Sunday, August 30, 2015

Grading first trade - Straight A's

Back in March, I started writing a blog about baseball cards.  One of my earliest blogs was an offer to trade some Topps 1971 baseball cards.  Recently, Jeremy, a reader of my blog, contact me and wanted to make a trade.  He was interested in six of the cards.  This was going to be my first trade.  In exchange for the 1971 cards, I told him to send me cards that I may be interested in.
 
He did great as received a pack of A's cards.  I've been a A's fan since I was eight years old.  My first year of collecting baseball cards was in 1968, the year that the A's moved from Kansas City to Oakland.   During their first season in Oakland, my family went to visit friends who lived in Berkeley.  During that trip, I attended my first major league game.   
 
I remember the game.  My mom took me and my siblings, with the family friends, as we were part of a crowd of 5,811 who attended a June night game at Oakland Coliseum.   We sat in the right field bleacher as "Catfish" Hunter pitched a completed game 5 - 3 victory over the Orioles.  I can remember it as if it was yesterday, that in the bottom of the seventh inning, Floyd Robinson's pinch hit double plated two runs to break a 3 - 3 tie.  Hunter shut down the Orioles in the 8th and 9th innings in the A's victory.

Topps 1968 Floyd Robinson Card #404
 
While I attended the game, I am sure that I had some of my baseball cards with me, as I wouldn't left home without them.  Those Topps 1968 beauties.
 
The A's, later became known as the "Mustache Gang", went on to win three consecutive World Series in 1972, 1973, and 1974.  Following those three championship seasons, keeping with a tradition established during the decade of 1910 by then owner/manager Connie Mack, A's owner Charlie Finley let his star players go.  Players from those 1970 championship teams were either traded or become free agents.  The first player to go was Hunter.  In 1974, after a contract violation by Finley, for his failure to pay Hunter $50,000, Hunter won an arbitration hearing in December that voided his contract, and he was allowed to leave as a free agent.  Hunter went on to sign with the Yankees for five years for a then record $3.35 million. 

Topps 1968 Jim Hunter Card #385
 
Soon thereafter, free agency came to baseball.  Finley felt that due to low attendance, he would be unable to pay the players that had won the three World Series.  So during spring training of 1976, in anticipation of losing Reggie Jackson and Ken Holtzman as free agents, Finley traded them to the Orioles in a deal that included young outfielder named Don Baylor.  After the 1976 season, Sal Bando, Rollie Fingers, Bert Campaneris, Gene Tenace, and Joe Rudi all played out their contracts and signed with other teams.  In December 1976, manager Chuck Tanner was traded to the Pirates for catcher Manny Sanguillen.  During spring training 1977, the A's received six players from the Pirates in a traded that included All Star second baseman Phil Garner.  Then in March of 1978, after leading the American League in losses with 19 during the 1977 season, Vida Blue was traded to the Giants for seven players. 
 
During 1977, the A's the finished in 7th place in the American League Western Division.  Then in 1978, they finished in 6th place, and in 1979 they again finished in 7th place.
 
Finley sold the A's in August of 1980, only after hiring Billy Martin to manage the team.  Martin, who had attended Berkeley High School, and after graduating in 1946, had played with Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League.  Martin returned to the East Bay and lead the A's to a second place finish during the 1980 season.  Then during the strike marred 1981 season, behind skipper Martin, the A's had the best record of all teams in the American League Western Division.  Due to the strike, there was a Division Series played where the A's defeated the Royals three games to none.  The A's missed out on returning to the World Series as they loss in the American League Championship series to the Yankees.      
 
In 1982, Martin left as manager of the A's and they failed to make the playoff again until the late 80s.  They returned to post season play after making trades, acquiring Carney LansfordDennis Eckersley, Bob Welch, Rickey Henderson, and Dave Parker, and bringing in free agents, signing  Dave Henderson, Dave Stewart, Don Baylor, and Mike Moore.  In addition, the A's developed players who won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in three consecutive years.  Beginning in 1986, Mark McGwire was Rookie of the Year, followed in 1987 by Jose Canseco, and then in 1988, Walt Weiss won the award.  The A's returned to prominence and made it back to the World Series in three consecutive seasons.  The A's loss to the Dodgers in the 1988 World Series, defeated the Giants in 1989, and loss to the Reds in the 1990 World Series.

That's enough A's history.  Getting back to the trade of baseball cards which was why I was writing this blog.  What I got in the trade were cards of A's players from the mid and late 1980s. 
 
Some of the cards I received in the trade:

Topps 1986 Dusty Baker Card #645, Mike Davis Card #165, Dave Kingman, Card #410, Jackie Moore Card #591, and Dwayne Murphy Card #8
 
None of the A's shown above from the Topps 1986 set were a part of the A's teams that played in the 1988, 1989, or 1990 World Series.  Mike Davis was with the Dodgers during the 1988 series.  During Game One of that series, Davis came up as a pinch hitter with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning as the Dodgers trailed the A's 4 - 3.  He faced A's relief ace Dennis Eckersley and walked.   One batter later, Dodger pinch hitter Kirk Gibson homered to win the game 5 - 4.  This homer essentially ended the 1988 World Series, as the Dodgers defeated the A's four games to one. 
 
