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.