Wednesday, May 5, 2021

#212 Ron Brand - Houston Astros


Ronald George Brand
Houston Astros
Catcher

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  5'7"  Weight:  167
Born:  January 13, 1940, Los Angeles, CA
Signed:  Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an amateur free agent before 1958 season
Major League Teams:  Pittsburgh Pirates 1963; Houston Astros 1965-1968; Montreal Expos 1969-1971

Ron Brand played in parts of eight seasons with the Pirates, Astros and Expos primarily as a back-up catcher to John Bateman (#433), as the two were teammates between 1965 and 1971.  Selected by Houston in the rule 5 draft prior to the 1965 season, Brand served as Bateman's back-up before taking over the position full-time in mid-May.  He resumed his back-up role for the next three seasons with the Astros before being selected 58th by the Expos in the 1968 expansion draft.  Bateman had previously been selected with the Expos' third pick.  While Bateman was the first catcher in Expos history, Brand ended up starting more games than Bateman in 1969 with 79 to Bateman's 64.  The arrangement lasted a few more seasons, with Brand also spending time in the infield and outfield, before he was released by the Expos following the 1972 season.  Brand would later serve as a player/manager for the Class A Bakersfield Dodgers in 1975.

In 568 career games, Brand batted .239 with three home runs and 106 RBIs.  And while he appeared in 349 games behind the plate, he also made a significant amount of appearances at shortstop (41 games), third base (26 games) and in the outfield (21 games).

Building the Set

April 2, 2021 from Manchester, MO - Card #242
It's a strange time.  Spring has arrived, we finally attended a Phillies game in person and it seems as if with the arrival of the vaccine the pandemic could soon be behind us.  But I still find myself anxious, occasionally having trouble sleeping at night, and I know many of my friends and family feel the same way.  I went the entire month of March without adding to our 1965 Topps set, and as the month came to a close I decided to start off April with the purchase of a group of commons.  In search specifically for series two cards, I veered into the higher series when I found sellers on eBay auctioning off batches of cards from recent set breaks.  Over the course of a few days, I ended up winning 16 cards for $48 for an average of $3 per card.  

This Brand card came from eBay seller ace64cards from Manchester, Missouri for a winning bid of $3.50.  With the weather getting warmer, having enjoyed a beer at a few Phillies games and 16 new cards in our collection, the month is starting off on the right foot.

The Card / Astros Team Set
Brand is wearing a Pirates uniform here and he had spent the entire 1964 season with he Pirates' top farm team, the Columbus Jets.  This is his second Topps flagship appearance, as his rookie card appears in the 1964 Topps set.  His Little League and High School days are highlighted on the back of the card.

1965 Season
As Topps also mentioned on the back, Brand did in fact see "lots of duty with the Astros in '65."  He appeared in 117 games, batting .235 with two home runs and 37 RBIs on an Astros team that lost 97 games.  Brand started 94 games at catcher for Houston, with Bateman receiving 38 starts.  His 17 passed balls were second most in the National League behind only the Cardinals' Tim McCarver (#294) who had 18.

1964 Topps #326
1966 Topps #394
1969 Topps #549
1970 Topps #221
1972 Topps #773

Other Notable Baseball Cards

First Mainstream Card:  1964 Topps #326
Topps Flagship Set Appearances (8):  1964-1966, 1968-1972
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  1978 TCMA The 1960s I #41

36 - Brand non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 4/10/21.

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
The Trading Card Database
Wikipedia

Previous Card:  #211 Steve Ridzik - Washington Senators

Monday, May 3, 2021

#439 Moe Drabowsky - Kansas City Athletics


Myron Walter Drabowsky
Kansas City Athletics
Pitcher

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'3"  Weight:  190
Born:  July 21, 1935, Ozanna, Poland
Signed:  Signed by the Chicago Cubs as an amateur free agent, July 22, 1956
Major League Teams:  Chicago Cubs 1956-1960; Milwaukee Braves 1961; Cincinnati Reds 1962; Kansas City Athletics 1962-1965; Baltimore Orioles 1966-1968; Kansas City Royals 1969-1970; Baltimore Orioles 1970; St. Louis Cardinals 1971-1972; Chicago White Sox 1972
Died:  June 10, 2006, Little Rock, AR (age 70)