 
Topps 1987 Carney Lansford Card #678, Dave Stewart Card #14, Mickey Tettleton Card #649, Bruce Bochte Card #496, and Alfredo Griffin Card #111 
 
In December 1982, Carney Lansford was traded to the A's, from the Red Sox, for outfielder Tony Armas.  Lansford played third base for each of the A's World Series teams.  He played ten seasons with the A's.  His best season was in 1989 when hit batted .336.  He retired as an Athletic in 1992.  In May 1986, the A's pulled Dave Stewart off the scrap heap as they signed him after he was released by the Phillies.   Stewart came home as he was a graduate of Oakland's St. Elizabeth High School.  During the 1985 season, while pitching with the Rangers and Phillies, Stewart had a record of 0 - 6 with an ERA of 5.46 and had started the 1986 season with the Phillies and had appeared in four games with no decisions and an ERA of 6.57.  Stewart completed the 1986 season with the A's and then starting in 1987, while pitching in Oakland, he won over 20 games in each of the next four season.
 
Topps 1989 Don Baylor Card #673, Dave Parker Card #475, Dennis Eckersley Card #370, Terry Steinbach Card #725, and Dave Henderson Card #527


These players were all on the A's 1989 World Series Championship team.  In April 1987, the A's traded three minor league players to the Cubs for Eckersley.  It was thought that Eckersley's career was near its end, but with the A's, he became a MVP relief pitcher and finished with a plaque in the Hall of Fame. 


Topps 1988 Tony Phillips Card # 673, Score 1990 Bashers Blast Giants Card #702, and Rickey Henderson Card #10

The Score card of prodigal son, Rickey Henderson, shows him possibly attempting to steal another base.  Henderson graduated from Technical High School in Oakland in 1976 and was draft by the A's in June of that year and signed with the team in July 1976.  During his career, Henderson played with nine teams, including four stints with the A's, as he batted leadoff for the 1989 World Series Championship team.  Henderson retired as the all-time Major League leader in run scored and stolen bases.    

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Pitchers who can hit

Pitchers who can hit

Madison Bumgarner was named the National League Player of the Week for the week ending August 17.  Bumgarner earned two victories, pitching his eighth and ninth career complete games during his two starts. He struck out 26 batters in 18 innings, allowing one earned run.  On Tuesday August 11, Bumgarner struck out 12 Astros hitters and allowed one run on five hits in a 3-1 victory.    Then on Sunday, August 16, the left-hander pitched a shutout, defeating the Nationals 5 - 0, tying a career high with 14 strikeouts.  During the game Bumgarner also went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI on a fifth-inning double and a seventh-inning solo homer.

Topps 2010 Madison Bumgarner Card #105 
 
The home run was Bumgarner's fourth of the season, which leads all Major League pitchers. He also leads all pitchers with seven RBI.  Last season, Bumgarner also hit four homer runs and had 15 RBI.  As a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, a National League team, Bumgarner takes a place in the batting order and gets the opportunity to bat.  American League pitchers don't normally bat, as they are replaced in the batting order by a designated hitter.  
 
In 1973, the American League adopted the designated hitter rule.  The designated hitter, is a player in the batting order who only hits and does not play defense. He hits in place of the pitcher.  During interleague play, the application of the designated hitter rule is determined by the identity of the home team as the rules of the home team's league applying to both teams. If the game is played in an American League park, the designated hitter may be used and if played in a National League park, the pitcher must bat or else be replaced with a pinch-hitter.  
 
With the adoption of the designated hitter rule for American League games, there are fewer batting opportunities for pitchers.  Pitchers are usually selected for the quality of their pitching, not their hitting, and that most pitchers are weak hitters and normally bat ninth in the batting order and are pinch-hit for late in games.
 
Throughout the history of baseball there have been some pitchers who were very good batters.  Babe Ruth, one of the games greatest home run hitter, began his career as a pitcher. 

Babe Ruth
 
1933 Goudey Babe Ruth Card #53

Babe Ruth made his debut, as a nineteen-year old pitcher, on July 11, 1914, with the Red Sox.  It wasn't until the next season that Ruth hit his first Major League home run when on May 6, 1915, he homer in the Red Sox 4 - 3 loss to the Yankees.  Ruth finished that season with a .315 batting average, hitting four home runs and 20 RBI.  Then in 1916, Ruth hit three home runs as he finished the year  with a pitching record of 23 - 12 and lead all American Leagues hurlers with a 1.75 ERA and nine shutouts.
 
The following season, Ruth hit two home runs and finished the year with a pitching record of 24 wins and 13 losses, when he started 38 games, and completed a league high 35 games.  Starting in 1917, the Red Sox started to play Ruth in the field to be able to use him as a batter.  During the 1917 season, Ruth pitched in 20 games, finishing the year with a 13 - 7 record, as he homer twice in those games.  For the year, Ruth hit 11 home runs, which tied for the Major League lead with Philadelphia Athletics outfielder, Tillie Walker.  Ruth hit his 11 home runs while playing in just 95 games.
 
