Monday, December 26, 2011

AL Pitching Leaders (#8)

Five players made the AL Pitching Leaders card in 1963. The Yankees' Ralph Terry led the league with 23 wins (6 more than teammate Whitey Ford). There was a 3-way tie at 20 wins, and Jim Bunning just squeaks onto this card with 19 wins. (Bunning seemed to make it a habit of winning 19 games - doing so 3 consecutive times while with the Phillies.)

I've decided that I like the 1966 to 1969 style of league-leaders cards much better than these "floating heads" cards in the 1963 set.

As always, we have the "leaders" list, all the way down to 7 wins!

Curiously, the top three pitchers on this list were all out of baseball 5 years later.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Final Card: Bud Zipfel

According to my Topps book, this is the only baseball card for Marion Sylvester "Bud" Zipfel (#69). I thought he would be the last person listed in the index, but Richie Zisk and Frank Zupo (1958) are after him.

Bud was signed by the Yankees in 1956, and spent 5 seasons in their farm system before the Los Angeles Angels selected him in the expansion draft prior to the 1961 season. The same day, the Angels traded him to the Senators for shortstop Ken Hamlin (who was also selected in the expansion draft, from Kansas City).

After starting 1961 in the minors, Zipfel made his major-league debut on July 26th, and started 44 of the final 66 games at 1B for the Senators, taking over from Dale Long. Apparently, that wasn't enough to impress, because he was back in triple-A in 1962. Zipfel didn't get extended playing time at 1B until September 8th, although he saw some action in left field earlier in the season.

Bud's only major-league playing time came in 1961 and 1962. After the '62 season, he kicked around the minors for 4 more seasons, playing for the Reds', Tigers', Cardinals', and Phillies' organizations.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bubba Phillips (#177)

John Melvin "Bubba" Phillips had a 10-year career during the 1950s and 1960s, playing for the Tigers, White Sox, and Indians. (It seems like almost all the players on this blog have played for those 3 teams!)

Phillips began his career in 1948 as an outfielder with the unaffiliated class-D Stroudsburg (PA) Poconos, in the North Atlantic League. The following season, he joined the Tigers' organization, and played 4 seasons in their farm system before spending 1953-54 in military service. He returned to baseball in 1955, and spent the next 10 seasons as a fulltime major-leaguer.

After his rookie season as a backup outfielder with the Tigers, Bubba was traded to the White Sox for pitcher Virgil Trucks. Although he was again a backup outfielder in 1956, the following season found Bubba as the Sox' regular 3rd baseman. His new status was short-lived, as he was relegated to backup 3rd baseman/6th outfielder in 1958. Phillips did an about-face in '59, playing 100 games as the regular 3rd baseman, along with 23 games in the outfield. It would be his last season in Chicago.

On December 6th, Bubba was traded to the Indians (along with catcher John Romano and 1st baseman Norm Cash) for outfielder Minnie Minoso, catcher Dick Brown, and 2 others. Phillips spent 3 seasons in Cleveland, the last 2 as their regular 3rd baseman, starting over 140 games there each season.

After the 1962 season, Bubba was traded back to the Tigers for pitcher Ron Nischwitz. He played the final 2 big-league seasons there, appearing in 128 games (mostly at 3B) in 1963, but only 46 games in his final season.

Phillips was released by the Tigers in February 1965, and spent that season playing for Milwaukee's AAA team in Atlanta, before retiring.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Al Smith (#16)

Here's another player I never heard of until getting this card a few months ago, in a gift-pack from I'm instituting a new label (New to Me) for these cards. It will apply to most of the 1963 cards, as well as a few on my 1966 and 1970 blogs.

After playing in the Negro Leagues in 1947, Al Smith was signed by the Indians in 1948, and made his big-league debut in July 1953. As a rookie, he started every game in centerfield for a month during July and August. Over the next 3 seasons, Smith was one of the Indians' top outfielders, switching positions from one season to the next. In 1955, Al led the league in games, plate appearances, and runs scored. In his last season in Cleveland (1957) he was the team's 4th outfielder, once Roger Maris joined the team.

After the season, he and pitcher Early Wynn were traded to the White Sox for outfielder Minnie Minoso and 3rd baseman Fred Hatfield. Al spent the next 5 seasons as a regular in Chicago, the first 3 as a corner outfielder, then transitioning to 3rd base during 1961, and finally playing fulltime at 3rd base during the 1962 season.

By the time this card was issued, Smith had left Chicago. In January 1963, he and shortstop Luis Aparicio were traded to the Orioles for pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm, shortstop Ron Hansen, 3rd baseman Pete Ward, and outfielder Dave Nicholson. Al wasn't there long, as the Indians re-acquired his services after the 1963 season for outfielder Willie Kirkland.

Released by Cleveland in August 1964, Al wrapped up his career with a 2-month stint with the Red Sox.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ed Rakow (#82)

Here's another card donated by the fine folks at Dean's Cards. It's also another from the Athletics' pre-green-and-gold era.

