Monday, July 28, 2014

Before There Was Photoshop I

It’s hard to imagine.  At one time, photographs were actually physical objects. And to alter them, you didn’t just fire up Photoshop. Instead, you got out scissors, X-Acto knife, rubber cement, paint, and paint brush.

And that’s how you got results like these …

“He plays for the Reds, so make the hat red, okay?” “Sure, boss, whatever you say.”

Jim Qualls was up for a couple of years, getting in only 139 at bats total. Though he played for two teams during that time, neither of those was the Reds (he never got out of the minors with them). Qualls later played in Japan, where he was a little bit more successful. His main claim to fame is breaking up a perfect game Tom Seaver took into the ninth inning. Mets fans reportedly loathe Jim to this day.  

And if all that’s not enough, all you could ever possibly want to know about a 139-at-bat, no-homer, .223-hitting utility outfielder you can find right here.


“No, no, it’s their socks that are white, not their hat.  For some reason, that’s light blue. You got it?” “Yeah, boss, sure. Light blue.”

Tom Bradley’s been here before, where he was looking particularly groovy. I shared his stats there, but not what he did after retirement. And that includes coaching two college teams, as well as such minor league powerhouses as the Lansing Lug Nuts, Fort Wayne Wizards, Eugene Emeralds, and Medicine Hat Blue Jays.

By the way, the shades Tom is wearing here tell me that we’re definitely still in his pre-groovy period.

“No, I don’t know what color an Athletic is. You’re just going to have to take it from me, but I do know they wear green hats.” “Yeah, whatever.”

Dick Williams was one of the better managers during this period. He finished 1571-1451, and won four pennants and two World Series. He was known as a strict disciplinarian and a turnaround artist. He got into the Hall in 2008. 

Some interesting Dick Williams trivia:
  • His middle name is Hirschfeld
  • He won $50,000 on the Hollywood Squares TV show
  • He was arrested for indecent exposure in 2000

“Dang, ran out of blue. Nobody’ll notice, right?”

Ken Berry’s been here before, where we got a good look up his nostrils. He wasn’t a bad player at all. I’ll bet you didn’t know, though, that after retirement, Berry wrote two children’s books, Artie the Awesome Apple and Clyde the Clumsy Camel. I am not making this up.

Hats really aren’t that shape now, are they?

Brant Alyea has a rather odd name. But would you believe he was born Garrabrant Ryerson Alyea? And, no, that event did not happen in the Netherlands, or Belgium, or Iceland, or someplace exotic, but in plain old Passaic, NJ. 

Alyea was in the bigs for six years, but got over 200 at bats in only two of them. He finished with a respectable 38 homers though (in 866 at bats), and once clubbed 16 in a season (over only 258 at bats). His main claim to fame is hitting one of those 38 dingers on his first at bat.

After retirement, Brant headed back to New Joisey, where he got a job overseeing the craps tables at the Tropicana in Atlantic City.

“Like I say, red.”

Hal King’s another repeat offender when it comes to this blog. In that other post, I found looking a little under the weather. You know, he’s not looking so great here either. Check out that other post for Hal’s stats, along with what he’s been up to lately. Honestly, there’s not that much else to say about ol' Hal.

“Uh, what did you guys do up there?”

Dave Marshall was your basic backup outfielder. He was up for seven years, but only got over 200 at bats twice. He totaled just over 1000 at bats overall, with 16 homers, 114 RBIs, 123 runs, and a .246 average. Nevertheless, he is no fewer than three halls of fame. Of course, they are the Solano College Sports Hall of Fame, the St. Patrick-St. Vincent High Sports Hall of Fame, and the Vallejo Sports Hall of Fame.

Here are some funny memories of him from a page of reminiscences from Mets fans:
  • "My cousin Wendy used to go to sleep dreaming of Dave Marshall."
  • "In the book Ballplayers, they describe him as, 'The defensively deficient Marshall was a singles hitter who was used as a backup.'"
  • "Dave Marshall lives in my memory for always grabbing his crotch before every pitch. It's an old joke to say that ballplayers grab their crotch, but Marshall always did. It's probably not good that I remember that."
  • "Dave Marshall was supposed to be the guest speaker at my Little League banquet one year. He never showed up."

“What have you done with my hat?” No wonder Dave looked so deflated.

Dave Tomlin was your classic middle reliever. Over 13 seasons and 500-plus innings pitched, he managed only a 25-12 record and 12 saves. He was once traded straight-up for Gaylord Perry though (okay, with a little cash too). Gaylord would go on to win the Cy Young that year. Dave? Not so much. After hanging up his spikes, Dave’s been a major league pitching coach, minor league manager, and minor league coach. 