In 1918, Ruth's final season with the Red Sox, he pitched in 17 games and finished the year with a 9 - 5 record.  He homered three times in the games he pitched.  Ruth finished the year playing in 130 games and with a Major League high 29 home runs,   This total also set the record for most home runs during any single season.   After helping the Red Sox to World Series Championships in the 1915, 1916, and 1918, Ruth was sold to the Yankees on December 26, 1918, for $100,000.

After leaving the Red Sox, Ruth pitched in only five more games and he was victorious in each game, and finished his Yankees career with a pitching record of 5 - 0.  He homered in two of those games.  On June 13, 1921, Ruth pitched five innings in the Yankees 13 - 8 win over the Tigers.  Ruth hit two home runs during that game.  Then on October 1, 1933, Ruth pitched a complete game in the Yankees 6 - 5 win over the Red Sox as he homered in the game.  This was the final game of the season. Ruth also pitched a complete game in the last game of the 1930 season, when the Yankees defeated the Red Sox 9 - 3.

For his career, Ruth pitched in 163 games and hit 17 home runs in those games.  Ruth retired in 1935, after 22 years in the Major Leagues.  He finished his career with 714 home runs and lead the American League in home run 12 times. 
 
Bob Lemon
 
Bob Lemon was a Hall of Fame pitcher who played 15 seasons, between 1941 and 1958.   Lemon, only played with the Indians, and finished his career with a pitching record of 207 wins and 128 losses.  He was a seven-time All-Star and won more than twenty game on six different occasions.
 
Bowman 1955 Bob Lemon Card #191

 
Lemon made his major league debut, as a twenty-year old, on September 9, 1941.  Lemon entered the game as a pinch hitter in the top of the 8th inning, batting for third baseman  Ken Keltner, and flied out to center field.  Lemon played the last two innings of the game at third base.   He accepted two chances during those two innings as Bob Feller won his 23rd game of the season.  During reminder of the 1941 season, he appeared in four more games, all as a pinch hitter.  For the season, Lemon collected one hit in five at bats.  In the 1942 season, Lemon again played in five games, appearing in one game at third base and as a pinch hitter in four other games.  During the 1942 season, Lemon failed to get a hit in five at bats.  
 
Lemon then missed the next three season as he served in the Navy during World War II.
 
Upon his return for military service, Lemon was the Indians' Opening Day starting center fielder.  On April 16, 1946, the Indians defeated the White Sox 1 - 0.  Then on April 30, Lemon was again in centerfield, when Feller no-hit the Yankees.  Feller later wrote that Lemon's "daring catch" and "throwing to and doubling a man off second base" were key in "saving my" no-hitter.  For the 1946 season, Lemon played in 55 games, appearing in 12 games as an centerfielder and pitched in 32 games.   On July 29, in a second game of a doubleheader against the Senators, Lemon pitched 6.1 innings in relief in a 8 - 4 loss.  Leading off the bottom of the 7th inning against Early Wynn, Lemon hit his first major league homer run.
 
The 1948 season was Lemon first season as a full-time pitcher.  He lead the Indians in victories, with twenty wins, as the Indians won the American League pennant, then faced the Braves in the World Series.  The Indians won the Series four games to two games, as Lemon was the only pitcher who won two games during the series.  During the 1948 season, Lemon had 129 plate appearances, and batted .286 with five home runs and 21 RBI.  Lemon's hitting skills began to get attention as well.   By August 1949, Lemon who was batting .295 with 11 extra-base hits and six home runs, prompted Yankees manager Casey Stengel to say, "Well, I see where the Indians have nine hitters in the lineup instead of eight."  Lemon had a career high home run total during that 1949 season when he hit seven, and then had his career high RBI total of 26 came during 1950.
 
For his career, Lemon had 37 home runs and 147 RBI in 1326 plate appearances.  He finished his career with a .232 batting average (274 hits in 1183 official at bats) and a slugging percentage of .386 and an OPS of .674. 
Warren Spahn
 
Warren Spahn played 21-year seasons, all in the National League, as he finished his career with 363 victories, more than any left-handed pitcher in baseball history.  Spahn, as a twenty-year old rookie, begun his major league career in 1942 and he played 20 season with the Braves.  Spahn spent all but one year of his career with the Braves, first in Boston and then in Milwaukee, and he finished his career in 1965, when he pitched with the Mets and the Giants.  He appeared in 14 All-Star games, the most of any pitcher during the 20th century, and won the 1957 Cy Young award.  Eight times Spahn topped National League pitchers in victories, including the five season between 1957 through 1961.
 
Topps 1954 Warren Spahn Card # 20
 
On July 15, 1949, Spahn hit his first major league home run in the Braves 6 - 1 victory over the Cubs.  Spahn's second inning two-run home run, off Cubs starter Warren Hacker give the Braves a 3 - 1 lead, as he pitched a complete game seven hitter, gaining his tenth win of the year.
 
Spahn's best year as a hitter came during the 1958 season, as he hit two home runs with 15 RBI in 122 plate appearances.  He finished the year with a .333 batting average (36 hits in 108 official at bats) and a slugging percentage of .463 and an OPS of .844.   In 1958, the Braves were the defending World Series Champion, but loss the 1958 series to the Yankees, four games to three. 
 
