Monday, January 28, 2013

You Know, I Don’t Feel So Good (60s Version)

Not totally sure what’s going on with these dudes.  Knowing ballplayers – especially ballplayers from way back then – I’m assuming it’s just the common hangover.

Maybe these guys really were coming down with something though.  And a couple honestly look more concerned than sick (though that’s definitely a look you can get when you’re real sick). 

So, whatever their problems actually happened to be, here are some guys who really need to be looked at.  Trainer!  Medic!
 


Bobby Locke hit his only major league home run in his pitching debut.  After that, unfortunately, it was all downhill.  Only once did he break 100 innings, and his highest win total was just four.  Somehow or other, though, he managed to stay nine years in the bigs.

I found this repeated about Bobby on several websites: “He was sometimes called Larry, and at one point worked as a hairstylist.”  Though his real first name was Lawrence, I’m afraid the hairstylist bit may be a bit of an urban legend, repeated endlessly through the wonders of – and lack of fact-checking on – the Internet. 

A lengthy bio at the Fayette County (PA) Hall of Fame website says nothing about any tonsorial skills.  And, let me tell ya, it’s hard to get any more authoritative than that.
 


Hank Fischer was up for six years, being the number four or five starter in three of them.  His best season was 1964, when he came in second to Koufax in shutouts (though only finishing 11-10)

Hank is in the Yonkers Hall of Fame.
 


Ron Piche was a French Canadian, from Montreal, and is in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.  Not totally sure why.  South of the border, he managed only a 10-16 record over six years and 221 innings in the bigs.

It does seem like he was a beloved figure up there however.  He was known as “Monsieur Baseball” and has a senior league named after him.


*

Well, at least he's consistent.


Man, there are a lot of Daniel Murphys out there.  On the Wikipedia, I count five baseball players, three soccer players, and the occasional computer scientist, philanthropist, and Irish hurling star – none of whom appear to be in any halls of fame, by the way.

Our Danny, interestingly, came up as an outfielder, then finished his career off as a pitcher (and with a six-year minor league hiatus between the two).  His offensive career included three years, 132 at bats, and a .159 average.  Pitching wasn’t much better: two years, 112 innings, 4.66 ERA. 

Great old article from Sport Illustrated about Murphy’s signing for a $100,000 bonus, the biggest one of 1960, right here.
 


Harry Chiti broke in at age 17, then scuffled around for ten more years, four teams, less than 1500 at bats, and a .238 average.  Yup, he’s a catcher.

Of those four teams, three at least were some of the worst teams ever – the 50s Cubs, the KC Athletics, and the original Mets.  Maybe that explains Harry’s expression.

Actually, poor Harry wasn’t even good enough for the 62 Mets. They traded for him in exchange for a player to be named later.  That player just so happened to be Harry Chiti – when the Mets saw enough and sent him back. Thus, Chiti was the first player ever traded for himself.
 


Like Carl Mays, Jack Hamilton may be most famous for seriously hurting someone with a baseball.  Mays killed Ray Chapman.  Hamilton was the pitcher who beaned Tony Conigliaro, almost killing him and subsequently forcing him into retirement. 

The incident seemed to effect Hamilton as well.  The following year, he went 3-1, but it was 0-5, 0-2, 0-3, and out of baseball after that.

He now runs a restaurant in Branson, MO called Jack’s Plaza View Restaurant.  Y’all come!
 


Maybe somebody just shot his dog.  I dunno.

Sammy Ellis was a pretty decent player, so I’m not sure why he looks so down in the dumps here.  For the Reds, he was an All-Star and a 20-game winner, and led them in saves one year as well.

Unfortunately, he went from a 20-game winner to a 19-game loser, and from a 3.79 ERA to a 5.29 one.  Classic case of arm trouble.



Man, that arm musta really hurt.  Give that guy a Percocet, will ya!

Hey, wanna see Sammy in a hat – and with a slightly less bummed expression on his face?  Click here!


* - author has this card


And don't forget to check out these ill dudes from the 50s.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cap, Backwards (60s Version)

You still see this look occasionally.  It’s nowhere near as popular as it was in, say, the ‘80s, but it’s still around.  You know, kinda like the mullet.

Personally, I think this look takes about 20 points off your IQ.  I’m sure these guys all went on to become nuclear rocket surgeons, but sometimes you just gotta wonder.  Here, let me show you what I mean …
 

Carl Taylor had a pretty non-descript six years in the bigs.  Over about 850 at-bats, he hit only 10 homers, though he did manage a respectable .266 average.  Pretty versatile, Carl caught and also played first, third, left, and right.

A little different look at Carl right here.

*

I’ll bet Carl and Jerry used to hang out together.

Jerry May was a true defensive whiz, .finishing with a .990 fielding percentage and a 42.75% caught-stealing percentage (11th all time). 

