Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Rowland Office: In a League of His Own

On the field, it didn’t amount to much.  Over 11 years, Rowland Office got just over 2,400 at bats, hit .259, and totaled only 32 homers and 27 steals.  In a single season, he got over 400 at bats only twice – with some of Atlanta’s most woeful teams.  His main claim to fame was being the youngest player in the majors, in 1972, at age 19.

Off the field is another matter though.  In fact, Rowland is the force behind:

Straight ahead.

1974.  Rowland is 21 years old, and a late-inning defensive substitute for some guy named Aaron.  Seems said Aaron was busy chasing some sort of record or something, and didn’t want to tire himself out too much.

Show ‘em your best side, Rowland.

1975.  Rowland gets 100 more at bats, hits .290, but “clubs” the same measly number of homers (3), and somehow manages to get one less RBI (30).

Note to self:  be sure to close mouth.

1977.  Rowland manages to get a career-high in at bats, but still only get 5 homers.  Hitting .242 doesn’t help any.

Good idea.  You know, that close-up wasn’t really working, was it?

1978.  Arguably Rowland’s best year ever.   He sets records for homers (9), RBIs (40), and steals (8). 

Hey, hey!  What did I say about the close-up?  And the mouth!

1980.  We are now ready to become an Expo.  Basically, we’ve traded one dorky-looking softball league cap for another.  It doesn’t help our game much though.

It’s a Fleer, but just such a classic, I had to end with it.

1981.  We get only 44 at bats and hit .175.  It’s better than the next two years, though, where we get 4 and 3 at bats respectively.

Rowland, it’s been nice knowin’ ya.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Close Your Pie Hole!

Last week, we looked at some guys who appeared a little challenged in the IQ department.   Well, one thing I didn’t cover there is a particular pose that’s guaranteed to drop the old IQ a couple of dozen points.  And that’s a little old fashioned mouth-breathing.

Not too bad.

Pepe Frias’s Wikipedia entry includes all of 30 words.  From it, we learn his full name, birth date, nationality, position, and years of MLB service.

Part of that, I’m sure, is from Pepe’s being no more than your classic backup middle infielder.  He did get one shot at the big time, though, when Atlanta gave him 510 at bats in 1979.  He batted a respectable .259, hit the only HR he managed in 1346 career at bats, but also committed 32 errors.

His real name was Jesus Maria.  His teammates called him “Harpo” (the ‘fro would grow).  And another blogger pointed out how close his name is to papas fritas, Spanish for “French fries.”

Definitely getting there.

Johnnie LeMaster was another weak-hitting middle infielder.  Unfortunately, he was also a first-round draft pick.  And what that means is plenty of opportunities to show off that weak bat. 

In fact, he was known as “Johnnie Disaster” and once came out on the field with “Boo” substituted for “LeMaster” on the back of his jersey.  One blogger even wrote a post arguing that Johnnie was the worst MLB player ever.

Johnnie did, however, do something no other MLB player has ever done – he hit an inside-the-park homer in his first at bat.  I guess it was all downhill from there.



Pumpsie Green didn't amount to much on the field, but off the field was another story. Bet you didn't know he:
  • Went by the nickname Pumpsie, but was born Elijah
  • Had a brother who played in the NFL
  • Was the first black player for the Red Sox, the last team to integrate
  • With Gene Conley, went missing for 3 days during the 1962 season (turning up at with him Idlewild Airport trying to buy tickets to Israel, with no passports or luggage)

You mad, bro?

Mike Ivie was another first rounder.  In fact, Mike went first overall in the 1970 draft. 

Mike actually had the start of a decent career, hitting 27 homers with the Giants in 1979. 

Unfortunately, he then went and cut off his pinkie in a hunting accident in the offseason.  After that, he got only an average of about 150 at bats over the next four years, with three different clubs, before finally bowing out.


"Ooh, teacher! Mike just said a bad word."

