Friday, June 14, 2019

#49 Pedro Ramos - Washington Nationals


Pedro Ramos
Washington Nationals
Pitcher


Bats:  Both  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'0"  Weight:  175
Born:  April 28, 1935, Pinar del Rio, Cuba
Signed:  Signed by the Washington Senators as an amateur free agent before 1953 season
Major League Teams:  Washington Senators 1955-1960; Minnesota Twins 1961; Cleveland Indians 1962-1964; New York Yankees 1964-1966; Philadelphia Phillies 1967; Pittsburgh Pirates 1969; Cincinnati Reds 1969; Washington Senators 1970

Playing for some awful Senators teams in the mid to late 1950s, Pedro Ramos held the dubious distinction in often leading the American League in losses, hits allowed, and home runs allowed.  He reached the 200-innings pitched plateau six years in a row between 1957 and 1962 and was an All-Star for the Senators in 1959.  Playing in parts of 15 seasons, Ramos was primarily a starter the first part of his career, but then he switched to full time relieving and occasional closing.  He was a crucial member of the Yankees bullpen late in the 1964 season, acquired in a September deal with the Indians.  In his 13 appearances that September with the Yankees, he saved eight games, helping the team clinch the American League pennant.  As the Yankees closer in 1965, Ramos appeared in 65 games and recorded 18 saves.

He was the last pitcher to start a game for the old Washington Senators in 1960, and the first to start a game in 1961 after the team had relocated to Minnesota and re-branded themselves as the Twins.  As a batter, he accumulated 15 career home runs and owned two multi-home run games.

Building the Set
Summer of 1983 or 1984 in Millville, NJ - Card #2
It's been over three years since this story was told in post for Chuck Diering's (#19) card, so I'll repeat myself here.  This Ramos card was one of the Original 44.

Technically speaking, my Dad and I actually began collecting the set in the summer of 1987, but this card (along with the other Original 44) first entered my collection three or four years before that.

I think it was either the summer of 1983 or 1984 when a shoebox of vintage baseball cards, football cards and a few non-sports cards arrived into my world.  The box contained about a hundred cards dating between 1950 and 1956, and for the most part, they were all in excellent shape.  A friend of the family was in the process of cleaning up and moving into her new house when she found the old shoebox and she wondered if the only kid she knew who collected baseball cards (me) would be interested in looking through it – maybe even taking the box off her hands.

She dropped the box off to my parents and asked them to have me look through the box and take what I was interested in. Turns out, I was interested in everything.  Up to that point, the oldest cards in my collection were cards from the early '70s I had obtained through trades or cards that my Dad had picked up for me at yard sales or small baseball card shows.  (My Dad had given me a few dog-earred ’59 Topps cards – Juan Pizzaro and Jim Busby – a few years prior, and I completely forget how or why he had purchased these cards for me.)

My parents asked me to pick out a few cards from the box, and then we’d return the rest to the family friend.  Problem was, I wanted them all.  I really wanted them all.  I diligently and meticulously went through one of my price guides and determined the “value” of the treasure chest. I probably used my Sport Americana Baseball Card Price Guide No. 4, edited by Dr. James Beckett, and I had no way to value the football or non-sports cards.  My memory is fuzzy, and I can't find the original tally, but I think I came up with the box being worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 to $400, which I knew my parents definitely did not have in their discretionary spending budget.  But they could tell how much I wanted those cards, as I lovingly studied each and every one and handled each as if it were some long-lost artifact.

I don’t know the exact details, but I believe my Dad went back to the friend and told her we’d take the whole box, but only if she let him give her some money for it.  I believe she was genuinely shocked that the box of old cardboard pictures had some value, and that someone was willing to give her cash for it.  My Dad shared the list I had created showing the “book value” of the cards and he mentioned how it was going to be close to impossible to get me to pick and choose which ones I wanted.  When all was said and done, the family friend, who had absolutely no intention of making money on this endeavor, walked away with (I think) something in the neighborhood of $100 for the whole lot.

