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Luxury Box Season Ticket Holder

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Date: Jul 17, 2015
Fun With Baseball (and Football) Cards
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This post is a continuation of my post in Eaglesfly’s most interesting 1951 replay - http://somers.activeboard.com/t60092395/1951-national-league-replay/?page=17 - which I did not want to hijack with my various musings.

But I did want to continue my discussion of Mr.A by noting that the Reds eventually traded ol’ Joe before the 1953 season (as part of a four-team deal) for cash, a bag of practice balls, a waffle iron, and (last but not least) Rocky Bridges.

38-294Fr.jpg

I suspect Rocky was born with a chaw in his right cheek.  Here’s a heart-warming photo of Rocky teaching the finer points of tobacco chewing to a couple of impressionable baby-boomers, who clearly wanted to be like their hero in every possible way.

la-me-rocky-bridges-20150131

After the trade in question, Joe went on to play for 14 more years (mostly for the Braves), ending up with a very respectable .277 average, 336 homeruns (including four in one game) and 1122 RBIs.  He never made it into the Hall of Fame.  He never smiled either.  He died at the age of 71.

Rocky, on the other hand, lasted another nine years in the majors as what baseball historians charitably refer to as a “journeyman”.  You don’t need an internet connection to figure out whether Rocky ever flirted with Hall of Fame induction.  He never hit four homeruns in one game, but he managed to hit five for the Senators during the entire 1958 season.

I think the Braves got the best of that deal.  Perhaps the waffle iron still works.

Rocky did beat out Joe in one – some might say more important - category:  he lived to the ripe old age of 87.  So much for all those Cancer Society warnings about the dangers of smokeless tobacco. 

Unfortunately for me, I can’t stop picturing Rocky lying in his coffin, decked out in his Cincinnati flannels, with a wad of Beech-Nut neatly tucked in his right cheek.



-- Edited by boomer on Friday 17th of July 2015 09:14:54 PM

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Good stuff. Some of those early Topps cards have some serious chaw-pics.

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Luxury Box Season Ticket Holder

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76chaney.jpg

I don’t mean to disparage “journeymen” or even utility infielders, for that matter.  Au contraire.  I’ve always felt a particular affinity for weak hitting, decent fielding infielders who were equally at home – that is, equally mediocre – at second, short or third.  That was me for most of my baseball career (which mercifully lasted no further than high school). 

I’m not sure there even is such a thing as a utility infielder these days.  Not on purpose, anyhow.  It may be a lost art, like pepper games, infield chatter and breaking curfew.  In the old days, one could (out of necessity) make a career of sorts out of it.  It was either that or pumping gas for your Uncle Earl at his filling station back in Hammond, Indiana. 

I mention Hammond, Indiana, not at random, but because it was the hometown of Darrel Chaney, who was the Cincinnati Reds’ utility infielder for most of the heyday of the Big Red Machine.  Darrel was with the Reds from 1969 until 1975 when he was traded (you guessed it) to the Braves.  No cash or waffle irons this time.  Darrel was traded straight up for utility outfielder Mike Lum.  And if you ever drove through (or preferably around) Hammond, Indiana, in the 1960s, you can understand why Darrel Chaney never once thought of voluntarily hanging up the spikes and giving his Uncle Earl (or his equivalent) a buzz.  Hammond smelled.  Really bad.  I’m not kidding.  It was other-worldly.

But I digress.

I’d like to say my favorite player on the Reds was Darrel Chaney. But not quite.  My initial quest was to find someone at least somewhat like myself as my favorite Cincinnati Red.  I settled on Tommy Helms.  No need to set the bar too high.  Maybe, if I really tried, I could hit .237 like Tommy.  But the Reds traded him after their disastrous 1971 season, and I had to search elsewhere for a replacement for my erstwhile hero.  Though the Reds were loaded with Hall of Fame talent with plenty of all-stars from which to choose, in secret I found myself rooting for Darrel.  Every hit – and they were few an far between – was a vindication of sorts for me and my ilk.  No need to tell my Rose, Morgan and Bench-loving friends about any of this.  I had enough to get the crap kicked out of me on my plate already.