“I say, old chap. Up for a ride in my flying machine?”

My guess is the green thing around Ken Holtzman’s neck is not an ascot, but rather some poor graphic artist’s attempt to mock up a shirt (or perhaps paint over a mistake). The expression is purely Ken’s own.

Ken’s been here before, where I pointed out a remarkable resemblance between and porn star John Holmes. I shared his (quite decent) stats there, but I’ll bet you didn’t know that Ken’s Jewish. In fact, he’s the all-time winningest Jewish pitcher ever, beating out none other than Sandy Koufax himself (Koufax did best him in Ks though). 

More next week.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Old and/or Fat

You know, it’s not every sport that regularly has guys playing – and starring – into their 40s. (And, no, golf doesn’t count!). 

And, with the possible exception of football linemen, baseball’s also the only sport that encourages its players to be of Ruthian – or even Krukian – proportions. (And, no, bowling doesn’t count either!) And let’s not forget that the sport’s all-time hero had a body mass index of 27.6 (well into the overweight category and halfway to obese).  

So, take it away old, fat, and old-and-fat guys …

Did Leo Durocher pose for this one? He was the Cubs’ manager at the time.

Bill Heath was up for four years, for four different teams, but for less than 200 at bats total. He also finished with a .236 average, no homers, and only 13 runs and 13 RBIs. Can you say “backup catcher,” boys and girls?

Bill did, though, manage to catch a no-hitter, one of Ken Holtzman’s. Unfortunately, he also broke a finger in the 8th inning and was unable to finish the game. Interestingly, that was also his last game in the bigs as well.

BTW, Bill did make good after hanging up the spikes. He’s currently the Chairman and CEO of Barrington Financial Advisors. Call him up if you’ve got a couple of million you want to invest.

I had to check to make sure John wasn’t a manager. Dude, you’re only 34. It’s way too early to start letting yourself go like that.

Johnny Callison (as he’s typically referred to) was a pretty darn good outfielder. He played in three decades, from 1958 to 1972. Over his 16-year career, he racked up 226 homers, 840 RBIs, and 926 RBIs. A five-tool talent, he also led the league in triples twice (speed) and all sorts of defensive stats, including:

  • Putouts – 5 times
  • Assists – 4 
  • Double plays – 2 
  • Fielding percentage – 2 

And that’s not even counting wacky Sabermetric stuff like range factor (six times) and total zone runs (twice). The Phillie icon was also a three-time All Star and runner-up in MVP voting in 1964.

“Does this chest protector make me look fat? Okay... So, does this hat make me look stupid?”

Ted Simmons has been here before, where he was looking like a hippie freak. In that post, I also made an argument for putting Ted in the Hall, sharing plenty of his stats to do so. So, here’s some trivia / human interest stuff about the guy that I’ll bet you never knew:

  • He was a first-round pick
  • He caught two no-hitters
  • He twice led the league in intentional walks
  • His nickname was “Simba”

6’0”, 205 lbs.? I don’t know, Do you think you guys might have transposed those last numbers, maybe?

Steve Foucault was a decent reliever who was up for only six years, but somehow managed to total 52 saves. He was his team’s closer in three of those years – though his yearly totals were only in the low teens for each one. 

His main claim to fame may be getting a black eye at 10¢ Beer Night, in Cleveland. And this may, in turn, have been the motivation for his later career, as a police officer, in Arlington, TX. After hanging up his nightstick, he switched to independent league pitching coach, leading various Bears, Otters, Ducks, and other assorted animals.

Check out the Cardboard Gods website if you want to read approximately 5% about Steve and 95% about the author.

Or maybe Dick’s sister Bernice … I’m not totally sure.

Dick Allen was one of the better players of the 60s and 70s and also, according to Bill James, the second-most controversial player in baseball history.

As for the first point, how about:

  • MVP
  • Rookie of the Year
  • Six-time All Star
  • League leader in homers twice, runs once, and RBIs once

As for the second point, I’m having a hard time believing Bernice would cause trouble to anybody.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Nostril Lives On

Yes, it’s true – 1972 was the vintage of the century when it comes to the nostril look. In addition to that particular 1961, though, there are also some 1959s and 1949s out there as well. So, here are some other years you’ll want to make sure you have in your cellar. 

So, did I beat that particular metaphor to death enough or what?

It’s okay, Sonny.  Really it is.

It might be hard to tell from the picture, but Sonny Siebert actually had quite a bit to be proud about. Over 12 years, he won over 100 games, with a 3.21 ERA and 1513 strikeouts. He also had a no-hitter. 

By the way, the poor guy’s real name was Wilfred.

