Monday, March 31, 2014

Phooey Man Chewy

The fu manchu had a lifespan of – oh, I don’t know – five minutes?

But isn’t that the great thing about baseball cards?  Think about it. 600 guys, every year, for 60-plus years. That’s bound to capture some rather surprising, pretty interesting, short-lived trends, no?

Okay, guys, show us that weirdly sculpted facial hair of yours …

Hey, Hans Brinker never wore a fu manchu!

Terry Hughes is a local boy, coming from just over the state line in South Carolina. Things started out pretty well for Terry, as he was picked second overall in the ’67 draft. Unfortunately, things never did quite pan out for him. Over three years in the bigs, he got only 83 at bats, finishing with a .209 average and exactly one homer.

Things pretty much came full circle for Terry. Today, he’s a gym teacher at his old high school.

Major Mutton Chops, meet General Fu Man Chu.

A good way to think of Jack Heidemann is to think of Terry Hughes, but over a period of eight long years. Indeed, over that eight-year career, Jack hit .211 (two whole points better than Terry), with nine homers (0.125 more per year).

And like Terry, somebody thought Jack would do a lot better than that. Jack was drafted 11th in the ’67 draft, and also made his debut at age 19 (he got three at bats and struck out twice, by the way). I can neither confirm nor deny whether Jack is currently involved in secondary-level physical education.

No, no, not that Mike Tyson.

Now, I’ve already made that unfortunate comparison elsewhere in this blog. In that post, I also shared a lot of Mike’s stats (as well as a particularly dumb-looking card). I’ll bet you didn’t know, though, that:
  • He was only 5’9”
  • He led the NL in errors in ‘73
  • He led the NL in double plays in ‘74
  • You can get a signed baseball from Mike Tyson the boxer on Amazon

Yup, that Larry Lintz.

In addition to the great name (and great 'chu), Larry Lintz also had great wheels. In his one season as a regular (319 at bats), he stole a whopping 50 bases. Of course, he also only hit .238, with no home runs, but what the hey ...

By the way, over a six-year, 616-at-bat career, Larry would never improve on that last stat, finishing his major-league career with exactly zero homers. Geez, you’d think he’d at least get an inside-the-parker with that speed.

In 1976, the A’s used him almost exclusively as a pinch runner.  He got in 68 games but had only one at bat! He did, however, steal 31 bases. You can read all about it right here.

Wait, side burns aren’t supposed to end there, are they?  Ditto with the mustache. 

You’ve already met Dock Ellis in this blog. In that post, I made fun of Dock’s handwriting, as well as discussing his stats and his LSD-fueled no-hitter. I don’t believe I mentioned, though, that Dock was also an All-Star in 1971 and was elected Comeback Player of the Year for 1976.

Somehow, this thing looks entirely less threatening on Dennis than it does on anybody else.

Dennis Lamp pitched in three decades, from 1977 to 1992. He was in the bigs for 16 years, retiring at age 39. According to the LA Times, Dennis currently mans the seafood counter at Bristol Farms, in Newport Beach, CA. I kid you not.

Technically, this is called a Zapata.

.. which is really odd, as Pablo hails from Venezuela, not Mexico. Pablo Torrealba was up for five years, with three teams. He finished with a less-than-stellar 6-13 record, but with a pretty decent 3.27 ERA. 

And, yes, Steve Torrealba is his son. Actually, if you remember Steve Torrealba (.109 in 19 at bats), it’s probably only because 1) you’re a diehard Braves fan, 2) you got desperate and put him on your fantasy team and regret it to this day, or 3) you, too, are related to the Torrealbas.

It’s from 1981, but what a great one to go out on.

Dick Tidrow was a set-up man for 13 big-league seasons.  He finished with exactly 100 wins, to go along with 55 saves. Dick made seven post-season series, all but one with the Yankees. His main claim to fame was leading his league in games pitched, with 84 in 1980. Dick was also graced with a great nickname, “Dirt.” 

Dick is now the scouting director for the Giants. He’s been in that organization for 20 years.

Uh, ditto …

Just had to include the Mad Hungarian in here. I’m sure we’re all familiar with Al Hrabosky’s antics on the mound. I wonder, though, how many people remember that he was really just a so-so closer. Yes, he did lead the NL in saves one year. Overall, though, he finished with less than 100. Similar pitchers include Bill Henry, Frank Linzy, and Joe Sambito. Today, Al’s an announcer for the Cards.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Candy Man

Crazy hair, overbite, cheesy little mustache – the Candy Man had it all.