Darrel’s big chance came in 1973 when Dave Concepcion broke his ankle sliding into third.  Dave was having a break-out year, hitting .287 with eight homeruns, 46 RBIs and 22 stolen bases in just 89 games.  However, for the rest of the 1973 season – a season full of clutch hits and miraculous comebacks by the Reds – Darrel was conspicuously inconspicuous.  He ended up hitting .181 in 105 games.

As it turned out, 1973 was my best year.  (There’s some sort of weird, inverse karma in that, I suppose.)  I was the starting shortstop for the junior varsity.  I even played in a varsity game, which was uncommon for a sophomore at my school, and got a hit in my first at bat.  Though I hit .240 on the year (edging out Tommy Helms by .003), I don’t think I hit the ball farther than 150 feet.  I’m pretty sure Darrel didn’t either.

In 1974, Darrel was back to spitting pumpkin seed shells on the Reds bench.  Dave Concepcion returned with a vengeance, hitting .281 with 14 homeruns and 82 RBIs, and further stealing 41 bases.  He also won the first of his five gold gloves.  Not bad for a guy who weighed only 67 pounds as a rookie just four years earlier. 

1971-Topps-Dave-Concepcion-RC-212x300.jpg

Dave Concepcion’s rookie card.  (Careful, son, that bat’s bigger than you are.) 
With that frame and those ears, it’s understandable why Dave never played
on days where the wind exceeded 15 miles per hour.  As a matter of fact, the
Reds didn’t even bother taking Dave along on road trips to Chicago and San
Francisco until 1972.


Darrel, on the other hand, hit an even .200 in 135 at bats in 1974.  He managed to hit one ball that went farther than 150 feet, however, but only because the ball hit a crease in the turf at Riverfront Stadium and bounced through the legs of Dodgers’ centerfielder Jimmy Wynn and rolled all the way to the fence.  I’m assuming Darrel managed to make it at least as far as second base.

Darrel’s best year came in Atlanta (where most players seem to have their best years) in 1976.  As the starting shortstop for the 70-92 Braves, Darrel played 153 games and hit .252 with one homerun and 50 RBIs.  Though he made a whopping 37 errors, when you hit .252 with one homerun and 50 RBIs in a stadium where my grandmother could have put a dent in Chief Noc-A-Homa’s tee-pee, who’s counting?  Not coincidentally, Darrel’s manager that year was Dave Bristol, who managed the Reds during Darrel’s rookie season in 1969.  Dave likely saw something in him that Sparky Anderson did not, but I’m not sure what that possibly could have been.

Darrel-Chaney-Duffy-Dyer-Terry-Harmon.jpg?id=fe36632e-6e28-47a3-84cf-e4819c20ab42&size=biggerthumb

In 1969, at least Topps thought highly enough of Darrel to include him in a
“Rookie Stars” card along with fellow future Hall of Fame candidates Duffy
Dyer and Terry Harmon.



-- Edited by boomer on Monday 20th of July 2015 04:17:44 PM

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I've told this story elsewhere before, but I'll toss it in here.

Back when I was home on leave in the early 1980's, the Mariners were hosting the Minnesota Twins.  I had an old rookie card of former Senators/Twins hurler Camilo Pascual (their pitching coach at the time), that I thought I'd try to get signed.

The card is from the 1955 Topps set.  It's a wonderfully innocent window into the times.  There's a head shot, and a posed "action shot."

Pascual was young kid from Cuba, all of 20 years old, already possessing three years of minor league numbers.

I decided to head down to the Twins' bullpen (down the right field line in foul territory in those Kingdome days), where three of the Twins were chatting with some fans and signing autos.