Ramos' page from the 1967 Phillies Yearbook
Within the spoils were 44 cards from the 1956 Topps set – by far the most cards from any one set.  I studied them, I sorted them, and I pretty much memorized every detail of those 44 cards.  

And so a few years later, in the summer of 1987 while on a family vacation, I was giddy with excitement when we came across a few ’56 Topps cards in the Walker Gallery on the main drag in Cooperstown, New York.  My Dad and I studied the cards for sale and he casually asked me the question, “Why don’t we try to put together the whole set?” We bought four cards that day for $9.25.  Those cards, along with the 44 from the magic shoebox, became the basis for our 1956 Topps set.

The Card
This is Ramos' rookie card and he'd go on to appear in Topps' flagship set every year through 1967.  Ramos is listed as a right-handed batter on his card but he was in fact a switch hitter.

1956 Season
In his second full season, the 21-year-old Ramos went 12-10 with a 5.27 for the 7th place Senators.  He appeared in 37 games, starting 18, and pitched 152 innings.  On May 30th, Ramos and the Senators faced off against the powerhouse Yankees in the first game of a double header.  Ramos drilled his future teammate Mickey Mantle (#135) in his first plate appearance, but in his second at-bat Mantle launched a home run that was hit so hard and so far it almost completely exited Yankee Stadium.

Phillies Career
On December 10, 1966, the Phillies acquired Ramos from the Yankees for Joe Verbanic and cash.  Ramos was used sparingly in late April and throughout the month of May, appearing in six games and tallying eight innings pitched.  The Phillies lost all six games in which he appeared.  On June 5, 1967, Ramos and his 9.00 ERA were released and he spent the remainder of the 1967 season pitching in Vancouver for the Kansas City Athletics' Triple-A team.  Still, his short stint with the club earned him a Phillies card in the 1967 Topps set and I've included his page from the team's 1967 Yearbook above.

1957 Topps #326
1959 Topps #78
1963 Topps #14
1966 Topps #439
1967 Topps #187
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1956 Topps #49
First Topps Card:  1956 Topps #49
Representative Phillies Card:  1967 Topps #187
Last Topps Card:  1967 Topps #187
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  1978 TCMA The 1960s I #38

59 - Ramos non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 4/14/19.

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, June 7, 2019

#48 Jim Hegan - Cleveland Indians


James Edward Hegan
Cleveland Indians
Catcher


Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'2"  Weight:  195
Born:  August 3, 1920, Lynn, MA
Signed:  Signed by the Cleveland Indians as an amateur free agent before 1938 season
Major League Teams:  Cleveland Indians 1941-1942, 1946-1957; Detroit Tigers 1958; Philadelphia Phillies 1958-1959; San Francisco Giants 1959; Chicago Cubs 1960
Died:  June 17, 1984, Lynn, MA (age 63)

Interrupted by three years of military service during World War II, Jim Hegan played 17 seasons in the big leagues as an All-Star catcher and then as a dependable back-up catcher in his later years.  With the Indians in the late 1940s and early 1950s, he was named to five All-Star Games and received A.L. MVP votes in 1948 and 1954, the two seasons in which the Indians advanced to the World Series.  His best season came in 1948, helping the Indians to a World Series ring, and hitting career highs in both home runs (14) and RBIs (61).

Hegan appeared in 1,666 games and was a career .228 hitter.  He more than compensated for his low average with his work behind the plate, expertly handling the early 1950s Indians starting pitching rotation consisting of Bob Feller (#200), Bob Lemon (#255), Early Wynn (#187) and Mike Garcia (#210).

Following his playing days, Hegan served as a Yankees coach for 16 seasons from 1960 to 1973 and then again from 1979 to 1980.  His son Mike Hegan made his Major League debut with the Yankees in 1964, and the two Hegan's were together for parts of four seasons with the team.

Building the Set
July 31, 1993 in Ocean City, NJ - Card #116
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 $9 for the card, and like the other 1956 Topps cards we purchased that day this card is flawless.

I wrote about the summer of '93 and the first of five cards purchased in my post for Frank House (#32).