John (“The Candy Man”) Candelaria was also a pretty darn good pitcher.  Over a 19-year career, he notched an impressive 177-122 record, a fine 3.33 ERA, and an impressive 1,673 K’s.

Personally, I probably saw him pitch at least a half a dozen times. Yup, he was one of Pittsburgh’s pitching stars when I lived there as a teen and was enamored with my Buccos (hey, they were really good way back then!).

Winds out of the southwest at 20 knots.

1976.  This is Candelaria’s rookie card.  He actually had a pretty decent year, going 8-6 with a very nice 2.76 ERA.

But I did comb it.

1977.  A pretty good sophomore performance – 16-7, an ERA just a little over 3.00, and 138 strikeouts in 220 innings. He also threw a no-hitter.

It’s the look that drove all the ladies wild.

1978.  The previous year was The Candy Man’s best.  He won 20, was an All-Star, and also led the league in ERA.

Wow, not everybody gets to be an avg ldr!  

Seriously, what numb-nuts editor approved this?  Why couldn’t this just be “ERA Leader”?

It’s a stripes explosion!

1979. A definite falling off, with the record just above .500, at 12-11. The ERA wasn’t that bad though – 3.24.

“Okay, kids.  It’s time to have a frank discussion about …”  Oh, I don’t know. How about these lame-ass uniforms the Pirates keep coming up with?

1982. Candelaria was hurt this year, pitching in only six games.

Wow, is this the same guy?  He looks downright handsome.

1987. The Bucs have given up on John and dumped him on the Angels. Turns out there’s life in the old dog yet though. Candelaria would go 10-2 for the Halos, helping them to the postseason. He would also pitch well for them there, giving up one run in 11 innings, but would get no run support, and California would lose to Boston.

Sans moustache.  

1988. And off to another club. In the end, Candelaria would end up playing for eight different teams. 

In general, that’s what happens when you’re a 6’7” lefty. Somebody’s always willing to give you another chance.

Yup, 6’7”. And, yes, he was also quite the basketball star at one time.

Kinda amazing the baby face that was hiding behind that awful ‘stache, huh?  But I guess that’s why he musta grew the thing in the first place, right?  Something very similar happened to yours truly.

(I grew a beard in my late twenties because I got tired of getting carded. I then shaved it off in my forties when some grey hairs made their appearance. I grew it back when everything started turning grey, and I just didn’t give a damn anymore.)

1990. Candelaria also played with the Yankees this year. Between the two teams, though, he didn’t get in more than 22 games.

Honestly, it makes you look ten years younger, dude!

1991. The end is near. The Candy Man would split this year with the Jays and Twins.

1993 would be his last year. He would return to the Pirates, but go 0-3 there with an 8.24 ERA. Hey, it’s been real, man!

Who can take a sunrise / Sprinkle it with dew 
Cover it with choc'late and a miracle or two 
The Candy Man / Oh, the Candy Man can 
The Candy Man can / 'Cause he mixes it with love 
And makes the world taste good 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Cheesy Little Mustache

Of all the terrible fashions of the ‘70s, the one that I would have least likely thought would ever make a comeback would have to be the cheesy little mustache.  That was, until I saw Derek Holland …

After his playing days were over, Jim joined the Village People. Remember? He was the male nurse.

You remember Jim Willoughby, don’t you? A couple of months ago, I busted him for the White version of Jheri curls (among other things). To tell you the truth, I’m having a rather hard time believing these two are the same guy.

I shared some baseball-related stuff in that previous post. Here’s some great non-baseball-related trivia about Jim:
  • His nickname is “Willow”
  • He’s three-eighths Pottawatomi (that’s an Indian tribe, not a South American rodent)
  • He studied electrical engineering at Cal-Berkley
  • He was a rated chess player

Just what you need, Gary. More facial hair. The eyebrows just weren’t enough, were they?

Gary Gentry really is the complete package. I doubt this is the last you’ll be seeing of him.

Okay, we’ve got the cheesy little mustache, the baseball bonnet, and the big-time Italian name … It’s a bad baseball card trifecta!

Kurt Bevacqua’s another repeat offender. I’ve already talked about his baseball career, so here’s some some semi-baseball-related trivia you might appreciate:
  • He was the 1975 Joe Garagiola / Bazooka Bubble Gum Blowing Champion
  • He was the subject of an extremely foul-mouthed diatribe by Tommy Lasorda
  • He appeared as a ringer for the softball team on the TV show King of the Hill

Wait a minute.  Isn’t this Kurt Bevacqua? 

