Wednesday, October 16, 2013

# 26 Bob Priddy and the STRANGE '67 Topps San Francisco Giants Card Design

 For some reason, the San Francisco Giants card design made no sense to me growing up. As simple and classic as the card design is for this set. The Giants cards are still strange. I mean, why green lettering for a team with black and orange colors? It's not that the other team colors correspond with the Topps choice of letting colors but these cards looked odd to me. Especially when I first saw these cards in 1987. The reason of this is probably because the 1987 Topps set did the opposite of the '67 set and that's the first modern set I ever saw.

The Will Clark card above is from the '87 Set. The player lettering may have alternated between black and white lettering but the borders correspond with the team's dominate color.

The card which made the color distinction for the 1967 Topps Giants card is most evident to me with this Bob Priddy card. That and Priddy has a mildly distressed
Gene Hackman face.

Bob Priddy was a journeyman of a Major League pitcher. He played for 6 different major league teams in 9 years. The Giants was his second team and while he is featured as a Giant on this '67 card he was already off to the American League pitching for the hard luck Washington Senators. I'll go into more detail about the state of the replacement Washington club (the original became the Twins earlier in the decade) later.

Priddy did a little of everything before 1969. He started a handful of games and did a fiar amount of relieving during that period as well. He seemed to be an emergency starter who stepped into the breach for the White Sox in 1968 and admittedly received little success. His era in '68 was a then very high 3 and half. That's the same year Bob Gibson and Denny McLain had ERA's under 2. Gibson was down near just 1.  It didn't help Priddy that he was on the White Sox which had a lousy offense.

Priddy's effectiveness in the Majors diminished starting in '69 with the Angels. He finished his career with the Braves in 1971. He didn't make much of a dent mostly because he didn't play a major role on the few winning teams he played for. He started out as a major prospect and that's what landed him on more than a few Topps cards. He got a '64,'65, '66,'67,'68,'69,'70 and '71 Topps card. Topps banked on him big time as being a mainstay.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

# 25 Elston Howard- Historic Player's Last Yankees Baseball card

There are more than a few notable player's final bubble gum cards in this classic '67 set. For decades, I always assumed this was Elston Howard's final card as well. Little did I know, he was featured in the '68 set with the Boston Red Sox. Howard had one last hurrah with the Red Sox, appearing in the '67 Series. 

This card was always viewed by me as being a prized possession. One of the cards I was most happy to have and it still is. Elston Howard was the star player of the golden era of the Yankees I never saw on television during the old timer's day ceremonies. He and Maris both died far to young.

Howard not only was the first African American baseball player in the Yankees organization, he was also one of their best. A nine time all star and one time MVP. A solid hitter in his career and also a great fielder who almost literally played everywhere. He played catcher, outfield and infield. He took on all of these assignments and remained a solid and focused slugger.

People for decades have criticized the Yankees for not integrating and breaking the major league color barrier until 1955. In defense to the Yankees, Howard was working his way to the Majors on a team that had one won five straight world championships and in 1954, the team broke 100 wins in the season for the first and last time in the decade. Ironically, they weren't close to catching the Cleveland Indians that season either. Howard started in the Yankees organization in 1950. Elston Howard lost a couple of seasons two military service, likely fighting in Korea. He returned to organized baseball after his military service.  During his years in the minors, Howard played catcher and the outfield. The Yankees in the Majors were loaded in both positions. Yogi Berra may have been the best placed catcer in all of baseball. He won three MVP awards within a span of four seasons, back to back in '54 and '55. Howard came up in the outfield in '55 and he never again spent a day in the minors.

The card looks excellent and it looks like it was taken on the same day ad by the same photographer as the Whitey Ford card. Howard's smile always reminded me of the power of optimism even though his hat looks like it was thrown back onto his head.  I imagine this was the case.

Howard was one of the last great Yankees from the era of the championships to appear in this '67 set. While this card was never worth more than $5, I felt it was worth $50

# 24 Bob Allen - Pitcher of the Cleveland Indians.

Here are the front and backs of one of the cards I saw most often as a kid. I always had a pair of these Bob Allen cards. One was kept in the set, the other was kept in my collection of cards. It never turned up where it was supposed to be, with my other '67 doubles! More often than I can to remember, that eye sore of a Indians baseball cap turned up in piles of '88 Donruss or '90 Fleer cards (so, maybe I wasn't so organized). Look at the card, and tell me what strikes you first. It's that darn hat! It must be.