Jerry’s main claim to fame was catching Dock Ellis’s purported LSD-fueled no-hitter.  Apologies to Fritz Peterson, but I think that might be about as ‘60s as it gets.



Jerry Zimmerman had an even more non-descript career than Carl Taylor – if that’s possible.  Jerry was up for eight years, retiring with 994 at-bats, 3 home runs, and a .204 average. 
 

“Zimmy” also coached for a number of years, managed the Twins for two games when Gene Mauch was sick, and even umped a game during the 1978 umpires’ strike.
 


You’ve met Jimmie before.  And, yes, he looked pretty goofy and sad sack back there too.

I don’t think I mentioned it previously, but Jimmie Schaffer had a pretty non-descript (there’s that word again) coaching and minor-league managing career, in addition to his non-descript playing one.


Okay, now we’re getting into some seriously bad looks. 

Unlike the other losers in this post so far, John Bateman actually started or platooned for most of his career.  I’m talking over 1000 games and 3300 at-bats.


You know, John kinda reminds me of somebody. I'm not sure who though. Hmm, maybe this guy ...

*

Tom’s definitely got that escapee-from-the-local-state-hospital look going on here. 

Another regular, Tom Haller played in just short of 1300 games and amassed just short of 4000 at bats.  He once hit 27 homers, for the ’66 Giants.  Tom was a three-time All Star.

His post-playing career included coach, minor league manager, and several executives positions, including GM for the Giants.  I believe he was also a stand-in for Peter Sellers on the set of Being There.
 


I’ll bet Tom and John escaped together.  I have a funny feeling, though, that Tom was the brains behind the operation. 

Though a regular, Johnny Edwards (what he typically went by) was primarily known for his defense.  He was a two-time Gold Glover, and led his league in assists and fielding percentage four times each, putouts three, and caught stealing twice.

Ironically, Edwards worked as an engineer for General Electric in research and development for nuclear fuel elements in the offseason.  Whooda thunk it?
 


Yup, they even got this guy to look like a moron.  Well, it was his “rookie star” card.  Guess you just do whatever they tell you to do for that one.  (More Johnny Bench here and here.)

Ron Tompkins, where are you now?


* - author has this card

 


Just can’t get enough of those backwards caps?  Well, I’ve got two (yup, that’s right – two!) posts on them for the ‘50s.  Check ‘em out here and here.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Haberdashery Horrors of the 1960s

In 1960, America celebrated the 100th anniversary of the baseball cap.  Yup, just 100 years before, the Brooklyn Excelsiors first wore something that looked, smelled, and quacked enough like our modern version to make it into the history books.  There were some changes over the years – lengthening the brim and making the structure more rigid, namely – but, basically, a classic was born.

It’s hard to mess up a classic, right?  Right?
 


Another fashionista opting for the baseball bonnet (vide Sam Jones, at the bottom).  This was actually a pretty popular look for the journeyman baseball player, the guy who never knew whose cap he would be wearing next year.  The sans chapeau look served the same purpose – but also looked a lot less goofy.

Frank had a pretty non-descript career, going 19-29 over a seven-year career.  His main claim to fame was leading the AL in wild pitches in 1968 with 17.

Turns out he was a huge fisherman after retiring from baseball.  In fact, most of the links to him I could find on Google talk about fishing instead of baseball.
 

*

“Hey, Gomer!”  “Hey, Goober!”

Barry Latman had a lot of promise, but ended up with a pretty average career.  Over 11 years and four teams, he put together a 59-68 record with a 3.91 record and 829 strikeouts. 

That was enough, though, to put him in the top ten among Jewish pitchers.  Yup, Larry’s Jewish.  Funny, I don’t recall a lot of Jews on the Andy Griffith Show ...
 


Jose’s hat angle is kind of the opposite of Frank’s and Barry’s.  Makes him look a lot cooler too, don’t you think?

A pretty darn good player, Jose Cardenal played 18 years for nine teams.  That equated to almost 7000 at bats, 2000 hits, and 1000 runs. 

That said, Jose seemed to be most famous for his malingering.  Some of his excuses included stuck eyelids and noisy crickets keeping him up all night.


I've got a whole post devoted to Jose - actually to Jose's hair - right here.
 


You call that a hat?  That’s not a hat!  Sheesh.

Alas, this was what graphic designers had to do before there was Photoshop.  Pretty hard to believe, huh?

Fritz Peterson was a decent pitcher for some woeful Yankee teams, but might be best remembered for swapping wives with teammate Mike Kekich.  And what could be more ‘60s than that?
 


Poor Danny.  He was home sick the day they gave out uniforms.  All they had left for hats were those XXLs.

Danny Cater was not a bad ballplayer.  He managed to stay in the majors for 12 years, totaling over 4000 at bats and 1200 hits.  Versatile, he played every position except catcher and short.

