#64 Ted Abernathy
This is a pretty disgusting card. Not because it’s Ted Abernathy, but because it’s in all sorts of crappy shape. Creases, bad corners, bad centering, stains, it’s got it all. Even Ted doesn’t look too happy about it. Perhaps he shouldn’t wear his cap like a top hat.
There’s no trivia on the back of this card because Abernathy had a pretty lengthy statistical record at this point. His card is a common card, and lists for $8 in NM condition in SMR. The fact that mine is in tact is about all that saves it from being a PR-FR example. I’d say this might even go as high as G.
Ted Abernathy was a pretty good reliever for a long time. He played in 14 seasons between 1955 and 1972. He spent the early part of his career in Washington, then made a stop in Milwaukee’s minor league system before being purchased by the Indians in 1961. He didn’t make it to Cleveland until 1963, when he was called up in May after allowing one run in 26 innings with Jacksonville of the IL.
He made a quick impact with the Indians, posting a 2.88 ERA in 1963. This solidified his job in 1964, and he would have a regular relief role with a number of teams through the 1972 season. In an era where the save didn’t yet mean much, Abernathy would lead the league in that stat in 1965 and 1967, with the Cubs and Reds, respectively. For his career, Abernathy had 148 saves. He finished 416 of the 681 games he appeared in, and didn’t start a game after 1957.
If you take out his first three years, when he was an unsuccessful starter for the Senators, Abernathy had a very nice career: 2.77 ERA, 130 ERA+, 1.298 WHIP, and 7.3 H/9. He walked a few too many batters (4.6/9 during his career), which prevented him from being one of the most valuable pitchers in all of baseball. Had the traditional “closer” role been invented yet, he might have been quite in demand over the years.
1967 was his best year. The Reds took him in the Rule 5 draft from the Braves and all he did was put up a 1.27 ERA in 106.1 IP with Cincinati. He had 28 saves and allowed just one home run(!) the entire season. That earned him a few MVP votes (he finished 20th).
Over the last six years of his career, he had a 2.30 ERA and only gave up 6.9 H/9. This is largely because he adopted a submarine delivery that befuddled hitters. At age 39, he had a 1.70 ERA and 1.08 WHIP with the Royals. For some reason, they released him following that season and he was done pitching.
Abernathy died in 2004 at the age of 71.