Rich Reminisces: “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton

2019 is the 50th anniversary of what may be the most important book ever written about baseball. The tome which changed the world was “Ball Four” written by Jim Bouton and edited by Len Shecter.

Jim Bouton, who should have had Topps cards in 1969 and 1970 so we could have even better memories of that era, was as the author the key person of the book. After all, Bouton did pitch in 73 games during the 1969 season, which included two major league teams and a short minor-league stint.

Before going to the Seattle Pilots, Bouton had been a New York Yankee and was a remnant from the final days of the Yankees dynasty. While it was obvious from all his writings that he truly loved the game, the fact he looked at things differently was a cause of consternation for baseball officials. One of the things to remember is if all he had written about was how baseball players were human (young, loved to chase girls on the road, used coarse language, etc.) that would not have been so bad. Or as the story at the time goes: “If you see a word you don’t know, don’t ask your mother about those” to deal with the four letter words. This book took the inside stories which were evolving, beginning with Jerry Kramer’s book “Instant Replay” about the 1967 Green Bay Packers and Frank Beard’s book “Pro” about the golf tour.  

Bouton took these books a step further and was not nearly as family friendly as some of the other books in that process. Bill Freehan’s “Behind the Mask”, which actually pre-dated Ball Four’s release was also an inside look at a team, but without most of the non-baseball material covered in Ball Four. Of course there was a difference in Freehan playing almost every day as a position player and Bouton spending a lot of time in the bullpen, having more time to hear all those stories. Both Freehan and Bouton’s books are based on the 1969 season, so when the Seattle Pilots played the Detroit Tigers there are two different ways those games are dealt with.

The most amazing thing about these books was perhaps the self-examination needed for these diaries, as all of these athletes had seasons at or near their career peak during around that time. And in the case of Jerry Kramer, there is this memorable block of Jethro Pugh to give Bart Starr the room needed to score the winning touchdown in the 1967 Ice Bowl game  

But what really upset major league baseball was two fold:

1.) How he was able to show that the legendary Mickey Mantle was not perfect but just another person with typical male urges.
2.) He also showed how players were not properly paid, and some of the monetary troubles players had were because management had so much control.

Those issues as much as anything was what organized baseball got freaked out about after the book was published in 1970. Remember similar to today, there was a growing divide between the young athletes and those establishment types that were in charge. Today, much gets into the public because of social media use, which never used to be part of the discussion.

The other thing to remember was because of this book we were able to get a first person look at the 1969 Seattle Pilots, which were a one and done team. Since they were only in existence for that one year, the idea that we have this much information about the team is a gold mine.

Although the Pilots were an expansion team, they had several people important in baseball history. One of those players, who got traded before Spring Training even concluded was Lou Piniella. “Sweet Lou” may have had a sweet bat, but he was not always the mellowest player on the field. Piniella had what is called a “Red ***”, and more than 20 years later his temper was still well remembered.  He is the last Cincinnati Reds manager to take the team to the World Series and the only Seattle Mariners manager to lead them to the post-season.  And here is a brief part of a Sassoon ad which showed on television.

And there are plenty of other people who are remembered fondly because of their places in the day to day life of the Seattle Pilots. After all, Joe Schultz, a long-time baseball man, was the manager of the team and understood they were not going to be winning many games. Thus, one of his great pieces of advice was to “Pound the Old Bud (Weiser)” after every game.

We also have people who were almost “counter-culture heroes” at the time such as Steve Hovley and Mike Marshall:

And there is also Gary “Ding Dong” Bell:

Fred Talbot, is probably still waiting for his part of the 25,000 dollar prize since he, somehow as a pitcher, hit a grand slam in the designated inning of a fan contest. No, the money never came, but the story still lingers. There is no Topps card of him as a Pilot, so instead here’s his 1969 card of him as a Yankee.

And while I could talk about all the players and their roles in the book such as Marty Pattin‘s Donald Duck impression, the final couple of players I’ll talk about in this article is Greg Goossen. Goossen came up as a young man with the Mets and is responsible for one of the most memorable Casey Stengel lines: “This is Greg Goossen, he’s 19 years old and in 10 years he’s got a chance to be 29.

As a boxing fan, I’ve always been fascinated since Goossen is part of the boxing Goossen family, and before his passing actually was one of the corner-men in several important fights. He also became a stand-in for Gene Hackman in films, and did very well financially doing that seemingly thankless role.