The Card
That's Hegan, wearing #4 and coming in spikes high at a play at second base.  Given where the fielder's glove is, I'm assuming the umpire was about to call Hegan safe.  The portrait photo is the same photo used on Hegan's 1954 and 1955 Topps cards.

The back of his card pays tribute to his status as one of the best defensive catchers in the league.  Hegan's record of having caught three no-hitters was later broken by Jason Varitek and Carlos Ruiz, who both caught four no-hitters.  (I commemorated Ruiz's record here over at The Phillies Room.)  Hegan was on the receiving end of no-hitters from Don Black in 1947, Lemon in 1948 and Feller in 1951.

1956 Season
1956 was to be Hegan's final year as a regular catcher, appearing in 122 games for the Indians at the age of 36.  He hit .222 with 6 home runs that season.  Prior to the 1958 season, with rookie Russ Nixon ready to take over regular catching duties for the Indians, Hegan was traded to the Tigers.

Phillies Career
On July 27, 1958, the Tigers traded Hegan to the Phillies for minor leaguer John Turk and cash.  The 1958 Phillies were going nowhere fast and they'd ultimately finish 8th in the National League with a record of 69-85.  Hegan appeared in 25 games for the Phillies, serving as a back-up to Stan Lopata (#183) along with fellow catchers Joe Lonnett and Jimmie Coker.  Hegan appeared in 25 more games for the Phillies in 1959 before being sold to the Giants on June 14th.  His Phillies career consisted of 50 games, where he hit .209 (23 for 110) with no home runs and 14 RBIs.

His 1959 Topps card features him with the Phillies, and the card holds a special place in my collection.  I wrote about it here, and this was my first truly "vintage" Phillies baseball card.  At the time of its acquisition, I remember marveling that something this old was now in my small but growing collection.  This is Hegan's one and only Phillies baseball card, and his last card as an active player.

1949 Leaf #28
1951 Topps Red Backs #12
1959 Topps #372
1973 Topps #116
1976 Topps #69
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1949 Leaf #28
First Topps Card:  1951 Topps Red Backs #12
Representative Phillies Card:  1959 Topps #372
Last Topps Card (as a player):  1959 Topps #372
First Topps Card (as a coach):  1973 Topps #116
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  1994 Topps Archives 1954 #29

92 - Hegan non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 4/13/19.

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, May 31, 2019

#47 Art Fowler - Cincinnati Redlegs


John Arthur Fowler
Cincinnati Redlegs
Pitcher

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  5'11"  Weight:  180
Born:  July 3, 1922, Converse, SC
Signed:  Signed by the New York Giants as an amateur free agent before 1944 season
Major League Teams:  Cincinnati Reds 1954-1957; Los Angeles Dodgers 1959; Los Angeles Angels 1961-1964
Died:  January 29, 2007, Spartanburg, SC (age 84)

Primarily a relief pitcher and an occasional closer, Art Fowler played in parts of nine big league seasons, compiling a 54-51 record and a 4.03 ERA over 362 appearances.  Fowler toiled in the minors for 10 seasons with the Giants' and Braves' organizations before making the Reds out of spring training in 1954 at the age of 31.  He'd serve as a spot starter/long reliever for the Reds for four seasons before getting shipped to the Dodgers with three other players for Don Newcombe (#235) in June 1958.  In 1961, Fowler was the first closer for the expansion Los Angeles Angels club, saving 11 games.  In his final season in 1964, Fowler was the oldest player in the American League at 41, and he also served as the Angels' pitching coach.

1978 Topps #282
Following his playing days, his friendship with Billy Martin (#181) led to Fowler's appointment as Martin's pitching coach on 7 separate occasions:  Minnesota Twins 1969; Detroit Tigers 1971-1973; Texas Rangers 1973-1975; New York Yankees 1977-1979; Oakland Athletics 1980-1982; New York Yankees 1983; New York Yankees 1988.  He won World Series rings with the Yankees in 1977 and 1978.  His SABR biography refers to Fowler as Martin's long-time friend, his fishing buddy, "his drinking partner and sometime peacemaker."

