, your first year in the bigs.  You made the majors, started 15 games for the Sox, and finished with a record of 8-6.  The ol’ ERA is a tad high (over 6.00), but that’s okay.  Life is good.

1952, another good year.  Willard got 14 starts, won seven, and got that pesky ERA down under 5.00.  Keep smilin', bud!

1953.  I have no idea what happened.  Something traumatic though.  Something that obviously scarred him for life.  There’ll be no more smiles for Willard Nixon from here on out.

The stats look fine, by the way.  Willard started 13, went 5-4, and shaved that ERA down just a tad more.

1954.  Still glum.  Almost a little angry perhaps.

It’s another good year on the books though.  Willard got the ol’ ERA below 4.00, on 15 starts.  Perhaps, though, it was the record after all.  For the first time, Nixon went under .500, finishing 4-8.


1955.  Maybe he’s just glaring at the batter. 

It’s another decent year.  In fact, it’s his best yet – 30 starts, one out short of 200 innings, and the only year he broke 100 Ks.

1956.  Man, what happened to this guy four years ago?  Did somebody shoot his dog?

Here we’ve got Willard’s best year yet.  12-10 record, respectable 4.07 ERA, and career bests in starts and innings.  C’mon, dude, lighten up a little.

1957.  Hopefully, he’s glaring at the batter again.  A little fall-off, stats-wise, but still just fine. 


1958.  Probably his best year ever.  12-13, 3.69 ERA, just short of 200 innings and 100 strikeouts.  You’d never know it from this sad-sack mug, though, would ya?

1959.  Well, well.  It looks like things are finally looking up for Willard Nixon. 

Wouldn’t you know though.  It’s his last year in the bigs.  It’s also a year that would put a depressed look on anybody else’s face.  I’m talking 1-7 record, 6.02 ERA, and a mere 15 strikeouts in 43 innings. 

After a year like that, it’s back to Floyd County, Georgia.  There, according to Wikipedia, Nixon “worked as a purchasing agent for Pepperell Mills, was a county court investigator and the county chief of police, and also served as transportation director for the county school system.” 

Now, there’s something to get excited about.  Heck, maybe this guy just plain didn’t like baseball.  Y'know what I mean?  Sheesh!

* - author has this card

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Unibrow (‘50s Version)

Want that Cro-Magnon look?  Well, there’s probably no better way to get it than to put a little Rogaine right between the eyebrows. 

“But what did aspiring cavemen do back in the days before that modern medical miracle?” you’re probably asking yourself.   Well, they pretty much just had to lump it, didn’t they?  Unless, of course, they were simply naturally endowed that way.

So, here are some lucky fellas from the ‘50s who got that Neanderthal look using solely their own genetic material …

Howie Fox had a pretty mediocre career – nine seasons, lifetime winning percentage of .374, led the league in losses one year.

Interestingly, Howie passed away only two years after this card was made.  Turns out he was pitching in the Texas League in 1955, got in a bar fight in San Antonio, and was stabbed to death.  He was only 34.

And here's Howie looking like he was painted by da Vinci. And Howie looking a little off kilter.

Walt’s already made a previous appearance on this blog.    That was for his particular choice of eyeware.  Little did I know, he was using those  glasses to hide a real unibrow.  You’ve been uncovered, Walt!

Interestingly, there is only one Billy Johnson on  At the same time, though, there are two William Russell Johnson’s (Billy’s real name).  Wouldn’t you know – the second one went by “Russ.”


Ray Jablonski was one of those good-hit, no-field guys.  He had over 100 RBIs twice and 20 homers once.  He’d be a DH these days. 

I love the name, by the way.  Sounds like a ballplayer, doesn’t it?  Too bad his nickname wasn’t “Rip” or “Moose” or something sufficiently  slugger-like.


Holy Andy Etchebarren!  How come I never heard of this guy before?  Those things would give Wally Moon a real run for his money.  Too bad Frank’s only on this one card.

Frank Zupo got only 18 at-bats over three years with the O’s (and only the one card).  Classic Orioles bonus baby gone bad.

When Zupo caught George Zuverink, the two became the first all-Z battery in MLB history.  His nickname was “Noodles.”  “Noodles Zupo” – unbelievable!

* - author has this card

And, no, Wally Moon, we haven’t forgotten about you.  In fact, I've got a whole page dedicated to your particular glories.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Just Plain Ugly (‘50s Version, The Later Years)

The ‘50s were pretty fruitful when it came to ugly.  Last week, we looked at some mirror crackers from the early years of the decade.  Here, we’ve got some aesthetically-challenged fellows from the latter years.  I tell ya, they just keep on coming …

I’m sorry, Sam here is just kind of funny-looking.  I don’t know if it’s his long, skinny face (he was known as “Toothpick”), his expression, or his unusual coloring (he was mixed race).   

Sam Jones is actually one of my favorite players.  Nobody’s heard of him, he only had a handful of genuinely productive years, he moved around quite a bit, but, boy, could he dominate.  I’m talking leading the league in strikeouts three times, in ERA and wins once, and pitching a no-hitter.  He died heartbreakingly young, at age 45, of cancer.

