Monday, May 17, 2021

#505 Ray Culp - Philadelphia Phillies


Raymond Leonard Culp
Philadelphia Phillies
Pitcher

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'0"  Weight:  200
Born:  August 6, 1941, Elgin, TX
Signed:  Signed as an amateur free agent by the Philadelphia Phillies, June 6, 1959
Major League Teams:  Philadelphia Phillies 1963-1966; Chicago Cubs 1967; Boston Red Sox 1968-1973

Ray Culp enjoyed a solid first few seasons of his career with the Phillies before settling in as one of the top Red Sox starters in the late 1960s/early 1970s.  Culp was named to the National League All-Star team in his rookie season of 1963 and at the end of that season his 14-11 record and 2.97 earned him Rookie Pitcher of the Year honors from The Sporting News.  After a few seasons with the Phillies and pitching in the shadow of Jim Bunning (#20), Chris Short and Larry Jackson (#420), Culp requested a trade and was dealt to the Cubs before the 1967 season.  After a season with the Cubs, Culp joined the Red Sox and he'd win at least 14 games for four seasons in a row between 1968 and 1971.  His 17 wins in 1969 led the club and resulted in his second All-Star Game appearance.  He matched his 17 win tally in 1970, again leading the Red Sox.

Culp battled elbow injuries over the next few years and was released by Boston following the 1973 season.  In 322 career games, his record was 122-101 with a 3.58 ERA and 1,411 strikeouts.  Culp finished in the top ten in the league for strikeouts four times and his 22 career shutouts is currently 216th on the all-time list.

Building the Set
April 3, 2021 from Roaring Spring, PA - Card #247
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 Culp card came from eBay seller Mom and Pop Card Shop from Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania for a winning bid of $4.99.  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 / Phillies Team Set
Culp's rookie card can be found in 1960 Leaf set, issued three years before his big league debut.  He had signed with the Phillies in 1959 for a $100,000 bonus and Leaf decided to feature the high school pitching star in its set.  This 1965 Topps card is Culp's third in a Topps flagship set, and the back references his big bonus.  In the cartoon, the Quaker who is handing over the money bags to Culp appears to be distraught about the pitcher's 8-7 record in 1964.

1965 Season
After battling elbow injuries in 1964, along with a charge from manager Gene Mauch (#489) that Culp "doesn't want the ball," the pitcher bounced back somewhat in 1965.  Making 30 starts, Culp went 14-10 with a 3.22 ERA over 204 1/3 innings pitched with 134 strikeouts.  He was a steady number three starter on a staff that boasted Short and Bunning at the top.

Phillies Career
Expectations for Culp were high given his $100,000 signing bonus, and while he had a pair of 14-win seasons and an All-Star Game appearance while with the club he never quite lived up the expectations set for him.  In four seasons in Philadelphia, Culp pitched in 131 games and went 43-32 with a 3.64 ERA and 506 strikeouts.  On December 7, 1966, the club traded him (with cash) to the Cubs for pitcher Dick Ellsworth (#165).

1960 Leaf #75
1963 Topps #29
1964 Topps #412
1970 Topps #144
1972 Topps #2

Other Notable Baseball Cards

First Mainstream Card:  1960 Leaf #75
Topps Flagship Set Appearances (10):  1963-1972
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  1978 TCMA The 1960s I #197

60 - Culp non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 4/13/21.

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

Previous Card:  #504 Jerry Grote - Houston Astros
Next Card:  #506 Sam Mele MG - Minnesota Twins

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