Monday, June 25, 2012

Eyes Wide Shut (Even More)

Last week, we looked at some guys trying to stare into the sun while they patiently got their picture taken.  Seems like it was quite a popular shot.  So, with apologies to Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, and Stanley Kubrick, here’s some more …


Not too bad.

I think I just like the name.  It doesn’t sound like a ballplayer, does it?  With a name like that, I’m thinking minor Edwardian poet.  I’m thinking obscure Victorian water colorist.  I’m not thinking blazing fastball.  I’m not thinking high heater under the ol’ chinsky.

Aubrey Gatewood was only up for four years, but actually had some decent stats, finishing with an ERA of 2.78.  Sounds like it might have been just another case of arm trouble, poor guy.

Like Aubrey, Camilo’s at least has got a smile going on here.  That is a smile, isn't it?  I guess it could be just your standard that’s-really-hurting-my-eyes grimace.

You’ve seen Camilo before, as himself and also under an assumed name.

I’ve already shared his stats.  Here are a couple of interesting tidbits:

·         His nickname was “Little Potato.”
·         He was one of six players who played for the original and expansion Senators.
·         He was an introductory member of the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame.

Looks like Donn liked to fire up a few doobies before the game. 

Actually, Donn is the intellectual of the group.  His father was a professor, and Donn himself graduated from high school at age 15.  From there, it was off to Morehouse, where his big brother was none other Martin Luther King, Jr.!  After graduation, Clendenon taught fourth grade before being convinced to try out for the Bucs.  After his playing days were over, he got a law degree and wrote a book!

More weird looks from this guy here and here.


I like the way Eli has combined a look of confusion with a slightly different one of being seriously peeved.  But maybe that’s just the look you get when you ask someone to stare directly into the sun for several minutes.

Eli Grba was a charter member of the Vanna White (“I’d like to buy a vowel”) Hall of Fame for Baseball Names.  Other members include Kent Hrbek, Doug Gwodsz, and Marc Rzepczynski.  Submissions for future members are being taken now.


It’s a great look, but I seriously considered putting this guy in one of my funny-name posts. 

Why?  Well, it might not fit on the back of his card, but Cal’s full name is Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish.  Of his name, McLish once noted, “There were eight kids in the family, and I was number seven, and my dad didn't get to name one of them before me. So he evidently tried to catch up."  (LA Times obit)

Overall, Cal played for seven teams over 15 years.  He was an All Star with the Indians in ’59, when he won 19.  McLish was a coach for 16 years, from 1965 to 1982.

I’m seriously considering giving Don his own post.  He was up for a number of years, and could pretty much be counted on to deliver something goofy every year like clockwork (here, for example, another).

Don Cardwell was a Tar Heel native, pitched a no-hitter, won a 100 games lifetime, and was an important part of the Miracle Mets.  On that last point, Don recalled Tom Seaver saying, “We really looked up to you. You were the strong point of our young club.”  Cardwell went on to reason that “they probably thought that if I could do it at my age, they could do it at theirs.”  (NY Times obit)

Hey, it’s the Stig!  

Now, this guy’s got a lot more going on that the just the half-closed eyes.  The nose, the crewcut, the huge forehead, the full lips …  He kinda looks like a bad mistake from sculpture class.

Dick had a pretty average career.  He was up for only six years, finishing with a 46-54 record and a 4.03 ERA.  For some reason, he made the ’61 All Star game, even though he went 5-11 with a 4.51 ERA that year.  Good start or really bad team is my guess.

* - author owns this card

Monday, June 18, 2012

Eyes Wide Shut

It’s hard to imagine, but there was a time when you didn’t know how a photo was going to turn out until days or even weeks later.  Yup, you couldn’t just look at what you just shot on your camera right then and there.  You had to wait until the “roll” was complete, then take it to some pharmacy for “development,” then wait until it “came back.”  “Delayed gratification,” they called it.

Given all that, most photographers took a couple of shots, to make sure there was no grimacing, rabbit ears, closed eyes, and so on.   You’d think the fine folks at Topps would have done something similar.  I mean, we’re talking about runs in the thousands, of huge major league stars, right?  Wouldn’t you want to take at least a couple of shots to make sure?

Guess not …

I like these half-closed looks.  They pretty much make the subject look totally plastered.

Bob Mabe was up for a couple of years with a couple of different teams.  He was persistent – it took him eight years to fire that first major league pitch in the general direction of the plate.

