Monday, March 30, 2015

Baseball Fathers and Sons: Part III, Topps 1962

Acquiring Topps 1962 cards for my Fathers and Sons set.

Some of the cards that I acquired to add to my father and son set came from ebay purchases.  Ebay was used as the local card shop and fellow collectors didn't have the cards I needed.  Two of the cards would have been difficult finds at any card shop.  In my research in identifying cards for Jim McKnight, father of Jeff McKnight, and Ed Olivares, father of Omar Olivares, Jim's and Ed's only cards were in the Topps 1962 set.  Their cards were in the 7th series, part of the Rookie Parade cards that finish the set.  Collectors of the Topps 1962 set know cards from the 7th series are short print cards.

The decision I wrestled with was it worth paying the price to add the Jim McKnight and Ed Olivares cards to my collection.  With the understanding that these Topps 1962 cards were the only cards for both players, I needed to make a decision if I wanted to pay a premium price for these cards. I decided to go for it.  My feeling was that if I was going to collect father and son sets, I would need these cards.

I went to ebay and found auctions for both the Jim McKnight and Ed Olivares cards.  I can't remember  what I paid for the cards, but current auctions on ebay for these cards have a bid of $10.50 for the McKnight card and a $11.50 for the Olivares card, with three days left in each auction.  The lowest Buy it Now prices on ebay for these cards is currently $35 for the McKnight card and $32.25 for the Olivares card.  If I remember correctly I paid closer to the Buy it Now price for these cards.

For the sons, Jeff McKnight and Omar Olivares, it was easier to find their cards as I already had them in my collection. McKnight had 13 cards issued beginning with four cards from 1990.  His cards from that year were in the Topps Debut '89 and Upper Deck sets and minor league cards from CMC and Pro Cards AAA.  Olivares first cards were in the 1990 minor league CMC and Pro Cards AAA sets.  He has had over 45 cards issued with his first major league cards found in 1991 Donruss, Score, Topps, Topps Debut '90, Ultra Update, & Upper Deck sets.

I started to wonder why Jim McKnight and Ed Olivares only cards were in the Topps 1962 set.  McKnight and Olivares played in the 60s when Topps was the only regular issued set.  I'd never heard of either of them and found out that part of the reason their only cards were in the Topps 1962 set was that they each played in the major leagues for part of two seasons in the early 60s.

The Fathers
Jim McKnight

Topps 1962 Rookie Parade Card # 597 
Jim McKnight was born on June 1, 1936 in Bee Branch, Arkansas.  He was signed in 1955 by the Cardinals and in June 1960, was traded to the Cubs for outfielder, Walt Moryn.  He made his big league debut on September 22 of that year, in the second game of a doubleheader in the Cubs 6-1 loss to the Pirates.  In the top of the 5th inning McKnight pinch hit for pitcher Joe Schaffernoth and fouled out to third baseman Don Hoak.  He appeared in two more games during the 1960 season, including a start in right field on September 23, in the second game of a doubleheader, a 5-1 loss to the Cardinals.  Hitting 8th in the lineup, McKnight batted three times against Cardinals pitcher, Ray Sadecki, and got his first major league hit, a single in the 5th inning. 

McKnight returned to the Cubs in the 1962 season, playing in 60 games, batting .224.  McKnight's only multiple RBI game of his career came on May 18, 1962, in the Cubs 11-8 victory over the Phillies.  He entered the game at third base in the bottom of the eighth inning, and his ninth inning single, off reliever Jack Baldschun, plated Ernie Banks and George Altman, the final runs scored that day.

In December 1962, he was traded to the Milwaukee Braves for Ken Aspromonte.  McKnight never appeared in another major league game.  However, between 1963 and 1971, he played for the AAA affiliates of the Braves, Giants, and Phillies.  In 1964, McKnight play on the Toronto Maple Leafs of the Intentional League, who were managed by Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson. 

1972 was McKnight's final year as a player, as he was player-manager for the Decatur Commodores, the single A affiliate of the Giants.   McKnight played in seven games that year ending the season with a .125 batting average (three hits in 24 at bats).  The Commodores overall record for the year was 48-79, finishing in fourth place (out of five teams) during both the first and second half of the season, in the South Division of the Midwest League.  All told, McKnight appeared in 1,954 minor league games and finished his major league career playing in 63 games with a .231 batting average (21 hits in 93 at bats) with no home runs and six RBI. 
Ed Olivares

Topps 1962 Rookie Parade Card # 598 

Ed Olivares was born November 5, 1938 in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.  He signed with the Phillies in 1957 and in 1958, he was sent to the Cardinals .  Olivares major league debut was on September 16, 1960 in the Cardinals 6-2 loss to the Giants.  In the 7th inning, he entered the game as a pinch hitter for pitcher Bob Grim.  Giants' reliever Stu Miller struck him out.  Olivares appeared in two more games in 1960 and ended the season with a .000 batting average in five at bats, striking out three times.