And how else could I finish but by showing a card of Dooley Womack aka THAT Dooley Womack, who Bouton was traded for during the middle of the 1969 season. They had been Yankees teammates in 1966-68 before both of them began their last few seasons. This is Dooley pictured as an Houston Astro.

On a personal thought, I wonder if you could argue the eventual acceptance of Ball Four was one of the precursors to the work Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein did to uncover the Watergate Scandal. By that time we had started getting used to the concept that people who had previously been protected by media members were not being treated as normal human beings. Scandals were far fewer before 1970 and Ball Four than afterwards.

  Was this book and the honest appraisal of baseball players a tipping point in journalistic history?

Rich Reminisces: The 1973 Mets

By Rich Klein
Recently I heard the sad news of George Thomas Seaver (we know him better as Tom) beginning his long goodbye as his great mind is slowly becoming less active and he is suffering from Alzheimer’s. This news comes just as the New York Mets begin to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their “Miracle Mets” season. Let me assure you, if you were in the NY Area in 1969, that was truly a miracle season. So many things occurred that year which were a confluence of events never to be repeated or duplicated.  When this 1969 Topps card was released the Mets were just starting to roll a bit towards their successful conclusion.  Thankfully for collectors without deep pocketbooks there is no “White” last name version of this card. If there were, the 1969 Master Set collection cost would have grown by a decent chunk of change.

Because baseball was so important in ’69 and the Mets were such a great story,  with them located in New York and having had such a short history at the time, there were countless books written about the team during the next few months. I believe I read every single one of them. Yes, there was actually a time where reading print in all forms was how we garnered information, and in my cas,e put the information into my muscle memory, which when my turn comes to forget everything but the past, will be remembered much easier than what I had for lunch yesterday! (Grilled chicken sandwich with sautéed mushrooms, grilled jalapenos and grilled onions and a side salad).

But the real point is that those books were able to talk both about the days when the Mets were lovable loser. In fact, the Mets had books written about their beginning when the great newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin penned a tome about the 1962 team. Since New York was a major media capital back then, and the team was so bad they were good (yes Marv E. Throneberry we’re thinking of you), a detailed tome about their debut season was a first as far as I know.

Image result for jimmy breslin can't

So 7 years later was the year we first walked on the moon, and since all things seemed possible, why not have a baseball team do something we thought was impossible?  We have tons of material about the 1969 Mets, but what we don’t have very much about is a Mets team which four short years later almost completed an even greater miracle.

The 1973 Mets had many of the same key players of the 1969 team, but the team was carried by their pitching staff led by Tom Seaver. They also featured Jerry Koosman and Tug McGraw as their key pitchers, and some of the same position players including Ed Kranepool, Cleon Jones, Ken Boswell, Wayne Garrett, Bud Harrelson, and Jerry Grote.

If you look carefully enough you can see Yogi Berra 5th from the left on the second row and Tom Seaver two people to his left and Cleon Jones directly to Seaver’s left.  We’ll let other sleuths identify the rest of the team, but remember this is a photo of the 1972 team. And based on not seeing Willie Howard Mays, I’d say this was produced in 1972 spring training.

The reason this team was such as miracle was because as late as August 30th, 1973 the Mets were mired in last place, but the NL East race was so bunched up that every team could have a hot streak and become competitive. Although the Mets were in last place in the six-team National League East Division, they were only  6 1/2 games out of 1st place.Now remember, in 1973 there were no wild card spots, so you won the division or you went home.

The team that went on the run was the Mets. The story goes that General Manager M. Donald Grant went to give the team a pep talk and Tug McGraw was reacting sarcastically and stated, “You gotta believe!” Well, those three words became the mantra for the team in September, and they went on to win their division with an 82-79 record.

The “Tugger” would run with the publicity he garnered from this run and became quite the media darling. He helped to co-author a daily comic strip which you can still find a compilation of in book form:

Image result for tug mcgraw comic

September was when the school year begin in New York, but all kids big and small were too entranced by the events going on. There was a play against the Pirates in which the baseball had about a one percent chance of ricocheting off the wall in a way which would it would go back to the fielder. The miracle bounce occurred and lives on forever thanks to youtube.

