Skip to content

#420 Jim Maloney

08/02/2018

Condition: EX+, off-center but otherwise pretty crisp and trivia answer is not revealed.

Trivia question: “Which pitcher won 24 straight ballgames?”

Topps got this one right, and it’s still the correct answer. Carl Hubbell of the Giants won 24 consecutive decisions starting on July 17, 1936, and ending on May 27, 1937. He did have three no-decisions in there, but the Giants won those three games anyway.

Hubbell was a rare baseball lifer with one organization. He pitched for the Giants from 1928-43, then spent the next 45 years working for the team until his death in a car accident in 1988.

A few things about Jim Maloney:

* Maloney was one of the top pitchers of the ’60s who’s mostly forgotten now. If not for an Achilles injury in 1970 that basically ruined his career, he could potentially have been a Hall of Famer. Because of the devastating injury, he was unable to play for the Reds that dominated the N.L. in the 1970s. But from 1963 through 1969, he went 117-60 with a 125 ERA+, 29 shutouts and two no-hitters (plus a third that doesn’t technically count).

* Speaking of no-hitters, Maloney is one of only seven pitchers to throw a no-hitter against the Cubs. On August 19, 1965 he threw 10 no-hit innings at Wrigley Field and the Reds won 1-0. Maloney walked 10(!) but managed to not let any of them score. His other official no-hitter came on April 30, 1969, a 10-0 win over Houston.

* So what about the no-hitter that didn’t count? On June 14, 1965, Maloney threw 10 no-hit innings against the Mets but gave up a home run to lead off the 11th (and eventually gave up another hit) and he lost the game 1-0. He struck out 18 and walked just one, giving him a game score of 106 (one of the highest of all-time).

* Maloney was coming off a big year in 1963, in which he went 23-7 with a 2.77 ERA and 265 strikeouts in 250.1 innings. He followed it up in 1964 with an even-better 2.71 ERA (133 ERA+) but his record dipped to 15-10. By WAR, 1965 was his best season, and also his only all-star selection. He threw a career-high 255.1 innings, with a 2.54 ERA (148 ERA+) and only 6.7 H/9 allowed. That was good for an 8.2 pitching WAR, which was second in the N.L. behind Juan Marichal. Alas, Sandy Koufax with his 26 wins, 2.04 ERA and (then) major league-record 382 strikeouts swept all 20 Cy Young votes (somehow, Koufax’s WAR was 8.1).

* After his major Achilles injury in 1970, the Reds traded Maloney to the Angels for pitcher Greg Garrett, who appeared in two games in 1971 and never pitched in the majors again. Maloney himself pitched in 13 games (30.1) innings for California in 1971 and hung it up at the age of 31.

* As of August 2018 Maloney is still alive and reportedly lives in his hometown of Fresno, California. He’s currently 78 years old.

Advertisements

#406 Al Spangler

07/31/2018

Condition: Probably VG-EX, but could possibly be considered EX. The trivia answer is not rubbed off.

Trivia question: Which team lost 3 games in one day?

The answer given is the 1903 Dodgers, but according to Baseball Reference there is no record of the Dodgers ever playing three games in a day in 1903. I looked at a few seasons before and after and didn’t find any evidence of any tripleheaders.

A Brooklyn team (the Bridegrooms) did play a tripleheader once, but it was in 1890 and Brooklyn won all three games vs. the Pittsburgh Alleghenys.

So I guess we’ll never know where Topps got this question and answer from.

A few things about Al Spangler:

* Al Spangler is the definition of an average hitter. His OPS+ was exactly 100 for his 13-year MLB career. He had no power (21 career HRs in 2,616 plate appearances) but hit .262 and walked frequently enough to have a .347 career OBP.

* Spangler, mostly a left fielder, played parts of three seasons with the Braves. He was then picked in the expansion draft by the Houston Colt .45s, and was their best hitter by by OPS over the team’s dismal first two seasons in 1962 and ’63. He wasn’t spectacular, but by Houston standards a .283/.372/.387 slash line was outstanding. He was the only Colt regular with an OPS over 100 in 1963 (120).

* Al was with Houston until midway through the 1965 season, so he got to be a part of the first Astros team. He was then traded to the Angels, who had also just changed their name from the LA Angels to the California Angles.

* He was never a regular starter again, and he spent five seasons as a backup with the Cubs before retiring in 1971 at the age of 37.

* Spangler was a AA manager in the Cubs organization for two season in the 1970s, but that seems to be the end of his involvement in baseball. As of July 2018, Spangler is still alive and well at the age of 85.

 

#574 Manny Jimenez

07/30/2018

Condition: VG-EX. It’s way off-center and has a few small surface wrinkles, but still presents well. Trivia answer is not rubbed off.

Trivia question: “What club played a season with 5 pitchers?”