Olivares returned to the Cardinals during the 1961 season.  His first appearance during the year was on July 28, in a Cardinal 6-2 victory over the Braves.  He started in right field, hitting eighth in the lineup.  In the eighth inning Olivares got his first major league hit, a single off Braves reliever Don McMahan.  After getting on base, Curt Flood run for him, and Olivares finished the game with one hit in four at bats. 

Two days later, in the first game of a doubleheader against the Braves, Olivares entered the game in the 8th inning, pitch hitting for Cardinals reliever, Lindy McDaniel.  The Cardinals started the inning trailing the Braves 3-1.  Olivares reached base on a fielder choice when Red Schoendienst was forced at second base.  Later in the inning, he scored the Cardinals second run, his first career run, on Julian Javier's single.  The Cardinals took a 5-3 lead during the inning, thanks to Bill White's three run home run, and ended up winning the game 5-3.

On that same day, in the second game of the doubleheader against the Braves, Olivares started in right field, batting seventh, in a 3-2 extra inning loss.  During the game, off Braves starter Warren Spahn, he got his first and only career RBI, when his sixth inning sacrifice fly plated Bill White, which tie the game at 2.  The Braves won the game in the tenth inning when Hank Aaron single scored Lee Maye.
In October 1961, Olivares was the Houston Colt 45s' 33rd selection in the 1961 National League expansion draft.  The Topps 1962 baseball card pictures him as a Colt 45 even though he never appeared in any games for them.  After the 1961 season with the Cardinals he did not played another game in the major leagues.  He finished his career in the minor leagues playing from 1963 to 1966 with affiliates of the Colt 45s, Twins, and Tigers.  In two major league seasons, Olivares appeared in 24 games, ending with a .143 career batting average (5 hits in 35 at bats) with no home runs and one RBI.
The Sons
Jeff McKnight 

1990 Upper Deck Jeff McKnight Card # 162

Jeff McKnight was born on February  18, 1963 in Conway, Arkansas.  He played in the major leagues from 1989 to 1994 for the Mets and Orioles.  He made his major league debut with the Mets on June 6, 1989 in a 8-4 loss to the Cubs.  In the top of the 5th inning, he pinch hit for Mets reliever, Roger McDowell, and singled off Calvin Schiraldi.  McKnight appeared in six games that season. Then in December 1989, he signed a contract with the Orioles and played the next two seasons in Baltimore.  On September 12, 1990, McKnight hit his first career home run, leading off the 8th inning against Tigers starter, Jack Morris.  The homer was a game winner as it gave the Orioles a 2-1lead, the final score of the game.  In December 1991, McKnight signed a contract returning to the Mets.  He played the 1992, 1993, and 1994 seasons in New York.  His best season was in 1993 when he appeared in 105 games, batting .256 (42 hits in 156 at bats) with two homers and 13 RBI.  McKnight ended his career with a .233 career batting average (94 in 404 at bats) with five homer runs and 34 RBI.  During his career, he played every position except centerfield and pitcher.  Recently, on March 1, 2015, McKnight passed away after battling leukemia for 10 years.

Omar Olivares

1991 Score Omar Olivares Card #748
Omar Olivares was born July 6, 1967 in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.  Olivares pitched in the major leagues from 1990 to 2001.  He made his major league debut on August 18, 1990, pitching 8 innings as the starting pitcher for the Cardinals, getting a no decision in the 3-2 11 inning loss to the Astros.  That year, he got his first major league win on September 13, pitching six innings as the Cardinals starter in the 6-4 victory over the Expos.  For his career, Olivares appeared in 349 games, starting 229 games, while playing for eight teams: the Cardinals, A's, Phillies, Pirates, Angels, Tigers, Rockies, and Mariners.  He finished his career with a record of 77 wins and 86 losses, 16 complete games, two shutouts, and four saves.  His best season was in 1999, when he spent time with the Angels and A's.  He finished the 1999 season with 15 wins and 11 losses and four complete games.  After the July 29 trade from the Angels, Olivares recorded seven wins and 2 losses for the A's. 
Jeff McKnight and Omar Olivares faced each other once, in a September 23, 1992 game between the Mets and the Cardinals.  McKnight, started at 2nd base and batting 5th, went 1 for 3 against Olivares, the Cardinals starting pitcher.  McKnight singled off Olivares in the first inning.  Olivares retired McKnight in the fourth and seventh innings and pitched eight innings and left the game with the scored tied at one.  In the top of the ninth inning, the Mets scored twice, with the second run coming in on McKnight's second single of the game, off Cardinal reliever Lee Smith, that plated Daryl Boston with the Mets third and final run.  The Cardinals scored a run in the bottom of the ninth inning, but Mets starter Dwight Gooden finished with a complete game, retiring Tracy Goodson for the last out, while stranding Ray Lankford at third base and Rod Brewer at first base.

Fathers, Jim McKnight and Ed Olivares careers crossed paths in the minor leagues while playing in the Texas League for the Tulsa Drillers, the Cardinals AA affiliate.  They spent time playing together during the 1959 season.  McKnight played the entire season in Tulsa, appearing in 103 games, batting .332 with 6 home runs and 69 RBI.  Olivares spent part of the 1959 season playing for the Drillers, appearing in 15 games, batting .182 with 1 home run and 9 RBI.

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