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!
Monday, December 6, 2010
Saturday, November 27, 2010
In 1965 Alou was in his 6th and final year with the San Francisco Giants. He broke in with them in 1960 as a 21 year old playing in 4 games. As a rookie in 1961 Alou batted .310 in 81 games for the Giants as a part time outfielder. The next year he continued to platoon and batted .292 in 78 games for the National League Champions. As the back of the card reminds us, Alou batted .333 (4 for 12) in the World Series against the Yankees.
In his final year in San Francisco Alou made his pitching debut throwing the final 2 innings of a game – he faced 10 batters, gave up 3 hits, allowed zero runs and struck out 3.
His trade to Pittsburgh sparked huge career resurgence. In his first season with the Bucs his batting average skyrocketed .111 points! From .231 up to .342. He set career highs in games (141), runs (86), doubles (18), triples (9), RBIs (27), steals (23) and batting average with his .342 mark.
Matty Alou would never win another batting crown, but he had a breakout year with the Bucs in 1969 when he batted .331 with a career high and league leading 231 hits and 41 doubles. He also scored 105 runs and stole 22 bases and was the NLs starting center fielder in the All Star Game.
He would leave Pittsburgh after the 1970 season, traded to the Cardinals for Vic Davilillo and Nellie Briles. After 5 seasons in Pittsburgh Alou owned a .327 batting average. He did nearly as well in St. Louis, batting .314 over 3 seasons as a Cardinal. Matty Alou would be traded 5 times over his last 3 years in the big leagues before retiring after the 1974 season with the Padres. Along the way he stopped in Oakland and won a World Series ring with the A’s in 1972.
He retired a 15 year veteran with a .307 career batting average (134th All Time!), 1777 hits and 780 runs scored.
I believe at some point this card was used to patch a hole in someone’s roof and the tar remains on the front as a reminder. That fits in well with Matty Alou – a hardnosed, hard tar sticky and Nitty Gritty guy.
I love this game and I love this hobby! I really love this set, too. If you are so inclined, you can find my shrinking want list for 1965 Topps right here. I have dupes to trade and have a number of vintage singles that I would gladly trade for any card on this list.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
1968 was a pretty good year for Big Mac - he was the NL's homerun (36) and RBI (105) leader and was the NL All Star starting 1st baseman for the 2nd year in a row. He stepped things up even more in 1969 when he once again led the league in homers (45) and RBI (126) with much higher totals. He also raised his batting average up to .320, lowered his strikeouts and nearly doubled his walk total. He would also lead the League in OBP (.453), SLG (.656), OPS (1.108), OPS+ (209) and also intentional walks with 45. Mac came within .028 points of winning the Triple Crown and won the National League MVP Award. Earlier that year he hit 2 homers to help the NL All Star Game and took home MVP honors there as well.
Willie McCovey's career started in 1959 with the Giants where he played in just 52 games but still managed to be the unanimous choice for Rookie of the Year after posting marks of (.354/13/38) in his short time on the field. Starting with a bang Big Mac never fizzled. He played for 22 seasons in the Major Leagues, 19 with the Giants, from 1959-1980.
He is one of only 3 players to hit homers in 4 different decades. He was the NL's homerun king 3 times and hit 521 for his career. He also hit 18 grand slams, the most by any player in the National League. McCovey made it to the World Series 1 time over 22 seasons, in 1962 when he was platooning with Orlando Cepeda. McCovey batted only .200, but did homer in the Giants effort. San Francisco would fall to the Yankees in 7 games and Big Mac would never return to the Series.
Stretch McCovey retired after the 1980 season and was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1986, his first year on the ballot. Last night over 50 years after Willie McCovey stormed into the big leagues, the Giants won a World Series, and after half a century in MLB Stretch got his first ring. Congratulations the Giants winning their first World Series since 1954 - finally proving they could win without Willie Mays and Monte Irvin.
Oh, by the way - they don't name a Cove after you if you ain't Nitty Gritty. I love this game, I love this hobby! 42 years LATER.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Most of my '65s have come from my local card shop - he has a knack for finding big lots in decent condition at good prices and ALWAYS calls me when these blue backed beauties walk in. This particular card was a gift to myself courtesy of an auction site. I had a gift card with $2.77 left on it so I started searching the 'Bay and I set the parameters to look for cards with free shipping ranging in cost from .01 up to $2.77. I searched key word 1965 Topps and within the first page I found this card. I really couldn't believe it. This 45 year old piece of cardboard was mailed to me for LESS than the cost of a single pack of 2010 Topps baseball. That blew me away.
The value makes the card better, but what makes it great is that it is in fact a card of Don Drysdale. Truly one of the best ever. 1965 was one of his best seasons, too. The back of the card mentions that DD hit 7 homers in 1958. The cartoon proclaims the hurler as Ruthian. Well, in 1965 he equaled that total and did it with an amazing stat line, batting .300 with 7 homers, 19 RBI, 18 runs scored and a .508 slugging percentage.
On the mound in '65 he was 23-12 with a 2.77 ERA in 42 starts. He threw 20 complete games, 7 shutouts and struck on 210 batters in over 300 innings pitched. His Dodgers finished 1st in the National League - a fact that is documented in pencil in the top corner of the card. That is probably the reason I was able to snag this card for under 2 bucks. DD and the Dodgers followed their hot season into the World Series and beat the Twins to win Drysdale his 3rd ring with the Dodgers. He was Los Angeles' game 1 starter, but got knocked out quickly. He returned to start Game 4 and pitched a complete game 5 hitter, striking out 11 Twins as the Dodgers won 7-2. Don Drysdale would retire a couple of years after this card came out.