It’s hard to believe, but there was actually more to Bernie Carbo‘s career than the role he played in the ’75 World Series. In fact, he was up for twelve years, getting in over 1000 games and totaling not quite 100 homers. 

His rookie year was his best. He hit 21 dingers, batted .310, and came in second in Rookie of the Year voting.

He was also a well-known flake. Some of my favorite stories include:
  • His introducing himself to Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey by giving Yawkey a $20 bill and telling the owner to get Carbo a hamburger and some fries
  • Traveling with a stuffed gorilla named “Mighty Joe Young”
  • Stopping a game for 10 minutes so he could find a chaw of tobacco he had jarred loose when he collided with the outfield wall
  • Having a real live witch un-hex his bat in a bid to stop a 10-game losing streak
  • Waking up from a nap to hit a pinch-hit homer (then going immediately back to sleep)

Hmm … Are we dealing with triplets here?

Dick Drago played in three decades, pitching from 1969 to 1981. Overall, he won a little over 100, but finished just under .500.  He divided his thirteen years in the bigs pretty evenly between starting and relieving, finishing up his career with 58 saves. Drago’s main claim to trivia fame is giving up Hank Aaron’s final homer, number 755.

It just occurred to me that Drago, Jim Willoughby, and Bernie Carbo were all on that ’75 Red Sox World Series team. Hmm … Were these cheesy little mustaches a 1970s precursor of the bearded Boston World Series winners of 2013?

I had no idea John Holmes played baseball

I have no idea about Ken Holtzman’s other attributes, but he does seem to have possessed a fine arm. Over a 15-year career, Holtzman finished with a 174-150 record, along with 1,601 strikeouts. He pitched two no-hitters, was a two-time All Star, and was a three-time World Series champion. 

What a lame attempt at a ‘stache.  How old was Tommy when this was taken?  16?  Does Derek Holland know about this?

Tommy Boggs was actually 23 or 24 when this photo was taken. Geez, guy. If that’s all you can bring to the party at this late date, are you really sure you want to immortalize that fact in this way?

Tommy managed to hang around the majors for nine years somehow. Overall, he finished 20-44, with a 4.22 ERA. The low point came with the ‘81 Braves, when he went 3-11. That’s a .188 “winning” percentage … which means Tommy finished below the Mendoza line … which is quite something for a pitcher to accomplish.

H-e-l-l-o ladies … Mr. Cheesy Mustache himself (ca. 2011, age 26)

So, somebody else wants to get in on the action, huh?

And one more. The author (and his father). Christmas, 1983.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Now, That's Italian!

What a decade to be a paisan! Mustaches! Eyebrows! Sideburns! Hairy chests! Dangling medallions! Vinnie Barbarino! The Fonz! Saturday Night Fever! 

Show us those nose hairs, Danny!

Danny Frisella was up for ten years, primarily as a middle reliever and mostly with the Mets. Over 350-some game and a little over 600 innings, he totaled 57 saves along with a respectable 3.32 ERA and 471 strikeouts. He was also a man of many nicknames … in particular, “Bear” and “Frisbee.”

Danny also responded to my request for an autograph as a kid. All I did was send a card and my address. Hard to believe that I got most of those back.

Frisella died after the ‘76 season in a dune buggy accident. He was only 30. That definitely creeped my sixteen-year-old self out.

Bob “Groucho” Coluccio gets points for for the  ‘stache and sideburns, as well as the tinted shades. Oh, and would you believe his middle name is Pasquali? I think that’s worth at least two extra points right there.

Bob started out as something of a regular, getting 438 and 394 at bats in his first two years with the Brewers. He also hit 15 dingers that rookie year. 

Unfortunately, his average was .224 that first year .223 the next. You got to give him credit for the consistency. Unfortunately, though, that’s really not how to make a good impression. Indeed, Bob would only get 263 at bats over the next three years.

Largely as a result, he would bounce around the minors a few years after, be out of baseball after that, and is now trying to sell you some very expensive real estate in Orange County, CA.

It’s hard to get any more Italian than “Carmen.” Maybe “Dominic” could provide a little competition, I dunno. “Sal” perhaps? “Guido”? Oh, heck, why not “Pasquali”?

Five years as a utility infielder kinda says it all for Carmen Fanzone. Interestingly, he did manage 20 homers and 94 RBIs in his 588 career at-bats. Of course, that did come with a .224 average as well.

