#105 Woody Held
This is an “in memoriam” post, as Held just passed away on Wednesday, June 10, at the age of 77.
This is one of the brightest cards I have, especially the back, where the orange appears to be as vibrant as it was 45 years ago. Even with a somewhat well-worn lower left corner, I would consider my copy of this card to be EX-MT. Held is considered a common card, and SMR lists a NM example at $8.
Held’s real first name was Woodson, but he went by “Woodie.” However, all but two of the cards Topps produced for him over the years (there were 12) spell his first name as “Woody.” Only his 1961 card and his final card in 1969 used his preferred spelling.
Held was able to stick around for 12 years in the majors because he had some power and could play a variety of positions. He only hit .240 for his career, but hit 179 home runs, most of which came during his 6 1/2 years with the Indians.
Woodie actually debuted with the Yankees in 1954, but was traded to Kansas City in 1957. This was during the days when the Kansas City Athletics acted as a glorified farm team for the Yankees, so being traded from New York to K.C. was on par with being demoted, as the A’s were a horrible team during their entire run in K.C. Two of the players the Yankees got back in the trade involving Held were Billy Martin and Ralph Terry.
A year later, Woodie was shipped by the A’s to Cleveland for a young slugger named Roger Maris. Maris would then soon get “promoted” to the Yankees.
Held was never an All-Star, but for a guy who played mostly the middle infield during his first few years in Cleveland he had unusual power. He maxed out at 29 homers in 1959, but had at least 16 long balls for seven straight year. He was the first Cleveland shortstop to ever eclipse 20 home runs, and although I haven’t looked it up, I imagine the 29 home runs for a shortstop may have been the second best ever at the time (behind Ernie Banks, who routinely hit 40+ as a SS).
In 1964, Woodie hit .236 with 18 homers and 49 RBI, while playing five different positions. It was his last year in Cleveland, as he was traded following the season to Washington for Chuck Hinton.
He returned to playing mostly in the outfield, as he had as a rookie in Kansas City, during his later years, and he played his last game in 1969.
Woodie died Wednesday after a battle with brain cancer at his ranch in Dubois, Wyoming.