Monday, August 27, 2012

Bob Schmidt (#94)

Bob Schmidt was signed by the New York Giants in 1951, and played 2 seasons in the minors before missing the 1953-54 seasons while in military service. He returned for 3 more seasons in the minors, including the triple-A Minneapolis Millers in 1957, where his teammates included Felipe Alou, Orlando Cepeda, Jim Davenport, and Eddie Bressoud.

Bob cracked the Giants' starting lineup as a rookie at the start of the 1958 season, starting 107 games behind the plate and making the all-star team. The following season, he alternated with journeyman Hobie Landrith, making 56 starts to Hobie's 88. This arrangement continued in 1960, although Schmidt had the upper hand, starting 98 games.

In late April 1961, Schmidt and 2nd baseman Don Blasingame were traded to the Reds for catcher Ed Bailey. Bob occupied the 3rd-string slot behind rookies Jerry Zimmerman and Johnny Edwards, then was traded to the Senators in the off-season.

Schmidt's playing time increased in Washington, as he shared the job with Ken Retzer in 1962. The following season, the team acquired veteran Don Leppert from Pittsburgh, and Bob's old friend Hobie Landrith from the Orioles. This limited Bob to 9 appearances, and on May 8th he was sold to the Yankees.

Schmidt spend the rest of 1963 and all of 1964-66 playing for the Yankees' AAA teams, except for 20 games with the Yankees during the first 2 months of 1965.

After missing the 1964 Topps set, his final card was issued in the 1965 set.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Final Card: Marv Breeding

Marv Breeding (#149) had a very short major-league career (1960-63). He was signed by the Orioles in 1955, and spent 2 seasons in the low minors before missing all of 1957-58 while in military service. He returned in 1959, where he collected 603 plate appearances as the regular 2nd baseman for the Orioles' triple-A Vancouver club.

Marv started 151 of 154 games at 2nd base for the Orioles as a rookie in 1960. He hit .269, but also committed 18 errors - 2nd on the team behind shortstop Ron Hansen's 29. The following season, Breeding shared the 2nd base job with rookie Jerry Adair, with Marv getting about 40% of the starts.

In 1962, Adair moved over to shortstop, but that didn't help Marv. Veteran Johnny Temple was acquired by the Orioles, and started 71 games at 2nd base to Marv's 56 starts. Breeding also appeared in another 40 games as a substitute and/or pinch-hitter.

After the season he was traded to the Senators, where he began the '63 season as the starting 2nd baseman. He soon lost his job to Chuck Cottier, and on June 30th was traded to the Dodgers for veteran pitcher Ed Roebuck. Marv finished out the '63 season with the Dodgers, but never played in the majors again.

He spent the 1964-68 seasons in the minors, playing for 8 organizations in 5 years, including a return to the Orioles' organization.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Final Card: Chuck Essegian

This is the final card for Chuck Essegian (#153). Chuck played for 6 teams in his 6-year career. (I wonder if he ever unpacked?)

Chuck began his career in 1953, playing for various unaffiliated minor-league teams for 4 seasons, until he was drafted by the Cardinals in December 1956. They must have had 2nd thoughts, as he was released the following day.

Essegian was picked up by the Phillies in March 1957, and played all season in their farm system with the Schenectady Blue Jays (A) and Miami Marlins (AAA). Chuck made his major-league debut with the Phillies in April 1958. He played 39 games with the Phillies that season, but spent most of the year back in Miami.

After the 1958 season he was traded to the Cardinals for shortstop Ruben Amaro Sr. Chuck didn't have time to settle in, as he was traded to the Dodgers in June. He played for 4 teams in 1959: Cardinals, Dodgers, and the AAA teams for both clubs.

Essegian finally avoided the minors beginning in 1960. He spent the entire season with the Dodgers, although only appearing in 52 games. The Orioles purchased him before the 1961 season, but after only 1 game he was traded to the Athletics (with pitcher Jerry Walker) for pitcher Dick Hall and (future manager) Dick Williams.

Chuck's stay with the Athletics lasted 3 weeks, until he was sold to the Indians in early May. He was the backup at all 3 outfield positions in 1961, but made 85 starts in left field in 1962, sharing the position with Al Luplow.

1963 would be Chuck's last season in the majors. He was traded back to the Athletics (again for pitcher Jerry Walker) and made 51 starts in left field for KC (none after July 21st), finally losing his job to Manny Jimenez and rookie Ken Harrelson.