A few days after that, Willie Mays, who had returned to New York the previous season to finish out his career, finally announced he would be retiring from baseball. As he said he knew it was time for Willie to say goodbye to America. The Mays Tribute Night part of this video begins at approximately the 12:45 mark.  Today, the Mets would have figured out a way to do that on a sunny Sunday afternoon with tons of publicity. Believe it or not, there was not much advance notice for the Mays ceremony.

Finally, on a rainy day in Chicago, the Mets clinched the division and the weather was so bad that the second game was never played. The game might have been played if it mattered to the pennant race, but since it did not, why risk injury to any of the players? Here is restrained way the Mets clinched the National League East.

The Mets would then go to the playoffs and defeat the Cincinnati Reds, who were just beginning to evolve into the Big Red Machine. The highlight was a brawl instigated by a fight between Bud Harrelson and Pete Rose. Many fans then already did not like Pete Rose because of the 1970 All-Star game collision with Ray Fosse, so this just added to the hatred of Rose in New York.

That is a video of their kerfuffle. Big Bad Pete Rose versus Bud Harrelson. who by that point in a season might not have even weighed 150 pounds.

The Mets would then go deep into the World Series against the Oakland Athletics and force the series into a 7th game to be on the precipice of winning a second World Series. However, the A’s, led by their pitching staff, proved why they would be able to win three straight World Series in the 1970’s. Thanks to Topps practice at the time of showing pictures from each World Series game we did get one last 1974 Willie Mays card out of our packs. Now I realize Topps did certain things in those days to appease the target audience of kids, but the lack of a 1974 Mays card ranks right up there with other players who never received a final tribute card.

Off the top of my head such cards as a 1964 Stan Musial, 1967 Sandy Koufax and 1977 Hank Aaron would have been great for the kids then and the adults today. I’m convinced one reason the 1969 Mickey Mantle is so beloved is because he did not formally retire until March 1969 and Topps had already planned his card. Thus he got the last cards those other greats missed.

And as for Tom Seaver, as he heads into the long goodbye. he would pitch for more than another decade and amass more than 300 career victories, as well as gaining a first ballot selection by the BBWAA to elect him into the Hall of Fame on the 1st ballot.

This is just a cool modern card of “Tom Terrific” so we can all remember him as he was.

Rich Reminisces: The Front Row Awaits

By Rich Klein
I’m sitting here in my Dallas-Fort Worth office listening to a great tribute for Ed Baer. Don’t know who the “Big Bad Baer” was, well he was a New York area radio personality for nearly six decades.If you are like me and are someone who likes listening to old air checks of these voices you grew up with,  they are part of your memory. One great advantage we have in the card collecting world is that we have tangible items we can look at to keep our memories alive.  Here is a photo of Mr. Baer late in his life:
Image result for ed baer
Sometimes one can just go card by card for a player’s career and each card tells a story. Sometimes the mediocre major league baseball players becomes  legends for other reasons. Such is the case with Bob Uecker, who has been a very good defensive catcher, comedian, television star and baseball announcer for six decades now. Just think about this, Uecker has been in the front row of our existence since his first card in 1962. His very first card is from the very difficult 1962 Topps Rookie Parade high number subset. Because of the difficulty of this card and the price thereof, many collectors need this card as one of their final cards needed for that set.

Note the floating head concept, and yes, these would be among the first cards to use the concept. Several of these players have interesting stories as Doc Edwards would become a manager, and Doug Camilli was the son of Dolph Camilli, who was the 1941 National League Most Valuable Player while a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Camilli’s uncle was a fighter named Frankie Campbell, who lost his life after a battle with future heavyweight champion Max Baer Yes Ed and Max are tangentially related.

Uecker’s 1963 Topps card is the easiest of his cards. The card is a second series card, so if you want an early Uecker card then this is the one for you. In fact, 25 years later the card was reprinted by Blue Cross and is by far the most difficult of any cards using his1963 photo. The only real way you can tell the difference is on the back. It’s oretty easy to tell the difference between the regular 1963 and the 1988 just by looking at the back.

