Friday, August 23, 2019

#59 Jose Santiago - Cleveland Indians


Jose Guillermo Santiago
Cleveland Indians
Pitcher

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  5'10"  Weight:  175
Born:  September 4, 1928, Coamo, Puerto Rico
Signed:  Signed by the Cleveland Indians as an amateur free agent before 1949 season
Major League Teams:  Cleveland Indians 1954-1955; Kansas City Athletics 1956
Died:  October 9, 2018, San Juan, Puerto Rico (age 90)

A 13-year professional player, Jose Santiago had pitched for two seasons with the New York Cubans in the Negro League before the Indians signed him before the 1948 season.  He was one of the best pitchers in Cleveland's minor league system for five seasons between 1949 and 1953, compiling a record of 77-47 to go along with a 2.93 ERA.  However, given the Indians' existing starting pitching of Bob Feller (#200), Mike Garcia (#210), Early Wynn (#187) and Bob Lemon (#255), it wasn't easy for Santiago, let alone any other pitcher, to earn a spot in the rotation.  After appearing in just one game in 1954, Santiago was added to the bullpen in 1955 where he appeared in 17 games, going 2-0 with a 2.48 ERA.  He was sold to the Athletics in May 1956, appearing in nine games.  Santiago would continue to play minor league baseball through the 1959 season within the Reds, Orioles and Cubs systems before retiring.

Following his playing career, Santiago remained active in baseball as he was a one-time owner of the Caguas Criollos of the Puerto Rico Winter League.  As a businessman, Santiago was known as a boxing promoter and owner of a horse stable whose horses were successful in winning a number of races.

Building the Set
Summer of 1983 or 1984 in Millville, NJ - Card #4
This Santiago card was one of the Original 44, and I've relayed the story of how my Dad and I began collecting the 1956 Topps set a few times - most recently with the Pedro Ramos (#49) post here.

The Card
This is the first and last mainstream baseball card issued for Santiago, and it's fitting that the back of his card pays tribute to his excellent minor league career in the first two panels.  It looks as if he added his middle initial "G" to his signature as an afterthought.  If the player standing behind Santiago is wearing #8, and it's hard to tell the uniform number, it's most likely infielder Kenny Kuhn who appeared in 4 games for the Indians in 1955 as an 18-year old.

His few other baseball card appearances are limited to oddball issuances, including a card in the 1956 Kansas City Livestock Night postcard set, a 1972 sticker in the Puerto Rico Winter League set and a few cards in the 1975 TCMA set celebrating the 1954 Indians team.  Santiago signed a few hundred copies of his reprinted 1956 Topps card for inclusion in the 2005 Topps Heritage Real One Autographs insert set.

1956 Season
Sold to the Athletics on May 16th, Santiago made nine appearances (including five starts) with the club between the end of May and mid-July.  He didn't fare very well, going 1-2 with an 8.31 ERA over 21 2/3 innings pitched.  Demoted to the minors, Santiago appeared in 11 games for the Triple-A Columbus Jets.

1975 TCMA
1954 Cleveland Indians
2005 Topps Heritage Real One
Autographs Red #RO-JSA
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1956 Topps #59
First Topps Card:  1956 Topps #59
Last Topps Card:  1956 Topps #59
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2005 Topps Heritage Real One Autographs #RO-JSA

6 - Santiago non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 8/2/19.