Ed Rakow was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1957, and had a 4-year tour of their minor-league outposts, including the Green Bay Bluejays and the Montreal Royals. Ed's major-league debut with the Dodgers came in April 1960, but he only played 9 games with them that season, while spending the bulk his time with their triple-A Spokane Indians.

In March 1961, Rakow was traded to the Athletics for pitcher Howie Reed (who will be found next week in my 1970 blog). Ed spent 3 full seasons with Kansas City. In 1961 he was primarily a reliever, compiling a 2-8 record in 45 games (34 in relief).

The following season he moved to the starting rotation, and was the team's ace (if a team that finishes in 9th place has an "ace"). He led the staff in wins (14), losses (a league-high 17), starts (35), innings (235), and strikeouts (159).

1963 was Ed's last season with the Athletics. His 9-10 record put him in the team's 2nd-tier of starters (along with Moe Drabowsky and Diego Segui), behind 12-game winners Orlando Pena (who lost 20 games) and Dave Wickersham. Rakow pitched in 34 games, but made only 26 starts.

In November, Ed was traded to the Tigers (along with Wickersham and 2nd baseman Jerry Lumpe) for slugging outfielder Rocky Colavito, pitcher Bob Anderson (who never played in the majors again), and cash. Rakow had one solid season (1964) in the Tigers bullpen, then spent most of 1965 and all of 1966 in the minors. He was released by the Tigers in May 1966, and picked up by the Red Sox the same month, but remained in triple-A.

After the 1966 season, Rakow was traded to the Braves. He pitched for their AAA Richmond club in 1967 and 1968, and pitched 17 games for the parent club in 1967, his last on September 28th. Ed's final card was in the 1965 set.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Extremely rare, short-printed card found!

Recently, a rare 1963 card thought to be extinct has surfaced. This highly-sought-after card appears to be in good condition, considering its age. This late-inning reliever no doubt spent several seasons with the Spokane Lumberjacks and Minot Red Roosters, before hooking on with Team Coco.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Charlie Maxwell (#86)

Here is another player unknown to me until today.

Charlie (Charley to Topps) Maxwell was signed by the Boston Red in 1947, and played 7 seasons in their farm system. Although an outfielder, he also pitched in 11 games in 1947. Maxwell's major-league debut came in September 1950, with a 3 game cup of coffee. He also appeared in 49 games for the Sox in 1951 and 8 games in 1952.

Maxwell made the big leagues to stay at the start of the 1954 season. He was Ted Williams' backup in left field, which is to say he rarely played there (12 starts). He did appear in 74 games that season, mostly as a pinch-hitter. After the season, he was purchased by the Orioles, who then sold him to the Tigers by mid-May 1955.

Charlie was the Tigers' 5th outfielder for the remainder of the 1955 season, but took over the starting left fielder's job to begin the 1956 season. Maxwell held the job through the end of the 1960 season. During Charlie's 5 seasons as Detroit's left fielder, he made the all-star team twice.

Rocky Colavito replaced Maxwell in left field at the start of the 1961 season, and after a year and a half of pinch-hitting duty, Charlie was traded to the White Sox in June 1962. Maxwell was Chicago's 4th outfielder during 1962, and started 45 games in left field. He was also the teams' top left-handed pinch-hitter.

1963 was more of the same, except that with the addition of Dave Nicholson to the outfield mix, Charlie was pushed down to the #5 slot. After only 2 pinch-hitting appearances in 1964, Maxwell was released on May 15th.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Birdie Tebbetts (#48)

Birdie Tebbetts was an old-school manager (which to me is anyone who was out of the managing business before 1967, when I first started collecting cards).

Born in 1912, he was an American League catcher from 1936 to 1952 (except for 1943-45, due to military service). Tebbetts began with Tigers, was traded to the Red Sox during the 1947 season, and finished up with the Indians in '51 and '52. Birdie was selected to the all-star team 4 times during his career. In a 1969 fan poll, he was selected as the Red Sox' all-time best catcher.

Tebbetts managed the Cincinnati Redlegs from 1954 until midway through the 1958 season, never finishing above 3rd place. He also managed the Milwaukee Braves for the last 25 games of 1961 and all of 1962.

The following season he began his last managerial assignment, managing the Indians from 1963 until midway through the 1966 season. In April 1964 he suffered a heart attack, and missed the 1st half of that season, but returned to his post on July 2nd.

Birdie also scouted for the Mets, Yankees, Orioles, and Marlins from 1968 to 1997. He passed away in 1999.

Here are some other stories about Tebbetts from his Wikipedia page:

When he played for the Tigers, he was in the bullpen when a fan, wanting to hide tomatoes, eggs, etc., from stadium police who were combing the stands for unruly fans throwing things, filled a basket with the garbage and threw it over a railing. It landed on Tebbetts' head and knocked him cold. When the police identified the culprit to Tebbetts he said he would handle the matter himself—and busted the fan in the nose.

