Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Geezers

It’s pretty damn hard to believe, but only one of these guys is a manager.  And that guy was only a few years away from being a player himself. 

How come I never see any guys like this out on the basketball court or football field?  Why are old geezers like these particular to baseball?


Okay, here’s our manager.  Would you believe this picture was taken only a couple of years after Hank traded the playing field for the dugout though?  He was 41

Hank Bauer was a pretty decent ballplayer (three-time All Star) and manager (World Series champ with Baltimore in 66).  His main claim to fame, though, is as a World Series star for the Yankees in the 50s, getting in over seven series and generally tearing things up.

Check out this post, where I make fun of that nose.


In this post, Roy Face looks old.  In another post in this blog, Roy looked ugly.  Maybe there are some cards out there somewhere where he looks both.  I dunno.

In that ugly post, I shared some of Roy’s stats.  Here’s a little Roy Face trivia:

•    His full name was Elroy Leon
•    His nickname was “Baron”
•    He threw a forkball
•    Upon retirement, he became a carpenter


No, no, the crew cut takes years off, Lew.  It looks great.  Really!

Lew (AKA “Lou”) Burdette was a darn good pitcher.   Overall, he finished 203-144, with a 1.24 WHIP.  He won 20 twice, led the NL in ERA, was a three-time All Star, and was the World Series MVP in 1957.

By the way, Lew’s  real first name was Selva, and he was born in Nitro, WV.


God, I love this guy.  He’s already appeared three times in this blog (Cap Backwards 1, Cap Backwards 2, and Love Children).  I really should have given him his own post.

Looking at those older posts, I see I went over everything but Smoky’s stats.  So, without further ado: 18 years, 1691 games, 126 homers, 673 RBIs, .295 average.  He was also a six-time All Star.


“Get off my lawn, kid!”

Everyone knows about Don Larsen’s perfect game in the ’56 World Series.  What a lot of people don’t know is that, outside of that one game, he was a pretty mediocre pitcher.

In fact, Larsen once had one of the worst seasons for a pitcher ever, finishing 3-21 for the lowly ’54 St. Louis Browns.  Overall, he finished under .500, with a WHIP over 1.40.  Comparable pitchers include Dan Spillner, Jakie May, and Al Benton. 
 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Everyone Wants To Be Like Elvis

Think of the women.  The money.  The toys.  The adulation.

Who wouldn’t want that hair?  Those clothes.  That look.  That sneer.  Yeah, especially that sneer …

 *

Pretty subtle, but it’s definitely there.

A decent ballplayer, Norm Siebern will probably go down in history as one of the guys the Yankees unloaded to get Roger Maris.   That said, Norm put up some nice numbers during a 12-year career –  132 HRs and over 600 runs and RBI both, with a nice .369 OBP to boot.  He was a Gold Glove winner and a three-time All Star too.

And would you believe Norm’s got a blog dedicated just to him?
 


Ah, Jim Rittwage, where are you now?

Jim did finally make it to the majors, albeit six years after this card came out.  And that was for a mere eight games in a single year. 

His one win was pretty dramatic though – a shutout against Dave McNally and the pennant-winning Orioles, with Jim striking out Brooks Robinson with the bases loaded to end the game.  Wow!
 


Hey, Elvis never had a buzz cut!

But Wayne Comer did.

Comer was up for five years, playing with three teams.  Highlights include a 1.000 World Series average (a pinch hit for Detroit in ’68) and a full-time gig for the Seattle Pilots in 1969 (15 HRs, 18 SBs, 88 runs)

For some reason, there are two lengthy bios on Wayne, here and here.
 


Jerry Buchek’s career was eerily like Wayne Comer’s.  Right down to the single World Series at bat – and hit! 

And like Wayne, for some reason there are two lengthy posts all about Jerry – this one and this one.  I assume Jerry and Wayne shared a love of Elvis as well.


 *

Tony, you really need to grow that hair out a little and add some sideburns.  If you really want to look like the King, that is.

Tony Cloninger was a pretty decent pitcher.  He finished with over 100 wins and 1000 strikeouts in a 12-year career.