Spahn hit a season high four home runs in 1955 and 1961.  He had a career high 18 RBI during 1951.  For his career, Spahn hit 35 home runs with 189 RBI in 2056 plate appearances.  He finished with a .194 batting average (363 hits in 1872 official at bats) and a slugging percentage of .287 and an OPS of .520.   Spahn's career hit total (363) matched his career victory total.
 
Don Drysdale
 
Don Drysdale played 14-year seasons, all with the Dodgers, first in Brooklyn and then in Los Angeles. He finished his career with 209 victories.  While pitching with the Dodgers in 1960s, he teamed with Sandy Koufax to form one of the most dominating pitching duos in history.  
 
Topps 1964 Don Drysdale Card #120
 
Drysdale was an eight-time National League All-Star and took home the Cy Young Award in 1962 when he won 25 games. In 1968, he pitched 58 straight scoreless innings, a record that would stand until 1988 when it was broken by another Dodger pitcher, Orel Hershiser.  During this stretch of scoreless innings, Drysdale pitched a record six consecutive shutouts.
 
Prior to the beginning of the 1966 season, Koufax and Drysdale, were seeking a three-year‚ $1.05 million contract to be divided evenly and they began a joint holdout.  In mid-March, they each threatened  retirement as the pitchers said, that instead of playing baseball, they would signed movie contracts.   However, as the beginning of the season approached, they ended their 32-day holdout on March 30.  Koufax signed for $130‚000 and Drysdale received $105‚000.   
 
Drysdale, as a nineteen-year old rookie, made his major league debut on April 17, 1956, the opening game of the season, as he pitched the 9th inning in the Brooklyn Dodgers 8 - 6 loss to the Phillies.  During his debut season, Drysdale hit his first major league homer run on September 9.  He was the starting pitcher in the game against the Giants and gave up a first inning home run to Giant's centerfielder Willie Mays.  Dodgers' leftfielder Carl Furillo three-run homer in the bottom 4th inning gave them a 3 - 1.  Drysdale lead of the bottom of the 5th inning with a home run to stretch the Dodgers lead to 4 - 1.  The Dodgers won the game 6 - 1 as Drysdale pitched a complete game three- hitter to even his record to 5 wins and 5 losses.  
 
Drysdale's best year as a hitter was during the 1965 season, when he hit seven home runs with 19 RBI in 138 plate appearances.  He finished the year with a .300 batting average (39 hits in 130 official at bats) and a slugging percentage of .508 and an OPS of .839.   In 1965, the Dodgers defeated the Twins in the World Series four games to three.  Drysdale pitched a complete game five-hitter in game four as the Dodger defeated the Twins 7 - 2.  The two runs that Drysdale gave up during the game were on solo home runs by Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva. 
 
Drysdale also hit seven home runs in 1958 which was his career high.  For his career, Drysdale hit 29 home runs with 113 RBI in 1309 plate appearances.  He finished with a .186 batting average (113 hits in 1169 official at bats) and a slugging percentage of .295 and an OPS of .523.  
 
The Silver Slugger Award
 
The Silver Slugger Award is the top offensive honor in Major League baseball.  Coaches and managers of Major League teams vote for the players in their league that they feel are the best offensive player at each position.  The National League selects a pitcher and a designated hitter is picked in the American League.  Selections are based on a combination of offensive statistics including batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, as well as the coaches’ and managers’ impression of a player’s overall offensive value.  The award was first given after the 1980 season. 
 
1991 Upper Deck Silver Slugger Don Robinson Card #SS16
 
National League pitcher who have won the award multiple times include:
Mike Hampton five times
Tom Glavine four times
Rick Rhoden, Don Robinson, Bob Forsch, and Carlos Zambrano three times
Fernando Valenzuela two times
 
Madison Bumgarner won the Silver Slugger Award for his first time in 2014.
 
Mike Hampton
 
Mike Hampton, a left-handed pitcher who batted right-handed, played 16 seasons in the Major Leagues, beginning his career with the Mariners, as he made his debut on April 17, 1993, when he was just 20 years old.  Hampton also played with the Astros (two stints), Rockies, Braves, Mets, and ended his career in 2010, playing with the Diamondbacks. 
 
2002 Fleer Ultra Mike Hampton Card #69
 
Hampton was a five-time winner of the Silver Slugger Award.  In 2003, he became the first pitcher ever to win the Silver Slugger and the Gold Glove Awards during the same season. By winning the Gold Glove during that season, he snapped his then-Atlanta teammate Greg Maddux's streak of 13 consecutive Gold Gloves.  Hampton won his five Silver Slugger Award in consecutive seasons, beginning in the 1999 season through 2003.  He won the award while playing for the Astros (1999), Mets (2000), Rockies (2001 and 2002), and the Braves (2003). 
 
In December 2000, Hampton, who was coming of 22-4 (2.90) and 15-10 (3.14) seasons, became the highest paid pitcher in Major League baseball history when he signed a 8-year, $121 million contract with the Rockies.  On Opening Day of the 2001 season, pitching against the Cardinals, Hampton hurled 8.1 shutout innings in his first start at Coors Field as the Rookies opened their year with a 8 - 0 win. Then on May 9, pitching again at Coors Field, Hampton pitched a complete game shutout against the Mets, a 5 - 0 victory. 
 