Next up is his 1964 Topps card. The 1964 card is a high number card which is one of the most underrated of the 1960’s high number series. Many collectors know about the difficulties of the high numbers, but 1964 sort of flies under the radar.
The 1964 St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series and while Bob was not a starter, for them his attitude probably helped to keep the clubhouse loose. Interestingly, the starting catcher for those Cardinals was Tim McCarver, who also had a baseball career spanning nearly six decades since his 1959 major league debut.
The 1965 Topps Uecker featured a reversed negative. Was Uecker playing a trick on the photographer, or did Topps get the photo wrong as they did on the 1957 Hank Aaron card? Frankly, with Uecker’s background, playing a trick on a photographer could certainly have been possible. At least those tricks were more harmless than the Billy Ripken bat prank noted on his 1989 Fleer card that we’re choosing not to link to in this particular blog for obvious reasons.
This is also a late series 1965 card which makes this more difficult than the first two series of that year.
In 1966, we get an easier Bob Uecker Topps card but this time, there was a variation twist. The harder variety of this card does not have a trade notation on the back.

We now come to Bob’s final Topps card. Yes I wish there had been a 1968 Braves card featuring him as Phil Niekro won the National League ERA title in no small part to Bob’s use as his designated catcher. It would have been a nice conclusion to his card career, but instead this Phillies card was the final one of his career.

I personally love the 1967 Topps set and think this is the nicest of the Bob Uecker cards as it shows him in full catching gear getting ready to go behind the plate.

It’s hard to imagine, but his six year card career had more interesting twists and turns than most players. His future career (s) would continue to keep him in the public eye even as he approaches his 85th birthday. We hope that he’s in the front row for a long time indeed.

Rich Reminisces: Thurman Munson

By Rich Klein
When I was growing up my two favorite teams were the Houston Astros in the National League, and the New York Yankees in the American League. Let’s face it, you can’t really root for both New York teams unless you like the flip-flop between your allegiances. In my generation, my three favorite players growing up were Jim Wynn and Cesar Cedeno of the Astros, and Thurman Munson of the Yankees. All three of the players had some interesting life stories, but sadly one of them would not even live until the 1980’s. When Thurman Munson’s plane crashed on August 2, 1979 that truly was one of the saddest days of my young life. When you really know a player more for what they do on the field than with any off-field characteristics, it’s easier to admire what they were.
Munson was drafted as the fourth overall amateur draft pick in 1968, and while the scouting in the 1960’s was not as sophisticated as 50 years later, Munson was a wise selection as he was in the majors barely a year later. In fact, he was such as good prospect that Topps placed him on one of those two-player Rookie Stars cards early in 1970 set:
Sy Berger always claimed that Topps had a better idea than most people about whom teams would keep in the majors, and in this case they batted .500 as Munsion had his fine career, but Dave McDonald would never play with the Yankees again and make a cameo with the 1971 Montreal Expos to conclude his major league career.
It’s really not a bad card, but his second year card, now that’s an even better card! His 1971 card, because of the black borders, is even harder to get in great condition than the 1970 rookie stars card. The 1971 card is even more significant because technically this is the first action photo ever on a base Topps card. Yes, we can consider card #5 the first action card in any Topps set EVER.
Because Topps was based out of New York, many of their photographers were also based out of the Metropolitan area.  You can see the backgrounds of either Yankee or Shea Stadium on many of the photos, and in 1971 you can see lots of action photos featuring players from those two team. Here is an example of Munson on the background of a couple of cards:
Vada Pinson was a great player in the 1960’s and was still a very good player in the early 1970’s, which is why he also earned an action photo in the set. Notice the player prone wearing #15. Yep, that’s Thurman!
A couple of years later Terry Crowley‘s card has Munson featured as well:
Munson is featured just as actively as Crowley is on his own card.  There are other cool background players on 1970’s action cards. Especially in basketball where you will see Hall of Famers from other teams on many cards. But for our purposes, we’ll just stick to Munson. Recognize the player Johnny Bench is going to tag out in this 1977 World Series card?  Yep, Thurm is making another guest appearance:
Munson’s career continued to thrive and in 1976 he won the American League Most Valuable Player award. His 1976 cards have always been among my favorite cards. But if you notice both the Topps and SSPC card feature Munson with a full beard. One team rule New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner had was no beards, and these cards help to show Munson’s independent streak over the facial hair issue:

I always wonder if the photo on his 1976 Hostess card was taken as part of the same photo shoot as the Topps card:
As I mentioned in an earlier column, within a few short years Munson would perish in a plane crash, and the last card issued whilst he was living was the 1979 Burger King Yankees set. I believe it is possible to have a signed card, but I have never seen a signed 1979 Burger King card in the past 40 years. Munson was not the easiest person in giving out autographs to fans, yet in a fascinating conundrum, most Yankee team signed balls have legit Munson signatures and not what are called “Clubhouse” signatures.
And if you really want to really know why Thurman was so beloved: Munson had not hit a homer in months. His power was sapped from the 1975-77 era.  He was hurting all over. But in this 1978 playoff game, with his body aching from those hard catching years, and in the pressure packed 1978 American League Championship Series, he hit what was probably the longest homer of his career.

