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.