By the 2001 All-Star break, Hampton was 9-5 with a 4.02 ERA.   However, Hampton struggled  to a 5-8 record in the second half of the season with a 7.46 ERA and finished the year with 14 wins and 13 losses and a 5.12 ERA.  Then in 2002, he didn't pitch any better then his 2001 second half performance as he finished the year with a 7-15 record and 6.15 ERA.  In November of 2002, he was traded twice, first on the 16th he was moved to the Marlins and then two days later he was sent to the Braves. 
 
Hampton's best year as a hitter was during his 2000 season with the Rockies, when he hit seven home runs with 19 RBI in only 86 plate appearances.  He finished the year with a .291 batting average (23 hits in 79 official at bats) and a slugging percentage of .582 and an OPS of .891.  He also scored 20 runs during the season.  On June 5, 2001, at Coors Field, Hampton hit two home runs, in the Rockies 9 - 4 victory over the Astros.     
 
In 2002, Hampton had his career high batting average of .344 (22 hits in 64 at bats) with three home runs and five RBI.  For his career, Hampton hit 16 home runs with 79 RBI in 845 plate appearances.  He finished his career with a .246 batting average (178 hits in 725 official at bats) and a slugging percentage of .356 and an OPS of .650.   
 
Madison Bumgarner
 
Madison Bumgarner, a 26-year old left-handed pitcher who has helped the Giants to three World Series Championships during this decade, who is now beginning to make a name with his bat.  Bumgarner is probably best known for his post season pitching performances where his record is ten wins against three losses, including a World Series record of four wins and no losses.  During World Series action, he has given up only 1 earned run in 36 innings pitched for a 0.25 ERA, a record for lowest career World Series ERA (minimum 20 innings of work).  
 
2015 Topps Heritage Madison Bumgarner Card #260
 
 
Bumgarner was the Giants first round pick in the 2007 free agent draft, the tenth overall pick.  Bumgarner was twenty years old when  made his Major League on September 8, 2009 as the starting pitcher in the Giants 4 - 3 loss to the Padres.  He pitched 5.1 innings and gave up two earned runs, and received no decision during the outing.
 
Bumgarner's first Major League home run came on June 12, 2012, in the Giants 6 - 3 victory over the Astros.  He homered leading off the top of the third inning, off of Astros starter, Bud Norris. His homer tied the game at one.  Bumgarner pitched 7.2 innings and earned his 8th victory of the season as the Giants were paced by Brandon Crawford and Melky Cabrera running scoring singles and a two-run homer by Brandon Belt.
 
In 2014, when Bumgarner won the National League Silver Slugger Award and tied the Major League record when as a pitcher, he two grand slams in one season.  He tied Atlanta Braves hurler Tony Cloninger's record, who on July 3, 1966, become the first National Leaguer to hit two grand slams in the same game, during the Braves 17 - 3 victory over the Giants.
 
During the 2014 season, Bumgarner hit 4 home runs with 15 RBI in 78 plate appearances.  He finished the year with a .258 batting average (17 hits in 66 official at bats) and a slugging percentage of .470 and an OPS of .755.  
 
So far this season, Bumgarner has matched his 2014 total by hitting four homers (as of August 20).  For the year, he has 14 hits in 55 at-bats with a .255 batting average.  Because injuries have depleted the Giants' bench, manager Bruce Bochy has used Bumgarner as a pinch hitter during the team's last two games.  Tuesday night, with two outs in the seventh inning, the Giants lead the Cardinals 1-0,  and Bumgarner was sent into the game to pinch-hit for starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong.  Bumgarner singled to left field (for his first career pinch hit) and would later come around to score an insurance run, in the Giants 2 - 0 victory.
 
Into the seventh year of his Major League career, Bumgarner has hit 10 career home runs with 38 RBI in 404 plate appearances.  He has a career .180 batting average (62 hits in 345 official at bats) with a slugging percentage of .293 and an OPS of .512.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Rick Herrscher of the 1962 New York Mets

Rick Herrscher was a member of the 1962 New York Mets.  As a twenty-five year old rookie, Herrscher was a utility man with the Mets, appearing in 35 games during the season, spending time at first base, third base, shortstop, in the outfield, and as a pinch hitter and pinch runner.

 
1983 Fritsch One Year Winner Rick Herrscher Card #69
The Mets, nicknamed those Lovable Losers, were one of the first expansion teams in the National League as they were founded in 1962 and replaced New York's departed teams, the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers.  The Mets were managed by former Yankee skipper Casey Stengel and finished the 1962 season with a record of 40 - 120, the worst regular season record since Major League Baseball expanded to a 162 game scheduled (they had two games that were canceled).