And the night after his plane crash, the Yankees still had a game the next day, and if you want to cry go right ahead: I once asked Jerry Narron, who started as catcher that day, about what it was like trying to catch that game, and he stated that it was the hardest game he ever had to play in.

Would Thurman had made the Hall of Fame? My instinct says his career would have wound down before getting the career stats, but in our memories he was the straw that stirred the drink for the 1970’s Yankees.

Rich Reminisces: The 1967 ‘Impossible Dream’ Boston Red Sox

By Rich Klein
I have been a life-long New York Yankees fan for all but one summer when I just starting to discover baseball. You see myself, like many other baseball fans, were enthralled by the 1967 “Impossible Dream” Boston Red Sox.  As an impressionable very young person whose family had a place in far Northeastern corner of Maine where the sun arrives during the summer at 4:00 AM, the Red Sox were the local team, so how could you not love following them?
I was not aware of the past 15 years of so prior for the Red Sox, but they had barely been competitive since about 1950, and even had to deal with the tragedy of the death of local hero Harry Agganis, who died shortly after turning 26 in 1955. We know when Agannis passed, but there are still some third party authenticated autographed cards of his out there. The card is pretty difficult to find, and the autograph on the card is even scarcer:
But the 1967 Red Sox had a new manager and some new players. Their best player was 27 years old and had just done intense off-season training for the first time.  Those new and improved players, as well as a little luck, turned out to be the key to the Red Sox success.
To begin, 1967 was the summer of Yaz. Carl Yastrzemski would win the triple crown that season and be the last player to lead the league in all three categories until Miguel Cabrera accomplished that feat a few seasons ago. This card pictured was issued a few years ago but gives us the 1967 flavor:
Some of the young players on that team included George Scott and Joe Foy, who had been rookies in 1966. Mike Andrews and Reggie Smith were the rookies in 1967, and a player turning just 22 during the season would finish the season season with over 100 career homers. That player was Tony Conigliaro:
Conigliaro would sadly almost lose the sight in his eye after being struck by a Jack Hamilton fast ball, and never was the same player again. Along with Yaz and Rico Petrocelli, they were the three Red Sox who also played for their 1975 team, which would be the next time the Red Sox won the Pennant.
Anytime I can mention Rico Petrocelli, it helps the hobby. You see, Rico and Tom Zappala host a weekly hobby radio show which feature many leading dealers and hobbyists. Their show can be found here if you’d like to give it a listen:
Rico is a beloved figure in Boston and does many appearances around the area. He has also co-authored many books with the Zappalas, and you can usually see him at the National Sports Collectors Convention each year. I heartily recommend meeting both Tom and Ellen Zappala along with Rico during the National. I promise you will enjoy chatting with them.
The other cool thing was both Mike Andrews and Reggie Smith shared a 1967 Topps rookie card:
One of the oldest known color television broadcasts of a baseball game feature the 1967 Red Sox!  The fact that this is a crucial game in September makes it an even more memorable game. If you have time, I do recommend watching this or having this as background during a game

The 1967 American League pennant race was legendary as four teams actually all lead the league in one confusing September day. As a young fan, I thought every season would be like 1967 season. Well not so much, but if you like to read about a very different time with one team going to the World Series and no one else in the post-season, than 1967 is for you. Just two seasons later there would be the first year of divisional play.
And if you wanted to know if the New York Yankees were doing something that year, they moved the great Elston Howard to Boston, which helped shore up the Red Sox catching situation. Howard solidified the catching position and had his last good season in 1967. I still wish there was a 1969 Topps card of him, but this 1968 serves well:
Oh, and even in the next year these Red Sox would continue to affect baseball history. Jim Lonborg,who had been 22-9 and the 1967 Cy Young award winner, hurt himself in a skiing accident and was never quite the same pitcher again. He was good, but never great. After his accident, many contracts were updated to not let the players do off-season activities which could hurt them. Note the text on his 1968 Topps card:

And lastly, the player mentioned in the quiz is Sparky Lyle, would become a superstar Yankees receiver after being traded for Danny Cater just before the 1972 season. This trade would torment the Red Sox for many years following. Unrelated to Lyle, Cater actually lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and his son-in-law and I attend the same Torah (Bible) Study class.  Hey, anytime you can name drop a major league play is worth a shot!

