Monday, May 6, 2013

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

There was something stalking the ballparks and spring training sites of major league baseball during the 1960s.  Something unusual.  Something strange.  Something frightening. 

What it was, I’m not quite sure.  I have seen these looks in Godzilla movies though. 
Perhaps it was indeed Godzilla, or Mothra, or even the Smog Monster.  How else to explain these strange expressions?


“Wha …?”

Lenny Green was up for 12 years, four of those as a starter.  He played for six different teams.  And that's about all I could find on ol' Lenny.

“Holy …”

Jim Davenport was a lifetime Giant who was their regular third baseman for a good ten years.  His best year was 1962, when he earned a Gold Glove and went to the All Star game.  Other than that, his full-season averages were less than earth-shaking: .258, eight homers, and 49 RBIs.  He hit .136 in the only Series he ever got in.

“Ennhhh …”

Orlando Cepeda is one of those guys who I can never remember whether they’re in the Hall of Fame or not (he is).   Somehow or other, I always get him confused with Willie McCovey (he’s in the Hall too).

Seventeen seasons, .297 career average, 1365 RBIs, 379 homers, Rookie of the Year, and MVP …  Not too shabby.  His nicknames were “Cha Cha” and “Baby Bull” 

Off the field, he was known for converting to Buddhism and getting busted for dealing pot.

“Nnnooo …”

Russ Snyder played in three decades, debuting in 1959 for the KC Athletics and bowing out with the Twins in 1970.  Most of his time was spent with the Orioles, however, mostly as a backup.  Overall, he never broke 400 at-bats, 10 homers, or 50 RBIs. 

Interestingly, his first year in organized baseball may have been one of the all-time greats.  He hit .432 in 550 at bats.  Unfortunately, it was for the lowly McAlester Rockets.

“What the …?”

Billy Cowan was up for eight seasons, but only one as a starter.  In that year, he got just short of 500 at-bats and hit 19 home runs.  It was the only year he got more than 200 at-bats.  Being second in the league in strikeouts that big year probably didn’t help things much.

Wanna see Billy at the end of his career? Click right here.


“Yes, master …”

Dean Chance was one of the darlings of the expansion Los Angeles Angels.  In their fourth year, he won the AL Cy Young Award with a record of 20-9 and an ERA of 1.65.  He was later traded to the Twins, where he pitched 283 innings for them one year and 292 the next.  Ouch!

After baseball, Chance became a boxing manager and promoter and a carnival barker.  I am not making this up.

* - author has this card

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