A well-known practical joker, Moe Drabowsky pitched in parts of 17 seasons in the majors, earning World Series rings with the Orioles in 1966 and 1970.  Signed as a bonus baby by the Cubs in 1956, Drabowsky began his career as a starting pitcher but soon found more success as a reliever.  His best seasons as a starting pitcher came with the 1957 Cubs (13-15 in 33 starts with a 3.53 ERA) and the 1963 Athletics (7-13 in 22 starts with a 3.05 ERA).  Drabowsky was a key reliever for the Orioles in their 1966 championship season, going 6-0 with a 2.81 ERA over 44 appearances and pitching 6 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in Game 1 of the World Series against the Dodgers.  After a season and a half with the expansion Royals, in which he won the first game in franchise history, Drabowsky came back to the Orioles and again pitched effectively out of the bullpen for the eventual World Champions.  Drabowsky had a lifetime record of 88-105 with 54 saves over 589 games pitched.

April 3, 2021 - Section 319, Citizens Bank Park, Pod of 4
He'd later coach in the White Sox and Cubs' systems, serving as the White Sox pitching coach in 1986 and the Cubs pitching coach in 1994.  Drabowsky was a minor league pitching instructor with the Orioles between 1995 and 2006.  Throughout his career, his practical joking including surprising teammates with live snakes, imitating front office personnel on phone calls and his prank of choice, the hot foot, in which a match is lighted while in the victim's shoe.

Building the Set
April 2, 2021 from Manchester, MO - Card #241
It's a strange time.  Spring has arrived, we finally attended a Phillies game in person and it seems as if with the arrival of the vaccine the pandemic could soon be behind us.  But I still find myself anxious, occasionally having trouble sleeping at night, and I know many of my friends and family feel the same way.  I went the entire month of March without adding to our 1965 Topps set, and as the month came to a close I decided to start off April with the purchase of a group of commons.  In search specifically for series two cards, I veered into the higher series when I found sellers on eBay auctioning off batches of cards from recent set breaks.  Over the course of a few days, I ended up winning 16 cards for $48 for an average of $3 per card.  

This Drabowsky card came from eBay seller ace64cards from Manchester, Missouri for a winning bid of $3.99.  With the weather getting warmer, having enjoyed a beer at a few Phillies games and 16 new cards in our collection, the month is starting off on the right foot.

The Card / Athletics Team Set
That's the number 25 on the front of Drabowsky's jersey, and that would be his uniform number during his time with the Athletics, the Royals and for both his stints with the Orioles.  On the back of the card, his long career at that point doesn't leave much room for any narrative, but Topps does celebrate his college no-hitter.  His SABR biography doesn't give an exact year, but I'm assuming the no-hitter came in 1954 or 1955 while Drabowsky was attending Trinity College and studying economics.

1965 Season
Drabowsky spent most of the 1965 season pitching for the Vancouver Mounties in the Pacific Coast League.  In 17 games (12 starts) for the Mounties, he was 8-2 with a 2.44 ERA, including eight complete games and two shutouts.  He had made the Athletics' opening day roster, pitching in 14 games before a June demotion as a result of his 1-5 record and 4.42 ERA.  I don't think he could have done much to actually help the woeful Athletics, who lost 103 games in 1965.

1957 Topps #84
1966 Topps #291
1967 Topps #151
1969 Topps #508
1972 Topps #627

Other Notable Baseball Cards

First Mainstream Card:  1957 Topps #84
Topps Flagship Set Appearances (15):  1957-1962, 1964-1972
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  1993 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes #43

85 - Drabowsky non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 4/8/21.

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
SABR
The Trading Card Database

Saturday, May 1, 2021

#97 Pedro Gonzalez - New York Yankees


Pedro Gonzalez
New York Yankees
Infield-Outfield

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'0"  Weight:  176
Born:  December 12, 1937, San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic
Signed:  Signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent before 1958 season
Major League Teams:  New York Yankees 1963-1965; Cleveland Indians 1965-1967
Died:  January 10, 2021, San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic (age 83)

One of the first 15 players from the Dominican Republic to play in the majors, Pedro Gonzalez appeared in 407 games over five seasons with the Yankees and Indians.  Between 1963 and early 1965, Gonzalez played in 101 games for the Yankees, making 26 starts at second base, first base, shortstop and right field.  Traded to the Indians in May 1965, Gonzalez played in 306 games for Cleveland over three seasons and was the club's opening day second baseman in 1966.  He continued to play professionally through the 1974 season with minor league teams in the Indians, Cardinals and Pirates organizations, as well as parts of three seasons in the Mexican League.  Gonzalez was a career .244 batter in the majors with 264 hits, eight home runs and 70 RBIs.