Here's another look at ol' "Toothpick."

Not sure what Minnie’s looking at.  Not sure why his hand is on his shoulder like that.  I do know, though, that he is one ugly dude.  Youch!

An excellent player, Saturnino (his real name) batted over .300 nine times, was an All Star seven times, led the league in stolen bases three times, and was a Gold Glover three times.  Many think Minoso’s the best player not in the Hall of Fame. has him ranked right behind Hack Wilson, Jesse Burkett, and Gabby Hartnett, all Hall of Famers.

And here's a little more flattering one of poor Minnie.

I’m pretty sure this guy was on Hogan’s Heroes.  Corporal Schnitzle or something. 

Max Surkont once set the record for most strikeouts in a row (8) later broken by Tom Seaver (10).  I’m sure Tom was all, like, “Who?”


Remember Whammy?  (Now, how could you forget someone with a name like that?)  When we met up with him previously, he was having a little arm trouble.   Turns out he’s a real looker too. 

I don’t believe I mentioned it last time, but Whammy’s a local boy, having been prescient enough to be born in Carrboro, NC.  Oh, by the way, his real name was Charles.  Booooring.


I don’t know.  I look at poor Leo here, and all I can think of is the Westminster Dog Show.  I’m thinking Toy Group.  I’m thinking Grand Champion Yawkey’s King Kiely of Jersey.

Leo Kiely’s major league career was pretty uneventful.  He did interrupt it in mid career, though, to be the first major leaguer to play in Japan full-time.  Isn’t that where those dogs come from?

Am I right?  Am I right?

All we got to do is get Leo to crack a smile, and we can move these two to the identical twins page.

* - author has this card

Need some more ugly? How 'bout a little from the '60s and '70s?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Just Plain Ugly (’50 Version, The Early Years)

Alright, admit it.  This is why you came to this site in the first place, isn’t it?  And I’m not one to disappoint.  Ugly?  We got ‘em.  In fact, we got so many of ‘em, it’s going to take two posts to cover them all – and that’s only for the ‘50s.

So, what is it about baseball players?  Are they uglier than the population as a whole?  Not really.  We’re talking about 35 players per team times 16 teams.  That’s um, er, hold on a sec … That’s almost 600 players per year.  So, unless there’s some correlation between looking like a fashion model and hitting the curveball, chances are there are going to be at least a couple of guys out there who aren’t about to win any beauty contests.

So, here they are, some ugly mugs from the early ‘50s …


Interestingly, this was the only year this guy was known as “Spook.”  Can’t say I blame him for reverting to Forrest.

Even more interestingly, the nickname supposedly came “from his tendency to dump hits just over the heads of opposing infielders” (Wikipedia).  Nah, I don’t get it either.

Perhaps most interestingly (sorry, on a roll), his real name was Forrest Vandergrift Jacobs.  I’m surprised that didn’t have a III or IV after it.

I think Roy could have been a “Spook” too.  Also, I’m not sure I’ve seen a player whose eyes were further apart on his head.  I’ve seen fish with more binocular vision than Roy.

Roy Face had a rather nice career.  He led the NL in saves three times, and also saved three games in the ’60 Series.   Additionally, he had one of the best years ever for a pitcher, going an incredible 18-1 in 1959.

Too bad Roy’s nickname wasn’t “Spook.”  “Spook Face” – a classic! 

And here's Roy again, albeit looking a lot more grizzled.

This Roy looks a little like the other Roy.  But with a thinner face, pointier ears, and googlier eyes.   And that’s quite an accomplishment!

Roy Smalley had an okay career, playing for 11 years, with a couple as a starter.  He’s better know for his genetic contribution to baseball however. 

He and Gene Mauch’s sister combined their baseball genes to produce Roy Smalley III, the longtime Twin infielder.  Tellingly, Roy was a little better than Dad.  Mom was a real babe, so Roy III won out in the looks department too. 

More ugly from Roy right here.


Camilo looks about 16 here.  An ugly 16 to be sure.  Man, he’s got it all, doesn’t he?  Big ears, big brows, chicken neck, sneer …

This is his rookie card, though he was 20, not 16.  He was in the majors for 17 more years.  During that time, Pascual led the AL in strikeouts three straight years, won 20 twice, and scored 174 victories total.  Not too shabby.

And here's a shot of Camilo looking a little more mature.

This guy’s got it all going on too – ears, teeth, dumb look.

Oh, by the way, his full name is Bob Chipman – in case you couldn’t read the signature.  Hence the inevitable nickname, Mr. Chips. 

Mr. Chips?  For the less literary and the younger among you, it’s from a book and movie, Goodbye Mr. Chips, about British public schools and World War I.  No, I know, that has absolutely nothing to do with baseball.


I know this is a painting, but wow!  Actually, I’ve seen photos of this guy and, hard to believe, but I think the artist is doing him a favor here.

Harry Simpson had one of the great nicknames of all times, “Suitcase.”  Playing for 17 different teams (majors and minors) over a span of eleven years will do that for you.

* - author has this card

And don't forget to tune in next week, where we'll look at some uglies from the later '50s.