Essegian played in Japan for the 1964 season.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Jim Umbricht (#99)

Jim Umbricht was a relief pitcher in the early 1960s with the Pirates and Houston Colt .45s.

He began his pro career in 1953, playing for unaffiliated teams in '53 and '56 (missing 2 seasons in the military). After the 1956 season, he was sold to the Milwaukee Braves. After 2 seasons in the Braves' system, Jim was traded to the Pirates, making his major-league debut in September 1959.

After 2 more seasons bouncing between the Pirates and the minor leagues, Umbricht was selected by Houston in the expansion draft, and spent 2 seasons in their bullpen.

The 1963 season was his last, as at the start of spring training he was diagnosed with melanoma. After surgery in March to remove a tumor, he made it back to the active roster for opening day, and pitched the entire season for the Colts. His situation helped to raise awareness of the disease. Umbricht compiled a 4-3 record over 76 innings in 1963.

His health deteriorated soon after the season ended, and the team released him in December. After being in and out of hospitals for much of the winter, he finally passed away at age 33 on the day before the 1964 season. Jim's body was cremated, and his ashes spread over the construction site for the Astrodome. The Astros retired his number in 1965.

 [The Astros' relatively brief history seems to be filled with tragedies. After Jim Umbricht, ex-Astros' outfielder Walt Bond died of leukemia in 1967, a few months after playing for the Twins; pitcher Don Wilson died of carbon monoxide poisoning in the off-season before the 1975 season; J.R Richard suffered a stroke just prior to a game in 1980; and more recently, ex-Astros pitcher Darryl Kile died while a member of the Cardinals.]

Friday, June 8, 2012

Dallas Green (#91)

Here's Phillies' pitcher/lifer Dallas Green.

Green was signed by the Phillies in 1955 and pitched in the minors for 5 1/2 seasons before making his major-league debut in June 1960. Dallas was a spot starter/reliever for the Phillies for the next 3 1/2 seasons. In the Phillies' near-miss 1964 season, Green split his time between the Phillies and their AAA team in Little Rock, Arkansas. 

Green was sold to the Senators at the start of the 1965 season, but was returned a month later. He spent the remainder of that season, and most of the 1966 season with the Phillies' AAA team. In August 1966 Dallas was sold to the Mets, but once again returned to the Phillies after a month. His final season as a player was in 1967, where he split his time between Philadelphia and double-A Reading, before the Phillies released him in mid-September.

After his playing career, Green worked in the Phillies' farm system under Paul Owens. When Owens became the team's GM in 1972, Green moved up to Farm Director. Under Owens' and Green's watch, the Phillies developed Larry Bowa, Greg Luzinski, Mike Schmidt, Bob Boone, and others. Dallas became the team's field manager when Danny Ozark was fired in 1979.

After leading (driving?) the team to their first World Series championship, Dallas moved on to the Cubs, as President and GM. After some high-profile stints managing the Mets and Yankees, he returned to the Phillies' organization as an adviser to the general manager.

Dallas Green's granddaughter was the young girl killed during the January 2011 shooting of a congresswoman in Tucson, Arizona.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bob Veale (#87)

Today's card features Bob Veale, a starting pitcher for the Pirates during the 1960s, until finishing his career as a reliever with the Red Sox. Here we see him in his trademark glasses, about to enter his first full season in the majors.

Although Bob was overshadowed in a league with Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Don Drysdale, and Ferguson Jenkins, he was the ace of the Pirates' staff from 1964 through 1970, and was among the league leaders in strikeouts in the mid-1960s. shows that Veale's minor-league stats also include 1958 (missing from the card). 

Veale was signed by the Pirates in 1958 and pitched 4 seasons in the minors before making his big-league debut in April 1962. He pitched in 11 games for the Pirates that season, while spending some time at triple-A Columbus.

His first full season with the Pirates was 1963, and by the next season, he had taken over the top spot in a rotation that also included veterans Vern Law and Bob Friend. Veale led the NL with 250 strikeouts in 1964, and in '65 struck out a career-high 276 batters. Unfortunately, that was only good enough for 2nd place behind Koufax' 382 strikeouts. His 18 wins in '64 were the most in his career, although he won in double figures every season from 1964 to 1970. Bob was also 3rd among NL pitchers in strikeouts during the '65 and '66 seasons.