Building the Set
April 2, 2021 from Manchester, MO - Card #240
It's a strange time.  Spring has arrived, we finally attended a Phillies game in person and it seems as if with the arrival of the vaccine the pandemic could soon be behind us.  But I still find myself anxious, occasionally having trouble sleeping at night, and I know many of my friends and family feel the same way.  I went the entire month of March without adding to our 1965 Topps set, and as the month came to a close I decided to start off April with the purchase of a group of commons.  In search specifically for series two cards, I veered into the higher series when I found sellers on eBay auctioning off batches of cards from recent set breaks.  Over the course of a few days, I ended up winning 16 cards for $48 for an average of $3 per card.  

This Gonzalez card came from eBay seller ace64cards from Manchester, Missouri for a winning bid of $2.99, and I'll attribute the relatively high price to the fact he's a Yankee.  With the weather getting warmer, having enjoyed a beer at a few Phillies games and 16 new cards in our collection, the month is starting off on the right foot.

The Card / Yankees Team Set
If you're looking to track down a Gonzalez rookie card, be prepared to pay a hefty premium.  He's one of three other floating heads on the 1963 Topps rookie card of Pete Rose (#207).  He shares a 1964 Topps Rookie Stars card with Archie Moore before finally making his solo debut in the 1965 Topps set.  The back of the card references his Eastern League batting title with the Binghamton Triplets in 1960, when he hit .327.

1965 Season
Gonzalez made the Yankees' opening day roster and appeared in seven games with the club before a May 10th trade sent him to the Indians.  The Yankees received first baseman Ray Barker (#546) in return.  With the Indians, Gonzalez had his best big league season, appearing in 116 games and batting .253 with five home runs and 39 RBIs.  He was the Indians' regular second baseman, starting 111 games at the position, before a young Dick Howser (#92) received the bulk of the starts at second over the final few weeks of the season.

1963 Topps #537
1964 Topps #581
1966 Topps #266
1967 Topps #424

Other Notable Baseball Cards

First Mainstream Card:  1963 Topps #537
Topps Flagship Set Appearances (6):  1963-1967, 1986
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  1967 Topps #424

33 - Gonzalez non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 4/8/21.

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
The Trading Card Database

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

#121 Gene Alley - Pittsburgh Pirates


Leonard Eugene Alley
Pittsburgh Pirates
Shortstop

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  5'10"  Weight:  160
Born:  July 10, 1940, Richmond, VA
Signed:  Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an amateur free agent before 1959 season
Major League Teams:  Pittsburgh Pirates 1963-1973

Gene Alley was a steady defender for the Pirates for over a decade between 1963 and 1973.  With his double play partner Bill Mazeroski (#95), Alley won Gold Gloves for his work at shortstop in 1966 and 1967 and the duo set a record for most double plays in a season with 161 in 1966.  He hit a career high .299 that season and was a two-time All-Star in 1967 and 1968.  Alley appeared in the 1970, 1971 and 1972 World Series with the Pirates, winning a ring with the club in 1971.  He retired following the 1973 season mainly due to lingering shoulder and knee injuries.  For his career, Alley batted .254 with 999 hits, one short of the 1,000-hit plateau.

Building the Set

April 2, 2021 from Manchester, MO - Card #239
It's a strange time.  Spring has arrived, we finally attended a Phillies game in person and it seems as if with the arrival of the vaccine the pandemic could soon be behind us.  But I still find myself anxious, occasionally having trouble sleeping at night, and I know many of my friends and family feel the same way.  I went the entire month of March without adding to our 1965 Topps set, and as the month came to a close I decided to start off April with the purchase of a group of commons.  In search specifically for series two cards, I veered into the higher series when I found sellers on eBay auctioning off batches of cards from recent set breaks.  Over the course of a few days, I ended up winning 16 cards for $48 for an average of $3 per card.  This Alley card came from eBay seller ace64cards from Manchester, Missouri for a winning bid of $1.25.  With the weather getting warmer, having enjoyed a beer at a few Phillies games and 16 new cards in our collection, the month is starting off on the right foot.