Since I was not a veteran of the autograph collecting wars, I naively asked one of the guys (I didn't recognize any of them) if he could get Pascual to sign the card for me.  He took the card, looked at it, and doubled over with laughter.

One of the other guys said, "Let's see," and he, too, cracked up.  The third player also burst out laughing.

The guy I had handed the card to said, "I'll be right back," and walked off toward the mound, where Pascual was tossing BP.  I couldn't hear the conversation, of course, but there was much laughter involved, as Pascual signed the card.

The player who was so kind to do this for me then went out behind second base to show the card to yet another player, evoking even more laughs.  Finally, he brings the card back, still laughing, hands it back to me and says, "Thanks!"

pascualauto0001.jpg

Not my most valuable autograph, but probably my most memorable autograph experience.



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First Base Coach

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The utility player is alive and well in Boston, in one Brock Holt.

I actually think we'll see more players like that, with the rise in the use of multiple relief pitchers every game, there are fewer bench players. A utility player is becoming a valuable commodity.

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Willie Bloomquist was another of those valuable utility guys.  He's done everything but pitch and catch in his career.

Back a few years we had another guy like that: Rich Amaral.

The Mariners were going to do that with Brad Miller, but re-thought it when Miller was able to take back shortstop position.  Miller has already played every position except first base, pitcher and catcher.



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Luxury Box Season Ticket Holder

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love the Camilo Pascual story!

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glewis wrote:

The utility player is alive and well in Boston, in one Brock Holt.

I actually think we'll see more players like that, with the rise in the use of multiple relief pitchers every game, there are fewer bench players. A utility player is becoming a valuable commodity.


Shows how much I know about the state of modern baseball.  There's hope for the Darrel Chaneys of the world yet (though I imagine a .217 lifetime average won't cut it these days).

I have no autographs, and all my baseball and football cards are long gone except for a couple of Reds players that I kept for no apparent reason.



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I’d like to say that Camilo Pasqual was before my time, but he wasn’t.  Given his stats towards the end of his career, I’m sure he would like to say that he was before my time, as well.

I became a Cincinnati Reds fan mid-way through the 1969 season at about the time Camilo was purchased by the Reds from the Senators.  Since I henceforth listened to some or all of every game (but one) that year, I probably caught a few of Camilo’s five appearances for the Reds.  Looking back, I see now that the game I definitely recall missing was his one and only start for the Reds on August 3rd against the Phillies.  I'm certain I was staying at a friend’s house that day and missed the game because I remember seeing on the evening news at his house that the Reds had defeated the Phillies 19-17.  Seriously?  19-17?  Of all the games I had to miss!  Ten runs by the Reds in one inning.  That would have been wild.  Camilo lasted only 1/3 of the first inning, giving up three runs on three hits and a walk.  Given the "effectiveness" of the Reds pitchers that year, I’m a bit surprised by the quick hook.



-- Edited by boomer on Tuesday 21st of July 2015 11:30:48 AM

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Max_McGee.jpg

I’m currently watching a replay of the 1975 Ohio State vs. Penn State game.  The “color” commentator for the game was Max McGee.  Colorful, indeed.  He was most (if not exclusively) famous for scoring the first ever touchdown in Super Bowl history . . . while hung-over . . . wearing a teammate’s helmet (because he had left his in the locker room).

For good measure, Max caught another touchdown pass from game MVP Bart Starr in the third quarter.  The Packers defeated the Chiefs 35-10.

As the back-up flanker to the great Boyd Dowler, Max probably figured the odds of him needing either a level head and/or his protective headgear that day were not worth losing sleep over . . . literally.  Max had partied until 4 AM the night before.  Even the legendary curfew-breaker Paul Hornung had to bag out on Max that night.  But when Dowler went down with a leg injury early in the game, Max got (and answered) the call to arms from Vince Lombardi.  The rest, as they say, is history.

