Sunday, July 31, 2011

Democratic Roadkill Delivers The Nitty Gritty Card of the Day!!!

Today's Nitty Gritty Card of the Day came to me courtesy of Duane of the Democratic Roadkill blog. It made its way from Ohio, down to Florida with many vintage companions, but the first card to make the cut and become tonight's card of the day is card #12 from 1963 Topps baseball featuring Baltimore Orioles All Star lefty Steve Barber. In 1963 Barber was 25 years old and pitching in his 4th Major League season. This was the best season of his career. He made his first All Star squad, the AL All Star team took the loss and Barber didn't see any action, BUT he proved he was among one of the top hurlers on the circuit. He went on to win 20 games that year, along with 180 strikeouts. His final line was 20-13, a 2.75 ERA, 11 complete games, 2 shutouts and he led the league facing 1096 batters that year.

His stats were overshadowed by another lefty, Sandy Koufax who put up a 25-5 record with a 1.88 ERA and 306 Ks. Koufax was the unanimous choice as the Major League Cy Young Award winner. Still, Barber became the first modern Orioles pitcher to have a 20-win season. Barber developed tendinitis soon after this season and it plagued him for the rest of his career. He got off to a great start in the 1966 season and made his second All Star team with a 10-3 record and a 1.96 ERA at the break. His tendinitis was hampering him again and he didn't appear in the game and pitched very little the rest of the season. His Orioles went on to win the American League Championship and faced the LA Dodgers. The Orioles swept the Series and won the teams first ever Title, but his injury kept Barber off of the postseason roster.

In 1967 Barber pitched 8-2/3 innings of no-hit ball against the Tigers, he was lifted for All Star reliever Stu Miller who completed the no-hitter, but the O's lost the game 2-1 on Miller's wild pitch. Later that season Barber was traded to the Yankees and became a journeyman reliever playing for 5 different teams over the last 7 years of his career.

He never recovered from the tendinitis and elbow issues and never showed the dominance he had in 1963 again. He retired in 1974 as a member of the San Francisco Giants - he appeared in 13 innings and notched his 13th career save. Despite the health issues, he had very respectable career numbers. He pitched 1999 innings over 15 seasons. He had a 121-106 record with a 3.36 ERA. He had 59 complete games, 21 shutouts and 13 saves to go along with 1309 strikeouts for 7 different teams.

Thanks again to Democratic Duane for the awesome vintage! If you are an Allen and Ginter fan, Democratic Roadkill is the ultimate spot for mini madness! I am having a blast working on the 1963 set. As an end note, Steve Barber passed away 5 years ago from pneumonia. Fortunately for me, I had the chance to get to know Mr. Barber in the late 90's when I worked for the Orioles. Class act all the way. Thanks for reading, 49 years LATER!

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