Team members included the club’s MVP Richie Ashburn, former Dodger first baseman Gil Hodges, and pitcher Roger Craig, whose victories and loss totals were tops on the team when he finished the season with a record of 10 wins and 24 losses.  
Herrscher became a part of the Mets organization on May 21, 1962.   Herrscher was the player to be named later in the November 28, 1961 deal made by Mets general manager George Weiss. Weiss arranged a trade where the Mets would receive outfielder-first baseman Frank Thomas and a player to be named later from the Milwaukee Braves for a player to be named later and cash.  Also on May 21, the Mets sent Gus Bell to the Braves to complete the deal.
 
Herrscher had signed with the Braves prior to the 1958 season after attending Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas.  Starting in 1958, he spent part of three seasons playing with the Austin Senators of the Texas League, the Braves AA affiliate.  During the 1960 season, he was promoted to the Braves AAA affiliate, the Louisville Colonels, a member of the American Association.
The 1960 season was Herrscher’s best year as a professional player.


Team

Games

At Bats

Hits

Home Runs

RBI

Batting Ave

Austin

86

314

106

5

57

.338

Louisville

33

95

25

0

9

.263

Season Totals

119

409

131

5

66

.320

In 1961, Herrscher spent time playing for the Braves two AAA teams, part of the season in Louisville, and with the Vancouver Mounties of the Pacific Coast League.   In 1962, prior to the trade to the Mets, Herrscher was playing with the Colonels, and then he joined the Syracuse Chiefs of the International League, a AAA affiliate shared by the Mets and the Washington Senators.  As August started, Herrscher was recalled from Syracuse and reported to play with the Mets. 
Herrscher remembers when he arrived to play with the Mets, “The night before I joined to the Mets, I broke my thumb.  I reported to the Mets and told Johnny Murphy (assistant General Manger) about it, his first words were ‘Oh my God, don’t tell Casey.  Don’t tell him we brought up a guy with a broken thumb’ "
On August 1, Herrscher made his Major League debut in the Mets 11 – 9 loss to the Phillies.  He entered the game in the bottom of the 4th inning as a pinch hitter for catcher Choo-Choo Coleman.  He reached base on Phillies first baseman’s Roy Sievers’ error as Sievers was unable to handle shortstop Ruben Amaro’s throw.
Herrscher remained with the Mets for the remainder of the season.  With the help of the trainer and teammates, Stengel never found out about his broken thumb.  On August 5, during the first game of a doubleheader against the Reds, Herrscher started his second game of the season, at first base, and batted sixth in the lineup.  During this game, Herrscher got his first Major League hit. He stroked a 4th inning three-run home run off Reds starting pitcher Jim O’Toole, in the Mets 5 – 2 victory.
Then on August 20, in the second game of a doubleheader against the Pirates, Herrscher was again in the starting lineup, batting 6th and playing 3rd base.  In the bottom of the second inning, off Pirates starting pitcher Al McBean, Herrscher’s single platted right fielder Gene Woodling with the Mets first run but Pirates Roberto Clemete’s throw from right field nailed Frank Thomas at the plate for the third out of the inning.  As the 2nd inning ended, the Pirates lead  2 - 1.
Later in the game, with one out in the seventh inning, Herrscher single off McBean again and later scored on Felix Mantilla’s single to cut the Pirates lead to 4 – 3.  Then in the bottom in the ninth, facing Pirates reliever Roy Face, Herrscher flied to left field for the final out of the game, as the Pirates won 6 – 3.  This was Herrscher first two-hit game of his career.
On September 26, Herrscher played in his last game of the 1962 season as he started at first base against the Braves.  With two outs in the top of the second inning, Herrscher singled to left field off Braves starting pitcher Denny LeMaster.  Later in the inning, he scored the first run of the game when he was plated on Roger Craig’s RBI single.  In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Craig gave up a three-run home run to Hank Aaron, which gave the Braves a 4 - 1 lead.  Then in the top of the 4th inning, Herrscher faced LeMaster again and doubled to center field.  He and catcher Chris Cannizzaro would later score on Elio Chacon’s single, closing the Braves lead to 4 – 3.  The Mets failed to score any more runs during the game and ended up losing 6 – 3.  This was the second time that Herrscher had record two base hits in a Major League game. 
This would be Herrscher’s last Major League game.
For the 1962 season, Herrscher appeared in 35 games for the Mets.  He batted .220 (11 hits in 50 at bats) with one home run and six RBI.  During the season he played ten games at first base, six games at third base, four games in the outfield, and three games at shortstop.  Of the 35 games that Herrscher appeared in, the Mets won seven of those games.
After the Mets finished the 1962 season, Herrscher went to Stengel before leaving for the winter.  Herrscher assumed he'd be back with the Mets in 1963, but wanted some assurance from Stengel.  In the unlikely event that the Mets weren't planning on having him back, Herrscher planned to go to dental school to become an orthodontist.  Stengel replied "Well Hershner (Stengel never said Herrscher's name right), go back to dental school."  Stengel had also attended dental college during the off season when he first broke into professional baseball, in 1910.
In 1963, Herrscher returned to the minor leagues and played for the Buffalo Bisons of the International League, the Mets AAA affiliate.  In 1964, during his final season as a professional baseball player, Herrscher again played with the Bisons, and for the Williamsport Mets, of the Eastern League, the Mets AA team.  During these two seasons, Herrscher appeared in 139 games, batted .262 (114 hits in 434 at bats) with 9 home runs and 65 RBI.
After finishing his playing days, Herrscher completed dental school and become an orthodontist. Dr. Rick Herrscher graduated from Baylor University Dental School in 1968 and received his MSD in Orthodontics in 1972 and became a successful orthodontist in Athens Texas.
During 1950s, when Herrscher attended SMU, he had received a basketball scholarship.  He grew up in St. Louis Missouri, where a SMU basketball player, who was home for Christmas break, saw Herrscher playing basketball and offered him a scholarship.  Herrscher said that "Back then players could offer kids scholarships because coaches didn't have the money to travel and recruit.  They let their players do it for them."
 