There should have been a lesson in there somewhere, I suppose.  Always be prepared.   Get good night’s rest.  Oh, and bring your helmet while you’re at it.   But I guess things don’t always work out the way they should.  Isn’t that right Max?

lg.01.JPG



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Luxury Box Season Ticket Holder

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1971+Topps+National+Jim+McGlothlin.jpg

 

Jim McGlothlin was without question the worst pitcher for the Reds in 1973.  He might have been the worst pitcher I'd seen up until then in my roughly four years as a baseball fan.  He couldn't get anyone out.  As bad a hitter as I was in high school, I figured even I could hit a dinger off him swinging not much more than a number two pencil.

He obviously infuriated and frustrated Sparky Anderson, as well.  In one game I recall, when Jim was having one of his usual outings lobbing beach balls in the general direction of Johnny Bench, Sparky had had enough.  He refused to send in a relief pitcher.  The slaughter continued.  Sparky just let it happen.  Sparky apologized a day or two later (either directly or via announcers Al Michaels or Joe Nuxhall), but I doubt any Reds fan (myself included) thought an apology was necessary.

Mercifully, Jim ended up being traded to the Chicago White Sox later that year.  I believe the Reds had to give the White Sox $10,000 and train fare just to agree to take him off their hands.  Sporting a 6.68 ERA, he was in line just ahead of Ohio's governor John Gilligan to be run out of the state on a rail in any event.  Gilligan may have graciously imposed a state income tax on Ohioans and made the evening news by claiming to have seen a UFO, but that was nothing compared to McGlothlin's pitching repertoire (which consisted of a curve ball that didn't break and fast ball that had only marginally more mustard than an inch-long hot dog).  I doubt aliens would have voluntarily abducted either Ohioan at that point.

Though there was nothing physically (or, I assume, mentally) wrong with Governor Gilligan, Jim McGlothlin was sick.  Very sick.  Less than a year later he was diagnosed with leukemia.  He died, at the age of 32, in December 1975.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the early symptoms of leukemia include persistent fatigue and bone pain or tenderness.  Often, such symptoms are overlooked because they can resemble symptoms of the flu and other common illnesses.  

When I heard Jim McGlothlin had died, I felt like a heel.  I doubt six months have passed since then that I don't think of Jim and feel like a heel all over again.

Even including his final, terrible season with the Reds and White Sox, Jim finished his nine-year major league career with a 3.61 ERA and 67 wins.  His best year was 1967.  That year, he was an all-star with the California Angels.  He was 12-8, with a 2.96 ERA, and led the league with six shut-outs.

Wherever you are now, Jim, just let me say you’re OK in my book.  And thanks for helping the Reds win two pennants in your three healthy years with the team.



-- Edited by boomer on Monday 10th of August 2015 01:00:21 PM

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That had to be devasting to learn.

I think anyone who grows up watching sports goes through a stage similar that, though maybe without the tragic ending.

We all had favorite players, and other players we thought were bums.

What we didn't know was the behind-the-scenes stuff, like why a particular player seemed to crash and burn.  When we later learn what was going on in the clubhouse, or in the trainer's room, we look back and realize we were way too harsh.

I made a pact with myself a long time ago to never boo a player who failed to perform up to expectations, so long as there was no reason to believe that player wasn't giving his best effort.  I still get plenty frustrated, there's plenty of hand-wringing, but I don't boo the guy.

Believe me, we've had plenty of "those" guys here over the years.  I remember how bad it got for Bobby Ayala, who would be roundly booed any time he even stood up in the bullpen, let alone came in to pitch.

He went through the worst things imaginable, like some historically-bad defense behind him at times (remember Glenallen Hill?), a pinball arcade of a ballpark (the Kingdome), overwork, bad matchups, no one else doing well enough to take some of the strain off of him.  Never seemed to come in in a clean situation, and never seemed to catch a break.

The worse it got, the harder he fought it.  His pitching coach at the time, Mike Cuellar, said he was overthrowing his forkball.  Maybe that was sign of his frutration.  He was unable to take a step back and relax.