The Card / Pirates Team Set
Having appeared on a Rookie Stars card with Orlando McFarlane in the 1964 Topps set, this is Alley's first solo card.  His fielding skills are highlighted on the back of the card, as are some Virginia high school accolades celebrating his basketball skills and his .429 high school batting average.

1965 Season
This was Alley's first full season with the Pirates, and he'd appear in 153 games making 102 starts at shortstop.  Alley was the club's opening day second baseman, and he'd make 36 starts there, while Mazeroski recovered from a broken foot.  When Mazeroski returned, Alley took over the regular shortstop duties from Dick Schofield (#218).  Alley batted .252 with 5 home runs and 47 RBIs, and although not tracked at the time, he was first in the National League in Defensive WAR with a 3.5 mark.

1964 Topps #509
1967 Topps #283
1968 Topps #53
1971 Topps #416
1973 Topps #635

Other Notable Baseball Cards

First Mainstream Card:  1964 Topps #509
Topps Flagship Set Appearances (10):  1964-1973
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes #138

66 - Alley non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 4/7/21.

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
SABR
The Trading Card Database
Wikipedia

Previous Card:  #120 Frank Robinson - Cincinnati Reds

Monday, April 26, 2021

#260 Don Drysdale - Los Angeles Dodgers


Donald Scott Drysdale
Los Angeles Dodgers
Pitcher

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'5"  Weight:  190
Born:  July 23, 1936, Van Nuys, CA
Signed:  Signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers as an amateur free agent before 1954 season
Major League Teams:  Brooklyn Dodgers 1956-1957; Los Angeles Dodgers 1958-1969
Died:  July 3, 1993, Montreal, Canada (age 56)
Hall of Fame Induction:  1984

One of the most dominant pitchers of his era, Don Drysdale was the 1962 N.L. Cy Young Award winner, won World Series rings with the Dodgers in 1959, 1963 and 1965, and threw a then-record 58 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in 1968.  He was a nine-time N.L. All-Star.  Drysdale won at least 15 games in 7 different seasons, culminating with his career-high 25 wins in 1962.  He led the league in strikeouts three times and innings pitched twice.  Not afraid to keep batters off the plate, Drysdale led the league in hit batters five times and his 154 hit batters over his career ranks 19th on the all-time list.  His amazing run of 58 2/3 innings also came with a record six consecutive shutouts.  Fellow Dodgers' pitcher Orel Hershiser broke the record with 59 consecutive scoreless innings in 1988.  For his career, Drysdale was 209-166 with a 2.95 ERA and 2,486 strikeouts.  A decent hitter too, he was a career .186 batter with 29 home runs and 113 RBIs.  

While playing, Drysdale was a guest star on several television shows, appearing on The Rifleman, Leave It to Beaver and The Brady Bunch, among other shows.  Following his retirement due in part to a chronically sore shoulder, Drysdale began a lengthy broadcasting career.  He worked with the Expos (1970-1971), Rangers (1972), Angels (1973-1979, 1981), White Sox (1982-1987) and Dodgers (1988-1993), while also broadcasting games nationally for NBC and ABC.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984, the same year the Dodgers retired his #53.  Drysdale passed away in 1993 after a heart attack suffered on the road before a Dodgers-Expos game.

Building the Set

February 22, 2021 from Wenonah, NJ - Card #238
I purchased five cards from Gar Miller and his online store back in December, and on a dreary February afternoon I decided to head back to his website to look specifically for series two semi-stars.  I added this Drysdale card for a reasonable $25, along with three other cards.  He doesn't need my endorsement, but I can't recommend Gar Miller's online store enough.  There are no pictures of the cards, but the website is well-organized, his grading is conservative and the prices are more than reasonable.

The Card / Dodgers Team Set
Drysdale was an established and popular All-Star, as well as a two-time World Series winner when this card was issued.  His seven home runs hit in 1958 are highlighted on the back, and he'd tie that mark with seven home runs in 1965.  Drysdale topped the 200-strikeout plateau six times in his career, including 1964 when he struck out 237.  The text on the back of this card should be considered an uncorrected error, as Drysdale actually finished third in the Majors (#12) behind Bob Veale (#195) with 250 and Bob Gibson (#320) with 245.