Herrscher became one of the most decorated players in SMU basketball history.  As a sophomore, he came off the bench for the SMU Mustangs 1956 NCAA Final Four team.  That season, SMU went 26 - 4 and won the Southwest Conference (SWC) championship.  They played in the NCAA basketball tournament and beat Texas Tech 68 - 67 in the Mideast Region before victories over Houston and Oklahoma City pushed the Mustangs into the Final Four.  SMU enter the Final Four riding a 20 game winning streak.  But the Mustangs lost 86 - 68, in the semifinals, to Bill Russell's San Francisco Dons. 
 
Herrscher followed up the 1955-56 basketball season, earning All-SWC First Team honors during the 1956-57 and 1957-58 seasons.  Herrscher was also named the SWC Player of the Year in the 1957-58 season, when he averaged 17.5 points and 7.4 rebounds a game.  In 2015, Herrscher was inducted into the Southwest Conference Hall of Fame.
In Appendix of the book, The Amazin’ Mets 1962 – 1969, author William Ryczek quoted Herrscher to say “All things worked out for the best.  Maybe that was the way for me to get into a profession where I’m able to help a lot of kids with their personalities and their smiles.  I’ve enjoyed that tremendously, but I wouldn’t give up my time playing professional baseball.  It was one of the great times of my life.”
1991 Mets Wiz Rick Herrscher Card # 179 
I've found that there are two Rick Herrscher baseball cards.  He didn't did have a card issued by Topps but one of his cards is from the Fritsch One Year Winner set and is shown at the beginning of this post.  His second card was a part of the 1991 Mets WIZ set.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

In Action Cards

The Topps 1972 baseball set included a set of In Action cards.  Prior to the beginning of the 70s, Topps had issued very few game action pictures in their cards sets.  Looking at sets issued by Topps now, the in game action photography is superior when compared with the sets from yesteryear.
 
In 1972, when Topps issued the In Action cards, the photographs that were used would likely not make the cut and would probably not be included in current day sets. 
 
The 1972 Topps Set

Here are a few of the In Action cards from the 1972 set.
1972 Topps Willie Mays Card #50
 
1972 Topps Johnny Bench Card #434
 
1972 Topps Juan Marichal Card #568 
 
These are some nice photographs, maybe like pictures you could take today with your cell phone while sitting in the stands if your seat was close to the field.  Each of these pictures appear to have been taken at Candlestick Park.  Note the astro turf in the shot behind Willie Mays is similar to the turf that was in Candlestick Park during the 1970s.  The Johnny Bench picture has him eying a foul ball with a Giant player in the background.  The Juan Marichal shot is also from Candlestick Park as the fence and seats pictured in left/centerfield are from there. 
 
Earlier Topps Sets
 
Photos used in the earlier Topps sets were mainly portrait head shots or posed batting, fielding, or throwing shots.  The current Heritage product does bring back memories of collecting the cards from those earlier Topps sets
 
Some examples of head shots:
1966 Topps Don Mossi Card #74
 
In the baseball book Ball Four, when Jim Bouton describes Mossi’s protruding ears, he says Mossi “looked like a cab going down the street with its doors open.”
 
1962 Topps Roger Craig Card #183
 
Posed batting stances:
 

1961 Topps Yogi Berra Card #425

1965 Topps Frank Robinson Card #120
 
 
Some posed fielding shots:
1957 Topps Roy Smalley Card #397
 
1966 Topps Clete Boyer Card #9
 
Posed throwing shots:
 
1968 Topps Rod Carew Card #80
 
1969 Topps Nolan Ryan Card #533
 
Hey Nolan, nice toss but isn't that a ball that still in your glove.
  
And as San Francisco Giant announcer Mike Krukow may say, here are cards of catchers "in the squaaat".  In early sets, Topps used many posed shots of catchers in the squat.
 
1967 Topps Jerry Grote Card #413
 
1970 Topps Russ Gibson Card #237
 
The Topps 1956 set
 
In the Topps 1956 set, some of the cards had game action shots.  These action pictures were used in the background of the cards which also included portraits of the players. 
 
Topps 1956 Jim Piersall Card #143
 
Topps 1956 Elston Howard #208
 
Prior to the 1956 issue, no Topps card had a photo of an in action shot. 
 
Other game action shots in early Topps Sets
 
After the 1956 set, Topps used limited game action shots.  In the 1959 set, Topps issued a set of "Baseball Thrills" cards.  These cards showed game action photos of the stars of the day including, Mickey Mantle, Duke Snider, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, and Al Kaline.
  