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
SABR
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

Friday, August 16, 2019

#58 Ed Roebuck - Brooklyn Dodgers


Edward Jack Roebuck
Brooklyn Dodgers
Pitcher


Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'2"  Weight:  185
Born:  July 3, 1931, Millsboro, PA
Signed:  Signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers as an amateur free agent before 1949 season
Major League Teams:  Brooklyn Dodgers 1955-1957; Los Angeles Dodgers 1958, 1960-1963; Washington Senators 1963-1964; Philadelphia Phillies 1964-1966
Died:  June 14, 2018, Lakewood, CA (age 86)

All but one of Ed Roebuck's 460 appearances in the Major Leagues came in relief, and he served as one of the game's most reliable relievers from the mid-1950s through the mid-1960s.  Roebuck was a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers team that won a World Series in 1955 and lost the Series in 1956 to the Yankees.  In 6 1/3 innings in the 1955 and 1956 World Series, he allowed one one run, and had an impressive ERA of 1.42.  Perhaps Roebuck's best season was 1962 when he went 10-2 with a 3.09 ERA and nine saves while appearing in 64 games for the Dodgers.  In his 11-year career, he finished in the top ten in the league in saves and appearances four different times.

After a few mediocre seasons with the Senators, Roebuck found new life with the Phillies, serving as one of the most durable relievers during the 1964 season but unfortunately he was part of that team's epic, late season collapse.  One of the game's most proficient fungo hitters, Roebuck was invited to Houston in 1964 to hit fungos as high as he could inside the Astrodome, still under construction, to make sure the roof would be high enough once official games commenced.

Following his playing days, Roebuck served as a scout for the Dodgers, Phillies, Braves, Reds, Pirates and Red Sox.  He retired in 2006 after earning his second World Series ring in 2004 as a scout for the Red Sox.

Building the Set
August 29, 1988 in Millville, NJ - Card #62
I shared this story back in March when I posted the Tom Brewer (#34) card, but I'll repeat it again here.  The Roebuck card was one of four cards I acquired for our 1956 Topps set via a trade, and all I had to surrender were a bunch of 1988 Topps doubles.

We were about a year in to officially collecting the 1956 Topps set when I added four cards to the set through a trade with a friend of mine.  Now my friend probably has no recollection of this, but I'm going to omit his name to protect the innocent.  In the summer of 1988, I was aware of a few different baseball card collectors from my school.  Most of them were busy accumulating as many "Future Stars" cards from the 1988 Topps set as possible, convinced these cards would be worth hundreds of dollars in a matter of a few short years.  The Kevin Elster card was a particularly hot commodity, as was anything with a Topps Rookie Cup on it such as the cards for Mark McGwire, Mike Greenwell, Ellis Burks and Casey Candaele.

My friend had four 1956 Topps cards set aside in an "oldies" pile, and I'm guessing he had added these to his collection by accident or maybe through an older relative.  In any event, I went over to his house this late summer day in August, equipped with my 1988 Topps doubles, and ready to deal.  I don't remember the specifics of the trade, but I ended up with four 1956 Topps commons and he ended up with a small stack of 1988 Topps rookies.  We were both happy with our respective hauls, so in our minds it was a fair deal.

I've lost track of this friend over the years, but his name lives on in my official records of how each card in our 1956 Topps set was obtained.

The Card
Here's something I found extremely interesting, and I've been tracking this since starting this project.  Roebuck's card is the 47th card in the set to feature a player also included within the 1955 Topps set.  However, his is the first instance of a card using a different photo for his 1956 Topps card than what was used for his 1955 Topps card.  Why did Topps suddenly decide to go with a new photo for Roebuck's 1956 Topps card, when it had used the same photo for the prior 46 players?

1956 Season
Roebuck appeared in 43 games for the Dodgers, all in relief, going 5-4 with a 3.93 ERA.  Only closer Clem Labine had more appearances in relief that season for the Dodgers with 62.  He led the National League in wild pitches with 10.  Against the Yankees in the 1956 World Series, Roebuck appeared in three games, pitching 4 1/3 innings and allowing only one hit and one run - a solo home run to Mickey Mantle in Game 4.

Phillies Career
On April 21, 1964, the Senators sold Roebuck to the Phillies and he appeared in 60 games in relief.  In parts of three seasons with the Phillies, Roebuck appeared in 110 games, pitching to a 10-8 record and a 2.83 ERA.  He recorded 15 saves, second only to Jack Baldschun (27 saves) during that same stretch.  During the late season collapse of 1964 resulting in ten straight losses, Roebuck pitched in four games and was scored upon only once.