1965 Season
With Sandy Koufax (#300) and Drysdale at the top of their pitching rotation, the 1965 Dodgers won 97 games and eventually defeated the Twins in the World Series.  Drysdale made one more start than Koufax with 42 to Koufax's 41.  Drysdale went 23-12 with a 2.77 ERA over 308 1/3 innings pitched while striking out 210.  He led the league with 12 hit batters.

In the World Series, he started Game 1 when Koufax declined to pitch due to the Yom Kippur holiday.  Drysdale was shelled by the Twins, giving up seven runs in 2 2/3 innings.  He'd win Game 4 however, throwing a complete game and striking out 11.  The Dodgers would defeat the Twins in seven games.

1957 Topps #18
1962 Topps #340
1963 Topps #360
1968 Topps #145
1969 Topps #400

Other Notable Baseball Cards

First Mainstream Card:  1957 Topps #18
Topps Flagship Set Appearances (13):  1957-1969
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2021 Topps Throwback Thursday #24

576 - Drysdale non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 3/23/21.

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
National Baseball Hall of Fame
SABR
The Trading Card Database
Wikipedia

Previous Card:  #259 Tigers Rookie Stars
Next Card:  #261 Duke Carmel - New York Yankees

Saturday, April 24, 2021

#95 Bill Mazeroski - Pittsburgh Pirates


William Stanley Mazeroski
Pittsburgh Pirates
Second Base

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  5'11"  Weight:  183
Born:  September 5, 1936, Wheeling, WV
Signed:  Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an amateur free agent before 1954 season
Major League Teams:  Pittsburgh Pirates 1956-1972
Hall of Fame Induction:  2001

Bill Mazeroski was an excellent defensive second baseman, a 10-time All-Star with the Pirates throughout the 1960s and the hero of the club's 1960 World Series Championship season.  Known mostly for his glove, Mazeroski won eight Gold Gloves and he's the all-time leader for double plays turned by a second baseman with 1,706.  His career putouts (4,974) at the position currently rank him 7th, while his career assists (6,685) are 5th on the all-time list.  Mazeroski and Roberto Clemente (#160) are the only two Pirates players to be members of both the 1960 and 1971 World Championship teams.  He hit one of the most iconic home runs in baseball history in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series.  With the score tied at 9-9, Mazeroski led off the bottom of the ninth inning, and homered off Yankees' pitcher Ralph Terry (#406) to give the Pirates an improbable walk-off win and the World Series title.

Mazeroski spent his entire playing career with the Pirates, batting .260 with 138 home runs and 853 RBIs.  After retiring as a player, he served as a Pirates coach for one season in 1973, and was the third base coach for the Mariners in 1979 and 1980.  His #9 was retired by the Pirates in 1987, and the Veteran's Committee voted him into the Hall of Fame in 2001 on the strength of his glove work at second base.

Building the Set

February 22, 2021 from Wenonah, NJ - Card #237
I purchased five cards from Gar Miller and his online store back in December, and on a dreary February afternoon I decided to head back to his website to look specifically for series two semi-stars.  I added this Mazeroski card for a reasonable $20, along with three other cards.  He doesn't need my endorsement, but I can't recommend Gar Miller's online store enough.  There are no pictures of the cards, but the website is well-organized, his grading is conservative and the prices are more than reasonable.

The Card / Pirates Team Set
For a player known for his fielding, it's unfortunate that only one of Mazeroski's Topps flagship cards (from 1959) shows him in a fielding pose.  The back of the card appropriately sums up his dramatic World Series home run as crushing New York.

1965 Season
This was the first season Mazeroski was paired with his most frequent double play partner - shortstop Gene Alley (#121) - and they'd go on to form the most successful double play combination in the majors between 1965 and 1972.  Mazeroski began the season on the disabled list after breaking his foot while running the bases in a spring training game.  He'd appear in 130 games, batting .271 and ultimately winning the sixth of his eight Gold Gloves.

1957 Topps #24
1959 Topps #415
1961 Topps #312
1970 Topps #440
1972 Topps #760

Other Notable Baseball Cards

First Mainstream Card:  1957 Topps #24
Topps Flagship Set Appearances (19):  1957-1974, 2001
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2021 Topps Throwback Thursday #15

688 - Mazeroski non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 3/19/21.


Sources:  

Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
National Baseball Hall of Fame
SABR
The Trading Card Database
Wikipedia

Previous Card:  #94 Charley Lau - Baltimore Orioles