Monday, April 29, 2013

Expressions of Weirdness (the Early Years)

All you have to do is click the camera.  And whatever expression happens to be on your subject’s face is forever frozen in time.  Eyes closed?  We got you covered.  Dopey expression?  All over it.  There are no shortage of odd looks – in this blog and in real life.

Personally, I seem to account for something weird about 37% of the time.  Just point a camera my way.  I can almost guarantee you the results will be much less than you expected.


One, two, three, smile!

Somehow, Orlando Pena managed to pitch in three decades, from 1958 to 1975.  I say “somehow” as Pena finished under .500, with a 3.71 ERA, and once lost 20 games.  He played for eight teams and wore 16 different uniform and number combinations.

Pena was born in Victoria de las Tunas, Cuba.  My Spanish is not too hot, but I’m assuming that means “victory of the tunas.” 

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Okay, here we go, Diego – big smile!

Diego Segui had a career very similar to fellow Cuban Orlando Pena’s.  I’m talking 15 years, .453 winning percentage, leading the league in losses, and playing for six different teams.

He’s also one of the few players to play for both of Seattle’s teams, the Pilots and Mariners.  He’s the father of David Segui.


Hey, Diego made my first post as well!

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Smile?

I already discussed Zoilo Versalles’s unlikely MVP season elsewhere.  Seems ol’ Zoilo was also famous for being one of the bigger flops in MLB history.

Turns out he was only 25 that MVP year, and had already been a two-time All Star.  So, his star seemed to be definitely on the rise.

The year after the MVP season, though, Zoilo dropped 24 points in average, and cut his hits and RBIs in half and his steals by two-thirds.  The year after that, his on-base percentage dropped to .249, even though he played in 160 games.  And the year after that, he was under the Mendoza Line, with a measly two homers – and all in 122 games.

And after that, …  Well, major league baseball teams weren’t so keen to give him any more at bats.  Except for a desperate cup of coffee with the Braves, he was effectively out of the majors before he turned 30.


Please? 

You’ve met Donn Clendenon before, where I talked about his intellectual abilities.  On the baseball side, he was up for 12 years, playing mostly with the Pirates and Mets.  His best year was 1966, with the Bucs, when he hit .299, with 28 homers and 98 RBIs.  He was actually the World Series MVP with the Amazin’ Mets ’in 69.


Here's another weird one from Donn.


Oh, never mind.

Another Orlando, Orlando McFarlane was also from Cuba.  A backup catcher, this Orlando was up for four forgettable years, with three different teams.  Lifetime, he managed under 300 at bats, though he did hit five home runs.


Wow, how do you make your eyebrow do that?

There are 16 Bill Whites out there on Wikipedia, including three baseball players.  Our Bill White was the best of the bunch, finishing with a .286 average, 202 homers, 870 RBIs, and seven Gold Gloves. 

Bill was also an announcer, calling Bucky Dent’s famous homer against the BoSox in ’78.  From 1989 to 1994, he served as President of the National League.  White has an autobiography entitled Uppity.  He currently resides in the fascinatingly named Pennsylvania town of Upper Black Eddy.

Aw, sad little puppy eyes.

Vic Davalillo was not a bad player.  He was in the majors for 16 years, sticking around as one of baseball’s best pinch hitters.  In fact, he tied the then-record for pinch hits in a season, with 24 in 1970.  He’s the younger brother of Yo-Yo.  That’s Davalillo, by the way, not Ma.  (More Vic here and here.)
 

Searching the heavens …

Jesse Gonder was a decent hitter who was stuck behind Yogi Berra and Elston Howard in the Yankees organization, and eventually ended up with the hapless early Mets.  With them, he had his only full season – 131 games, .270 average, seven homers.  He also was a league leader that year ...  in passed balls.
 
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Invoking divine grace …

Pat Corrales played for nine years and managed for nine.  Some managing firsts for Pat (okay, and one fourth):
  • First Mexican-American manager
  • First manager fired with a winning record
  • Fourth manager to manage in both leagues in the same year

Playing highlights include … um, er … carrying Johnny Bench’s jockstrap? One at bat and one out in a World Series?


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More weirdness right here.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Etchebarren: Son of Moon

Baseball has many stars … as well as many players with unibrows.  Only two, however, combine these two qualities.  Only two really stand out as true unibrow gods.  And those two are Wally Moon and Andy Etchebarren.