Building the Set
June 20, 1992 in Ocean City, NJ - Card #103
This is one of 11 cards (and the 5th 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 103rd card we added to the set.  The card is pristine, with the exception of a small stain on the back in the top left corner.

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
I'm still awful with identifying historic ballparks, but I'm assuming Fowler is mimicking his wind-up with Crosley Field's bleachers in the background.  Fowler's birth year is off a year on the back of his card, as he was actually born in 1922.

1956 Season
In his third season with the Reds, Fowler appeared in 45 games, making 23 starts.  He finished the season with a record of 11-11 and a 4.05 ERA in a rotation consisting of Brooks Lawrence (#305), Johnny Klippstein (#249) and Joe Nuxhall (#218).  In spite of having a line-up boasting three players with over 30 home runs - Frank Robinson with 38, Wally Post (#158) with 36 and Ted Kluszewski (#25) with 35, the Reds finished in 3rd place in 1956, 2 games behind the Dodgers.

1955 Topps #3
1959 Topps #508
1964 Topps #349
1974 Topps #379
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1955 Topps #3
First Topps Card:  1955 Topps #3
Last Topps Card (as a player):  1964 Topps #349
First Topps Card (as a coach):  1973 Topps #323
Last Topps Card (as a coach):  1974 Topps #379
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  1974 Topps #379

32 - Fowler non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 4/7/19.

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, May 24, 2019

#46 Gene Freese - Pittsburgh Pirates


Eugene Lewis Freese
Pittsburgh Pirates
Third Base



Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  5'11"  Weight:  175
Born:  January 8, 1934, Wheeling, WV
Signed:  Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an amateur free agent, March 25, 1953
Major League Teams:  Pittsburgh Pirates 1955-1958; St. Louis Cardinals 1958; Philadelphia Phillies 1959; Chicago White Sox 1960; Cincinnati Reds 1961-1963; Pittsburgh Pirates 1964-1965; Chicago White Sox 1965-1966; Houston Astros 1966
Died:  June 19, 2013, New Orleans, LA (age 79)

Gene Freese was a journeyman infielder who played in parts of 12 big league seasons with six different teams, including two separate stints with the Pirates and White Sox.  He tallied a .254 average over 1,115 career games and was the primary starting third baseman for the 1959 Phillies, 1960 White Sox and 1961 Reds.  His 1961 season with the Reds was his best, as he helped the Reds win the N.L. pennant with career highs in home runs (26) and RBIs (87).

Building the Set
July 31, 1993 in Ocean City, NJ - Card #115
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 like the other 1956 Topps cards we purchased that day this card is flawless.

I wrote about the summer of '93 and the first of five cards purchased in my post for Frank House (#32).

The Card
The Topps photographer posed Freese near what seems to be the backstop at Forbes Field.  The grand slam referenced in the final panel on the back happened on May 10, 1955 in Milwaukee's County Stadium.  With the Braves ahead 2-1 heading to the top of the 8th, and with 2 outs, Freese homered off Dave Jolly, scoring Jerry Lynch (#97), George Freese and Toby Atwell (#232).  The Pirates scored eight times that inning, taking a 9-2 lead.

George was Gene's older brother, and he played in 61 Major League games with the 1953 Tigers, 1955 Pirates and 1961 Cubs.

If you're keeping score at home (I happen to be) this is the first appearance of the green-orange bar color combination on the front of a 1956 Topps card.  There have been eight color combinations so far, and I'll post the final tally for series one in a series one wrap-up post following card #100.

1956 Season
Freese slumped in his second season in the Majors, splitting time between the Pirates and their Pacific Coast League affiliate, the Hollywood Stars.  With the Pirates, Freese appeared in 65 games, hitting .208 with 3 home runs and 14 RBIs.  Frank Thomas (#153) had arrived on the scene for the Pirates and Freese essentially lost his third base starting job to him.