The Phillies released him following the 1965 season, but he re-signed with them as a free agent and appeared in six games before getting released again on July 23, 1966.  He served as a scout for the Phillies after retiring as an active player, but I can't find any reference to what years he was with the club either online or from the team's yearbooks or media guides.

Roebuck's most readily available Phillies baseball card can be found in the 1965 Topps set.  He's also in the 1964 Philadelphia Bulletin set, the 1978 TCMA The 1960s set and he signed reprints of his 1965 Topps card for the 2014 Topps Heritage Real One Autographs insert set.

1955 Topps #195
1961 Topps #6
1964 Topps #187
1965 Topps #52
1978 TCMA The 1960s #165
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1955 Topps #195
First Topps Card:  1955 Topps #195
Representative Phillies Card:  1965 Topps #52
Last Topps Card:  1965 Topps #52
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2014 Topps Heritage Real One Autographs #ROA-ER

52 - Roebuck non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 7/22/19.

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

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

Friday, August 9, 2019

#57 "Duke" Maas - Detroit Tigers


Duane Frederick Maas
Detroit Tigers
Pitcher

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  5'10"  Weight:  170
Born:  January 31, 1929, Utica, MI
Signed:  Signed by the Detroit Tigers as an amateur free agent before 1949 season
Major League Teams:  Detroit Tigers 1955-1957; Kansas City Athletics 1958; New York Yankees 1958-1961
Died:  December 7, 1976, Mount Clemens, MI (age 47)

"Duke" Maas started 91 games and relieved in 104 over his seven-year big league career with the Tigers, Athletics and Yankees.  As a reliable back of the rotation pitcher or middle reliever, Maas compiled a lifetime record of 45-44 and a 4.19 ERA with 15 saves.  He won a World Series ring with the Yankees in 1958 when they defeated the Braves in seven games.

Maas was traded to the Yankees from the Athletics in mid-June 1958 with Virgil Trucks (#117) for Bob Grim (#52) and Harry Simpson (#239).  He had arguably his best years with the Yankees, serving as an occasional starter but mostly as a reliever.  In his four seasons in pinstripes, Maas went 26-12 with a 4.21 ERA.  The Yankees left him unprotected in the 1960 expansion draft, and he was the third overall pick by the Los Angeles Angels.  Although he spent spring 1961 with the Angels, he was traded back to the Yankees right before the start of the regular season.  He'd appear in just one game for the Yankees in April 1961, the last appearance of his Major League career.

Building the Set
June 20, 1992 in Ocean City, NJ - Card #104
This is one of 11 cards (and the 6th I've covered on this blog) that my Dad and I bought in June 1992 at the Ocean City baseball card show held on the boardwalk at the Music Pier.  We paid $60 for the lot of 11 cards, which at the time was most likely a steal.  Chronologically, I have this listed as the 104th card we added to the set.  Like the other cards in this lot, this card is gorgeous with four sharp corners.  I'd love to get into my time machine and buy whatever other 1956 Topps cards this dealer had for sale as they're some of the finest cards in our set.

I would have just graduated high school when we attended this show, and I'd be heading off to college in the fall.  If I had to guess, I'd say we purchased this lot of 11 cards from a baseball card dealer who had a store called Diamond Dust.  His cards were always nicely displayed in binders and I remember his table would be positioned in the back right of the lower level of the Music Pier.

After purchasing these cards, Dad and I undoubtedly sat at the counter of Mack & Manco's, enjoying a few slices with birch beer.

The Card
This is Maas' first mainstream baseball card appearances, as his 18 appearances in 1955 weren't enough to merit him late series inclusion in either the Bowman or Topps sets.  His facsimile autograph reflects his actual first name of Duane.  Once again, my lack of knowledge about old ballparks comes into play as I'm not sure in which stadium Maas is posing for his action shot.