 These Indian cards are very much the same as the Cardinal cards and here, we see how the Topps designers chose their color schemes for at least players wearing red uniforms. The light blue lettered team name in the foreground against the very red uniform and hat. The Topps designers also chose this color for the Red Sox (also uniforms with red).

I never knew anything about this player. His career in the majors was brief. He never pitched in the majors again after 1967. His time was spent entirely in the bullpen. While there, he did see alot of action. 274 innings pitched in 204 games. He finished 84 but only managed 19 saves in his career. Saves weren't made the way they are now. If you were in to close a game, you sometimes pitched 3 or even more innings. Today, the closing specialists pitch a single inning.  This is great for the salaries of these specialists but it is also invaluable to the team because the less time you see the pitcher, the harder it is to figure him out. This isn't so hard to do when a pitcher is out there for three innings and the entire lineup faces him during that game. This may or may not be the reason why Bob Allen finished his career with a losing 7-12 record. Ironically, he had hs best ERA in his last season. He went 0-5 but had a solid 2.98

I assumed from his Major League stats that he threw out his arm but it does look like he had a long minor league career after 1967, If he did have that injury, it came in '72 while pitching in the Padres farm system.

Allen was featured in the '62, '63, '64, '66, '67 and though he was done in the Majors, was in the '68 Topps sets. For some reason, Topps claims Bob Allen was a Pirate in their 1964 set though he apparently never spent a day pitching within their organization.  An odd, little know uncorrected error card.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Welcome to one of the worst seasons in the history of the Majors

Welcome to August's eve. This has been probably one of the worst seasons in Major League history. Only the Hall of Fame veteran's committee elected new members because of the steroid epidemic. For some reason, Craig Biggio was denied first ballot entry because of the epidemic. Few players were more deserving for first ballot entry than Biggio, and he never was remotely linked to PED usage so the reason makes no sense. Biggio played his entire career with the same team, had more than 3,000 hits and was an exceptional fielder. Maybe he would've gotten more respect if he played for a larger market team than the Astros. Regardless of the reason, this adds to the misery of the 2013 Major League Baseball season.

Attendance is down at the games, wealth disparity between the large and small market teams has expanded so much that the Yankees payroll of players on the disabled list is higher than the entire Houston Astros roster. Even though the Yankees are currently languishing in 4th place, they still lead the league in attendance which says something about devotion to the team and not much else.

The defending World Series champion Giants are on pace to finish dead last in their division and perhaps have the worst record in baseball. in fact, following who will have the worst record in the league is almost more entertaining than following who's leading. 7 teams in the NL alone are on pace to have 90+ losses.

The final nail in the coffin for this season is the specter of mass suspensions (20 players, 15 known, 5 of which are current or recent Yankees) because of being linked to a Floridian clinic who specialized in PED distribution. Braun, Arod top this list. Both ex MVP players...

It's hard to imagine that just 15 years ago at this time of the season, the entire country was completely engulfed in the famed home run record chase. McGwire and Sosa's quest for 61 captured the imagination of even the most modest baseball fan. The New York Yankees amassed an incredible 125 wins against only 50 losses in route to their second World championship in three seasons. It's pleasant to think back of those days when even cars in New York City had Sosa's latest home run totals updated regularly on the back windows of cars.

If you were around for that summer, close your eyes and try to remember the thrill of those moments. Attempt to live in those moments again in your mind. Isolate those memories from all that's happened to those players and the sport. Exhilarating isn't it? Now open your eyes and look where we are now..........

True, we haven't the stigma of a pending strike to wipe out the season (1994). We haven't gambling scandals (1919,1989). No untimely player deaths (1979). No Pittsburgh drug trials (1985), But if the sport had any of those, would anyone really care anymore???  The majors is in a state of permanent national decay and I don't see any home run record chasers coming along to change that.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

#23 New York Met Larry Elliot after his cup of coffee.