Freese would rebound in 1957, splitting time at third with Thomas that season before Thomas broke out with a monster 1958 season.  No longer in need of Freese's services, the Pirates traded him to the Cardinals on June 15, 1958 with Johnny O'Brien (#65) for Dick Schofield and cash.

Phillies Career
At the end of the 1958 season, the Cardinals traded Freese the Phillies for Solly Hemus.  The regular third baseman for the 1959 Phillies, Freese would lead the team in home runs (23) and finished third in RBIs (70) behind Wally Post (#158) and Ed Bouchee who had 94 and 74 respectivley.  His claim to fame while with the Phillies were the five pinch-hit home runs he hit between April 18th and May 31st, falling one short of the record of six pinch-hit home runs set by Johnny Frederick in 1932.  His pinch-hitting days ended when the Phillies traded Willie Jones (#127) to the Indians on June 6th and Freese took over the everyday third baseman's job.

Freese led the Majors with three grand slams during the 1959 season.  The photo at right shows him crossing the plate after his second grand slam on July 2nd.  #15 Joe Koppe, Richie Ashburn (#120) and #12 Dave Philley (#222) had scored ahead of Freese, and #5 Bouchee was on deck.

Freese's Phillies tenure was over after the 1959 season, as he was traded to the White Sox on December 9th for Johnny Callison.  The Phillies would use 7 different third baseman in 1960 in an attempt to replace Freese, but Callison would go on to become a three-time All-Star for the Phillies and a fan favorite.

Freese has two Phillies baseball cards - his 1959 Topps card and a 1979 Diamond Greats oddball issue.

1955 Topps #205
1959 Topps #472
1962 Topps #205
1966 Topps #319
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1955 Topps #205
First Topps Card:  1955 Topps #205
Representative Phillies Card:  1959 Topps #472
Last Topps Card:  1966 Topps #319
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  1981 TCMA '60s II #304

58 - Freese non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 3/30/19.

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
The Phillies Room
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, May 17, 2019

#45 Gus Zernial - Kansas City Athletics


Gus Edward Zernial
Kansas City Athletics
Outfield

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'2"  Weight:  210
Born:  June 27, 1923, Beaumont, TX
Drafted:  Drafted by the Cleveland Indians from Atlanta (Southern Association) in the 1946 rule 5 draft
Major League Teams:  Chicago White Sox 1949-1951; Philadelphia Atheltics 1951-1954; Kansas City Athletics 1955-1957; Detroit Tigers 1958-1959
Died:  January 20, 2011, Fresno, CA (age 87)

The last great slugger for the Philadelphia Athletics before their move to Kansas City, Gus Zernial played 11 big league seasons and tallied 237 home runs and 776 RBIs.  He owned a lifetime batting average of .265 and was an All-Star with the A's in 1953.  He singled off the Phillies' Robin Roberts (#180) in that game, and struck out against Warren Spahn (#10).

He was consistently one of the American League's top home run threats in the early to mid-1950s, hitting more home runs (177, tied with Al Rosen - #35) than any other junior circuit player.  Only Mickey Mantle (#135) and Yogi Berra (#110) would finish the decade of the 1950s with more home runs (280 and 256 respectively) than Zernial who hit 232.  He led the league in home runs (33) and RBIs (129) in 1951 and hit a career-high 42 home runs in 1953.

As told in his SABR biography, linked below, Zernial is credited with connecting Joe DiMaggio with Marilyn Monroe following a photo shoot with Zernial and Monroe during spring training 1951.

Building the Set
December 6, 1998 in Raleigh, NC - Card #172
I bought two cards from the Sports Card & Memorabilia Show in Raleigh in early December 1998 - this Zernial card for $5 and the Rosen card for $8.  I inadvertently went with an American League sluggers of the 1950s theme that day.

The Card
For once, the play at the plate doesn't feature a Berra cameo.  Looking at the American League rosters in 1955 along with the uniform numbers of their catchers, the catcher could be #18 Hal Naragon of the Indians (#311), #12 Les Moss of the White Sox, #10 Red Wilson of the Tigers (#92), or #11 Clint Courtney of the Senators (#159).  Only after doing that research did I realize Zernial is wearing #19, a uniform number he hadn't worn since 1954 when the A's were still in Philadelphia.  When the team made the move to Kansas City, Zernial switched to #30.  The identity of the catcher remains a mystery.