I've found whenever a player's high school career is referenced on the back of these cards, it usually means the artist was struggling to fill all three panels.

1956 Season
Maas had a rough 1956 season, going 0-7 with a 6.54 ERA before getting sent down to Triple-A Charleston in mid-July.  He'd bounce back to win 10 games for the Tigers in 1957, a season in which he threw a career high eight complete games.

1957 Topps #405
 
1958 Topps #228
 
1959 Topps #167
 
1961 Topps #387
 
2001 Upper Deck Legends of New York
Game Jersey #LYJ-DM
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1956 Topps #57
First Topps Card:  1956 Topps #57
Last Topps Card:  1961 Topps #387
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2001 Upper Deck Legends of New York Game Jersey #LYJ-DM

22 - Maas non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 6/1/19.

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
The Trading Card Database
Wikipedia

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

Friday, August 2, 2019

#56 Dale Long - Pittsburgh Pirates


Richard Dale Long
Pittsburgh Pirates
First Base

Bats:  Left  Throws:  Left  Height:  6'4"  Weight:  205
Born:  February 6, 1926, Springfield, MO
Acquired:  Traded by Middletown (Ohio State) with Kenneth Braden to the Cincinnati Reds for Dick Oder and Joseph Turczak, May 1945
Major League Teams:  Pittsburgh Pirates 1951; St. Louis Browns 1951; Pittsburgh Pirates 1955-1957; Chicago Cubs 1957-1959; San Francisco Giants 1960; New York Yankees 1960; Washington Senators 1961-1962; New York Yankees 1962-1963
Died:  January 27, 1991, Palm Coast, FL (age 64)

Dale Long played in parts of ten seasons in the Majors, compiling a .267 lifetime average and hitting 132 home runs.  Long's best season came in 1956 when he made the All-Star team and hit career highs in both home runs (27) and RBIs (91).  Known more for his bat than his glove, Long led all first basemen in errors in three different season, including his career best year of 1956.

Turning down an offer from the Green Bay Packers, Long opted for a baseball career and toiled in the minor leagues for ten seasons before becoming a regular with the Pirates in 1955.  In 1958 with the Cubs, he caught two innings in a pair of games as a late-inning replacement, becoming the first left-handed catcher in the Majors since Jiggs Donahue in 1902.  (To date, Benny Distefano is the last left-handed catcher to appear in the Majors, having caught in three games in 1989.)

Long appeared in two World Series with the Yankees, who lost to the Pirates in 1960 but defeated the Giants in 1962.  He served as a Yankees player/coach in 1963.

Building the Set
January 8, 2000 in Raleigh, NC - Card #194
This is one of three cards I purchased at the Raleigh Sportscard & Memorabilia Show, along with Alex Grammas (#37) and Frank Sullivan (#71).  My records show I paid $3 for the card.  I would have had to call my Dad to tell him to update his lists, as he was still working in Millville, NJ at the time.

The late 1990s and early 2000s were a very confusing time for me, and those years are all but lost in my memory.  I have little to no recollection as to the apartments or houses in which I was living or the things I was doing on a day to day basis.  Pictures from this era are scarce but I was able to find this shot of my sister and my Dad from New Year's Eve 1999.  A week later, I was back in Raleigh attending a baseball card show and looking for cards needed for our 1956 Topps set.

The Card
Long is shown wearing the helmet mandated by Pirates General Manager Branch Rickey, and he joins teammates Roy Face (#13), Roberto Clemente (#33) and Gene Freese (#46) so far in sporting the helmet.  I found this summary from SABR explaining Rickey's introduction of the helmets in September 1952, to be worn at all times by Pirates players and coaches - at bat and in the field.

The first panel on the back of Long's card pays homage to his experimental catching phase, adding a deadpan, "It didn't work."  His sole possession of the triples title in 1955 was thwarted by Willie Mays (#130) who also hit 13 triples that season.