Tony was also a pretty decent hitter.  He finished with .192 average, 11 homers, and 67 RBIs.  He’s the only pitcher to ever hit two grand slams in one game.

He’s a local boy, by the way, and still resides in the (Charlotte, NC) area.
 


Hey, Black guys can do it too.

Donn Clendenon’s a frequent flyer in this blog.  You can pretty much count on him to give you an odd expression or have his eyes closed

In those other posts, I shared Donn’s stats and also some of his intellectual accomplishments.  Check ‘em out!
 

*

Giving it your best Elvis sneer with a mouth full of chewing tobacco was a real skill. 

And John Melvin (“Bubba”) Phillips had it.

You’ve met Bubba before, where we discussed his resemblance to a well-known pit bull.   I didn’t really have space there for much else, so here goes …

A multi-sport star in college, Bubba turned down an offer from the San Francisco 49ers to play baseball.  In a ten-year major league career, Bubba was a starter in six and finished with over 3,000 at bats.   A good fielder, he led his league in traditional things like putouts and also more esoteric things like range factor and total zone runs.
 


Man, he’s got the hair and everything.  Wilbur Wood, you are the King!

Wood was a true knuckleball star.  He finished ninth among knuckleball starters in wins, and third among knuckleball relievers in saves.  He won 20 twice, lost 20 twice, and managed to do both in a single year once (24-20 in 1973).  He was a three-time All Star and came in second, third, and fifth for the Cy Young award.

Knuckleballers are hardy souls.  Wilbur led the league in games started four times, games played three, and innings pitched two.  He was the last pitcher to start both ends of a doubleheader.
 


Of course Elvis had his own baseball card set.  Actually, he had a number of them.


* - author has this card

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mamaz Boyz

It’s not the manliest sport.  I know, I know, it’s not ping pong or curling or croquet.  At the same time, though, it’s not exactly rugby or bull riding or mixed martial arts. 

Okay, okay, I don’t want to wear a Justin Verlander fastball, or get into a fight with Nolan Ryan, or try to tag out Ty Cobb stealing a base.  That said, I just can’t stop thinking about George Carlin’s great monologue comparing baseball and football. 

I do know that these guys sure don’t look like Verlander, or Ryan, or Cobb, or even George Carlin.  Actually, though, they do look a little familiar somehow.  You know, I’m pretty sure I may have seen some of them before.  I know!  It was down at the local croquet court!  With their mamas!!

*

Okay, Gil.  One, two, three, simper!

Not a lot to say about Gil Blanco.  He was up for a cup of coffee with the Yanks one year and then for another cup with the A’s the next.  His full name was Gilbert Henry.

The Stalk-Forrest Group, which would later become the Blue Oyster Cult, had a song called “Gil Blanco County.”  I have no idea what these two have in common.


Bruce spent ten minutes in front of the mirror before he was “ready.”

Bruce Howard actually had a fairly decent six-year career.  He finished with a 3.18 ERA and had 349 Ks in 530 innings of work.  His son, David Howard, also played in the majors.
 

It’s the lapels.

Dick Calmus was another bonus baby.  You may remember that the rules back then forced teams to add any player they signed over a certain amount to their 40-man roster for a season. 

For Dick, that meant a pretty decent first year with the Dodgers (3-1 record and a 2.66 ERA at age 19).  That, unfortunately, was followed by some arm trouble, a trade, a lot of time in the minor leagues, and a mere four innings (with an 8.33 ERA) four years later with the Cubs.
 

Lapels, right?

Billy McCool (what he’s usually called) was a decent relief pitcher for a couple of years with the Reds.  He was second in the NL in saves in ’65 and ’66 and was also an All Star in ’66 as well. Totally awesome name too, by the way.


And here's another vide of Billy lookin' cool.


Wait a minute, I think it’s mama!

Yes, he really did look like that.  No other card – or photo – is as scary as this one, but it’s definitely not an aberration.

Bill Hands was once a 20-game winner, with the Cubbies in 1969, the year that they choked big-time down the stretch and lost to the Miracle Mets.  Overall, he finished with over 100 wins in 11 years.  His nickname was “Froggy. 


* - author has this card


More pretty boys right here.

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