Friday’s Favorite – 1959

Moving into year three of the Friday’s Favorite series, like the previous year not an
Sadowski.jpegoverwhelming choice of attention-getting cards. For the Topps set I will have to go with this one of catcher Ed Sadowski, poised to receive a pitch after signalling for it to be low and away to a right-handed batter – though the hat he’s wearing in the picture betrays a sense of realness, almost as someone had come by and plopped it quickly on his head just before the picture was snapped, so precariously does it rest there. Anyhow, delightful card nonetheless and perhaps to be the first or one of the first to a 1959 collection of which currently the cupboard is bare.

That said, my real favorite from this year goes to one of the ones Fleer issued – this was the year it signed Ted Williams to an exclusive contract and did an entire series just on his overall career and outside interests and activities. Three of those cards, in particular, I am targeting to someday acquire: Nos. 71, 72, 73, titled Ted’s hitting fundamentals.

No. 73 is my favorite of those three, showing a four-clip scenario as he begins to bring his bat through the hitting zone. These strike a cord, having read works by or about him, and never tire about listening to his approach to hitting, so contagious is his enthusiasm for it. Most famous to his approach is, “Get a good ball to hit.”

Answer to Tuesday’s Trivia

The answer to yesterday’s trivia question, Which Red Sox legend made a surprise appearance at 1969_lonborg.jpgMonday’s Red Sox Foundation autograph session with many of the team’s top prospects, was:

Jim Lonborg

Clues given out with the question were:

– He chose baseball over a career in medicine
– He only appeared in 31 minor league games
– In his sophomore season, he appeared in 45 games and led the Sox with 131 Ks
– The next season, he had 246 Ks
– A ski injury affected his performance the year after that 246-K season
– He appeared in a World Series with the Sox
– He signed his autographs with his right hand

Wednesday’s Wish List – 1967

Certainly 1967 is one of my most highly targeted years, in pursuit of
the Impossible Dream
team. I’ve managed to fill up a 9-sleeve sheet,
slowly adding to the collection over the last few months. The sheet looks like this:

OF – George Thomas
Mgr – Dick Williams
1B – George Scott
2B – Dalton Jones
3B – Joe Foy
P – Jose Santiago
P – Dave Morehead
P – Lee Stange
P – Darrell Brandon

I’m in pretty good shape with pitching, though one of the big acquisitions will be Jim Lonborg, Cy Young award winner that year and pitcher of some memorable World Series games.

For catcher, it will likely be Mike Ryan or Russ Gibson; Elston Howard played a pivotal role that year, but his ’67 card is alas one showing him on the Yankees. Jerry Adair also was pivotal, coming over from the Orioles mid-season, but his card if/when acquired will be presented in my Orioles collection.

The outfield will need to be bolstered, though that will not be so easy either. Carl Yastrzemski, Tony Conigliaro, and Reggie Smith are all likely to come at a price. For now I at leaast have a placeholder for Yaz – a 1977 Turn Back the Clock card showing the ’67 cards of him and Orlando Cepeda of the Cardinals, recognizing them both for being their respective league’s MVPs in ’67.

Tuesday’s Trivia

Yesterday, on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, several Red Sox prospects were at Best
ryan-kalish.jpgBuy, just down the road from Fenway, to sign autographs, including the likes of Ryan Khalish, Jose Iglesias and Junichi Tazawa. In addition to the well-advertised players who would be on hand, a certain Red Sox legend also was there as a surprise to pen whatever came across his path – and fortunately he did not hear my wife ask me, “So who’s the old dude at the end of the table?”

Can you guess who it was?

Given there are many possible random guesses that could be made, here are a few clues, mostly from the back of his baseball cards, to help you:

– He chose baseball over a career in medicine
– He only appeared in 31 minor league games
– In his sophomore season, he appeared in 45 games and led the Sox with 131 Ks
– The next season, he had 246 Ks
– A ski injury affected his performance the year after that 246-K season
– He appeared in a World Series with the Sox
– He signed his autographs with his right hand

Check back tomorrow for the answer.