Hmm ...  When I went to search on "dan schneider," Google suggested "dan schneider rape," "dan schneider pervert," and "dan schneider rumors." Wait a minute ...  Wrong Dan! 

A search on "dan schneider baseball" gets our man. There, we learn that Dan was a college All-American at the University of Arizona. He then went on to spend five years in the bigs, finishing 2-5, with a 4.71 ERA. Dan is also a member of the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame - which, by the way, is pretty much at the very opposite end of the country from Cooperstown.

I’ve already made fun of Tim McCarver’s hair and hat in a previous blog.  Something’s telling me this isn’t the last we’ll be seeing of him. 

In that previous blog, I touched on McCarver’s pretty decent stats.  Here are some highlights from his long broadcasting career:
  • He’s in the Hall of Fame (Broadcasters Wing)
  • He’s won three Emmy Awards
  • He won the Ford Frick Award in 2012
  • He set a record for most World Series broadcast, with 13
  • He’s broadcast for ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox

This seems half dumb and half like El Tiante is making fun of the batter.

Luis Tiant was a major character.  Who can forget his weird back-to-the-batter windup, the cigars, the broken English, the fu man chu …?

He was also a pretty decent pitcher.  He led his league twice in both ERA and shutouts, was a three-time All Star, and won 20 or more four times. 

He shone in the post-season too, especially for the Sox.  Overall, he finished with a 3-0 record and 2.78 ERA over 35 innings.

Wow, John Ellis sure did get around.  Google tells me he was a catcher, first baseman, musician, physicist, animator, pastoralist, scrivener, and governor of North Carolina.  Wikipedia actually lists no less than 40 John Ellisses.

According to his Wikipedia entry, our John Ellis:
  • Was the first DH in Cleveland Indians history
  • Caught Dick Bosman’s no-hitter
  • Had a son who played for the University of Maine and in the Texas Rangers system for three years (and probably authored said entry)

Overall, John Sr. was up for 13 years, finishing with a .262 average and about 2700 at bats in 880-some games.

Poor Pat Dobson.  He was a pretty decent pitcher, but you’d never know he was smart enough to count balls and strikes from this shot.

Pat bounced around a little before ending up with the O’s.  He was part of their 1971 staff, the last major league staff to have four 20-game winners.  (Name the other three!  Answers below.)

After retiring, Pat went on to become a successful pitching coach and scout. 


Duke Sims!  Man, does this guy bring back memories.  Every year, when I was collecting cards as a kid, I seemed to get a plethora of Duke Sims cards.  I swear, for every one Hank Aaron or Bob Gibson, I’d have at least 18 Duke Sims.

Duke’s Wikipedia entry includes such interesting tidbits as Duke's:
  • Leading all Utah-born players with career home runs
  • Finishing with exactly 100 dingers on the nose
  • Being the catcher in Game 2 of the AL Championship Series in 1972, “where Bert Campaneris threw the bat at Lerrin LaGrow after being hit on the ankle” (whoa!)
  • Catching the last game at old Yankee Stadium before it was refurbished in 1974


For some reason, Rico Petrocelli was one of my favorite players as a kid.  Not totally sure why.  It might’ve just been the great Italian name (it means "soft Peter").

Petrocelli was unusual for his day and age as a shortstop who could hit the long ball.  He actually hit 40 of them in 1969, a then AL record.  Overall, he finished with 210 dingers, over 13 years with the Red Sox.  Not a bad guy with a glove either, he led AL shortstops in fielding twice.

Still in the Boston area, Rico now owns his own marketing company, and is actually on LinkedIn.  Connect with him now!

It's a Fleer, it's from the 1980s, but what a way to go out!

* - author has this card

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Dumb, Dumber, and Dumbest (Round 2)

The camera freezes a moment in time.  You could be looking really smart at that moment, or you could be looking really dumb.  The camera doesn’t care. 