This card is the 1967 Red Sox team card and a scarce high number. Yes, you can use this card to talk about the stories of the famed “Impossible Dream” team. They were called the Impossible Dream because of the then recent popular song from the Man of La Macha musical. This powerful version by Jack Jones was #1 on the Adult Contemporary charts of the time and the best known of the versions.  But everything coalesced in 1967, and I will still not forgive the St. Louis Cardinals, who were a better team, for winning the World Series that year.

Rich Reminisces – The 1959 ‘Go Go’ White Sox

By Rich Klein
I’ve been a life-long Yankees fan, but despite what I like to write, am not enough to actually remember the real glory days of the post -war Yankees dynasty. Between 1947 and 1964 the Yankees won 16 pennants in 18 seasons, which is just astounding. Heck, the only player from the 1947 team who was still active in 1964 was Yogi Berra. Yogi actually missed the 1964 season as he managed the Yankees, but did return for a cameo with the cross-town Mets in 1965. That cameo was for all of nine at-bats before Yogi finally retired.

But just think about that, only three teams won pennants between 1947 and 1966, which is a number that would be surpassed in the 1965-68 time frame. To me, One of those two teams is a perfect case of one team coming, one team going and one team remaining. That team was the 1959 Chicago White Sox, who were known at the time as the “Go Go Sox” because they had the best base stealer in Luis Aparicio, and a bunch of other fast guys playing for them.

Topps got a photo right from the 1959 World Series of Luis Aparicio doing what he did best in those days on his way to a Hall of Fame career.  If you look carefully at the photo you will see Maury Wills awaiting the ball so he can place a tag on Aparicio. That is important because Wills was actually in a long-running feud with Topps, and would not have an official Topps card until the last series in 1967:

The other Hall of Famer on the team was his double play partner Nellie Fox, who would win the 1959 MVP award. Fox was a consistently great player and also deserved his enshrinement into Cooperstown.

There were, of course, other good players on the team, but the real interesting part was that the team was a mix of yesterday’s legends, today’s stars and tomorrow’s heroes

There were ten players on the team who were age 34 or older. While some of them were very important to the team, others were just role players for a cameo appearance. Many of the older pitchers were important to the team, which was led by Early Wynn, who won the 1959 Cy Young award. In those days the Cy Young was only given to one pitcher for the majors and not one per league as has been done since 1967. Other good players for that team in the older brigade included Turk Lown and Gerry Staley, who were a dominant bullpen pair.

But here were some of the players who made cameo appearances for the 1959 White Sox:

Ray Boone, Del Ennis, Don Mueller (he was only 32, but nearing the end of his career) and Hall of Famer Larry Doby. Yes, they were the best players that the White Sox tried and failed to get one last memorable season from.

But the real fun for this team and the players who created the “what might have been” sequence (if Bill Veeck had not realized he needed to win now because his ownership time would be limited) included several players with interesting future stories.

Before the 1960 season even began, Norm Cash would be traded twice, and his 1960 Topps card would depict the Detroit Tigers Cap on the side photo, but a Cleveland Indians cap as the main photo. Cash would win the 1961 Batting title, hitting .361 and stayed in the majors long enough to play in the 1972 post-season.  He is one of only three players who participated in post-season play in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. (The other two were Don McMahon and Willie Mays).

As the White Sox were going for a repeat and loading up on veteran players such as Minnie Minoso and Roy Sievers, the young prospects were being sent away. Among the prospects leaving included Claude Raymond. Not that Raymond was one of the better players who left the White Sox, but he has one of the best card stories as his zipper is undone on both his 1966 and 1967 Topps cards. Thankfully nothing was showing, but how did Topps miss that two straight years?

Other players who left included Joe Stanka, who went to Japan and became a legend there. Our local SABR chapter had breakfast with him about 13 years ago and the stories he told were quite fascinating. He never had a Topps card and all his cards on COMC are currently sold out but I wanted to mention him.

And some of the other future players the White Sox disposed of after 1960 included Earl Battey and Johnny Callison. There were others as wel,l but if all the players the White Sox traded away were allowed to develop, they might have been the backbone of another pennant winner around 1963 or so.

