#115 Frank Bolling
There’s nothing particularly notable about Frank Bolling’s 1964 Topps issue. It’s the second-to-last card issued in his career. Mine is probably a VG-EX. No creases, but some soft corners and bad centering. This is a common card from the second series.
Frank Bolling played 12 seasons from 1954-66. He debuted with the Tigers at age 22, then missed the 1955 season due to military service. He returned in 1957 and had his only season with an OPS+ over 100 (107 that year). Of course, second basemen were not expected to be productive offensively, and Bolling was not a particularly good hitter. He did hit 15 homers twice (in 1957 and 1961) and hit double digits in two other seasons.
Bolling was, in certain seasons, a very good fielder. He won a Gold Glove in 1958, when he also drove in a career-high 75 runs. His 3.4 WAR (wins above replacement) that year was the best of his career.
Bolling was traded to the Braves in 1960 in a multi-player deal that brought center fielder Bill Bruton from Milwaukee to Detroit. Bolling was decent in 1961 and ’62, earning trips to the All-Star Game in each season. He regressed in 1963 (but led the league in sacrifice bunts — whee!) before cratering in 1964.
How bad was Bolling’s ’64 season? He posted an OPS+ of a whopping 47. Ouch. His batting average was .199 in 387 plate appearances. It was so rough that he was eventually benched and used sporadically down the stretch. His WAR was a dreadful -2.1. He improved somewhat in 1965, hitting .264/.295/.363 with 7 homers. One of his homers was a grand slam off of Sandy Koufax — one of only two slams Koufax allowed during the dominant five-year stretch that ended his career.
Bolling moved with the Braves to Atlanta in 1966, but was horrendous at the plate in limited duty. He retired following the ’66 season. He batted .254 for his career with 106 home runs and an OPS+ of 85. He played every one of his 12,982 innings at second base. His older brother, Milt, played seven years in the majors, and they were teammates with the Tigers in 1958. Their uncle, Jack Bolling, played briefly for the Phillies and Dodgers.
Frank Bolling returned to his hometown of Mobile, Alabama, after his retirement. He’s now 78 years old.