1956 Season
As mentioned above, 1956 was Long's best season and he anchored a Pirates infield consisting of Bill Mazeroski at second, Dick Groat (#24) at shortstop and Frank Thomas (#153) at third.  He hit eight home runs in eight consecutive games between May 19th and May 28th, breaking the record of homering in six straight games set previously by five different players, including Lou Gehrig and Mays.  Long's mark was matched by Don Mattingly in 1987 and Ken Griffey, Jr. in 1993.

1955 Topps #127
1959 Topps #414
1962 Topps #228
1963 Topps #484
1990 Pacific Legends #92
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1955 Topps #127
First Topps Card:  1955 Topps #127
Last Topps Card:  1963 Topps #484
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  1990 Pacific Legends #92

54 - Long non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 5/24/19.

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
The Trading Card Database
Wikipedia

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

Friday, July 26, 2019

#55 Wally Moon - St. Louis Cardinals


Wallace Wade Moon
St. Louis Cardinals
Outfield

Bats:  Left  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'0"  Weight:  169
Born:  April 3, 1930, Bay, AR
Signed:  Signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as an amateur free agent before 1950 season
Major League Teams:  St. Louis Cardinals 1954-1958; Los Angeles Dodgers 1959-1965
Died:  February 9, 2018, Bryan, TX (age 87)

One of the most recognizable players from the '50s and early '60s, Wally Moon was a steady hitting outfielder who made two All-Star teams and won a pair of World Series rings with the 1959 and 1965 Dodgers.  He was the N.L. Rookie of the Year in 1954 and won a Gold Glove in 1960.  Moon spent his entire 12-year big league career in the National League playing for the Cardinals and the Dodgers, compiling a lifetime batting average of .289.

As a rookie in 1954, Moon had the unenviable task of replacing fan favorite and long-time Cardinal Enos Slaughter (#109), who had been traded to the Yankees on April 11th.  Moon delivered with an award winning rookie season, hitting .304 with 12 home runs and 76 RBIs.  In 1959, Moon's 19 home runs and league leading 11 triples helped guide the Dodgers to an eventual World Series Championship.  He led the league with a .434 on base percentage in 1961 while hitting a career high .328.  He retired as an active player following the 1965 season, but he'd come back to the Majors in 1969 as the first hitting coach of the expansion San Diego Padres.

Building the Set
Nana's Sea Isle house - partially painted in Summer '93

July 31, 1993 in Ocean City, NJ - Card #117
This is one of five 1956 Topps cards I purchased at the Ocean City baseball card show during the summer of '93.  My notes indicate we paid $6 for the card, and it's in absolutely pristine shape.

I already wrote about the summer of '93 with the Frank House (#32) post back in February, but it's worth repeating here.  After missing much of my freshman spring semester with a bad case of mono, I spent the summer mostly resting at home and taking make-up classes at nearby Rowan College of New Jersey (now Rowan University).  Looking back now, it's strange to me that I have so few memories or pictures from that summer.  I found pictures I took from an Orioles-Twins game at Camden Yards with shots of Fernando Valenzuela pitching to Dave Winfield and Kirby Puckett, and another picture of Cal Ripken at bat.  There were also pictures of my Nana's house in Sea Isle, which I think I spent part of that summer painting (again).  But that's it.

I know it was just another summer day at the time, but I'd love to have one picture of my Dad and me as we were about to attend this baseball card show that Saturday afternoon in Ocean City.

The Card
That could be Dodgers' catcher Roy Campanella (#101) applying the tag to Moon in a play at the plate.

Kudos to the Topps artist for showcasing Moon's most unique facial feature, his majestic unibrow, in the center panel on the back of the card.  The first panel mentions Moon's time at Texas A&M, where he attended on a split baseball/basketball scholarship.  Following his junior year, the Cardinals signed him for a $6,000 bonus, but his father insisted he only play ball part time while he focused on completing his college courses.