In addition, these two also effectively define both ends of the unibrow spectrum.  Wally, on the one hand, represents the Apollonian ideal.  He’s a fairly handsome guy, but with mysterious mutant eyebrows that pause not a wit as they plow straight across his forehead.  Andy, on the other hand, represents the Dionysian extreme.  He’s ugly as sin, with coarse, bushy black hair that seems to sprout from every available surface.  There may be no room in the unibrow universe for any other than these two. 

About Etch …  Apart from his bushy eyebrows, Andy Etchebarren was a minor star at best.  A light-hitting platoon catcher, he also happened to be a defensive whiz  who played for one of the best teams of the modern era, the Orioles of the ‘60s and ‘70s.  His leader board appearances include numerous top 10 finishes among classic catcher stats such as assists and caught stealing, as well as more SABR-y stuff like range factor and total zone runs. 

And that, I believe, is what’s behind his two All-Star appearances.  At least, I’m pretty sure it was that, and not the lifetime 49 homers and .235 average.

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1966.  We only get six at bats and one hit this year, but as a “rookie star,” the green light is on and there’s no holding us back now.


1967.  Andy’s rookie year – and his first All Star year, to boot.  It’s the best season in his 15-year-long career.  He’ll set records in at bats (the only time he breaks 400), homers (ditto 10) ... and strikeouts (ditto 100). Look at that shit-eating grin, would ya?
 
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1968.  Another All Star year, but I’m not totally sure how he makes the team, as he finishes the season with a .215 average.  Man, that musta been a torrid first half.
 

1969.  From here on out, we’re never going to break 250 at bats or 30 RBIs.  

Andy’s really into the catching pose.  I wonder if he ever considered wearing his mask though.
 
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1970.  Ooh, long distance.  That can only help.


1971.  My favorite.  In fact, I think every card of Andy should be an action shot, preferably from as far away as possible. 


1972.  Sideburns really do complete the caveman look, don’t you think?
 

1973.  The closest Etch will get to the Mendoza line – .202.
 

1974.  I almost forgot …  Did you know Andy’s a Basque-American?


1975.  The profile is definitely a good idea.
 

1976.  Moved to the Angels.

If Andy’s ears were just a little pointy, I’d swear he was Mr.  Spock.


1977.  Mr. Etchebarren, time for your close up.
 

1978.  Starting to show our age a little.  Er … a lot.
 
I can’t end this post without mentioning Andy’s managerial …  Well, I was going to say “career,” but I think the better word would be “antics.”  Andy’s quite the star on YouTube.  Start with this clip, and enjoy!

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Monday, April 15, 2013

The Unibrow (60s Version)

According to Wikipedia, the unibrow (or monobrow) is considered a mark of attractiveness in some cultures, especially for women.  They cite India, Iran, Sri Lanka, and Tajikistan, and point out that women in those countries sometimes paint one on when they are not so naturally endowed.  They say it’s associated with virility (in men) and purity and virginity (in women).  Hey, it’s in Wikipedia.  It has to be true, right?

Given that, it’s good to know there is no shortage of virility (if perhaps not purity or chasteness) in major league baseball.  You’ve already seen some fine exemplars from the ‘50s.  Now check out these virile dudes from the ‘60s …


Not so bad.  I think I like Bob’s expression here more than anything.  I couldn’t decide whether to put him here or  Coach, I Don’t Feel So Good.   That said, maybe his look simply expresses how he felt about being drafted by les Expos.

Bob “Beetle” Bailey was a pretty decent ballplayer.  He was up for 17 years, getting in almost 2000 games.  Baseball-reference.com has him on the leader board 57 times.  Unfortunately, a good chunk of those were for strikeouts, double plays grounded into, and caught stealing.


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Again, not so bad. 

You’ve met Max Alvis before, where I shared his stats.  I didn’t mention it there, but Max was one of the few major leaguers to go on the DL with spinal meningitis

In 1964, what was turning into one of his best years ever went south very quickly when Max was diagnosed.  He sat out six weeks, came back, and still managed to finish with 18 homers in 381 at-bats.
 

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It’s subtle.  But you’ve got to admit, there’s really nothing like topping off the whole ugly ensemble – ears, face, teeth – with a unibrow.

I talked about Bobby’s career, both playing and managing, in another post.   I’ll bet you didn’t know, though, that Bobby Wine had a son and grandson in organized baseball.  Unfortunately, neither of them made the majors.  Guess they must have inherited Bobby’s hitting genes.


More of that handsome mug right here.


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The Italian guys always seemed to have an unfair advantage. 