 Here is the first New York Met card to appear in the '67 set. Mets cards struck me as interesting when I first got my 9 year old hands on this set. The Mets were the reigning World Champions and while I was never a true Met fan, I respected the team and all of their players.

Generally, these '67 Met cards appealed to me. The lettering is striking and stands out against the photo well. This card failed to grab my attention at the time because Larry Elliot is a bonafide unknown Major Leaguer. For one thing, Larry Elliot didn't play in the Majors again after 1966. He had "a cup of coffee" with the Pittsburgh Pirates. A cup of coffee usually means a player spent such a short time with a team that it was as though he was there for a cup of coffee. Elliot was in the Pirate minor leagues for a few years but he only appeared in 12 Pirate games in two years. This was good enough for Topps tp feature Larry Elliot on a Mets Rookie Stars card in their '64 set. Elliot did appear in 80 games that year but didn't do much at the plate. His .228 AVG 9 homers 8 doubles in '64 led to his being demoted to the minors in '65. In '66, his playing time was less, his batting average was higher and he called it a day at the end of the season at the age of 28. Typically, when players with low batting averages and poor slugging percentages find themse selves in the Majors because they're great fielders. This is likely the case with Elliot, though he knocked around for a full decade in the minors.

His card has a decent photo with a nice view of the Shea Stadium scoreboard in the background.

Because of Elliot's long career in the minors, Topps made rookie star cards for him in '63 and '64. Both cards had multiple players on them. This is his first and last Topps card that features only him on it.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

22 - GENE BRABENDER - PITCHER for the ORIOLES and later literary folk hero

 We move from Dave Bristol to a pitcher who would later play for him with the Brewers, Gene Brabender. This picture of Brabender does not do him justice. This man could've played on the same defense with Merlin Olsen, Deacon Jones, Rosey Grier and Lamar Lundy calling him the "Fearsome Fifth." He was 6' 6" and weighed 225 lbs. Brabender had a short pro career which began in 1966 with the World Championship Orioles. He started out as a jack of all trades. Starting, closing, and filling in out of the bullpen. He did not see action in the series (only four pitchers did: Drabowsky, Palmer, McNally and Bunker) but he may have made the roster.

He continued to be a starter and reliever for the O's. Garnering few wins but 4 shutouts and 5 saves to his credit. The Piolts picked him in their expansion draft in '69 where he saw the most work in his career. He went 13-14 with a 4.36 ERA. Neither stat looks great but neither was that Pilots team. At least Brabender gave them a fighting chance.

Brabender continued with the franchise when the new owners moved in and took the Pilots out of Seattle and landed them in Wisconsin as the Milwaukee Brewers, Brabenders home state. Brabender struggled with the struggling team with a 6-15 record and a balooning ERA of 6.02. He bounced around in the Angels farm system in '71. Topps was even optimistic enough of his prospects to return by making a high number '71 Topps card. Unfortunately, he never returned to the majors after 1970.

Brabender, like all of the '69 Pilots team is mentioned extensively in Jim Bouton's famous (for fans) and infamous (for fellow players) book "Ball Four" The book is still considered a classic tell all book which broke the long held clubhouse rule which says "What you see here, what you hear here, let it stay here" He didn't and the players on the Pilots team who were able to laugh at themselves live beyond their playing careers for baseball fans everywhere thanks to Bouton's book.

Bouton later wrote that Brabender auditioned for the role of Gene Brabender for a TV sitcom based on "Ball Four" but the part of Brabender went to former Raider Ben Davidson.

As for this '67 Topps card, the Orioles were the reigning Champions when the card was designed. The picture is generic posing at Spring Training fair but the bright yellow lettering stands out well and it lets the collector now clearly that you ARE holding the card of a champion.

21 - Dave Bristol Manager of the Reds

I vividly remember looking at this card as a kid and thinking that this guy looks really really horribly old. The way he is smiling with all of the lines moving about his face, his eyes squinting and that lump of tobacco in his mouth (and on his teeth?) ; I just thought the guy looked ancient. Little did I know that this picture is of a 33 year old Dave Bristol, one of the youngest managers in the Majors and that I am sitting here now, a full two years older than the man I always thought looked hideously age-ed in this picture.