The first panel on the back notes Zernial's nickname, "Ozark Ike," after a popular comic-strip character from the time.  Zernial is one of four players in the set whose last name begins with the letter Z.  The others are Norm Zauchin (#89), Don Zimmer (#99) and George Zuverink (#276).

1956 Season
Zernial played just 109 games in 1956 for the A's, splitting time in left field with Lou Skizas.  The A's finished in the basement of the American League under manager Lou Boudreau, with a record of 52-102.  Zernial finished third on the team with 16 home runs, behind Harry Simpson (#239) and Hector Lopez (#16), who hit 21 and 18 respectively.  Zernial hit .224 and had 44 RBIs.

1950 Bowman #4
1951 Topps Red Backs #36
1952 Topps #31
1959 Topps #409
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1950 Bowman #4
First Topps Card:  1951 Topps Red Backs #36
Last Topps Card:  1959 Topps #409
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2008 Topps Heritage Real One Autographs #ROA-GEZ

70 - Zernial non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 3/16/19.

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, May 10, 2019

#44 "Windy" McCall - New York Giants


John William McCall
New York Giants
Pitcher

Bats:  Left  Throws:  Left  Height:  6'0"  Weight:  180
Born:  July 18, 1925, San Francisco, CA
Signed:  Signed by the Boston Red Sox as an amateur free agent before 1947 season
Major League Teams:  Boston Red Sox 1948-1949; Pittsburgh Pirates 1950; New York Giants 1954-1957
Died:  February 5, 2015, Tucson, AZ (age 89)

Windy McCall was one of the Giants' primary lefty releivers in the mid-1950s, appearing in 121 games for the club between 1954 and 1956 and compiling a 3.55 ERA over 233 1/3 innings pitched.  a native of San Francisco, his Major League career ended in 1957, the season before the Giants moved west from New York.  Although he didn't appear in the World Series, he won a ring in 1954 when the Giants swept the Indians in four games.  His SABR biography (linked below) tells the story of how Ted Williams gave him his nickname while McCall was in spring training with the Red Sox in 1948.

McCall served with the Marines during World War II, serving time at both Iwo Jima and Okinawa in the Pacific theater.

Building the Set
December 25, 2004 from San Diego, CA - Card #255
This is the third of six cards my Dad gave me for Christmas 2004, and I've already covered the cards for Andy Carey (#12) and Bob Kennedy (#38).  I have no record of how much my Dad paid for the six cards, ordered from Kit Young's Cards in San Diego.  It couldn't have been much as all six cards purchased would have been considered commons.

The Card
McCall is one of 25 players in the 1956 Topps set to have a nickname in quotes on the front of his card.  The full list is as follows:
  • #44 "Windy" McCall
  • #50 "Dusty" Rhodes
  • #57 "Duke" Maas
  • #84 "Babe" Birrer
  • #92 "Red" Wilson
  • #118 "Nellie" Fox
  • #125 "Minnie" Minoso
  • #129 "Jake" Martin
  • #149 "Dixie" Howell
  • #150 "Duke" Snider
  • #151 "Spook" Jacobs
  • #162 "Gus" Bell
  • #165 "Red" Schoendienst
  • #192 "Smoky" Burgess
  • #201 "Rip" Repulski
  • #205 "Whitey" Lockman
  • #224 "Bud" Podbielan
  • #238 "Mickey" Vernon
  • #230 "Chico" Carrasquel
  • #232 "Toby" Atwell
  • #232 "Pete" Runnels
  • #240 "Whitey" Ford
  • #260 "Pee Wee" Reese
  • #308 "Chuck" Harmon
  • #324 "Rocky" Bridges
How Topps chose to put these players' nicknames in quotes seems like an arbitrary process.  I get putting Dusty and Duke and Red and Whitey in quotes, but why Minnie and Mickey and Pete?  And then cards for Granny Hamner (#197) and Yogi Berra (#110) get the quoteless treatment.  It's just another one of life's many cosmic mysteries to ponder.