Some people would like to put Rocky Colavito in the Hall of Fame.   Baseball-reference.com, however, says no.  The only stat that gets him there is his grey ink, where he has 152 to the average HoFer’s 144.  His black ink and HoF monitor and standards scores are all sub-par.   And his similar players include such perennial also-rans as Boog Powell, Frank Howard, George Foster, and Norm Cash.
 


Once again, not too bad.  I do like how they’re combined with some big-time arching though.

Another pretty decent player, Jim Landis was mostly known for his glove.  I’m talking five Gold Gloves in an 11-year career and a career fielding average of .989.  That’s 11 errors in 3031 chances, folks!

Great Q&A session with some Little Leaguers right here.



Wow!  These look like something that should be standing outside a McDonald’s. 

I shared some of Don Demeter’s stats before, when I made fun of his smile.  (Wait.  You made fun of his smile?  How do you make fun of someone’s smile, fer crissakes?)

Apart form the stats, Don was one of the first Fellowship of Christian Athlete types.  And on retirement, he became a pastor.  Great clip of him on YouTube by his grandson.


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Ditto.  And then some. 

Ken Hunt was chosen by the Angels in their expansion draft.  In their first year, he led them in RBIs and came in second in homers with 25.  Nice pick.

Outside of baseball, Ken’s main claim to fame is being the step-father of Butch Patrick.  Remember?  Eddy?  On the Munsters?

Wait a minute.  That’s gotta be a mistake.  Those two definitely had to be blood relations.



Curt has opted for the more straight-across, Herman Munster look.

Curt Blefary was the 1965 AL Rookie of the Year.   Eight years later, he was out of baseball.  Though with enormous potential, he became know more for his poor defense (he was nicknamed “Clank”), his temper, his reputation as a loose cannon, and his love of the night life.  He wore out his welcome in eight major league cities and was done with baseball before he turned thirty.

Superb bio right here.



So, what is it with these Italian guys anyway?

Joey Amalfitano has been in baseball for 58 years.  That includes a forgettable ten years in the majors, managing the Cubs for three, and manning the third base coach’s box for 16 years for the Dodgers.  Currently, he’s a special assistant to the Giants, specializing primarily in bunting.

I’m not sure which name I like better – Rocky Colavito or Joey Amalfitano   Now, that’s Italian!



Wow, here’s an odd couple for ya ...  The guy on the left gave up nine runs in 19 innings lifetime.  Of the 17 hits he gave up, four were homers.  He also managed to give up 11 walks in those 19 innings.

The guy on the right won over 300 games and struck out over 4000 batters lifetime.  He won the Cy Young Award four times and is in the Hall of Fame. 

Guess who’s got the better eyebrows though? Fritz Ackley, take a bow!


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Not quite Andy Etchebarren, but the two – like Ken and Butch – have definitely got to be related somehow.

Tex Clevenger was a decent reliever for several teams in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s.  He led the AL in games played in 1958.

And if you're ever in Porterville, CA, you can buy a Fiesta or Focus from him at Clevenger Ford.  Tell ‘em Cliff sent you. 



You didn’t think we forgot Andy Etchebarren now, did you?  That guy’s up there with Wally Moon, and definitely deserves his own post.  Be sure to tune in next week.


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Monday, April 8, 2013

Just Plain Ugly (’60s Version, Black Guys)

Like I said before, Really Bad Baseball Cards is an equal opportunity discriminator.  Last week, we looked at some ugly white dudes.  This week, we look at some ugly black dudes.  Celebrating diversity – it’s in our blood!
 

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Really just your basic, run-of-the-mill ugly dude. 

Sounds like Al Jackson had a lot in common with Roger Craig.  Unlike Craig, though, Al started out with the Mets.  Before: 40-73 record and two 8-20 seasons.  After: a 27-26 record and a top 10 finish in complete games, ERA, and WHIP in 1966. 

Al came back to the Mets in ’69,  his last year in the majors.  Unfortunately, though, he wasn’t around for the big fun at the end of the year.
 

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This is actually a good shot of Danny.  There’s some scary stuff out there on Google Images, believe you me!

Another Met.  In true Met fashion, Danny Napoleon’s career amounted to a .162 average over 130 at bats.   Hard to believe he hit .351 with 36 homers in the minors the year before this card. 

By the way, Napoleon was the only MLB player in history with that illustrious surname. 
 


Hmm, might be the expression.  Felix doesn’t look so bad in other shots I’ve seen of him.