That sums up how I felt about this card when I was a boy. I equate my feelings for this card with how my father describes how he felt when he saw the 1952 Topps Gus Zernial card. He never understood why those balls were stupidly stuck to the bat and never cared to figure it out. He simply hated the card. Hated the balls on the bat, hated the player making the OK symbol I think he even hated his name Gus Zernial (it does rhyme with urinal).  I later explained to him why the six
balls were stuck to the bat (symbolize his hitting 6 home runs in a four game span) but this was fifty years too late for him to care not to hate the card. He ultimately gave me that card as a Christmas present when I was 10 because I always thought it looked neat. Still have the card (SEE BELOW).
Bristol had his hands full with the Reds: taking up the job during the '66 season. He kept the post up until becoming the Milwaukee Brewers first Manager in team history in 1970. There, he really had his hands full. Not only were the Brewers an expansion team, they were filled with orphans from the defunct Seattle Pilots team. It's hard to find a single notable name in the 1970 Brewers Yearbook. He went on to manage the Braves and Giants briefly, neither team was doing well before, furing and after Bristol's time with the team.  His best years were with the Reds which were comfortably above average in the latter half of the 60's. He also spent the whole of his professional playing career in the Reds farm system. Now that, I am older than Bristol is on this card, I wish to sincerely apologize to this man and to any kid who finds my face to be hideously, horribly old looking.

20 - Orlando Cepeda - 1967's MVP and a steal for the Cardinals

 Here is a player I did get familiar with as a kid because his card was listed as being above common value in Beckett Baseball Card Monthly, I had doubles of it and kept the double with my regular collection which I thumbed through regularly and because his stats on the back were incredible. Cepeda was an offensive powerhouse for the Giants. This is clear on the stats on the back. What is also clear is the fact that he lost almost a thw qhole 1965 season (turns out , due to a knee injury he had in '63). I'll link to his biography and just say the Giants gave him away for a good, not great starting pitcher. Ray Sadecki was a 20 game winner and the Giants probably thought they were getting a deal until Cepeda fully recovered from his knee injury and was the 1967 NL MVP for the World Champion St Louis Cardinals. Hindsight is always 20/20 and the Reds probably couldn't live down doing a similar trade when they gave up Frank Robinson who was the 1966 AL MVP for the World Champion Orioles.

I liked the Cardinal cards mostly because I knew a lot of the players from the team. Curt Flood, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Tim McCarver. These are common names for any baseball fan. This card also has an atypical photo of a player. Instead of posing or smiling, Cepeda looks annoyed at a distraction over his shoulder. There is a policeman next to him and it looks like someone is throwing something in the background. This picture actually has action in it! This wasn't normal in Topps cards of the era.

The stadium looks to be Shea in New York. You'll find most of the cards taken in large stadiums are either Shea or Yankee Stadium because Topps was (and still is) based in New York City.

I always considered this to be one of my more valuable cards because it was a double and it looked to be worth bragging about in the cafeteria in the fourth and fifth grades which I did.

Much of what there is to be said about Cepeda is on the Wikipedia page I linked to (I think you can trust the site when it comes to athletes). Cepeda was, during his peak part of a fiercesome Giants lineup which also had McCovey and Mays. The Giants were thin on pitching in those days but the team still made a mad dash for the World Championship in 1962 by winning the NL pennant but falling just short to the Yankees in seven games. That was the last World Series championship for the Yankees for the next 15 years and the last time the Giants would appear in a World Series for the next 27 and it would be an additional 21 seasons before they finally won a World Series in San Francisco. Trades like the Cepeda for Sadecki didn't help to shorten that time either.

Cepeda was never as good as he was with the Giants but he was still a great hitter who was the star slugger for the '67 Cards with 25 home runs and leading the league with 111 RBI's and had a .325 average. These numbers don't sound like much but this was before the pitching mounds were lowered because the offensive production numbers were plummeting around the league. 1967 and 1968 were the Majors new dead ball era.

Cepeda's average dropped off but his power numbers remained high as well as his games played and fielding percentage. He was staying healthy and getting the job done. He continued this with the Braves up until the injuries lurked back in '71 and '72. He had one more solid year in '73 before retiring in '74 at the age of 37.