1956 Season
At 30 years old, McCall was one of two lefty relievers used by the Giants in 1956 along with Dick Littlefield.  He appeared in 46 games with 4 spot starts, going 3-4 with a 3.61 ERA in 77 1/3 innings.  The 1956 Giants finished in 6th place in the National League with a record of 67-87 under new manager Bill Rigney.

1955 Topps #42
 
1957 Topps #291
 
1979 TCMA '50s #200
 
2006 Topps Heritage
Real One Autographs #ROA-WM
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1955 Topps #42
First Topps Card:  1955 Topps #42
Last Topps Card:  1957 Topps #291
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2006 Topps Heritage Real One Autographs #ROA-WM

14 - McCall non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 2/24/19.

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, May 3, 2019

#43 Ray Moore - Baltimore Orioles


Raymond Leroy Moore
Baltimore Orioles
Pitcher

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'0"  Weight:  195
Born:  June 1, 1926, Meadows, MD
Signed:  Signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers as an amateur free agent before 1947 season
Major League Teams:  Brooklyn Dodgers 1952-1953; Baltimore Orioles 1955-1957; Chicago White Sox 1958-1960; Washington Senators 1960; Minnesota Twins 1961-1963
Died:  March 2, 1995, Clinton, MD (age 68)

Not known for his control, Ray Moore still put together an 11-year big league career, winning 12 games as a starter with the Orioles in 1956 and serving as the first closer in Twins team history in 1961.  He frequently had just as many walks as strikeouts each season, leading the league in 1957 with 112 bases on balls.  In 365 career games, he tallied 612 strikeouts to 560 walks.

As a reliever and later a closer, Moore finished in the top ten for saves in the American League four times - 1955, 1960, 1961 and 1962 - and earned 47 saves over his career.  Moore was a member of the 1959 White Sox team that won the A.L. pennant, pitching an inning in Game 6 and allowing a home run to the Dodgers' Chuck Essegian in the top of the 9th.  The Dodgers would win the game, 9-3, and the World Series, 4 games to 2.

Building the Set
October 3, 1988 in Millville, NJ - Card #66
This was one of three 1956 Topps cards my parents gave me for my 15th birthday, the others being Dean Stone (#87) and Jake Martin (#129).  I'm 95% certain my Dad purchased these cards at a baseball card show held at our local Y.M.C.A. in August and then gave them to me a few months later.  I was more focused on building our 1973 Topps set in the summer of '88, as those cards were more readily available and much cheaper.  My allowance from mowing lawns only went so far.

We didn't get autographs from either of the show's guests, Spook Jacobs or Chris Short.  I'm kicking myself now, over 30 years later, for not spending the $2 it would have cost me for an autograph and a picture with Short.

The Card
It's hard for me to tell if Moore is posing in Baltimore's Memorial Stadium or not.  Not only is the head shot the same as his 1955 Topps card, it looks as if the action shot is taken from the same photo session as well.  The photographer must have asked Moore to move his head a little for the two different poses.

It has to be hard for the people writing the backs of these cards to sometimes come up with three panels to fill.  The final panel "celebrates" Moore's 10-10 record in 1955 and accurately points out that he appeared in 46 games, leading the pitching staff.

1956 Season
Moving in from the bullpen, Moore was the top starting pitcher for the Orioles in 1956.  He started a team-high 27 games and finished with a 12-7 record and a 4.18 ERA.  That's pretty good considering the Orioles finished in 6th place with a 69-85 record.  His best stretch came after the All-Star break when he went 6-1 with a 3.26 ERA in 14 starts.

1955 Topps #208
1957 Topps #106
1959 Topps #293
1963 Topps #26
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1955 Topps #208
First Topps Card:  1955 Topps #208
Last Topps Card:  1963 Topps #26
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  1991 Crown Orioles #312

32 - Moore non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 2/20/19.

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.