Now I suppose you could say this is true of any team, but if you happened to get all their players to have their best season at the same time you would usually win a pennant. But if you had gotten the 1959 White Sox players to all have their career best seasons that year they might have been a team which won 100 or more games.

After this brief interlude, the Yankees would win their next five pennants and they were smart enough to keep their younger players during that period. I’m showing Jim Bouton as an example because I’ll be talking about him and his famous Ball Four tome in a future article

If Bill Veeck did not feel the need to panic, and let his young players develop, would the White Sox have won more than just that one pennant between 1919 and 2005?

Rich Klein can be reached at RichKlein@Comc.com

Rich Reminisces: What’s in a Name?

Happy New Year! If you happen to follow my Facebook page, you have seen over the past year I tend to post some funny names which pop up while doing COMC Identification work.
Those names range from the Unfortunate…
….to the sublime (Alexa Bliss, yes I’m referring to you).
This John Hillerman look-alike had the name of F.T. Mann. I just call him Fatty Man nowadays:
But another part of names, and we all have one, is how people are named after one another in sports history. We begin with Grover Cleveland Alexander who was, of course, named after the only U.S. President to regain the presidency after losing an election:
Grover Cleveland was interesting because in his first year in office (1885) he married the then 21-year old Frances Folsom, who would go one to live past the conclusion of World War II. He might not have looked the part, but he was considered quite the ladies man before he became President. He was part of the incredibly cruel 1884 election, which featured these two memorable slogans, the first being: “Ma Ma, Where’s My Pa, Gone to the White House, Ha Ha Ha”.
Cleveland assumed paternity of a child born out of wedlock.Through DNA testing of present day, we would have actually known who the father of the child was. Cleveland’s party used this slogan in response: “Blaine Blaine, James G. Blaine, The Continental Liar from the State of Maine.”  And you thought today’s politics were rough?
As stated above, the most famous person named after him is Grover Cleveland Alexander, who won well over 300 games in his fine career. He may best be known for saving Gave 7 for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1926 World Series. Contrary to legend. the famed strikeout of Tony Lazzeri was in the seventh inning, because the series ended with Babe Ruth being tagged out at 2nd on a steal attempt.
Another Hall of Famer named after a famous player who became even more famous than his predecessor was Mickey Cochrane. Cochrane was a Hall of Fame catcher and won a World Series as a manager before Bump Hadley‘s beaning ended his career.
A few years before Cochrane’s career concluded, a young man named Mickey Charles Mantle was born in Oklahoma. Now, I would have preferred Cochrane as the middle name, but the legend of being named after Cochrane was sufficient at the time.
And in a couple of other cases, we revert back to the 1st and 2nd name matching. This one is close to my heart, because well, the reason will be obvious. Chuck Klein had a nice career buttressed by playing in Baker Bowl.  Well this a nice photo of Mr. Kline:
Imagine my surprise while doing COMC Identification work to see a Charles Klein Stobbs as a name on a card:
And what is Chuck Stobbs best known for? While he was a competent major league pitcher, he is best known for surrendering a 565 foot homer to one Mickey Mantle:
And while the names of many athlete are getting stranger, sometimes we still see names we recognize…
Or whom we think is named after someone famous…
Part of me hopes Mr. Downs makes a mark in the majors because the original Jeter (Derek) is another one with a great name…..
You see, Derek Jeter’s full name is Derek Sanderson Jeter. Yes that is the same name of the 1960’s-70’s hockey wild man Derek Sanderson. Jeter is as controlled in his life as Sanderson could be out of control.
One of things I remember about Sanderson came from reading his autobiography where he claimed that his favorite song was “Poor Side of Town” by Johnny Rivers. Well, he did pick a great single for that purpose:

And since it seemed that between 1964 and 1968 Rivers recorded every song ever written, here are a couple of more I especially like by him:
And to conclude this “What’s in a Name” blog, while this is not related to people being named after others but sharing a same name, I have no other place to put this. In the 1960’s Paul Simon put this line into the lyrics of a song:
“”Be careful his bowtie is really a camera”
Which is a line from the song “America”. Well, did you think that two decades later a man named Paul Simon would have a brief run for the presidency and be best known for, you guessed it. wearing a bow tie?
Rich Klein can be reached at RichKlein@Comc.com