Heck, I’m sure there are pictures of Albert Einstein and Marilyn Vos Savant out there with eyes closed and mouths wide open.  And that sort of pose makes even the smartest people look like they should be sitting on the couch, drinking Bud, eating Doritos, and watching Cops.

So, let’s just assume that’s the case here as well.  I’m sure these guys were all rocket surgeons and brain scientists in the off season.

Though he never amounted to much in the pros, Gary Sutherland was quite the star before his professional career.  In fact, Gary:
  • Was an All American at USC
  • Also played on the basketball team there
  • Was on the US Olympics baseball team (a demonstration sport at Tokyo 64)
  • Was a local figure skating champion in high school

Must be the teeth.

Tom Shopay’s main claim to fame is playing all or part of seven seasons, but never getting more than 75 at bats in any one of those.

Oh, he also got cut from his Little League team.  

And, just to put the final nail in the coffin, here’s a little something from Cal Ripken, Jr., who also collected cards when he was a kid:

I was an Orioles fan.  Seems like it took me forever to get Brooks Robinson.  I had a whole bunch of Tom Shopays though.

The teeth, I tell ya, it’s the teeth.  Or maybe the underbite.

Like Tom Shopay, Bill Butler also played for seven seasons.  He was marginally better, starting for the Royals in their inaugural season and also in the following year.  
Overall, he finished 23-35 (.397), with a 4.21 ERA and 1.465 WHIP.  Comparable pitchers include Ross Baumgarten and Juan Eichelberger.

By the way, don’t confuse Bill with current KC star Billy Butler.

Or the overbite …

Jose Arcia was up for only three years, but managed to get almost twice as many at bats as Tom Shopay.  Like Bill Butler, he had two seasons in the sun that came after being drafted by an expansion team – in Jose’s case, the Padres.

The Pads traded him to the Twins for one Jerry Schlegelmilch.  Folks, I couldn't make this stuff up.

“You mean one of these?  Like I’m selecting one?  A bat?  ….  Uh, uh …  I don’t get it.”

Another so-so player, Tom Grieve was up for nine years, getting in 1,900 at bats.  He had only one year where he was a genuine starter, getting in 526 at bats and hitting 20 homers.

It was a popular look in Our Nation’s Capital that year.

Continuing our parade of mediocrity, Ed Stroud finished his six-year career with a .237 average and 14 homer runs in 1,353 at bats.

Interestingly, his nicknames include both “The Streak” and “The Creeper.”  How can that be possible?

Okay, George, one’s a fastball and two’s a …  Have you got a curve?  Okay, one’s a fastball and …  No, a fastball.   One.   A  fastball.  Okay, now two …  George?  George?

So, it should come as no surprise to you that George Stone is not frequently confused with Tom Seaver or Jim Palmer.  Stone was up for nine years, finishing two games above .500 and with a 3.89 ERA.  He did have one really good year, though, where he went 12-3 with a 2.80 ERA for the World-Series-losing Mets.

If only his IQ was as high as his batting average.  People wouldn’t be making fun of Mario Mendoza then, would they?

Well, well, well – it’s Mr. Mediocrity himself.  You may actually be surprised to find that Mendoza actually finished 15 points above his eponymous line.  Of his nine years in the majors, though, he did finish a majority of them under .200.

I’m not sure if it’s because of his famous line or what, but Mario is in the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame.

No, not that Mike Tyson.  

This Mike Tyson:
  • 5’ 9”
  • 170 lbs
  • 1,017 games
  • 27 HRs
  • Middle name: Ray
  • Nicknames: none

That Mike Tyson:
  • 5’ 10”
  • 230 lbs.
  • 58 fights
  • 50 wins
  • 44 knockouts
  • Middle name: Gerald
  • Nicknames: Kid Dynamite, Iron Mike, The Baddest Man on the Planet

If you’re not that bright, don’t try to look like you are.  Okay?  It only makes you look kinda … well … even less bright than you actually are.