Cepeda wasn't in the Hall when I was a kid and a major baseball fan but he did make it in via the Veterans Committee in 1999. I always knew his stats on the back of his '67 card were too awesome to ignore.

19 - Jim McGlothlin of the California Angels

Here is another card I didn't care much for when I was a kid, # 19 Jim McGlothlin of the California Angels. The Angels started out sharing Dodgers Stadium and being called the Los Angeles Angels. Somewhere along the line they got their own stadium and were called the California Angels. Then they were a a mouthful of words called The California Angels of Anaheim and now they are still a mouthful of words as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Even the redundancy of the name irritates me.

I've always lived in the Northeast corner of the US so I never thought much at all about teams like the Angels, Braves etc. A 9 year old kid living in New Jersey thumbing through this elaborate 1967  Topps set didn't take the time of glancing at the common cards and definitely not a player on the Angels, Braves etc... That all being said, this card made no impact on me. Again, the lettering matches the color of the grass. I can't even place where this photo was taken. Anyone can help me out on that???
As for Jim McGlothlin, this is his first Topps card where he appears on it solo. His '66 Topps rookie features him on one of those two player rookie stars cards. SEE RIGHT BELOW.

1967 was McGlothlin's greatest season. He led the league by throwing 6 shutouts and that with a record of ony 12-8. He had a solid 2.96 ERA. There was every reason to expect great things from him when you consider he was only 23 in 1967. He never was as good as he was on '67 but he remained a solid pitcher first with the Angels, for a time with the Reds and for a very brief time with the White Sox. He specialized as a starter though he did do some relieving in '68 earning 3 saves. I imagine injury hampered his productivity with the Reds in '71 and '72. I further imagine he had to retire from the game after the 1973 season
because he was suffering from leukemia. Topps made a 1974 card of him unaware that he would not return to the game. He succumbed to the disease in 1975. He was only 32 years old.

18 Gene Oliver of the Atlanta Braves + my explaination

 I am sitting here trying to think of the reason why I've been avoiding this blog and the answer is right here on the lright side of the page. I never liked this card. The picture matches the lettering close enough to make the front look generic and bland (compare this to other cards where the lettering jumps off the card because of the color). I never held the Atlanta Braves in a high regard. I like their history in Boston and Milwaukee but Atlanta? Lastly, the Gene Oliver is not a name I was ever familiar with. This is, in baseball card parlance is a common. The Braves had their semi stars (Felipe Alou) and stars (Hank Aaron) in this set and they stand out. This card doesn't.

The picture is clearly taken in Shea Stadium. You can tell this from the left field stands. Looking at it now, the stadium looks to be loosely modeled after Old old Yankee Stadium. THat stadium also had an open left field as oppose to it being fully encased with stands like old Tigers Stadium or the original  Comiskey Park.

As for Gene Oliver himself, he was a utility player Oliver bounced around five teams throughout the 60's. He also bounced around the playing field, filling in at 1st, left field or even catcher. His batting  average was never very good but he must have been a reliable fielder to last as long as he did.

Oliver's first card was in 1959 where Topps featured him as one of the Rookie Stars for the season. As was often the case with Topps cards in the 60's, the high numbers are the most valuable because they were produced during the season and after a lot of the hardcore collectors of the time (I imagine mostly kids) tired of the hobby and started enjoying the summer. Oliver is featured in the '61 and '62 Topps sets in their high numbers making them pretty valuable. This '67 card, on the other hand, is about $3 with free shipping on Ebay.