Moon's base running trailed off after his first few seasons.  He stole 18 bases in 1954, had 15 stolen bases in 1959 and never had another season after that with more than seven steals.

1956 Season
In his third full season, Moon hit .298 with 16 home runs and 68 RBIs as the starting right fielder for the Cardinals.  Rip Repulski (#201) in left field and Bobby Del Greco in center kept him company that season.  Led by Ken Boyer (#14) and Stan Musial, the Cardinals finished third in the National League.

1954 Topps #137
 
1957 Topps #65
 
1959 Topps #530
 
1965 Topps #247
 
2017 Topps Archives
Snapshots #AS-WM
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1954 Topps #137
First Topps Card:  1954 Topps #137
Last Topps Card:  1965 Topps #247
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2017 Topps Archives Snapshots #AS-WM

102 - Moon non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 5/13/19.

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
SABR
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

Friday, July 19, 2019

#54 Bob Keegan - Chicago White Sox


Robert Charles Keegan
Chicago White Sox
Pitcher

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'2"  Weight:  207
Born:  August 4, 1920, Rochester, NY
Signed:  Signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent before 1946 season
Major League Teams:  Chicago White Sox 1953-1958
Died:  June 20, 2001, Rochester, NY (age 80)

A popular and long-time minor leaguer, Bob Keegan made his debut with the White Sox in May 1953 at the age of 32.  He'd be a steady starter and reliever for the White Sox for six seasons, posting a career record of 40-36 and a 3.66 ERA over 135 games.  Keegan was an All-Star in 1954 and pitched a no-hitter against the Senators in 1957.  His best season was also his All-Star season, in which he went 16-9 with a 3.09 ERA with 14 complete games and two shutouts.

His final season in the Majors was 1958, but he returned to the minor leagues with the Rochester Red Wings (the Cardinals' top affiliate) in 1959, winning 18 games as a 38-year-old.  His stellar season with the Red Wings and an appearance with the Cardinals in their 1960 spring camp earned him a Cardinals baseball card in the 1960 Topps set, even though he never suited up with the team during the regular season.

Building the Set
College graduation, May 1997

July 19, 1997 in Ocean City, NJ - Card #152
Exactly 22 years ago today and for $2, my Dad and I added this card to our set at the Ocean City baseball card show held inside the Music Pier.  We purchased 11 cards that July day - Keegan and eight other commons, along with the Warren Giles (#2) card for $10 and the Ray Boone (#6) card for $5.

I graduated college in the spring of 1997, and that summer was a good one as I worked on the Sea Isle Promenade at a few t-shirt stores.  My days were spent jogging, barely working, reading and sitting on the beach.  Dinner would usually come from Phil's on 37th and Landis Avenue, and ice cream was consumed nightly.

Dad was still working in Millville at the time, and we probably met up in front of the Music Pier prior to his show.  The baseball card collecting landscape changed drastically in the ten year period between 1987 and 1997, with autographed cards making their way into packs and multiple parallel versions of the same card confusing us as "old school" collectors.  Still, I'd give anything to be back inside the Music Pier with my Dad searching for the next 1956 Topps card to add to our set.  I'm sure he was thrilled to find a dealer selling a bunch of '56s in good shape and at just $2 a card.

The Card
It doesn't appear as if Keegan is standing in Chicago's Comiskey Park, as that ballpark had two decks in the outfield.  Keegan's card is notable (for me at least) as it introduces the first card with a blue-red color combination for the player name and team bars on the front of the card.  Blue-red joins eight other color combinations to appear so far in the set.

The back of the card references his time as a college star for Bucknell University and the seven seasons he spent toiling in the Yankees farm system before the White Sox purchased his contract on October 13, 1952.  His bad leg referenced in the final panel was only a pulled leg muscle, and not a broken foot as the cartoon depicts.  And a 20-win season in 1954 would have been tough as Keegan was only 15-7 as of August 21st.