Though it’s not scratched off, if you shine a light on the card just right you can see that the answer given is the 1904 Red Sox. This is true, but one major detail is wrong. Yes, the American League team from Boston did go an entire season in 1904 using just five pitchers. But that team was not yet known as the Red Sox. From 1901 through 1907, the Boston A.L. team was called the “Americans” and had blue as their primary color.

Boston won the A.L. that season with a five-man pitching staff of Cy Young, Jesse Tannehill, Bill Dinneen, Norwood Gibson and George Winter. After winning the inaugural World Series in 1903 over Pittsburgh, Boston was not given a chance to repeat as John McGraw’s New York Giants, the ’04 N.L. champs, refused to play an “exhibition” series against the “inferior” league. The dispute led to the formalization of the agreement of the two league champions to play each other, and they’ve done it every year since 1905 (except, of course, 1994).

A few things about Manny Jimenez:

* This card is a high number, making it more valuable than other cards in the set. But of the high numbers (523-587), it’s the second-easiest to find in premium condition. There are 52 PSA 9s of this card, which is more than any high number other than the Phil Niekro rookie card.

* Manny Jimenez had one pretty good year in MLB, and that was his rookie season of 1962. He had nearly half of his career plate appearances that season, and he hit .301/.354/.428 with 24 doubles, 11 homers and 69 RBIs for the A’s.

* After hitting 0 home runs in part-time action in 1963, Jimenez saw his last significant action in the majors in 1964. Though he batted only .225, he bested his rookie year by hitting 12 homers in 225 plate appearances. The best game of his career was July 4, 1964, when he hit three home runs in a 6-6 tie against Baltimore. He hit two more homers in an 11-4 loss to the White Sox on July 12. But by mid-August he was no longer a starter and basically faded away from there.

* Manny spent all of 1965 and most of 1966 in the minors. He had a quite respectable .742 OPS in 135 PA over two seasons with the Pirates, and closed out his MLB career by going 1-for-6 with the Cubs in 1968. He finished his career with a decent-enough 101 OPS+ but had a -1.0 career WAR due to being a below-average left fielder.

* Jimenez was from San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic. He was the 10th Dominican to appear in a major league game. His brother, Elvio, was the 16th Dominican player, but Elvio appeared in just one game for the Yankees, on October 4, 1964.

* I wasn’t able to find much specific information about his later life, but Manny passed away on December 11, 2017, in New York City. He was 79 years old.

#41 Friendly Foes

07/30/2018

Condition: VG (corners and edges are pretty good, but the creases are pretty hard to ignore)

Trivia question: No trivia question on these combo cards.

A few things about “Friendly Foes”:

* This is one of a number of “combo cards” in the set that feature some current players, most of which are random enough to make you wonder why Topps thought these particular photos were worthy of making into a card.

* This picture was taken at the 1963 All-Star Game in Cleveland. This was the last of Wagner’s three ASGs, and he went 2-for-3 as a starter in the game. McCovey struck out in his only plate appearance as a pinch hitter in the first of his six ASGs.

* These two guys did have some history together. Wagner started out with the Giants in 1958 and had a good year, but regressed in 1959. Meanwhile, McCovey joined the Giants in 1959 and became the NL Rookie of the Year. In that offseason, Wagner was traded to St. Louis.

* Though Wagner is wearing a Los Angeles Angels jersey here, he was traded after the 1963 season to Cleveland. He’s wearing an Indians cap in his regular-issue card from the 1964 set (card #530).

* Speaking of jerseys, this is a really good look at an Angels home jersey and cap as they looked in the original LA era. Though the hat looks black in the photo, it’s actually a dark blue with the red lettering. The Angels would become the California Angels in 1965 and in 1966 they moved from Dodger Stadium to Anaheim Stadium, where they still play today. McCovey is of course wearing the classic Giants road jersey, which is basically the same thing they wear now.

* There’s much more to say in the posts for their individual cards, but these two took very divergent paths after this photo. McCovey of course became an all-time great and first-ballot Hall of Famer with an entire body of water named after him. Wagner was a decent player who hit 173 homers from 1961-66, and though he had a brief acting career after he retired his life was eventually overcome by addiction. He was homeless and broke when he died on the streets of Los Angeles in 2004.

 

#443 Chuck Dressen

05/08/2013

443 Chuck Dressen 443 Chuck Dressen back

Condition: EX

Trivia question: There’s no trivia question on the manager cards

A few things about Chuck Dressen:

* Dressen is the second-oldest person depicted on a 1964 Topps card. Dressen was born September 20, 1898, making him 65 during the 1964 season. Only Mets manager Casey Stengel (who was born in 1890) was older among those who have a 1964 card.

* He’s mostly known as being the manager for the Brooklyn Dodgers during the “Boys of Summer” days of the early 1950s. He managed the Dodgers during the infamous 1951 season, when the Giants came from 12-1/2 games behind in August to edge the Dodgers in a tiebreaker on the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World.” He won consecutive pennants with the Dodgers in 1952 and ’53, but lost the World Series to the Yankees both years. He was managing the dismal Washington Senators when the Dodgers finally won the championship in 1955.