Monday, March 11, 2013

17 Jim Gosger Kansas City A's Too good for the Minors

Here is the first Athletic's card in the '67 set which was the last year to feature the team in Kansas City. The card design with it's powder blue lettering are as unremarkable looking as the team was in KC. The Atheltics started in Kansas as a AAA minor league team for the Yankees playing in the Majors. Any time that A's team developed a star (Maris), he ended up with the Yankees. Also, if the Yankees weren't quite ready to lose complete touch with a star, they sent him to KC. Enos Slaughter went from the Yankees to the A's then back to the Yankees after Rizzuto was pushed into retirement. A team like that NEVER had a chance to succeed and eventually the KC baseball fans gave up following the team. The A's were sold to owners who had no link the Yankees and they began to build for the future. Stars like Jim Catfish Hunter and Bert Campaneris were kept and off they went to win a string of World Series' in the '70s

Ironically, the photo of Gosger on this card is clearly taken in Yankee Stadium

1967 was Gosger's most stable year in the Majors. The A's used him in 134 games. His .242 avg was average but he played a good role as a utility outfielder. The A's kept him around for their their '68 move to Oakland but left him open for the Pilots to pick up in the expansion draft. Gosger was the opening day centerfielder for the Pilots but it was one of the few games he played for the one and done Seattle franchise before they let him go. While I did read Bouton's Ball Four, I do not remember what he wrote about him in the book. Wikipedia calls him being remembered as the "Yeah,sure" guy. I only remember the insane things Doug Rader did when Bouton ended up with the Astros.

Lucky for Gosger he ended up with the Mets during their miracle ascension to the world championship. Gosger didn't appear in the post season for the champs. He actually only appeared in 10 games and had 16 at bats.

Gosger went to the Expos where he appeared in 91 games and had his best year as a hitter going .263. He spent a lot of his pro career bouncing from the majors the minors. He was in the Giants farm system for part of 71 and he spent his entire '72 season in the Mets farm system before returing to the Majors again with the Mets in time to be on another NL Pennant winner. Again, he didn't appear in the post season but he was on the team. His career came to a close when he failed to hit in the minors in '74.

Gosger looked to be one of those players who was too good to be in the Minors but never good enough to be a regular starter in the Majors. This is common I'm sorry to say and you can see these players right now during the second half of any spring training game being played right now.

As I said earlier, this card was seen and forgotten almost immediately when I first saw it. I never liked the A's and I knew almost none of the players featured on the cards in this set. Just Hunter and Campaneris.

# 16 Bill Hands -Chicago Cubs. The Beginning of a great ride.

The more I work on this blog the more I'm learning. I never thought much of anything about this card because I never heard of Bill Hands. I'm 35 years old and I grew up following and loving baseball from '86 to '94 (only liking it for the first few years after Fehr killed the sport with the strike) so I never learned about short term star players from the 1960's and '70's. Now with the internet you can learn about almost anything about sports and buy almost every pieceof sports memorabilia you'd never thought you'd see to buy in your life (old baseball yearbooks, even old MLB broadcasts on DVD)

Bill Hands was a pitcher and for a time, a great pitcher for the Cubs.  His Cubs career started with him splitting time in the bullpen and starting. Pitchers who play that role don't have great records or ERA's but once Hands ERA dropped to under 2.50 in '67, he was made a starter. His starting record in '68 was an impressive 16-10 as were his 4 shut outs. This started a good string for Hands which I imagine made him a fan favorite in Chicago especially during the team's pennant run in the 1969 season.

If there is one glaring flaw in Hands' stats is the amount of home runs he was surrendering. He was giving up double digit homer the entire time he had double digit wins. This likely led to him also having double digit loses during this time.

He was a solid player until he turned 32 when the injuries began to close in on him in 1972. This started Hands downfall in his career which took him to the Twins and finishing up with the Rangers. He still threw the occasional shut out up until he retired so like his record suggests, he was a hit or miss type of  pitcher.

This is one of those interesting cards to me because it had a Cubs player on it. I have always lived in New Jersey but for some reason WGN was broadcast in my area on cable. This meant during the spring, I got to see home games at Wrigley field on TV all the time. This was before the Cubs played their first night game and Harry Caray was still around bellowing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the 7th inning stretch. How could a kid not become a Cub fan after that?

This card also looks to have mountains in the background to (it doesn't but it looked like it to me) and I always thout that was weird. You watch games on TV, see them live, you're seeing the players in the massive stadiums. This was mostly true in cards from the 80's and 90's. This set shows these same professional players looking as though they're getting ready to play in sandlots or on a junior high playground. The players looked out of their element.