According to Jim Bouton in Ball Four, Cater could “figure out his batting average to four decimal places on his way down to first base.”
 

 
Ditto on the XXL.


Does Dave look familiar?  He had a slightly different pose in a post on goofy looks.  In that post, I shared some interesting bits of trivia about Dave.  I didn’t mention that he’s often confused with Don Stanhouse, who was also an AL pitcher of roughly the same talent and time period.


I dunna know.  Maybe big hats were just fashionable for a year or two back then.  Kinda like flat-brim caps or leaving the price tag on today.

Sammy had a pretty promising start to his career, leading the Reds in saves in his rookie year and then in wins as a sophomore.  An arm injury, though, caused his ERA to jump 1.50 and his winning percentage to be cut in half his junior year.  He struggled through a couple of more seasons, and that was pretty much that.


So, how about a couple of shots of Sammy looking a little under the weather?
 


Mickey Lolich was probably the most famous wearer of the ten-gallon-cap look.

A darn good pitcher, Lolich notched over 200 wins and was less than 200 strikeouts short of 3000.  He’s probably best know, though, for winning three games in the ’68 Series, outpitching Bob Gibson in Game 7 to bring the title home to the Motor City.
 

*

Bill actually couldn’t make it for photo day.  He sent his ten-year-old brother Bobby instead.

Hepler was an early Rule 5 guy.  The Mets took him from the Senators and kept him on their roster for all of 1966.  He didn’t’ do too badly, finishing with 3-3 record and a 3.52 ERA in 37 appearances.  He was up in the majors only that one year though.

Spell check really wants me to turn that last name into Helper, by the way.



Looks like some dudes from the ‘50s were trying to get in on the celebration a little early.  Check ‘em out here


* - author has this card

Monday, January 7, 2013

Crew Cuts a Go-Go

It was a hip and happenin’ time, the ‘60s.  For the first time in 60 or 70 years, facial hair was okay.  And for the first time since, heck, Lord Byron and Franz Liszt, hair that went past the upper ear or collar was generally accepted.

So, what hip and happenin’ hairstyle did more than a fair share of major leaguers adopt?  Why, the crew cut, of course.


“Here come ol’ flattop.  He come groovin’ up slowly …”

A minor-league Babe Ruth, George Banks clouted 223 homers over 11 years  and topped 30 in a season twice.  In the majors, he was up for five seasons, but only got just over 200 at bats. A .219 average (though with a respectable nine homers) probably accounted for that.  He died at age 46 of Lou Gehrig’s Disease.


 *

Bob here is sporting the classic “animal pelt” look.

Bob Hendley bounced around the majors for seven years, finishing with a pretty ho-hum 48-52 record, 3.97 ERA, and 522 strikeouts.  Bob’s probably best known for losing a one-hitter to Sandy Koufax, who just so happened to pitch a perfect game that very same day.  Bad luck, Bob! 



How do you mess up a crew cut?  I mean, seriously, how is it possible to mess up a friggin crewcut, fer Chrissakes?

Pete Richert started his major-league career out with a bang.  He struck out the first 6 batters he faced.  No one else has ever done that.

Pete followed that up with a respectable 13 years in the bigs.  He started for a few years in the mid-60s then switched to the bullpen, where he ended up with 51 saves overall.  He was a two-time All Star.
 

*

Russ liked putting on his daughter’s plastic wig.  You know, the one she got in the mail, from that ad in the back of the comic book.  It made him feel “special.” (Also see Vic Roznovsky, for the blond version)

Russ Nixon was in the bigs for 12 years, as catcher and pinch-hitter.  He holds the record for most games played without ever stealing a base.  Russ also managed the Reds and Braves for a total of five years – and a record of 231-347 (ouch!). 
 


Danny was a monk in the off season.  He’s sporting the new tonsure crew, very popular among the more athletic brothers.

Another backup catcher (why are there so many of these guys?), Danny Kravitz got 552 at-bats over five seasons, batting .236 and never topping 200 at-bats in any one season.  His nicknames were “Dusty” and “Beak.”  “Beak”?

No relation to Lenny, as far as I know.


*

Jerry “the Great Horned Owl” Lumpe swooped down on grounders and flew around the bases.

Jerry Lumpe had a pretty decent career.  He started at second for eight years, totaling almost 5000 at-bats overall.  He was an All Star one year, and started for the Yanks in the ’57 and ’58 series.  He also had a pretty funny name.
 


Hey, it’s Beaker!

You've met Bob before, just a couple of weeks ago, where he sported a more free-flowing look.  


In that post, I made fun of Bob's extremely common name.  Little did I realize it at the time, but Bob's original name was Gemeinweiser.  Now I understand.  I totally understand.

But would you believe - while we're on the subject of names - Bob was one of two Bob Millers on the '62 Mets? 


* - author has this card