I am taking a break in my Brewers thread to pay tribute to Bill "Moose" Skowron. Moose passed away last Friday of congestive heart failure after a battle with lung cancer. Moose was the son of a Chicago garbage man. He was a two sport star at Purdue when the Yankees drafted him after his sophomore year. He was a 5 time all star first baseman for the Yankees from 1954-1962. He returned to his home town in 1964. Playing on the south side from 1964-1967. Moose has been a regular at White Sox games, fantasy camps, conventions and other events. He has been given the title of White Sox Ambassador since 1999. Although his greatest years were in a Yankees uniform he embodies the working class roots of his hometown. He will be missed.
Monday, April 30, 2012
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Milwaukee Brewers CTNW Fan Favorites #3
Paul Molitor was the runner up to Detroit's Lou Whitaker in the 1978 Rookie of the Year voting. As a rookie Molitor stole 30 of his 504 career bases. He would go on to play in 7 All Star games, win 4 Silver Slugger awards and a World Series MVP in his Hall of fame career.
For those of us who were kids in the mid to late '70s, We remember picking out our cereal by which ones had cards inserted in them. We also remember going through the all boxes of Hostess snacks. These were even better because the cards were on the outside so you could see who you were getting. They came in panels of 3 but you could also buy 2-packs of Twinkies with individual cards on them. But the individual Twinkies cards always had a huge grease stain on them. My brother and I would go through every box in the store trying to find the players we liked.
Friday, April 27, 2012
Milwaukee Brewers CTNW Fan Favorites #4
In 1981 Rollie Fingers became the 4th pitcher to win the MVP and Cy Young awards in the same season. Joining Don Newcombe, Sandy Koufax, and Bob Gibson. Also in 1981, Topps produced it's first separate set of Traded Cards. Not only was this the only set that included Fingers in a Brewers uniform during his MVP/Cy Young season, but it reinforced Topps status above the 1981 newcomers Donruss and Fleer.
The 1981 Topps Traded set was loaded with future Hall of Famers including Fingers, Fisk, Winfield, Morgan, Gaylord Perry, Sutton, Sutter and Blyleven as well as several stars of the day. Fleer would eventually follow suit in 1984 and Donruss in 1986.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Milwaukee Brewers CTNW Fan Favorites #5
Here is a continuation on a theme of putting together 5 "Cards That Never Were" fan favorites from each team. These are not necessarily the 5 best players from the franchise. So as David Letterman used to say before Stupid Pet Tricks, "This is only an exhibition. This is not a competition. Please, no wagering."
Tommy Harper was the first player to represent the Milwaukee Brewers in the All Star game. He came in to run for Harmon Killebrew and was thrown out stealing second by Johnny Bench. He was also the first Brewer to join the 30/30 club and only the 5th player in the history of Major League Baseball. Joining Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Bobby Bonds and Ken Williams of the 1922 St. Louis Browns.
The Seattle Pilots' move to Milwaukee was finalized just 6 days before opening day 1970. There were no Brewers cards anywhere in the 1970 Topps set. I was going to make a regular Topps 1970 Tommy Harper card on the Brewers but the thought of an All Star pinch-runner card struck me as more fun.
Monday, April 23, 2012
A bit of a change up here but a good story. First on Saturday night the Chicago Blackhawks and the Phoenix Coyotes played their fifth consecutive overtime game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The last time 2 teams played 5 straight OT games in the Playoffs was 1951. The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Montreal Canadiens 4 games to 1 on Bill Barilko's OT goal. Which also took place on April 21st.
This goal has become legend in Toronto. Bill Barilko and a friend took a private airplane to go fishing and never returned. The wreckage of the aircraft and the bodies of Barilko and his friend were not found until 1962. Which is the year the Maple Leafs finally won another Stanley Cup Championship. The Story is also the basis for a song by the Tragically Hip.
"Bill Barilko disappeared that summer,
he was on a fishing trip.
The last goal he ever scored won the Leafs the cup
They didn't win another until 1962,
the year he was discovered.
I stole this from a hockey card,
I kept tucked up under my fifty mission cap"
His goal was also immortalized on cardboard for the 1951-52 Parkhurst set.
And the card Tragically Hip "stole this from" was a 1991-92 Pro Set card.
Barilko never had a hockey card of him while he was still alive. In 1950 Royal Desserts made a limited number of cards on the back of their boxes. They were all of players from American teams.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Friday, April 20, 2012
Today I'm posting 2 "Cards That Never Were". A third generation of Major Leaguers. All three generations have ties to my hometown teams.
Scott Hairston was originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 1999 while at Central Arizona College but did not sign with the Sox. He would later be drafted and signed by the Diamondbacks in 2001. His older brother, Jerry Hairston Jr. spent 2005 and part of 2006 playing on the north side for the Cubs. Both of them are the sons of Jerry Hairston who played on the south side of town. Jerry played for the White Sox off and on from 1973-1989.
On the north side was his older brother, Johnny Hairston who played for what must be one of most popular 2nd place teams of all time. The 1969 Chicago Cubs. Johnny Hairston was the first second-generation African-American ball player in the Majors.
The patriarch of this baseball family is Sam Hairston. Sam spent most of his 50+ year career in baseball with the White Sox organization. He played briefly for the Major League club in 1952 but was a player, coach and scout for the White Sox minor league affiliates including the Colorado Springs Sky Sox and the Birmingham Barons. Sam Hairston was inducted into the Birmingham Baron's Hall of Fame in 2009, and the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Johnny Hairston was a career minor league catcher who came up for a "cup of coffee" with the 1969 Cubs. He was the first black second-generation player in the Major League. His father, Sam Hairston had a similarly brief career as a catcher on the south side of Chicago.