Also, like the Battey card, I see a jacket under the jersey which meant to me, pitchers and catchers just reported in February for training


Earl Battey is a bit of a lost player in history. He was a solid hitter and incredible fielder. His career fielding percentage for a catcher was .990. He won three Gold Glove's, three times finished in the top ten in voting for the MVP award and was a 4 time All Star. I'm not sure if most collectors even acknowledge Battey as something other than just another common when they price his cards.

Battey started his career as an understudy to Sherm Lollar on the Chicago White Sox. Veeck traded him along with MANY other players for immediate veteran help to bolster the slugging power lacking which was lacking in the lineup of the '59 Pennant winning White Sox. The Sox remained a competitive team into the '60's but their investment didn't really pay off well because they remained a solid fielding and pitching unit and not much else.

This wasn't the case where Battey ended up. He played the last year of the Washington Senators and was a charter member of the Minnesota Twins in '61. Being traded was a blessing for Battey because the Senators didn't hesitate to make him a starter where he showed himself to be a solid hitter and fielder in 1960. His numbers improved along with the record of the team after they moved to Minnesota. His career peaked along with the team in 1965 which won the pennant and took the Dodgers to the full seven games before ultimately losing. Battey did play in all seven games but failed to achieve much at the plate. He again reflected the team which struggled mightedly at the plate against Koufax, Drysdale and Osteen. The '65 Series was the Twins last appearance in the fall classic for more than 20 years.

Battey turned 31 in 1966 and that started his rapid descent due to injuries. He made the All Star team that year but he played 20 few games than in '65 and his numbers at the plate began to drop. 1967 marked the end of his career. He saw limited action and that was all he would see in any level of professional baseball again.

Battey went on to earn a college degree and devote his time to serving the community. He made it to the Twins Hall of Fame in 2010 A fitting tribute to a man whose career grew with the fortunes of a young and hungry Minnesota Twins team. The Twins had winning records from '62 to '67. 1968, the first year after Battey's retirement, the Twins record dropped to 79-83. Their worst record since 1961.

About the card, it features Battey clearly in preseason and I argue that this picture was taken shortly after pitchers and catchers reported to spring training ahead of the rest of the team because of Battey's jacekt. That may not prove much to most but it says something to me. I also remember thinking this card was strange as a kid because how often do you see a catcher in a jacket? It happens even today with MLB pitchers on the base path (that also looked weird to me too.)

Card 14 The Famed Phil Linz, former Yankee, Met Phillie and Harp player

Back from a another hiatus. Things are what they are and life is what it is. You still can choose to beat the living shit out of life instead of having life beat the living shit out of you.

Card 14 features Phil Linz on his second to last baseball card. He appeared on a '68 Topps card in a Phillies uniform but labeled as being a New York Met which he was for part of 67 and all of '68 (his final year)

Linz is best known for an incident on the Yankees team bus in 1964. Linz was playing the harmonica near the back of the bus which really got under the skin of rookie Manager Yogi Berra who was sitting in the front. Yogi finally yelled for Linz to knock it off. Phil didn't hear wehat he said so he asked Mickey Mantle what he said and Mantle told him Yogi wanted him to play louder. Thus a folk hero was born and a little known utility player achieved a status few other utility players could achieve over the course of several careers. Linz ended up playing harmonicas in full page ads (one of which is featured on the back cover of the '65 Yankees yearbook).

Linz's career was fairly short. He was a major leaguer from '62 to '68 playing his final game at the ripe young age of 29. Linz wasn't much of a hitter but look at his fielding stats, the man played almost everywhere. He played everywhere except 1b, C, and P. He appeared in 112 games in '64 for the AL Champion Yankees (last to win the pennant for 11 years) playing mostly SS and 3B.

The Phillies picked up Linz in '66. I am assuming the source of the picture of Linz on his '67 Topps card comes from the '66 spring training. He has a road jersey with a smallish stadium in the distant background. He actually split his playing time in '67 with the Phillies and Mets. In '68 the Mets employed him exclusively as a second baseman and pinch hitter.

A lesser know fact about Linz is that in 1,518 regular season at bats, he hit only 11 home runs but in only 34 World Series at bats, he hit 2 home runs. This fact might've overshadowed the famed harmonica incident if the Yankees managed to win the '64 World Series where Linz hit his clutch homers.