Most closers can pitch a clean ninth with a two- or three-run lead.  But when you're being called in in the seventh, with runners on base, no outs, the heart of the order coming up and maybe a one-run lead to protect, sometimes you're going to get burned.

If you're the closer, and you're in the game in the seventh, what else does that say?

Maybe he just wasn't the right person for the role, but he was the best they had available at the time.  Maybe he just wasn't as good as we needed him to be.  Not a knock, like he's a bad, or -- much worse -- indifferent ballplayer.  Just that we needed someone better.

Still, he took the ball and he battled through it, as best he could.

Players react in different ways to that kind of treatment.  Even if they all say they block it out, why would I want to make it even harder for a guy to muster up that maximum effort?  He's on my team (or, the team I'm rooting for, anyway...).

There are so many other reasons to legitimately get on a player's case, like PEDs, or any number of irresponsible activities.  There are guys who are cancers in the clubhouse.

Even then, a player might get lucky and find redemption.  Jesus Montero got busted for PEDs two years ago.  He got fat over the winter and was shipped out, got injured, and eventually got into a fight with a scout.  He was told to go home, pretty-much banned from the club as the season wound down.

During the off-season, he went to work and turned his life around.  He lost 40 pounds and reported to Spring Training in the best shape of his career.  He learned how to play a respectable first base, and tore up the PCL.  He's been recalled and is running hard on every ball he puts in play.  You never know.

Sometimes, the other team's guy just makes a great pitch, or catch, or manages to get wood on a pitch that he had no business hitting.  Sometimes, **** happens.

Yeah, it's frustrating, watching a guy like Mike Zunino waving at pitches six inches off the plate.  But he's young and just as frustrated as we are, and sometimes it gets overwhelming.  Why make it tougher?

If he's lucky, he gets a hitting coach like Edgar, who can work with him.  Maybe a hurler finds a pitching coach who's been there, and learned from his battles (Moyer, some day?).

Moyer was there, in those Ayala days.  But he was still figuring things out for himself at the time.  What a 2015 Jamie Moyer might have been able to bring to the table back in 1997 as a coach/mentor might have turned Ayala's career around.



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Luxury Box Season Ticket Holder

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1990_target_marshallmg.jpg 

According to Jim Bouton in his book Ball Four, relief pitcher Mike Marshall asserted that the lowering of the mound in 1969 actually would improve pitcher performance.  Marshall claimed this was so because the distance pitchers would have to throw the ball would be decreased.

Mike obviously was alert for geometry class (at least when the concept of the hypotenuse was being discussed), but I suspect he skipped physics class to perfect his mutton chops . . . or whatever one calls that contraption he decided to assemble on his face.

It's really a shame Randy Johnson wasn't built more like Freddie Patek, eh Mike?



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boomer wrote:

1990_target_marshallmg.jpg 

According to Jim Bouton in his book Ball Four, relief pitcher Mike Marshall asserted that the lowering of the mound in 1969 actually would improve pitcher performance.  Marshall claimed this was so because the distance pitchers would have to throw the ball would be decreased.

Mike obviously was alert for geometry class (at least when the concept of the hypotenuse was being discussed), but I suspect he skipped physics class to perfect his mutton chops . . . or whatever one calls that contraption he decided to assemble on his face.

It's really a shame Randy Johnson wasn't built more like Freddie Patek, eh Mike?


Agreed.

Most pitching experts would point to the lowering of the mound as a disadvantage.

Imagine how much more dominant the Big Unit might have been on that (illegally-elevated) Dodger Stadium mound back in the '60's.

The plane is everything.  The more downward angle, the less time the ball intersects with the swing path.



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Luxury Box Season Ticket Holder

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. . . unless you're the Big Dog squaring off against the Spaceman in game seven of the 1975 World Series.  I don't think he minded the downward angle on that one.

1974%2BNL%2BALL%2BSTAR%2B-%2BTony%2BPerez.png



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