Not a bad player, Felix Mantilla stuck around for 11 years and almost 1000 games.  Somehow or other, he hit 30 homers in 1966.  That’s from a 6’0”, 160-lb string bean, whose previous high was 11.  If this didn’t happen in 1964 (when performance-enhancing drugs included Seagram’s and PBR), I’d be a little suspicious.

And, yes, he did play with the Mets – in 1962, no less.
 


Like Felix, Ed was not that ugly.  The photographer just seems to have caught him in an unfortunate pose.

Another decent ballplayer, Ed Charles was up for eight years and was a starter for seven of them.   He seems to be a man of many nicknames – The Poet, the Glider, Gum, and Ez.  Great bio right here.

Yup, another Met.  And he was there in ‘69. 
 


Once again, I’m not sure if this is a true image of this guy or if he was making a funny face for the camera.  A quick look on the Internets, though, convinces me this is definitely a case of the former.  Poor Dick.

Another string bean, Dick Simpson was 6’4” and 176 lbs.  Supposedly known for his speed, he unfortunately had a little trouble getting on first, finishing his career with a .207 average.

Not a Met!



Couldn’t decide which one was worse.  This one …

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… or this one.  Whichever you pick, I’m pretty sure this guy was an alien.

A very good ballplayer and a major character, Leon Wagner was known as “Daddy Wags,” surely one of the best baseball nicknames ever.   Over 12 years, “Daddy” totaled 211 homers, hitting 37 in one year with the Angels.  He was a two-time All Star for them.  Plus, he never played for the Mets!

Good bio on him right here.
 


I debated putting Nate under Noses, or maybe Teeth.  The dude’s got it all goin’ on, doesn’t he?

Nate Colbert’s skills were very similar to Leon Wagner’s.   Over 10 years, Colbert drilled 173 homers, hitting 38 twice for the Padres.   He was a three-time All Star.   Oh, one other thing … he never played for the Mets!

As a kid, I remember him well as the face of the early Padres.   Hmm, was that the right metaphor to use here?


Here's a little better look at ol' Nate. 

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And here's some more ugly - from the 50s, and the 70s.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Just Plain Ugly (’60s Version, White Guys)

At Really Bad Baseball Cards, we’re an equal opportunity discriminator.  This week, we’ll be looking at some ugly white guys.  Next week, we’ll be looking at some ugly black guys.  “Valuing diversity” – it’s our middle name.
 


Really just your basic, run-of-the-mill ugly dude. 

Wes Stock pitched in relief for the Orioles and A’s for nine years.  Comparable pitchers include John Pall, Todd Frowirth, and Dave Heaverlo. 

Wes had more success as a pitching coach, doing that for 18 years.  He also had a two-year stint broadcasting Mariners’ games.

Poor Wes …  his middle name is Gay. 


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Ditto. 

The one thing everyone seems to say about Denis Menke is that he was versatile.  Seems he played every position but pitcher and catcher.  Further, he was a starter at every infield position in at least one of his 13 years.

Somebody out there in Internet land found a comic book on Denis from 1970 and scanned most of it in.  Absolutely priceless.  You gotta check this one out!
 

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Do you remember granny dolls?  It was an arts ‘n crafts thing back in the ‘70s or so.  The heads were typically made from dried-up apples, to give Granny that sufficiently wrinkled look.  Kinda like Harvey here.

Everyone knows Harvey Haddix for his 12-inning perfect game.  You might not know that he also had a pretty decent career.  He finished with a very respectable 136-113 record, was a three-time All Star and Gold Glover, and once led the NL in shutouts and WHIP.
 


Roger, on the other hand, looks like one of those papier-mâché  balloon heads.

Roger Craig was a decent pitcher … before he was drafted by the ’62 Mets.  Before: 49-38 record, led league in shutouts, three World Series.  After:  25-60 record, individual years of 10-24 and 5-22.

Luckily, he had a chance to redeem himself as a coach and manager.  In the latter capacity, he finished 738-737 and also won a pennant with the Giants.
 

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Poor Bob Oldis.  A lifelong backup catcher (never breaking 100 at bats in one season and hitting only one homer in his career), he wasn’t exactly blessed in the looks department either. 

I’ve got to salute him, though.  He may be the ultimate baseball lifer.  His minor league career started in the ‘40s and he was still working as a scout in 2007 – seven decades later!


By the way, those are pretty funny ears, aren't they?



Ted was always careful to remove the bolts from his neck before any photo opportunities.
 

I discussed Ted’s stats in another post.  I didn’t mention, though, that he was the first reliever to get 30 saves and also set a then record for appearances, with 84. 

He’s a local boy, by the way, from the tiny burg of Stanley, NC.



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