By the time the Pirates made it to the World Series in 1971, Bob had moved to the bullpen. He made 37 relief appearances in his last full season with the Pirates, including 2/3 of an inning in the World Series against the Orioles.

After spending much of 1972 in triple-A, in September Veale was acquired by the Red Sox, and spent 2-plus seasons in their bullpen. He was released after a minor-league-filled 1974 season.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Jim Lemon (#369)

This is the final player card for Jim Lemon. He would re-appear in the 1968 and 1969 sets as the Senators' manager.

Lemon was signed by the Indians in 1948, and made his major-league debut in August 1950.  After 2 years in the military, he played for the Indians' AAA team in 1953, while also playing 16 games for Cleveland. In May 1954 he was sold to the Senators, and spent most of that season playing for class-A Charlotte, and 1955 at class-AA Chattanooga.

Jim finally gained full-season major-league status in 1956. He spent the next 6 seasons as a starting outfielder for the Senators (although by 1961, they would become the Minnesota Twins). After playing right field for 3 seasons, he moved to left field beginning in 1959. Lemon also made his only all-star appearance in 1960.

During his 5 seasons in Washington, Jim hit 27, 17, 26, 33, and 38 home runs. In 1961, he only hit 14 homers. After starting 118 games in 1961, he dropped off to only TWO starts in 1962, while missing most of the season due to injuries and ineffectiveness. His career quickly went downhill, as he went to the Phillies (May 1963) and the White Sox (June '63). The White Sox released him after the season, ending his career.

Lemon took over as Senators' manager in 1968 (when Gil Hodges went to the Mets). After finishing in 6th place the previous season, the Nats were dead last in 1968. As such, Lemon was canned and replaced by Ted Williams. Both Lemon and Williams have a manager's card in the 1969 set.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Jack Baldschun (#341)

Sorry for another Phillie so soon, but I just moved and I can't find the power cord to my scanner, so I'm limited to cards that I've already scanned to my computer. This means a lot of Phillies, Giants, and White Sox players until further notice.

Jack Baldschun was the star bullpen ace for the Phillies in the early 1960s. Upon leaving Philly after the 1965 season, his career flamed out.

Jack was signed by the (old) Washington Senators in 1956. He pitched 5 seasons in the minors, first as a starter, before switching to relief in 1958. The Phillies selected him from the (by then) Minnesota Twins in the Rule 5 draft after the 1960 season.

As a Rule 5 pick, Baldschun was retained on the major-league roster for the entire 1961 season. He didn't merely take up a roster spot - he appeared in 65 games (most in the NL). Jack pitched 99 innings (all in relief). He was the only one of the 10 primary pitchers used that season not to start a game.

Baldschun was the big cheese in the Phillies' bullpen during the '62, '63, and '64 seasons. As in 1961, he was the only pitcher not to start a game for the Phillies in '62 and '63. He compiled records of 12-7 and 11-7 in 1962 and 1963 respectively.

Jack slumped in 1965, and although still leading the staff in games, he shared the bullpen ace duties with rookie Gary Wagner.

After the 1965 season, Baldschun was traded to the Orioles for veteran outfielder Jackie Brandt and pitching prospect Darold Knowles (who would become the Phillies' bullpen stopper in 1966). Three days later, Baltimore flipped Jack to the Reds in the Frank Robinson trade.

He appeared in 9 games (13 innings) for the Reds, but spent most of 1967 and all of 1968 with the Reds' AAA team. Baldschun was released by Cincinnati prior to the 1969 season, and signed with the expansion San Diego Padres in mid-April. Jack spent the entire 1969 season with the Padres, but appears to have been the 9th man on a 10-man (expansion team) staff.

Baldschun split the 1970 season between San Diego and their AAA team, with his final big-league appearance coming on August 21st. After 1 game with triple-A Hawaii in 1971, his career was over.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Final Card: Bob Will

This is the final card for Cubs' outfielder Bob Will (#58). Will was signed by the Cubs in 1954, and spent 6 seasons in their farm system, although he played 70 games with Chicago in 1957 and a few in 1958.

In 1960 Bob was the team's regular right fielder, starting 110 games there along with another 2 dozen games as a pinch-hitter and defensive replacement. In 1961 rookie Billy Williams joined the Cubs, which re-shuffled the outfield and sent Will to the bench. He would remain a backup player for all of '61 and '62, and part of 1963.

