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#65 Felipe Alou

07/09/2009

65 Felipe Alou65 Felipe Alou back

This is the first card to show Alou as a member of the Braves, but NOT the first to show him in a Braves uniform. As you can see, Topps wasn’t able to get a shot of him in Milwaukee gear before releasing the first series, so he’s still wearing his Giants uniform in this shot.

My example of the card is probably a VG-EX. Corners are OK, but the top right is a little more significantly bashed. Gloss is pretty worn down on the front, and the trivia question is rubbed off. Despite the fact that he had some good years and is a household baseball name even now, this is considered a common card and goes for $8 in NM condition according to SMR. This partially can be attributed to the fact that the lowest-numbered cards in this set are the most widely available.

To my generation, Felipe Alou is best known as the long-time manager of the Montreal Expos who later came back to lead the Giants for four years. He is known to older generations as the most successful of the three Alou brothers, who for a short time played together in the outfield for the Giants. But before the all-Alou outfield could really get going, Feliple was traded to Milwaukee.

Felipe was very good in his final two years in San Francisco, hitting .316/.356/.513 with 25 homers and 98 RBI in 1962, and a slightly-less-impressive .281/.319/.474 with 20 homers in 1963. That earned him a ticket out of town, though, as in December 1963 he was sent to Milwaukee in a multi-player deal that brought Bob Shaw and the washed-up Del Crandall to the Giants.

Felipe had a rough first year with the Braves, as they tried to turn him into a leadoff hitter. This didn’t go so well. Also, the Braves already had three good outfielders — Lee Maye, Rico Carty, and Hank Aaron. Alou played some first base, but Gene Oliver hit better when he played there. When all was said and done, Felipe has only hit .253 with a .306 OBP and only 9 home runs in ’64.

Lucikly, the Braves still found him valuable and made him the full-time first baseman in 1965. He also filled in in the outfield, and regained the form he had in San Francisco. In ’65 he hit .297 with an .819 OPS and 23 homers. Things got better in 1966, when he went .327/.361/.533 with a career-high 31 homers and finished 5th in the MVP voting. He also led the league in runs (122) and hits (218) that season.

He had another nice year in 1968, but never regained the home run power. After the 1969 NLCS, in which he only got one at-bat, he was traded to Oakland. He had a couple of decent years with the Yankees in 1971 and ’72, but was reduced to a part-time player by 1973. He returned to Milwaukee to play with the Brewers in 1974, but only got three total at-bats before hanging it up.

For his career, he had 2,101 hits — 205th all-time.

After 16 years in the Expos organization as an instructor and minor-league manager, he got his shot at MLB managing in 1992. He would stay with Montreal all the way until 2001, managing his son Moises along the way. In 1994, the Expos had the best team in baseball (a 74-40 record), but the strike ended the season and any chance for a World Series title. Felipe took over the Giants in 2003, managing them to a division title. He was replaced by Bruce Bochy after the 2006 season.

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