Monday, May 19, 2014

You Know, I Don’t Feel So Good (‘70s Version)

I’m assuming these guys weren’t all coming down with something. What I’m guessing here is that the photographer needed to take more than just … one … shot. 

I mean, honestly, people blink, they forget to smile, they look away, they do all sorts of things to screw up your shot. And the camera will capture them all. Whatever your subject happened to be doing in that 1/250 of a second will now forever be captured in time.

So, what most photographers do (even amateur photographers) is take a couple of shots. The idea is that, if one shot doesn’t work out, chances are another will. Makes sense, right?

I guess, though, that’s something never occurred to the fine folks at Topps.

Hal King was a backup catcher who played with four teams over seven years. He totaled almost 700 at bats, with a respectable 24 homers, but a .214 average. After MLB, Hal went to the Mexican League, where he was a proud Saltillo Sarapero. If you happen to live in Oviedo, FL, you can give Hal a call and have him pressure-wash your deck.


George Brunet’s been here before, where we made fun of his hair and shared some of his stats. Turns out George was quite a character. The favorite story told about him – from Jim Bouton’s Ball Four – is about his never wearing underwear.  “Hell, the only time you need them is if you get into a car wreck,” explained George. “Besides, this way I don’t have to worry about losing them.”

Bob Barton’s another backup catcher. Bob was up for ten years, playing with three different teams. In just over 1,000 at bats, he managed only nine homers and a .226 average. 

He was, though, a pretty decent catcher. His lifetime caught stealing rate was 41%, and he gave up only nine passed balls in his ten-year career. In his one year as a starter – 1971, with the Padres – he led the league in runners caught stealing and in caught stealing percentage.

Don Buford was a pretty good leadoff hitter – great OBP, a little pop, and very speedy. Over a relatively short ten-year career, Buford nabbed 200 bases and scored 718 runs. He actually owns the lowest GIDP rate of all time (one in every 138 at bats). Don is actually in three separate halls of fame – USC’s (he played baseball and football there), the International League, and the Orioles.

After retiring, Don kept in baseball as a minor league manager and a major league coach. His son Damon also made the bigs. Another son is an orthopedic surgeon, and another a lawyer. Sounds like he and his wife must have been doing something right.

Maury: “It only hurts when I grip the bat.”
Doc: “Well, then don’t grip the bat.”

Maury Wills was one of the greatest base stealers of all time. He is often given credit for “reinventing” the stolen base. His 51 steals in 1961 were the most that anyone had stolen in the NL since 1923. His 104 in 1962 set a modern record that had stood since Ty Cobb stole 96 way back in 1916.

Over his 14-year major league career, Wills stole not quite 600 bases, and also got over 2,000 hits and 1000 runs. He was a seven-time All Star, three-time World Series champion, two-time Gold Glove winner, and won the NL MVP in 1962.

Ellie: “It only hurts when I squat.”
Doc: “Well, then don’t squat.”

Like Don Buford, Elrod (“Ellie”) Hendricks was on some of those great Oriole teams of the ‘60s and ‘70s. In particular, he split catching duties with Andy Etchebarren, and was involved in more than his share of dramatic postseason plays. 

He might best remembered for a play at the plate in the 1970 World Series. Hendricks tagged Bernie Carbo with an empty glove, but umpire Ken Burkhart, who had gotten tangled up in the play, called Carbo out. A famous photo clearly shows Hendricks holding the ball in his other hand. Like any good umpire, Burkhart never reversed his call or admitted he was wrong.

Feeling ill or feeling blue?

We’ve met Tim Corcoran before, where we found him blasting one out of the park. I shared some of his stats in that post.

Couldn’t find much else on ol’ Tim. Seems there are just so many Tim Corcorans out there – a pitcher, a Vermont legislator, an Irish politician, an Irish Jesuit scholar of the Gaelic language – that our Tim just seems to get lost in the shuffle. 

So sad, so sad.  Sometimes, he feels so sad.

Poor Al Santorini. His Wikipedia entry goes to only 44 words. No wonder he looks so sad. We do learn, however, that Al was a pitcher, was up for six years, and played for three teams. You can get more details though – and an even sadder tale – right here.  

Feeling ill or just desperate confusion?

Earl Williams’ look on this card may actually reflect something very real. Though quite gifted offensively (he hit 33 homers as the NL Rookie of the Year in 1971), he also was forced to play catcher, a position he had never played before reaching the majors and a position he was only marginally good at. 

For some reason, though he played with several different teams, it never dawned on anyone that Earl might be a little more comfortable elsewhere. And that resulted in a major attitude problem for Earl, who fought with teammates, fans, and management. As a result, he was out of the bigs before age 29. Sad indeed.
Clyde may be getting a sign from the catcher here.  Alternatively, he may be simply getting ready to hurl.  And I don’t mean “pitch” when I use that word.

Clyde Mashore was actually an outfielder, so I’m not totally sure what’s going on in this card. Clyde was actually not much of an outfielder. Over five years, he got just over 400 at bats, finishing with a .208 average.

Clyde’s son Damon also played in the majors. Damon was something of a chip off the old block. Over three years, Damon got almost 500 at bats, hit a marginally more impressive .249, and “clubbed” the same number of homers – eight – as his old man. Mediocrity. It runs in the family!

Getting a sign or just a little winded and taking a breather?  “Whew!  Just a sec, guys …”

Rick Waits was up for 12 years, primarily as a starter with the Indians. Overall, he finished under .500 (79-92) and with an ERA over 4.00 (4.25). His best year was 1979, when he went 16-13. His worst was 1982, when he went 2-13.

After retiring, Rick has played in the Senior League and coached. He’s done the latter in the minors, the majors, and in Italy.

"Coach, I really gotta go."

Bobby Tolan was a pretty good player. He had a couple of years where he got over 600 at bats, and led the league once in steals. His best year was 1969, when he batted .316, hit 21 homers, and knocked in 93 runs.

You can’t tell from this card, but Tolan had one of those great high-hands stances – kind of like Craig Counsell or Carl Yaztremski (um, Yaztermwski … unh, Yastremzki … you know who I mean). Check out Bobby's ‘72 Topps for a good view of that.


So that explains it.  No wonder Bobby was feeling so poorly. 

Bobby Darwin had a very lengthy major-league career, from 1962 to 1977. What? Never heard of him? Well, that may be for good reason.

Bobby made his debut in 1962 as a 19-year-old pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels. That didn’t go so well. He popped up again for another cup of coffee in 1969. That wasn’t so great either.

The next time Bobby made an appearance, in 1971, he was an outfielder. Now, that did seem to stick. He would play – as an outfielder – for six more years. And in two of those years he would hit more than 20 home runs. Unfortunately, he would also show his true colors by also leading the league in strikeouts three times. 

* - author has this card

More guys on the DL right here - '50s and '60s.

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