In 1950 Tebbetts referred to some of his Red Sox teammates as "moronic malcontents" and "juvenile delinquents". Consequently, he was traded to Cleveland at the end of the season.

Perhaps most revealing of Tebbetts's character is his recollection of an umpire who suffered dizzy spells following his return from the war. Afraid of losing his job, the umpire asked Tebbetts, then the Tigers catcher, to help calling balls and strikes, and Tebbetts tipped him off with hand signals following each pitch.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Final Card: Ray Moore

Last fall, I received a nice package of 1963 cards from Prior to that, my only cards in this set were most of the Phillies, and a few guys who didn't have cards in the mid-to-late 1960s (like Ken Hubbs, Eli Grba, and Vic Wertz). I'm going to be featuring these cards for the foreseeable future on this blog, starting with cards of previously-unknown (to me) players whose last card was prior to 1966.

Here is the last of the 9 Topps baseball cards for Ray Moore (#26). I must confess, before seeing this card, I had never heard of Ray Moore. He was 35 years old on opening day in 1963, but he easily looks 20 years older than that. In fact, I may have mistaken him for Sparky Anderson's older cousin!

Ray was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, and spent the early part of his career in their farm system, at outposts including future big-league cities Fort Worth TX, Montreal, and St. Paul MN. Ray made his major-league debut with the Dodgers on August 1st, 1952, although he was soon back in the minors.

After the 1954 season, Moore was traded to the Orioles (who had just moved from St Louis a year earlier). He pitched for the Orioles for 3 seasons, first as their bullpen ace, and later one of their top 2 starting pitchers.

Ray spent the next 2 1/2 seasons with the White Sox, bouncing between their rotation and the bullpen. In June 1960, he was sold to the Washington Senators. By this time, Moore was strictly a relief pitcher, and he spent the next 3 1/2 seasons as a key member of the Senators/Twins' bullpen. Ray retired following the 1963 season.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Minnie Minoso (#190)

This is the next-to-last card for Minnie Minoso.

Saturnino Orestes Armas (Arrieta) Minoso was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1948. After only 11 games in class A ball in 1948, Minoso jumped to triple-A to start the 1949 season. After 2 full seasons with the Indians' AAA team in San Diego, Minnie made the majors for keeps to open the 1951 season. His time in Cleveland was short though, as on April 30th he was traded to the White Sox in a 3-team deal that also included the Philadelphia Athletics.

Minoso became a star immediately, finishing 2nd in the Rookie of the Year balloting in 1951, and began a string of 11 straight years with over 600 plate appearances. He was a 7-time all-star, including his 1st 4 seasons in the league.

During his rookie season, he split his time evenly between 3rd base and the outfield. After that season he was primarily an outfielder, although he managed to appear in a few games at 3B each season. In 1952, he alternated between left field and center field, before settling in as the ChiSox' regular left fielder for the next five years.

After the 1957 season, Minoso was traded back to the Indians for pitcher Early Wynn and outfielder Al Smith. Minnie manned the left field spot for Cleveland in 1958 and 1959, before being traded to - THE WHITE SOX! This latest maneuver was a 7-player deal which included 1B Norm Cash and catcher Johnny Romano going to the Indians.

Minoso led the AL with 184 hits in 1960, and collected his last all-star appearance. After 2 seasons with the Sox, he was traded again, this time to the Indians Cardinals. Minnie's playing time with St. Louis in 1962 was cut way back to 39 games, mostly as a 3rd-string left fielder.

In April 1963, the Senators purchased Minoso's contract. He spent 1 season in Washington, sharing the left field job with Chuck Hinton, before getting his release in October. The following April, he hooked on with the White Sox, appearing in 30 games before they released him in July.

Minoso played ball in various Mexican leagues from 1966-1969, before going on to a long career as a coach with the White Sox.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ed Lopat (#23)

Here's another of the many 1963 cards I received from the good folks at a few months ago. In the last year or two, I began to collect cards from the pre-1966 era. I still can't get used to seeing the Kansas City Athletics in something other than green, gold and white uniforms!

Ed Lopat is primarily remembered as a starting pitcher for the White Sox and Yankees from 1944 to 1955. He began his pitching career in 1937, and played 7 seasons in the minors before making the White Sox at the start of the 1944 season. Lopat won in double figures in all but his last season in the majors, his best year coming in 1951, when he fashioned a 21-9 record with the Yankees.

Midway through his final 1955 season, Lopat was traded to the Orioles, and finished out the season in Baltimore. He spent the 1956 season pitching for the Yankees' AAA team in Richmond, VA (at age 38), before embarking on a coaching career.

After several seasons as a pitching coach, Ed took over as Athletics' manager to start the 1963 season. After finishing in 8th-place in 1963, and mired in 10th place by mid-June 1964, Ed was replaced by Mel McGaha. They needn't have bothered - the team still finished in last place, 42 games behind the Yankees, and 5 games behind 9th-place Washington.

I vaguely remember seeing Lopat's name listed in various places as a coach during the 1960s and 1970s, but I don't remember which teams he worked for.