Wednesday’s Wish List

Things began to turn around for the Red Sox starting in the 1966 

season. Although they only 1966Topps502LennyGreenPSA8.jpgwon 72 games that season, it was a big improvement over their 100-loss season the year before. It also ushered in a new era of management, and mercifully brought greater integration to the team. Starting the following year, through the present, the Sox have rarely had another losing season.

My 1966 collection is quite modest, with only catcher Mike Ryan, outfielders George Thomas and Lenny Green, manager Billy Herman, and the team card. On the wish list is:

George Scott – 1B
George Smith – 2B
Rico Petrocelli – SS
Joe Foy – 3B
Carl Yastrzemski – LF*
Don Demeter – CF
Tony Conigliaro – RF
Dalton Jones – 2B
Bob Tillman – C
Jose Tartabull – CF
Jim Lonborg – SP
Jose Santiago – SP
Lee Stange – SP
Don McMahon – RP
Bucky Brandon – RP
John Wyatt – SP (with A’s?)

* Though I’m not an owner of a 1966 Yaz card, my younger son is, so with one of these cards – probably among the most expensive of the set – I’ll turn my attention to the others. Ones like G. Scott, J. Foy, J. Lonborg and Tony C. will also be among the toughers to acquire given their likely high prices.

Tuesday’s Trivia

Who did the Red Sox trade 26-year-old Henri Stanley to the Dodgers
for at the July 31, 2004
Stanley Henri.jpgtrade deadline?

The Red Sox had acquired Stanley from San Diego earlier that year, in May. At the time his career stats were .294/.385/.486 with 50 homers, 245 RBIs and 72 steals in 501 pro games. In 79 games at Triple-A Portland and Pawtucket, he has hit .279/.363/.438 with five homers and 29 RBIs. According to Baseball America at the time of the Sox-Dodgers trade: “While Stanley does many things well, he lacks a true plus tool and his well below-average arm relegates him to left field. He could serve as a pinch-hitter/fourth outfielder in the majors.” 

Check back tomorrow for the answer.



Saturday’s Special – Spotlight on Newcomers: Mike Cameron

With so much discussion over the past few weeks over what the Red Sox offense will be like,

and in particular a lot of skepticism over what the newcomers in particular will offer, this blog has been, and remains, particularly optimistic. Mike Cameron is a big reason for the optimism.

One thing for certain is that over the years that I’ve played fantasy baseball, this guy has been one of the most underrated players. Not convinced fantasy baseball has any relation to real baseball. I beg to differ. Fantasy baseball is largely an offensively focused competition when it comes to the everyday players, and those that produce in fantasy also for the most part are big producers in real life. I had the good fortune to have Cameron on my team for part of two seasons, and because of how diverse he is on offense, he was a big, and consistent, contributor. He hits for power, he gets extra base hits, he steals bases, he knocks in runs, he scores runs.
Yes, he’s going to be 37 this season, but since he 
became and everyday regular in 1999, in his

one and only season with the Reds, he has had 500+ at bats and played in at least 140 games in all of those seasons except one (as long as you’ll allow me a pass with his 493 at bats with the Mets in ’04 (I believe that was the season that ended early because of a freak, horrific collision in the outfield.) What’s more, playing mostly in pitcher parks since from 2000-09 (for the Mariners, Mets, Padres and Brewers), his numbers were remarkably consistent: avg. always around .270; doubles always around 30; HRs always around 20 to 25; RBI always right around 80; SB usually at least 20 (except for last year, when he only had seven);
and OPS around a respectable .800.

We know what he’s going to give the Sox on defense and with heart – and as long as he’s healthy, he’s going to likely add some very versatile offense to an already tough lineup.   

Friday’s Favorite – Slim Pickings in ’58, but Grip Sways the Vote

The year’s second Friday’s Favorite edition moves to 1958, Topps’ second year of producing the standard-size cards still in use today. It was slim pickings from the Topps output in 1958, particularly in comparison to the fine choices I had in last week’s Friday’s Favorite, with the abundance of terrific 1957 Red Sox cards.