Carmen’s post-baseball career proved much more interesting that Bob Coluccio’s. Fanzone became an accomplished horn player, including a stint with the Baja Marimba Band and backing up Sue Raney and Mel Torme.

Yup, that’s our Carmen – big bow tie, closed eyes, horn, and all.

It’s the other Fanzone brother, Mario. Except for the eye color and upturned mustache, I’d swear Carmen and Mario were identical twins. Looks like Mario played for the Mariners, or maybe Milwaukee. Minnesota? Uh, Miami? Funny, I don’t recall any of those teams with these colors.

Don’t tell anybody, but Dave is actually Portuguese. Yup, if he were truly Italian, his name would be something like Dom Lupo.

Dave (AKA Davey) Lopes was a pretty darn good ballplayer. In a 16-year career, he stole over 500 bases, hit 155 homers, and scored over a 1000 runs. He was a four-time All Star and one-time Gold Glover, and also led his league in steals twice, with totals of 63 and 77.

Lopes has been a major league coach pretty much ever since hanging up his spikes. His specialty has been base stealing. Dave also got a chance to manage, putting in a couple of years with the Brewers, but finishing only with a record of 144-195.

You know, Grimsley just doesn’t sound that Italian to me. Ah, heck, maybe it’s Jewish.

Remember this guy? In a previous post, I shared his stats (he was not a bad pitcher) and also commented on how much he looked like Abbie Hoffman. 
Ross seems to have had a streak of Abbie Hoffman in him, being known as quite a character. Some highlights include:
  • Beaning a fan who was heckling him
  • Wearing colored contact lenses
  • Not showering during winning streaks (his nickname was “Scuz”)
  • Consorting with a witch (I believe she was helping him out with his slider)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Answer My Friend ...

How many tunnels must a man walk down / Before you call him a man?
How many seasons must the White Sox play / Before they win it all again?
And how many seasons must the DH exist / Before it is forever banned?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind / The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Perhaps you like the tousled look.

Jack Billingham was a pretty decent pitcher, finishing with a 145-113 record over 13 years. Six of those years were with the great Reds team of the 70s. He won 19 for them twice, and went 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA in five different post-season series.

Interestingly, Billingham is Christy Mathewson’s cousin. Seeing as Matty died in 1925 and Cactus Jack was born in 1943, I’m assuming they must be second cousins twice removed, or something like that.

Can hair even do that?

Jim Hannan was a pretty … um … er … non-descript pitcher. Playing for the Washington Senators for almost your whole career will do that for you though.

In fact, that’ll pretty much guarantee a winning percentage below .500 (.41-48, to be exact). And those post-season stats? Well, they’d be pretty non-existent, wouldn’t they now?

That said, Jim did seem to enjoy his time there, and still lives in the DC area today. Here’s a great interview where he relives his glory years with the Nats.

Sounds like Jim’s been pretty active in retirement. In fact, he’s the Chairman of the Board of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association.

Whoa, turn off the fan!

Ron Schueler had a career very similar to Jim Hannan’s. Over eight years, he finished with a 40-48 record and an ERA just over 4.00. 

It was after he hung up his spikes that things really started to take off for Ron. He was a successful pitching coach for the White Sox, A’s, and Pirates. He then moved to the front office, starting off as an assistant to Sandy Alderson with the A’s, then becoming the White Sox’s GM for ten years. He’s been a special assistant type for several clubs since.

A little on the left …

Tom Dettore’s a repeat offender in this blog, for another hair-related offense. In that post, I pretty much shared everything there is to knew about Tom. Honestly, there’s nothing else out there. I looked. I really looked.

A little on the right …

Ron’s been here too. In that post, I talked about Ron’s being Jewish. I’ll bet you didn’t know, though, that Ron’s career started out like a house on fire. 

He was quite the high school star, lettering in four sports. He received 100 scholarship offers for football and 150 for basketball. He’s the only high school athlete to have ever been chosen as a Parade All-American in three different sports. Ron was the first pick in the 1967 draft.

Interestingly, though, Ron’s major league career really didn’t amount to all that much. You’re probably familiar with Ron from his being the first DH in history. Other that that, though, he was up for only eight years, getting over 300 at bats only once (barely). Though he did finish with a .293 average, he only hit 52 dingers. We can probably put it all down to lots and lots of injuries.

Or perhaps you like the tousled look.

Jeff Burroughs is probably the best player among this whole bunch. In a 16-year career, he belted 240 home runs and notched 882 RBIs. His best year was 1974, when he hit .301 with 25 homers and knocked in 118 runs, and was voted the AL MVP.