Wednesday, November 25, 2015

#9 Ruben Gomez - New York Giants

Ruben (Colon) Gomez
New York Giants

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'0"  Weight:  170
Born:  July 13, 1927, Arroyo, Puerto Rico
Signed:  Signed by the New York Giants as an amateur free agent in 1953
Major League Teams:  New York Giants 1953-1957; San Francisco Giants 1958; Philadelphia Phillies 1959-1960; Cleveland Indians 1962; Minnesota Twins 1962; Philadelphia Phillies 1967
Died:  July 26, 2004, Carolina, Puerto Rico (age 77)

As pointed out in his SABR biography, Ruben Gomez was the second pitcher from Puerto Rico to reach the Major Leagues and the first to start and win a World Series game.  He faced off against the Indians in Game 3 of the 1954 World Series, allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings pitched.  Gomez is a legend in his native Puerto Rico, having played in parts of 29 seasons in the Puerto Rican Winter League between 1947 and 1977.

Known as "El Divino Loco," or the Divine Crazy, Gomez pitched for the Giants, Phillies (twice), Indians and Twins during his 10-year big league career between 1953 and 1967.

Building the Set
June 20, 1992 in Ocean City, NJ - Card #100
As I wrote in my post for the Elmer Valo (#3) card, this is one of 11 cards my Dad 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 100th card we added to the set so it's a bit of a milestone card for us.

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 of pizza with birch beer.

The Card
That is most likely Gomez legging out a ground ball to first base in the action photo.  Everything I've read about Gomez indicated he was a speedy runner and not a bad hitter (for a pitcher).  The third panel on the back of the card says as much.  And it looks as if the photo was taken during one of the seven games Gomez pitched against the Braves in 1955.

Similar to the three cards before it, the Gomez portrait utilizes the same photo as his 1954 and 1955 Topps cards.

1956 Season
Gomez struggled in 1956, going 7-17 with a 4.58 ERA in 40 games for the Giants.  His SABR biography notes that Braves slugger Joe Adcock (#320) chased him off the field in a game on July 17th after getting hit by a pitch.

Phillies Career
The Phillies acquired Gomez and Valmy Thomas from the Giants on December 3, 1958 for Jack Sanford.  Gomez would appear in 42 games for the Phillies in 1959 and 1960, getting the starting nod in 13 of those games.  He'd go 3-11 with a 5.78 ERA in 124 2/3 innings pitched.  He was hampered by a knee injury suffered early in the 1959 season and he'd spend part of the 1960 season pitching for the Phillies Triple-A team in Buffalo and on loan to the Orioles' Triple-A team in Miami.

He appeared in just 19 games for Buffalo in 1961 and was sold to the Indians minor league team in Jacksonville following the season.  Gomez would make it back to Philadelphia in 1967 following three seasons in the Mexican League.  He appeared in seven early season games for the 1967 Phillies, earning him his final Topps card in the 1967 Topps set.

Gomez has Phillies cards in the 1959, 1960, 1961 and 1967 Topps sets.  He also has a card in the 1959 Jay Publishing Phillies photo card set.

1954 Topps #220
1959 Topps #535
1967 Topps #427
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1954 Topps #220
First Topps Card:  1954 Topps #220
Representative Phillies Card:  1959 Topps #535
Last Topps Card:  1967 Topps #427
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  1994 Topps Archives 1954 #220

35 - Gomez non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 11/24/15

Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
The Phillies Room
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.

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