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, Felipe seems to be the exact opposite of Sonny.

Interestingly, this card was from the end of Felipe Alou’s career. Over his 17 years in the majors, he put up some great numbers – over 7,000 at bats, 200 homers, and 100 steals (along with a .286 average, thank you very much). He was also a three-time All Star and led his league in hits twice and runs once.

Now, you may know him solely from his managing career. He wasn’t too bad there either, winning over 1000 games, being named Manager of the Year (with the Expos, no less!), and managing the NL in the All Star game. 

Joe Lahoud was your basic low-average, long-ball-hitting, outfielder/DH Lebanese-American. Seriously, Joe is actually one of only a handful of Lebanese-Americans who have played in the majors. Other include Jim Baxis, Frank Skaff, and John Jaha. Extra points if you’ve ever heard of any of them

Our Joe bounced around with five teams over 11 years, getting over 300 at bats only twice. He did reach double digits in homers for three of those years though. Unfortunately, that all did come with a .223 career average.

Wikipedia tells me that, in addition to patrolling major league outfields for 15 years, Ken McMullen directed a bunch of movies – movies (“films,” if you will) that “are grounded in philosophy, history, psychoanalysis and literature.”  Also that he was born in the UK and currently lives in London. Wait a minute … Are there two of these guys?  (More on the correct Ken McMullen right here.)

Looks like  Johnny wore number 25. Not sure why he appears to be crying.

Johnny (“No Relation to Derek”) Jeter was up for six pretty mediocre years. By the way, he’s also no relation to the former professional wrestler of the exact same name. He is, though, related to Shawn Jeter, his son, who was up for a mere 18 at bats in 1992.

Johnny has his own post in the Mediocre Baseball Players blog. The author there points out that Jeter “seemed to try really hard, had a good smile and his baseball cap fit him nearly perfectly.” My guess is that the author may be referring to another card than the particular one shown here.

Hmm, getting into major league pinhead territory here, aren’t we?

John Vukovich was a real record setter. In fact, he holds the all-time record for the lowest batting average for a non-pitcher with at least 500 at bats. Somehow or other, though, he managed to last ten years in the bigs. He’s also – oddly – part of the Phillies Wall of Fame (he was a blue-collar hustler who somehow won the hearts of those fickle Philly fans).

Did they paint that brim on Larry? Why? Why did they do that?

Larry Hisle was a pretty decent batter who played in three different decades (1968-1982). He finished with a .273 batting average, 166 homers, and 674 RBIs. He once led the AL in RBIs and was also a two-time All Star.

I thought that one looked familiar ... This is Larry's card from the previous year. Geez, Topps, that just strikes me as more than a little, um, lazy.

Nice hair.  Nicer nostrils.

Fred Beene was mostly known for being little. Indeed, his playing height and weight were a mere 5’9” and 155 lbs. He was up for seven years, playing for three teams. A classic heavily-worked middle reliever, Fred had only a 12-7 record over not quite 300 innings.

After retiring, Fred was a minor-league coach as well as a scout. In fact, he’s the guy who signed Jim Morris, the 35-year-old high school teacher who the movie The Rookie is based upon.

Austrian Archduke? Czech inventor? 19th Century Eastern European composer?

Pat Dobson’s been here before, with a really bad hairdo, but also with serious mouth-breather tendencies. I’ve covered pretty much everything there is to know about Pat in those other two posts.  

Gotta love the “news headline” the fine folks at Topps threw in there. Frustrated Pulitzer Prize candidates, obviously.

Monday, July 7, 2014

1972: The Year of the Nostril

What to do? What to do? This guy may well be playing for someone else when this card comes out. Should I pose him without a cap? No, that would be too easy. Tilt the cap back so you can’t see whose it is? Man, that is so 1960s. I know, I know.  Let’s take the shot from so low that you can’t see over the brim. Here, let me show ya  …

Tony’s bro, Billy Conigliaro was up for five years, with three different teams. He never broke 400 at bats, but did hit 18 homers once. The Sox traded him to the Brew Crew to make way for some rookie named Yaztrsemski, or Yastrzewski, or something like that.

George’s bro, Ken Brett was actually one of four Brett boys to play professional baseball. The other two never made it to the majors though.  

Ken was actually in the same trade as Billy – along with seven others. Ken’s main claims to fame include:  
  • Being drafted 4th in the ’66 draft
  • Being the youngest pitcher to appear in a World Series, at age 18
  • Winning the 1974 All Star game
  • Playing for ten teams over a 14-year career
  • Finishing with a batting average of .262, along with 10 homers and 44 RBIs, in 347 at bats

Sean’s dad, Jeff Burroughs was also a pretty decent hitter himself. I’ve got all his stats on this other post. Bet you didn’t know, though, that Jeff was Sean’s Little League coach, piloting that team to the World Series title in both in both ’92 and ’93.