Will's last major-league game came on June 12, 1963. He spent the remainder of that season and all of 1964 in the minors. Later in the 1964 season, he moved to the Cardinals' organization.

Bob Will looks like an excellent choice for Night Owl's upcoming "Best Glasses in the History of Baseball Cards" series.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Art Mahaffey (#385)

I have 69 cards in the 1963 set, and 21 of them are Phillies. I better start working them in now and then, otherwise this will turn into an all-Phillies blog down the road.

Art Mahaffey was one of the Phillies' top starting pitchers in the early-to-mid 1960s. Art was signed by the Phillies, and pitched for 4 1/2 seasons in their minor-league system. In 1956 he played for the class-D Mattoon (IL) Phillies, where not one of his teammates made it to the big leagues. The following season, while pitching for class-B High-Point-Thomasville (NC), one of his teammates was future Phillies' pitcher and manager Dallas Green. His manager there was Frank Lucchesi, who would manage the Phillies from 1970-72.

After compiling a 16-5 record in 1959 and 11-9 in the first half of 1960, Mahaffey made his major-league debut with the Phillies on July 30th, joining a rotation that included Robin Roberts, Jim Owens, and John Buzhardt. Art started 12 of his 14 games that season, and finished with a 7-3 record.

Mahaffey was a key member of the Phillies rotation from 1961 through 1964. He led the NL with 19 losses in 1961, but the Phillies were a bad team, and he must have been doing something right, or he wouldn't have remained in the rotation.

1962 brought an almost complete turnover of the rotation, as rookies Jack Hamilton and Dennis Bennett, along with veteran Cal McLish replaced Roberts and Buzhardt. Mahaffey led the staff in starts (39) and innings (274) while posting a 19-14 record.

Mahaffey's starts were cut in half in 1963, since rookie Ray Culp and lefty Chris Short both joined the rotation (and Hamilton was traded away). In fact, Art dropped to #4, ahead of only Bennett.

He bounced back in 1964 with a 12-9 record, but was still stuck in the #4 starter's role, behind newly acquired Jim Bunning, as well as Short and Bennett. This was his last effective season as a starting pitcher. In 1965 he only started 9 games (mostly in May), and was relegated to the bullpen for much of the season, in favor of Ray Herbert and Bo Belinsky (both acquired from the American League in the off-season).

After the 1965 season, Mahaffey was traded to the Cardinals (with outfielder Alex Johnson and catcher Pat Corrales) for 1st baseman Bill White, shortstop Dick Groat, and catcher Bob Uecker. Art split the 1966 season between the Cardinal's bullpen and starting for triple-A Tulsa. He played his last major-league game on July 17, 1966.

On April 1, 1967 Mahaffey moved on to the Mets, in a 5-player trade involving Jerry Buchek and Ed Bressoud. He would play that season with the Mets' and Cubs' minor-league teams before retiring.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Final Card: Pete Burnside

This is the final baseball card for Pete Burnside (#19). 1963 was also his last year in the majors. This card shows him as a member of the Baltimore Orioles, although the photo is clearly from his days with the Washington Senators. He was traded to the Orioles late in the off-season, then re-acquired by the Senators in late-May 1963.

Pete was signed by the New York Giants in 1949, and spent all of 1949-1956 in their farm system, with a 2-game callup to New York at the end of 1955. He also missed the entire 1953 season while in military service.

Burnside was a swingman in the minors, but primarily a starter while with the New York Giants. Beginning in 1958 he split his time evenly between the rotation and the bullpen, except for his first season with the Tigers (1959) and his final season (1963) when he was strictly a relief pitcher.

During the 1957 and 1958 seasons, he split his time between the Giants and their AAA team. It wasn't until 1959 that he spent his first full season in the big leagues, by that time with the Tigers. Pete's contract was purchased in the off-season, and he became the #3 man in Detroit's bullpen (and the only southpaw).

In 1960, he (and Bob Bruce) alternated between bullpen work and the #4 starter's position. After the season Pete was lost to the Washington Senators in the expansion draft. For the next 2 seasons, Burnside continued in the role he had with the Tigers in 1960 - one of his team's top 10 pitchers, but splitting his time evenly between the starting rotation and the bullpen.

After the 1962 season, Pete was traded to the Orioles in a 5-player deal, but after only 6 games (and 7 innings) he was released on May 9th. Two weeks later, the Senators re-signed him, and he spent the remainder of the 1963 season in their bullpen, pitching 57 innings over 38 games.