1956 Season
Keegan made the White Sox out of spring training, but wouldn't appear in a game until May 6th as he was used sparingly by manager Marty Marion.  Keegan manned the back-end of the White Sox rotation with fellow veterans Gerry Staley and Jim Wilson (#171), appearing in eight more games through mid-June and pitching to a 4-4 record and a 3.04 ERA.  On July 4th, Keegan was hospitalized with what his official SABR biography describes as a "severe case of hemorrhoids," and the pitcher lost 20 pounds in the process.  He'd appear in just 11 more games that season following his hospitalization.

1953 Topps #196
1954 Topps #100
1957 Topps #99
1960 Topps #291
1977 Topps #436
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1953 Topps #196
First Topps Card:  1953 Topps #196
Last Topps Card:  1960 Topps #291
Most Recent Topps Card (post-career):  1977 Topps #436
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  1994 Topps Archives 1954 #100

18 - Keegan non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 5/1/19.

I've always been a huge fan of the Turn Back the Clock cards Topps inserted into its sets in the 1970s and 1980s, and I've looked at Keegan's 1977 Topps cards hundreds of times without knowing who he was.  It's cool that I can now connect his 1956 Topps card, and his career, with his card from 19 years later celebrating his best moment in the game.

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
SABR
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

Friday, July 12, 2019

#53 Arnold Portocarrero - Kansas City Athletics


Arnold Mario Portocarrero
Kansas City Athletics
Pitcher

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'3"  Weight:  196
Born:  July 5, 1931, New York, NY
Signed:  Signed by the Philadelphia Athletics as an amateur free agent, August 1, 1949
Major League Teams:  Philadelphia Athletics 1954; Kansas City Athletics 1955-1957; Baltimore Orioles 1958-1960
Died:  June 21, 1986, Mesa, AZ (age 54)

Arnold or "Arnie" Portocarrero was a reliable starting pitcher for seven seasons, appearing mostly for teams that would finish towards the bottom of the American League standings.  In 166 career appearances, he made 117 starts and compiled a 38-57 record with a career ERA of 4.32.  A highly touted pitching prospect, Portocarrero suffered an injury playing winter ball in Puerto Rico following the 1954 season and he never reached his full potential as a result.  He last pitched for the Orioles in 1960 and started the 1961 season with their top farm club before retiring at the start of the season at the age of 29.

Building the Set
March 31, 1994 in Vineland, NJ - Card #125
This is one of two cards my Dad and I purchased at the Cumberland Mall Baseball Card Show held in late March, 1994.  I would have been home on spring break during my sophomore year of college, and the proximity of this baseball card show would have been too tempting to pass up.  We paid $6 for this card.

The Card
Our version of this card looks as if it could have just come out of fresh pack of 1956 Topps cards.  This is Portocarrero's third Topps card and his final card featuring him with the Philadelphia or Kansas City Athletics.  The first panel on the back references his status as one of New York's top prospects, and his SABR biography mentions the New York Giants had given him a standing invitation to come and practice at their ballpark whenever he wanted.  To the chagrin of the Giants, and the other New York teams, Portocarrero ultimately signed with the Philadelphia A's.

I'm not sure if this has happened before, but Portocarrero's long name on the back means his middle name (Mario) is shortened to just a middle initial.

1956 Season
Portocarrero appeared in three games for the Athletics in 1956, getting hit around in two of those three appearances.  He spent the bulk of the season pitching for the Birmingham Barons in the Southern Association, a Yankees affiliate with which the Athletics had a player sharing arrangement.  With the Barons, Portocarrero went 10-10 with a 3.47 ERA in 29 games, pitching 192 innings.

1954 Topps #214
1955 Topps #77
1959 Topps #98
1960 Topps #254
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1954 Topps #214
First Topps Card:  1954 Topps #214
Last Topps Card:  1960 Topps #254
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  1994 Topps Archives 1954 #214

20 - Portocarrero non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 4/26/19.

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
SABR
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.