Overall, Bob was 7-11 with a 4.82 ERA.  I really like his batting stats though – 1 for 36, for an .032 lifetime average.

Okay, here we go …  The old look-straight-into-the-sun-for-a-couple-of-minutes-while-I-try-to-figure-out-this-thing shot.

Hard to believe, but there were three different Ben Johnsons in the major leagues.  And that’s not to mention the famous Canadian sprinter, as well as the Elizabethan playwright.

Our Ben was up for two cups of coffee with the Cubbies.  Would you believe he spent 16 years in the minors?

Not sure where the sun was on this one.  Maybe Art just blinked at the wrong time. 

Art Schult was up for five seasons with four teams, for a total of less than 500 at bats.  His nickname was “Dutch.”  Why are all guys with German names called “Dutch”?

Pure ... unadulterated ... goofy.

Chris van Cuyk was up for three years with the Bums.  It wasn’t pretty.  His career stats were 7-11 with a 5.16 ERA. 

He was actually a lot better than his brother Johnny though.  Like Chris, Johnny pitched three years for Brooklyn.  Johnny, however, had an 0-0 record, over just 10 innings, and with a 5.23 ERA.  He also lacked the alliteration that made Chris a candidate for my funny names posts.

I swear they caught ol’ Hoyt napping on this one.

Hoyt Wilhelm has always been one of my favorite ballplayers.  He’s a very local boy (Mooresville, NC), was a knuckleballer, didn’t make the majors until he was 29, played until he was almost 50, and was a decorated WWII vet.

The local ballpark in Mooresville is named after Hoyt.  It’s got a really cute statue of him as a kid on the mound out front. 

Not sure how good a likeness this is.  Looks like the eyes are definitely open though.

But, wait!  There’s more.  Tune in next week for even more guys with eyes closed.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sit Up and Beg

Everyone knows you’re supposed to put your hand behind you when you catch.  I don’t know, maybe they did things differently back then. 

I can’t help thinking, though, that not only will these guys inevitably catch an errant pitch straight on the fingernail, but they all look pretty silly too.  In fact, I can’t help thinking of so many friendly pooches up on their hind legs and begging for a treat

So, c’mon boy!  You want a biscuit?  That’s it! 

Actually, Ken here looks fairly normal.  I’m wondering, though, if his raised fist isn’t a subtle “power to the people” signal. 

Wait, this card is from the early ‘50s, isn’t it?  We’ve got 12 or 15 years to go before that could even be feasible.

Ken Silvestri was a classic backup catcher, with a .215 average, five homers, 25 RBIs, and just over 100 games in an eight-year career.  He also got a shot at managing – three games at the end of the ’67 season, all of which he lost.


Once again, not that bad.

“W” here was another backup backstop.  He only lasted three years though.  And that equated to 381 at bats, two homers, and a .257 average.

Oh, the “W”?  It stands for Wilmer.  No wonder he went with “W.”  Not sure if anybody actually called him “Dubbya” or not.


Okay, Al here is just starting to look a little silly.

I’d never heard of Al Walker before, and a quick search of turned up nothing.  Turns out this is none other than Rube Walker, a local boy (Lenoir, NC) and a pretty well-known Bum. 

As it so happens, Rube’s real name was Albert Bluford Walker.  Yup, that’s right – Bluford.  Even “Rube” sounds a lot better than that. 

Here’s Al again.  This time, he’s combined the silly paws-up stance with the classic village-idiot, cap-backwards look. 

You gotta tell me though ...  How come guys from the South invariably get called “Rube” or “Dixie”?

“Who’s a good boy, then?  Does wittle Sammy want a treat?”

Sammy Taylor was one of the original Mets, but was only with them for a year and a half.  Most of his career was with the Cubs, where he started for them for a few years in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s.  There, Taylor was a league leader, but not in anything you’d particularly want to lead the league in – errors and stolen bases allowed.

A coupla more Sammy Taylors right here.

So, pitchers can do it too, eh?  Actually, Dennis, looks less like he’s begging for a treat and more like he’s cringing to get out of the way of the wicked line drive his weak stuff is sure to bring his way.

Actually, though, Dennis really wasn’t that bad.  He lasted seven years, mostly as a starter, and finished with a 43-47 record and 3.54 ERA.  Given that Bennett was 6’5” and 205 lbs., my guess is it would have been the batters who would have been intimidated, not him.

Great bio of Dennis right here, including a near fatal auto wreck and a case of identity theft.  The guy was a survivor!