He spent his entire 14 year career with the Dodgers in Brooklyn and LA. Over that time he was a 9 time All Star and started the game 5 times. He won 12 or more games 12 years in a row and struck out more than 200 batters 6 times, leading the league in that category 3 times. He retired in 1969 at the young age of 32, a time when many pitchers are just finding their stride. He left behind a career tally of 209-166 with a career ERA of just 2.95.
Despite his early exit from the game, he ranks in the top 30 of All Time in several categories. His 2486 strikeouts are 30th best, while his 49 shutouts is 21st best. His scariest stat is the unfortunate 154 who were hit by Drysdale. He led the league in hit batsmen 5 times and ranks 18th All Time in that category and I bet each of the 154 victims will never forget that experience.
Don Drysdale was finally voted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984, his 10th year on the ballot. I have only seen him pitch in videos of classic games, and it isn't possible to capture his brilliance on the field in a short blog post, but he epitomizes Nitty Gritty.
I love this game, I love this hobby! 45 years LATER.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
The Orioles were Harvey Haddix’ 6th and final team. His career spanned 14 seasons and started off with the Cardinals in 1952 pitching in 7 games. He returned to St. Louis in 1953 as a 27 year old starter and still held onto to his rookie status. He had one of his best seasons on the mound of his storied career that year. He appeared in his 1st of 3 straight All Star Games and finished second to Dodgers second baseman Junior Gilliam in the Rookie of the Year voting. Had the Cy Young Award existed in ’53, he would have received many votes for that a
After his success in St. Louis Haddix was traded twice before ending up on the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1959. It was with the Bucs that Haddix pitched one of the most famous games in MLB history. On May 26, 1959 Haddix pitched 12 PERFECT innings against the Braves before yielding a hit and losing the game in the 13th inning. He holds the MLB record for retiring 36 consecutive batters in a single. A record that likely will never be approached.
Over his 14 year playing career Harvey Haddix was a 3-time All Star, a World Series Champ, a 3 time Gold Glove award winner and drove in 64 runs as a hitter. A great hitting pitcher and all around athlete. Haddix was known as one of the top fielding pitchers of his era. His career mark is 136-113 with a 3.63 ERA. He pitched 99 complete games and 20 shutouts and struck out 1575 against only 601 walks.
He was nicknamed Kitten early in his career as he resembled a young Harry “the Cat” Breechen.
Pitching in 2 of the most memorable games of all time and a 14 year career as a starter and then reliever, a World Champ and an unbreakable record all combine to make Harvey Haddix as Nitty Gritty as they come. This blog is proud to sponsor his Baseball Reference page.
I love this hobby! 45 years later.
Friday, October 22, 2010
I believe that is Jabbo putting down the tag on the base runner, but I have never been sure. This card has always confused me. I wasn’t alive in 1956, but I always thought that the Redlegs wore red hats or at least white hats with a red C, not a blue hat. I had wondered if it was error, but looking around I have noticed that just about every Red in this set is wearing a blue cap. Hmm…
Jabbo’s professional baseball career began in 1947 in Class D ball with the Red Sox organization. Unlike many players whose career was interrupted by World War II, Jablonski served 2 years overseas BEFORE his playing career. When he did his career going he spent 6 years in the minors, the first five in the low levels. He spent 1951 in the B League where he hit .363 with 28 homers and was voted Carolina League MVP. After that season he jumped to AAA with Rochester in 1952 where he hit .299 with 10 triples, 18 homers and drove in 103.
Those numbers were good enough for him to begin the 1953 in St. Louis with the Cardinals. He had a remarkable campaign as a 26 year old rookie third baseman. He tied a rookie record by playing in 157 games. He went to the plate 640 times and batted .268 with 21 homers and 112 RBI to place himself second on the Cards behind Stan Musial. He would place 3rd in the National League Rookie of the Year balloting behind Junior Gilliam and his 20 game winning teammate Harvey Haddix. His team would win 83 games, but ranked third in the NL with Brooklyn taking the flag.
As a sophomore Jabbo avoided the jinx and was the NL’s starting third baseman in the 1954 All Star Game. In the 4th inning of the AS Game Jabbo singled off of Sandy Consuergra, drove in his teammate Stan Musial and pulled the NL within 2 runs of the AL making the score 4-2. Jabbo scored when the next batter, Jackie Robinson hit a bases clearing double to tie the score. The AL would win the game 11-9 after Nellie Fox drilled a 2-run single in the bottom of the 8th.
After his All Star season (.296/12/104) the Cardinals traded Ray Jablonski with Gerry Staley to the Reds for reliever Frank Thomas Smith. Jabbo never was the same player after that trade. He became a journey man and bounced to 5 different teams over the next 6 seasons. His best year came in 1956 when he hit .256 with 12 homers and 66 RBI for the Reds. Jablonski would leave the big leagues after playing in just 21 games for the KC A’s in 1960. He would stick around and spend 4 more years at the AAA level where he topped 20 homers 3 times, but his major league career was complete. He owned a .268 batting average with 83 homers and 438 RBI for his career.
Jablonski was never known for his glove, but the back of the card tells us that he could field at every infield position and he did. When your Nitty Gritty, you go where your needed – you tell your Coach you wanna play, you don’t care where, you are there to drive in runs and win ballgames.
Raymond Jablonski died young, in 1985 of kidney failure. He was a World War 2 vet, serving in France, and a Major League All Star AND a Nitty Gritty ballplayer. Jablonski is also, now, the first player page that the Nitty Gritty has sponsored on Baseball Reference. I love this game, I love this hobby! 54 years LATER!