Nobody’s nothing, Stan Swanson played for the Expos for a couple of months in ’71. 106 at bats, .245 average, two homers, 11 RBIs. I believe that’s a Reds cap he’s wearing (the team that drafted him).

This guy’s last name looks like a typing miisttake. Laarry Biittner was up for 14 seassons, playiing with four teams, and ammassing over 3,000 at bats, but with only 29 hommers (not really what you want from your outfiiellder/DH). He was somethhiing of a Cubs favoriite, toppiing 400 at bats and doubble diigiits in homeers for them in ’77 (the only time he would accommpliish eiither feat).

Another Senator. Yup, ’72 is the year they switched from DC to Texas. So, pretty much everyone on the whole squad has a card like this.

Dick Billings started out as an outfielder / corner infielder, but switched to catcher after a couple of years in the bigs. That move enabled him to get into triple digits in at bats for three years running, but it still wasn’t very pretty. Overall, he finished with a .227 average and 16 homers in 1200-plus at bats. 

See what I mean …

Toby Harrah’s been here before, where I made fun of his hair. I shared his stats there, but didn’t mention his lengthy coaching and managing career, in the majors and the minors. He was very recently let go as the assistant hitting coach for the Tigers. 

By the way, his real first name is Colbert.

It’s not too surprising Alex Johnson went with this pose. Over 13 years in the bigs, he played for eight different teams, none for more than two years. Though a decent batter (he led the league in batting one year, made the All Star team once, and was also a Comeback Player of the Year), he was a defensive liability, and was also quite a handful to coach. His brother Ron was a running back in the NFL.

Del Unser – another ex-Senator. I’m perplexed as to why Del’s hat appears to be blue though. He seems to have gone straight from the Nats to the Tribe prior to the ’72 season.

Del was up for 15 years, playing with five different teams. His main claim to fame is leading the league in triples once. Surprisingly, though, he didn’t have a lot of speed. Or power. Or a high average. I’m actually kind of wondering how he managed to stick around.

Looks like the artist on this card couldn’t make up his mind. “Shot from below or paint the helmet? Shot from below or paint the helmet? I know – I’ll do both.”

Tom Grieve’s been here before, looking kinda stoopit. I went over his stats there, but failed to mention his long career off the field. In fact, he had much more success in the front office (he was the Rangers’ GM for ten years) and the broadcasting booth (he’s currently the Rangers’ color commentator). And, yes, he is Ben Grieve’s dad.  

Is that a nose hair?

Jim Maloney was not a bad pitcher at all. His accomplishments include winning 20 games twice and pitching two no-hitters. Unfortunately, injuries (including a ruptured Achilles) limited him to only seven complete seasons. By the way, he never actually did play for the Cardinals, getting released at the end of spring training, then retiring in the middle of the year while toiling in AAA for the Giants.

Poor Bill. I may have to refile you under ill.

It may have been his knees. Bill “Suds” Sudakis was a hard-hitting corner infielder known for gimpy knees. Interestingly, the knees may have resulted from an ill-advised switch the Dodgers tried to make with him to catcher. Not only did he develop bad knees, but he also threw out only 6% of base stealers. Over eight years, 1500-some at bats and six teams, Bill managed 59 homers but only a .234 average.

Uh, I’d like to buy a vowel.

Joe Grzenda is another repeat offender in this blog. In that previous post, I pointed out Joe’s resemblance to the undead, as well as sharing some of his stats and career highlights, including the fact that he never made an error – even once – in his whole major league career.

Joe’s other claim to fame was being the last Washington Senator to ever throw a pitch, on September 30, 1971.  Fittingly, when the Nationals had their first opener in 2005, Joe was on hand to hand the ball to George W. Bush.

I’d be a bit peeved too, if you were trying to look up my nostrils. (Looks like Don wore number 19, BTW.)

You can find a much younger shot of Don – and his stats and stuff – right here.

How low can you go?

Ken Berry is an American actor, dancer and singer. He has had starring roles in the TV comedies F Troop, The Andy Griffith Show spin-off Mayberry R.F.D., and … Wait a minute. Wrong Ken Berry.

This guy was a decent outfielder who was up for 14 years, totaling almost 1400 games and over 4100 at bats. He was a one-time All Star and a two-time Gold Glover. 

Kinda up close and personal, if you ask me ...

Ron Swoboda was a journeyman outfielder and defensive liability who somehow or other made an incredible and iconic diving catch as a member of the Miracle Mets in the ’69 World Series.