1959 Topps Hustler Banks Wins M.V.P. Award Card #469
 
World Series Cards
 
Beginning in 1960, Topps begin issuing World Series cards commemorating the World Series games from the previous year.  In the 1960 set, Topps issued cards from the 1959 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox.
 
1960 Topps Luis Swipes Base Card #389
 
In all sets beginning in 1960 and through the 1975 set, except for 1966, Topps issued World Series cards from each World Series game played.  These cards pictured action shots from those World Series games. 
1961 Topps Mantle Slams 2 Homers Card #307
 
1964 Topps Koufax Strikes Out 15 Card #136
 
1968 Topps Brock Socks 4-Hits in Opener Card #151
 
 Topps 1961 and 1962 Sets
 
The Topps 1961 set issued a subset of cards that celebrated some of the greatest feats in baseball history.  Some of these cards used game action photographs.  The cards commemorated Don Larsen perfect game in the 1956 World Series, Roger Hornsby batting .424 in 1924, and the May 1, 1920 game between Brooklyn and Boston which went 26 inning and ended in a 1 - 1 tie.  During that game, each team's starting pitcher, Leon Cadore, for the Brooklyn Robins,  and Joe Oeschger of the Boston Braves, who graduated from Ferndale (California) High School, pitched all 26 innings in what is the longest game in major-league history.
 
One of the cards in this subset was Babe Ruth hitting his 60th home run.  Who would have thought that the 1961 season would be the year that Ruth's record would be broken, as Roger Maris hit 61 home runs during this season.
1961 Topps Babe Ruth Hits 60th Homer Card #401
 
In the Topps 1962 set, cards were issued of action shots of players from the 1961 season.  The cards showed a series of photographs of these players.  Cards for Whitey Ford, Warren Spahn, Harmon Killebrew, and Stan Musial were included in the set.  Also there was a card showing Roger Maris hitting his 61st home run of that season.
         
1962 Topps Maris Blast 61st Card #313
 
Topps 1971 set 
 
With the 1971 set, Topps reintroduced use of action photos for player regular issue cards for the first time since the 1956 set.   These shots would be primitive compared to standard used for cards for today.

One of the classic from the set is the Thurman Munson card.  Here he is making a play at the plate in a game against the A's.

1971 Topps Thurman Munson Card #5
 
Another classic that I like is the Nolan Ryan card.  
 
1971 Topps Nolan Ryan Card #513
 
It appears that many of the game action shots in the 1971 set were taken in New York, at either Yankees Stadium or Shea Stadium.  The Nolan Ryan shot could have quite possibly been taken on May 30, 1970, when the Astros were visiting the Mets.  The Mets won the game 4 - 3.  Ryan started that game and pitched eight inning and was winning pitcher.

The Bud Harrelson card from the set shows him making a tag at second base.  This play could be from the 8th inning of that May 30 game, when Astro Jimmy Wynn stole second base.  Note that Nolan Ryan is in the foreground of this picture facing second base.  Wynn was safe on this play.

1971 Topps Bud Harrelson Card #355
 
 
The Thurman Munson shot could have been from games that the Yankees played against the A's in May of 1970.
 
Note the Joe Rudi card from the set.  Here Rudi is playing first base as a Yankee player is leading off the bag.  On July 16, 1970, the A's were visiting Yankees Stadium, to play the Yankees.  During the first game of a doubleheader on that day, Rudi was in the lineup playing first base.  The Yankees and A's played a four game series that July.  Rudi only appearance at first base during that series was in the first game of July 16 doubleheader.
 
1971 Topps Joe Rudi Card #407
 
The Yankees starting pitcher from that game was Fritz Peterson and the picture for his card from the 1970 set could have possibly been taken during that same game.
 
1971 Topps Fritz Peterson Card #460

 
 

As time went by, Topps started in included cards with more game action shots.  By the early 1980s, when Donruss and Fleer begun issuing cards, needing to keep up with the market's new competition, Topps include many more cards with game action shots.  In 1989, Upper Deck entered the baseball card market. So by the earlier 90s, all card makers started to issue more game action shots using outstanding photography.   The pictures on cards almost became works of art.  That still continues today, has Topps uses great photographs with their current baseball card products.
2015 Topps Cole Hamels Card #10

2015 Stadium Club Rougned Odor Card #126

Topps Stadium Club has provided some of the finest work with game action shots.  A couple of my favorite Stadium Club cards are from their 1999 set.

1999 Stadium Club Greg Maddux Card #100

1999 Stadium Club Jim Thome Card #120
 
 
These scans are not that great but check out Braves pitcher Greg Maddux sliding into second base breaking up a double play.  The Jim Thome card is cool because the picture is taken as he is just getting ready to make a catch a foul ball and the shadow of the ball is next to his right knee.
 
Probably one of my favorite cards is Shane Mack from the Topps 1991 set.  Mack appears all by himself as he is hanging on to third base, leaving a trail from his slide, as his helmet is bouncing away. 
1991 Topps Shane Mack Card #672
 
Can you share some of your favorite cards.