In the ’58 set, which despite the lack of inspiration found in their look, alas I currently possess none of in my collection, most of the cards from a distance could be mistaken for the same, with simply a portrait shot and the blue or yellow background; very few poses throughout this year’s lineup. And even those few poses are a bit sketchy: Frank Malzone looking as though he’s in the middle of a standing spread-eagle leg stretch all the while in an about-to-turn-a-double-play pose, looking very much like he would hurt himself if he did follow through on the attempt; I much prefer a second card of his from that year, one of the all-star features, with a much more flattering head and shoulders shot, with part of the sparkling Red Sox white jersey shown and the colorful red dotted with with stars in the background; another questionable pose makes power old Dave Sisler looked drugged, facing out at the viewer slunched over and his eyes looking as they’re about to cross.

I did, nonetheless, find a few of the cards with poses to be worthy of consideration for Friday’s Favorite, and left me with two to choose from: Dick Gernert and Haywood Sullivan. The winner: Dick Gernert. The Sox’ first baseman that season presented a fine batting stance pose, with an interesting slight parting of his hands on the bat, slightly choking up; difficult imagining him belting 20 home runs for the Sox with such a grip and stance, but that he did in ’58, his second to last of the eight seasons he played in Boston.

Honorable mention goes to Hayward Sullivan, a near winner as he squats in the catching position, though how he balances so highly on his toes, much more like a ballerina than a burly backstop, is beyond me. Sullivan of course was a name familiar to Sox’ fans beyond his playing days as he moved into the Front Office and eventually became a team owner.

So while the 1958 Topps Red Sox are not the stuff of glitz and glamor, a few noteworthy things can at least be said about those cards or that season: The backs of those cards, like most sets from the 1950s, are terrific; it was the Sox’ last winning season before their by-far worst stretch (and I believe only multi-season losing stretch) post WWII that stretched eight seasons until the 1967 season reversed that trend big-time; it also was, finally, the last season in which they would go with a roster that continued to be diminished by a reluctance to integrate it.

Wednesday’s Wish List

Having begun collecting baseball cards when I was just turning 5, in 1970, 

I recently have1965toppsfelixmantilla.jpg begun not only filling in the gaps for that year and the nearly 40 years that have followed, but also the many seasons before 1970. With this first Wednesday’s Wish List entry, I can think of no better year to start with than my birth year, 1965. Though sometimes research into the past can be a rude awakening. 

Knowing little about how the 1965 Red Sox fared, I was aghast to learn that they endured a 100-loss season, something they’ve done, I believe, only once in the last 75 years or so. I had been hoping that there would have been some secret karma between a successful season and my birth year. Alas, it was not to be. That said, in a funny way, maybe similar to the joy Cub fans had over the years with the “lovable losers,” similarly I decided to embrace the 1965 Red Sox as well.

Not to mention, I love the look of the cards from that season.
I’ve managed in the past few months to slowly collect my first ones from that set, with the count now at seven, including Earl Wilson, Roman Mejias, Lee Thomas, Chuck Schilling, Dalton Jones, Felix Mantilla, and Bob Tillman. Not many from the entire set but not a bad start to reaching the modest goal for each year of at least getting the starting nine (either starting pitcher included or, after the early 1970s, the DH, if that person was a prominent one) and then possibly some of the key reserves and primary starting pitchers and relievers. In so doing, I can line up that starting nine nicely in the nine-sleeve sheets that we collectors use to store and present our cards, and then the reserves and other pitchers and manager or team nicely on a second sheet. On that first sheet, I place the three outfielders along the top row, the shortstop, SP, and second baseman along the middle row, and the third baseman, catcher, and first baseman along the bottom row, much like you’d view them in the field if standing behind home plate.
Thus, my immediate wishes for cards to obtain from that 1965 season are:


Rico Petrocelli – SS
Frank Malzone – 3B
Carl Yastrzemski – LF
Lenny Green – CF
Tony Conigliaro – RF
Jim Gosger – OF
Eddie Bressoud – IF
Bill Monbouquette – SP
Dave Morehead – SP
Jim Lonborg -SP
Dick Radatz – RP
Arnold Early – RP
My research into the cards of these players is incomplete, since I still need to confirm they all have cards for that year, and they are Red Sox cards rather than from the set of another team (in the event any came over or up to the Red Sox in the ’65 season).