Sunday, December 26, 2010
This one came my way via the Cardboard Junkie and it brought friends! I think everyone is well aware of Santo's accomplishments on the field. He was THE BEST third baseman in the National League during the decade of the 1960s. He is one of the best all around thirdbasemen of All Time. He never won a ring, but he was loyal to the Cubs for nearly his entire career and got as close as a Cubs team could get.
I'm not going to write much more, just that Ron Santo epitmozed Nitty Gritty, he Belongs in the Hall of Fame and he is missed on this earth. Thanks dayf for this awesome card! I love this hobby!
I love this set and I LOVE this card! 45 years LATER!
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Herbel had a 9 year big league career, mainly with the Giants. He was a very active pitcher, beginning as a spot starter with San Francisco in 1964. Statistically his best year came when this card was released in 1965 when he was 12-9 with a 3.85 ERA in 47 games, 21 of them starts. As the decade progressed he pitched more and more out of the bullpen. He was most active in 1970 with the Mets and Padres. He was 9-7 in a league leading 76 games. He made one start, finished 38 games and notched 10 saves that season. His career record is 42-37 over 331 games with 11 complete games, 3 shutouts and 16 saves.
Borrowing a line from Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius, "Everybody’s Got a Record". Mr. Herbel’s record is a dubious one… Over his 9 year career as a pitcher in the National League Herbel appeared in 332 games, he also went to the plate 225 times. When you take away the few times he walked and laid down a bunt, he had 206 at-bats and hit safely 6 times… Yep, over his career Herbel was 6 for 206 at the plate. He hit 2 doubles and drove in 3, but his .029 batting average is the WORST career mark for anyone with over 100 at bats. His best year came in 1967 when he had 3 hits in 28 at bats (.107) including 2 doubles, but he had many lean years. He went three full seasons (’68-’70) without a hit in 33 at bats.
Being good enough on the mound to be that bad at the plate makes Ron Herbel Nitty Gritty… I love this game; I love its history and I LOVE this hobby! 45 years LATER!
Friday, December 24, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
I love this hobby! 60 years LATER. Nitty Gritty out.
Friday, December 10, 2010
This meant he didn't see a ton of playing time, but also meant he was on some pretty amazing teams. With the Dodgers in 1955, the year this card came out, Walker's Dodgers won it all. "Rube" Walker didn't see any action in the World Series, but won a ring just the same.
After retiring as a player, Walker spent the next couple decades as a coach in the Majors. Most of his time was spent with the New York Mets where he spent 15 years as their pitching coach. He coached the staff featuring Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver on the Miracle 1969 Mets where he won his second World Series ring.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Johnson began his professional pitching career in 1940 when he was just 17 years old. That same year he pitched in his first All Star game, pitching one shutout inning in the 1940 East West All Star Game. At age 19 he was part of one of the greatest pitching staffs in baseball history. Along with Hall of Famers Satchel Paige (36) and Hilton Smith (35), Johnson (19) helped the 1942 Kansas City Monarchs sweep the Homestead Grays in the ’42 Negro League World Series. His fastball was legendary and he and Smith and Paige were among the greatest fireballing strikeout pitchers of their time.
After the ’42 Series his pro baseball career was interrupted by World War II where he served for 3 years. He returned and rejoined the Monarchs in 1946 soon after Jackie Robinson had been signed by the Dodgers. Johnson was able to return to form after missing so many prime years to the War. In 1950 he pitched the middle 3 innings in the last ever East West All Star Game. He struck out 3 as the West won 5-3. Johnson took the win and hit a triple to help his own cause.
The next year he was signed by the White Sox organization. He made his MLB debut at age 30, but his arm was tired and sore and his velocity was nowhere close to where it was before he went to war. He put together a record of 11-9 in 2-1/2 seasons in Chicago before being traded to Baltimore in 1956.
In 1957, with the Orioles, Johnson relied on savvy and experience and had his best season in the Major Leagues for Baltimore. At the age of 34 he ranked in the top-10 in nearly every pitching category. His record was 14-11 and his 14 wins ranked 7th. His 3.20 ERA was 9th. His 177 strikeouts were 3rd best, just 7 K’s behind Early Wynn (184) for the League Lead. Johnson did pace the AL in Strikeouts to walks ratio with 2.682. He was 3rd in complete games with 14 and 4th in shutouts with 3. His 242 innings pitched were 4th in the AL.
Eating all of those innings irritated his already sore arm and 1957 would not only be his best big league season, it would be close to his last. He pitched in just 118 innings in 1958. That would be his final year in the major leagues. He did pitch several more years in AAA and still had success as he approached 40 with a damaged right arm. He retired after the 1961 season, 22 years after his pro debut. His career line in the Major Leagues was 40-39 with a 3.44 ERA and 497 strikeouts.
A tiny bit of intrigue before I sign off… When I Googled Connie Johnson to do this post I found out that there are 2213 Connie Johnsons living in the United States. Johnson is the 2nd most popular last name in the country while Connie ranks 150th in popularity. Johnson was born Clifton Johnson and pitched under that name during his interrupted 10 year career with the Kansas City Monarchs. I don’t know when, where or how he picked up the name Connie. Anybody know?
Okay, that is all for now… For those of you who don’t know, I obsessively collect ANY and ALL alumni of the Negro Leagues and love uncovering the stories left behind from these Legends. From a teenage phenom to a crafty veteran hurler, Clifton “Connie” Johnson epitomizes all that is Nitty Gritty. I love this game, I love this hobby! I love ’59 Topps! 51 years LATER!