Verh Ruhle reminds me a lot of George Stone.  Ruhle was up for nine years and finished with a 67-78 record and 3.73 ERA.  

And, like Stone, Ruhle had one great year.  In Ruhle’s case, it was 1980, when he went 12-4 with a 2.37 ERA, and the Astros won their first title.

You may also know him as a pitching coach for the Astros and then the Reds.

Frank Tanana was actually not a bad-looking guy.  This shot, though, makes it look like he should be on the Special Olympics baseball team.

Tanana is far and away the best player in this post.  He won 240 games and recorded almost 2,800 strikeouts in a 21-year career.

He also was a three-time All Star, and led the league in ERA, strikeouts, and shutouts. Finally, he had a 1.000 fielding average for six different seasons.

More dumb right here.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Disco Dandies

It was the worst of times.  It was the worst of times.  No, seriously.  I’m amazed any of us survived the ‘70s.  The hair, the clothes, the music.

Yeah, especially the music.  What is it about disco that is just so damn awful?  Is it the complete artificiality of it all?  The incessant, mind-numbing beat?  The absolute lack of any purpose other than to get coke-addled losers up on the dance floor and, hopefully, into somebody else’s pants at the end of the night?

Well, whatever it was, these guys definitely had it.

You put your right foot in …

Rudy May was not a bad pitcher.  Overall, he was up for 18 years, won over 150 games, and once led the AL in ERA.

Today, Rudy is available for appearances.  According to Thuzio, you can:
  • Get a private pitching lesson from him for $200
  • Have lunch or dinner with him for $500
  • Play golf with him for $1,500
Unfortunately, there was nothing on the site about dance lessons.

You put your right foot out …

Jesse Jefferson was a bad pitcher.  He finished with a 39-81 record (.325), a 4.81 ERA, and a 1.539 WHIP.  He was one of the original Blue Jays, and somehow managed to start for them for a couple of years.

Almost forgot …  Jesse was a league leader twice.  Unfortunately, it was for errors committed as a pitcher.  Hmm, looks like he may be committing one of those on this very card.

You do the hokey-pokey, and you shake it all about.

Dan Driessen is mostly remembered today as a member of the Big Red Machine of the 1970s.  He played for the Reds for 12 years, mostly as their starting third baseman. 

Driessen’s nickname was “The Cobra” – for his quick, powerful swings (and not his dance moves, as some would have you believe).

Not everyone could do this move, you know.

Hey, these are Hall of Fame dance moves!  Yup, Rich “Goose” Gossage was elected to the Hall in his last year of eligibility.  Overall, he led his league three times in saves, and finished with 310.

Lee Smith, on the other hand, led his league four times and finished with 478 saves.  He is not in the Hall of Fame. 

Guess which player was a New York Yankee?

Disco dance move or follow-through?  Only Jim knew for sure.

As a serious Pirate fan, I will always have a warm place in my heart for Jim Bibby.  He was an important part of the ‘79 championship team, getting 15 strikeouts and tallying a 2.08 ERA in 17 postseason innings.

We are family / I got all my sisters with me / We are family / Get up everybody and sing!

Ohmigod, it’s Tony Manero – with a ‘stache!

Doing a little searching online, I found out that Don Hood is, not only a dancing fool, but also a:
  • Professor of psychology at Columbia
  • Male model
  • Pole vaulter
  • Attorney
  • Insurance salesman
Hey, the dude gets around.  Thanks Google!

The man himself.

Darnell Glenn “Disco Dan” Ford was an okay ballplayer.  His main claims to fame were being up for 12 years, garnering over 4,000 at bats and 1,000 hits.  His best year was 1979, when he hit 21 dingers and broke the 100 barrier in both runs and RBIs.

Whence the moniker?  Here, let Dan explain it himself:

I used to go to this club in Minnesota and got friendly with the people there.  They put on disco and came out with a T-shirt of me, and the nickname came out because of that.

Fittingly, Disco Dan once appeared in Playgirl