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.