Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Nitty Gritty Goes Face to Face...

I am probably putting the cart ahead of the horse with this post… Generally I post new cards and where I got them on the Troll page before they become Nitty Gritty Cards of the Day, but I am in a rule breaking mood tonight. Yesterday I posted the first half of the Blogger Kindness package I received from Chris of the Project 1962 blog. I showed only the current, modern cards he sent and I promised to post up all the vintage goodies next. Well, I still haven’t finished scanning all of them and I have been busy posting because my mailbox has been staying busy. Of course I will dedicate a proper post sometime in the near future, but right now I am going to focus on two of the cards that Chris included in that super awesome package. They are both of Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Elroy Face. One is from 1961, card #370 and the other is from the 1960 set, card #20. Roy Face has been among my favorite pitchers of all time for as long as I can remember. As he retired in 1968 I never had the chance to actually see him pitch, but I learned his name early on because my first baseball encyclopedia was an edition from the late 70s. According to that book he was the National Leagues leader in games with 846 and also in saves with 193. He was also the leader in relief wins with 96 and most innings pitched in relief (1,211). Those things made me take notice. His name was Elroy and I had never known of anyone with that name outside of the Jetzons. He also threw a forkball which was super cool and he had a great nickname, The Baron. My Uncle Harry was a professor at Lehigh University when I was a kid and he always sent me Pirates stuff as Christmas gifts, so even before I lived in Pirate City, I was following the team and its records. Other things that blew me away as a kid statistically were that he pitched in 9 straight games, he won 22 games in a row and of course his record in 1959 was astounding to me then and still is. He posted an 18-1 record for the Pirates. The next year he won 10 more games in relief, appeared in 68 games and helped the Pirates win the National League Pennant for the first time in 33 seasons. He set a record by saving 3 games in the World Series. The record has been tied since, but has yet to be broken 50 years later. They weren’t one pitch saves either, those 3 appearances covered 10 innings of World Series work. Face worked hard for his saves. He held the National League record for saves (193) until 1986 when future Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter surpassed him. To achieve his 193 saves Face pitched 1314 innings. Trevor Hoffman is the present leader in saves with 591 and he just passed the 1000 inning mark last season. Bruce Sutter, who is in the Hall of Fame with his 300 saves, worked 300 less innings than Face did. He also won 28 fewer games than Face. Roy Face led the National League in saves 3 times and spent nearly 2 decades as the career leader in that category, but the role of closer has changed greatly of late and he has fallen to 41st All Time in that category and will likely continue to fall. He has remained in the top 20 in games finished (574) and ranks 33rd in games played with 848. He remained on the Hall of Fame ballot for 15 years, but never received more than 18% of the vote and was removed from the ballot in 1990. He has more wins and a higher winning percentage than several pitchers in Cooperstown and can make a solid case for enshrinement, but he is in the hands of the Veteran’s Committee. It has been a few years since I have seen Mr. Face, the bullpen at Pirate City is named in honor of him and I have the pleasure of meeting him and sitting down for a lengthy chat. He loves the game that I love and I was thrilled to be able to speak with him about it. I recently received another very special card of Roy Face from another Blogger Kindness package and I am strongly considering adding him as my next player collection. His accolades speak for themselves; he was the BEST reliever of the 60s. As far as me collecting him, that is a decision for the Blog-O-Sphere to make over the next week. If you would like to cast your vote, there is a poll up on the Collective Troll with 23 players to choose from, including Roy Face. There is a post explaining why I decided to leave it up my readers rather than myself that you can read HERE. Face’s career stats can be viewed HERE. A six-time All Star, Face retired after the 1969 season with a career mark of 104 wins against 95 losses and a 3.48 ERA. He had 193 saves and also pitched 5 complete games. He also revolutionized the game and the role of a bullpen pitcher. Thanks so much for these great cards and everything that you sent my way! Check out Chris’ blog, Project 1962. It is about (you guessed it) the 1962 Topps set, the Chicago Cubs and baseball and life in general, check it out! For those of you who read this and my other blog, the Collective Troll, you know that there is a reader appreciation contest which goes live one week from tonight (3-23) and has prizes which include certified autographs from Hall of Famers Al Kaline and Brooks Robinson. There will be a contest here as well. It won’t offer prizes to that same extent, but there will be a prize offered. This contest will go up as soon as 30 people add the Nitty Gritty to their blogrolls, so get on it! Thanks for reading about one of the finest relief pitchers, EVER… 50 years, LATER!


  1. Nice write up! Elroy had a really interesting career.

    With all due respect, Hoyt Wilhelm was easily the best reliever of the 60's. Wilhelm had a sparkling 2.16 era in the 60's, with 75 wins and 152 saves.

    Face had a 3.16 era in that decade, with 54 wins and 142 saves.

  2. That said by an Orioles fan...
    Historically Wilhelm was a better all around pitcher with an extremely interesting career, hence his Enshrinement in Cooperstown... What Wilhelm did in that decade, epecially at his age (37-46) was remarkable... I should have said "best reliever in the National League" as that is what I meant...

  3. lol...well I had to speak up because the LAST thing I want is The Curse of Hoyt on me (again). It takes years to shake that curse.

  4. Very good post Marck. I have only recently heard of Roy, but his saga certainly does intrigue me. I recently purchased that '61 with the hopes of getting it signed by him. This post only makes me want to get it done that much more.