#26 Gino Cimoli
This would be the final Topps card produced for Gino Cimoli, and the photo is actually from 1962. The A’s switched to their now-familiar green and gold color scheme in 1963, abandoning the red, white and blue uniform you see Cimoli wearing here. Since ’62 was his first year with the A’s, this shot had to come from that season. At least, unlike some people, they didn’t recycle his photo from a previous card.
My example of this card is poorly centered and has fuzzy corners. Probably VG-EX. The trivia question, which is not rubbed off, asks who holds the A.L. record for doubles in a season. And the answer in 1964 was the same as it is now. Earl Webb of the Red Sox racked up 67 doubles in 1931 for a team that went 62-90 and scored the fewest runs in the league. Webb never had more than 30 doubles in any other season. Nobody has even topped the 60 mark since Joe Medwick hit 64 in 1936. Todd Helton’s 59 doubles in 2000 is the highest mark since then.
Gino Cimoli was a journeyman who played parts of 10 seasons in the majors with seven different teams. He was signed by the Dodgers in 1949, but stayed in AAA for more than six years with Montreal and St. Paul before finally making his Brooklyn debut in 1956.
He was an everyday outfielder for the Dodgers in 1957, making the All-Star team while posting a respectable .293/.343/.410 line with 10 homers, 22 doubles, and 88 runs scored. After going back to part-time status for the Dodgers’ debut season in Los Angeles, Cimoli was shipped to the Cardinals in a lopsided trade that brought Wally Moon to L.A.
Cimoli did have an OK year in 1959 for the Cards, hitting .279/.327/.430 with 8 HR, 72 RBI, and 40 doubles. But Moon finished fourth in the N.L. MVP voting and the Dodgers won the World Series. After the ’59 season, St. Louis traded Cimoli to the Pirates for pitcher Ron Kline.
He played a utility outfielder role with Pittsburgh in 1960, and his power completely disappeared. He hit no homers in 345 PA and just 14 doubles for a paltry .339 SLG. This didn’t stop the Pirates from batting him fifth for five of the seven games in the World Series against the Yankees. He didn’t have much of an impact until Game 7, when he kicked off an 8th inning rally with a pinch-hit single. Pittsburgh rallied from 7-4 down to take a 9-7 lead, and would of course win the game 10-9 on Bill Mazeroski’s homer.
The Pirates sent Cimoli to the Braves in 1961, where he struggled again as a reserve. The A’s plucked him from Milwaukee in the Rule 5 draft in 1962, and he went on to have one of his best seasons, leading the league in triples with 15 while tying his career high in homers with 10 and batting .275 in 606 PA. He was a full-timer again in 1963 for KC, but regressed a bit, hitting only 4 homers and batting .263. He lost his starting job in 1964 and the A’s released him in May. He was picked up by the Orioles, but went just 8-for-58 in limited duty.
His last stop was with the Angels in 1965. He started one game in right field, and appeared as a pinch hitter in three other games. He went 0-for-5 with an RBI, and his big league career was done.
Cimoli became a driver for UPS after retirement, and is said to currently live in San Francisco, where he was born. He’s 80 years old.