* Dressen wasn’t much of a player, but he did play in seven seasons with the Reds, mostly as a third baseman. He didn’t debut until 1925, when he was 26 years old. He immediately became a manager in the minor leagues after his playing career ended, but ended up signing to play off the bench for the Giants late in the 1933 season. Dressen took on a coach-like role and won a title with New York despite not playing in the World Series.

* He played quarterback in the NFL for three seasons, one with the Decatur Staleys and two for the Racine Legion.

* Dressen was hired to manage the Tigers in the middle of the 1963 season. He suffered a heart attack in spring of 1965 and missed the first 42 games of the season. He then had another heart attack early in the 1966 season, and never fully recovered, dying in August 1966 at the age of 67.

I finished!

05/08/2013

After five years of buying, selling and trading cards, I have finally completed the full 1964 Topps set. Now comes the task of upgrading some of the cards I have that are in less than VG condition. Overall, I think the set averages VG-EX, with quite a few better and quite a few worse.

I’ve enjoyed spending some of my spare time over the last few years constructing the posts here, but they take me quite a while to write, so I think I’m going to take some cues from some blogs I’ve seen for other sets and focus on writing some shorter posts with a few bullet points for each card so I can get through them a bit quicker. Otherwise I’ll be doing this blog until about 2060.

One of the things I love about this project is that I wasn’t born until 1977, so many of the players in this set are guys I don’t know a whole lot about. Everyone knows about the stars of this era, but it’s really cool to go back and learn about the players who filled out MLB rosters in 1964.

It should be noted that there are two high-profile absences from the 1964 set. Both Maury Wills and Chris Short did not have cards in this set. In fact, neither guy was pictured on a Topps card until 1967 despite being well into their major league careers. I’m not sure why Short, a decent pitcher in his time, isn’t represented. There’s long been a rumor that Wills declined to sign with Topps early in his career because he was unhappy about being passed over for a card in what turned out to be his rookie season. But that wasn’t exactly true. When Topps was signing players in 1959, Wills was in camp with the Detroit Tigers and not considered to be an MLB-quality player, so Topps didn’t bother signing him to a deal. When Wills ended up being sent back to the Dodgers and making the team, he instead signed an exclusive contract with Fleer (which ended up not working out that well, since Fleer only put him on a card in 1963). He and Topps both deny there was any bad blood, and say Fleer simply got to him first.

 

#87 St. Louis Cardinals

02/13/2013

87 Cardinals team87 Cardinals team back

Since these team cards feature the roster photo from the previous year’s team, this Cardinals card is the last Topps card to feature Stan Musial as an active player. He’s in the front row, fifth person in from the right. Musial retired after the 1963 season, so he’s otherwise not featured in the ’64 set. Red Schoendienst is also in this photo, third from left. He also retired in 1963.

The team cards from this set are hard to find well-centered and often are cut crooked. My version of this card is actually in pretty good shape, at least an EX and probably EX-MT.

These cards recap the team leaders from 1963 on the top part of the back of the card, then shows the W-L record of each pitcher against each team in the league.

While this card shows 1963 numbers, I’m using the team card posts to talk about each team’s 1964 season.

The Cardinals, as you may know, won the World Series in 1964 in a dramatic seven-game series against the New York Yankees. With the Cards trailing the series 2-1, NL MVP Ken Boyer hit a grand slam in Game 4 to give St. Louis a 4-3 win and turn momentum back in their favor.

Game 5 was another classic, with the Cards blowing a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth at Yankee Stadium, as Tom Tresh hit a game-tying two-run homer with two out after Mickey Mantle had reached on a Dick Groat error. The Cards somehow shook it off, and 22-year-old catcher Tim McCarver (decades before annoying World Series viewers on Fox) hit a three-run homer in the top of the 10th to win the game. Yankee Stadium wouldn’t host another postseason game until 1976.

The series went back to St. Louis, but the Yanks didn’t go quietly. Roger Maris and Mantle hit homers to put New York ahead, then Joe Pepitone launched a grand slam that broke the game wide open an the Yankees won 8-3.

Game 7 was somewhat anticlimactic, but the Yankees managed to make things interesting after falling behind 6-0. Bob Gibson was working on two days rest, and started to tire in the later innings. Mantle hit a three-run bomb to pull the Yankees within 6-3, but a Boyer homer put the Cards back up by four. With Gibson running on fumes, Clete Boyer and Phil Linz went deep in the ninth to make it 7-5, but Gibson got a popout from Bobby Richardson to end the series. It was the first World Series win for the Cardinals since 1946.

It’s amazing, really, that the Cardinals even ended up in the World Series. They had won 93 games in 1963, finishing six games behind the Dodgers, who swept the Yankees in the World Series. Expecting another good finish in ’64, the Cardinals instead found their season going south during a rough stretch in June. The Cards were in eighth place on June 17, and were still under .500 (47-48) on July 24.

Read more…