Monday, April 16, 2012
Sam Hairston was the second black player on the Chicago White Sox following Minnie Minoso. He had played for the Birmingham Black Barons and the Indianapolis Clowns where he won the American Negro League triple crown hitting .424 with 17 homers and 71 RBIs in 70 games. Hairston was one of 6 catchers on the 1951 White Sox. He would continue to play in the minors until 1960. In all he would spend more than 50 years in professional baseball as a player, coach and scout.
He is the father of former big leaguers Jerry and John Hairston and the grand father of New York Met outfielder Scott Hairston and L.A. Dodger utility player Jerry Hairston Jr.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
In my last two posts, I wrote about baseball pensions. Here is another pension story about a well-liked player from a 3 generation Baseball family. Jerry Hairston was added to the White Sox roster in September of 1989 and 1990 so that he would get the full 10 year pension. At the same time, the Sox attempted to add another well-liked player, Minnie Minoso. This would have given Minoso the opportunity to play in his 6th decade. Unfortunately it was vetoed by the league.
Jerry Hairston played for the Sox from 1973-1977 when he was bought by the Pirates. He then played in the Mexican League where he was seen by Sox manager Tony Larussa and GM Roland Hemond during the 1981 strike. After the strike he was signed by the Sox.
Friday, April 13, 2012
In my last post, I wrote about the Braves helping Satchel Paige get his Pension. Carmen Fanzone is one of 847 players from 1947-1979 who didn't qualify for a pension. A player needed 5 years to get the minimum MLB pension up until 1969 then it dropped to 4 years. After 1980 it dropped to 43 games and only 1 game to qualify for health insurance, but none of it was retroactive. Carmen was 85 days short of 4 years.
Carmen Fanzone was a jazz trumpeter who once played the National Anthem before a game at Wrigley Field. He was a utility player and caught the last out in Milt Pappas's 1972 no hitter. He was cut by the Cubs following the 1974 season and was playing AAA ball in Hawaii in 1975 when he broke his ankle and ended his playing career. Fortunately he was able to catch on with Don Ho's band. Carmen has kept busy at Cubs Fantasy Camps and a musicians union rep in Los Angeles.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
I was surprised to come across this picture of Satchel Paige. I didn't know that he was on the Braves, so I did a little research and there is an interesting story involved with this.
In 1968 the owner of the Braves, William Bartholomay, hired Satchel as a Pitcher-Trainer-Coach. He didn't do any training, and he never pitched in the regular season because his eyesight had deteriorated that the Brave were afraid he would not be able to react to a come-backer. It was also said that he did most of his coaching from his rocking chair in Kansas City. The real reason he was there was right on his jersey. #65. The age when MLB retirement benefits kick in. At that time you needed 5 years of MLB duty to qualify and Paige was 158 days short.
"Satchel Paige is one of the greatest pitcher of all time. Baseball would be guilty of negligence should it not assure this legendary figure a place in the pension plan."
- William Bartholomay, Owner Atlanta Braves
Monday, April 9, 2012
I never was a big fan of the 1985 set before. But looking at it now, I can see the appeal. It is a simple design and includes a nice team logo. Truth is an nice vintage Mickey Mantle photo can make almost any card look good. I think I better find a real nice photo for the 1986 card. Those are terrible.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Curt Blefary fielded right handed but hit from the left side of the plate, and he could hit with power. In order to keep that bat in the line up he was shuffled around the field. He felt that this shuffling led to his decline. He ended his MLB career in 1972 with the Padres. In 1973 he was picked up by the Braves but never left the minors. He passed away in 2001 and his ashes were scattered at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. Memorial Stadium was last used by the Orioles in 1991 and last used by the Ravens in 1997. Memorial Stadium was in the process of being demolished when his family scattered his ashes.
Friday, April 6, 2012
The first thing that strikes me when I look at this card is "did I run spell-check?" The second is that the 1965 Rookies of the Year faced each other in the 1966 World Series. The Orioles swept the Dodgers in 4 games. Neither of these players were much of an impact. Lefebvre hit a solo home run in a 5-2 loss in game one. He had only one other hit in the series batting .167. Blefary had a hit in his first World Series at bat. It was a 2 out, bases empty single, he was stranded at first. He wouldn't get another hit in the series batting .077.
By 1973 both player would be out of the Major Leagues. Blefary would be playing in the minors for the Braves. Lefebvre would be in Japan playing for the Lotte Orions. He would become the first person to play on a team that won the American World Series and the Japanese World Series. He would also go on to manage several teams including the Chinese National Baseball Team in the Olympics and the 2006 World Baseball Classic.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Jim Lefebvre's career in L.A. wasn't limited to baseball. If you tune into TVLand you might catch him playing bit parts on classic TV shows. He had small roles on Batman, Gilligan's Island, M*A*S*H, Knight Rider, Alice and several others. In his rookie season he was one of 7 Dodgers receiving MVP votes. He hit .400 against Minnesota Twins pitchers in the 1965 World Series and won Rookie of the Year honors beating out another second baseman, Joe Morgan.
Thanks to Vonnoosh for pointing out Lefebvre's actual first card. See comments below.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Curt Blefary was given the nickname "Clank" by Frank Robinson for his fielding abilities. His ability to hit for power from the left side of the plate kept him in the majors. In an attempt to keep his bat in the line-up, he was moved from the outfield to first base and occasionally played catcher. He caught Tom Phoebus's no hitter for the Orioles in 1968. Blefary spent 4 years with the Orioles and played on the World Series winning team in 1966. His contribution was 1 hit in 13 at bats. No RBIs, no Runs scored.