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#208 Wes Covington

08/03/2010

As we’ve seen before, Topps wasn’t hesitant to reuse photos for their cards in the ’60s (they even went as far as using Ken Hubbs’ picture on somebody else’s card 2 years after he died). This is yet another example, as this photo of Wes Covington is the same used for his 1963 card — just zoomed in a bit:

My example of the 1964 card is way off-center and features pretty fuzzy corners. I guess it’s in that VG-EX range.

The trivia question asks the amount of the first fine handed out to a player. The answer isn’t rubbed off, and I haven’t yet looked at it in the light to see the resolution to this really, really dumb question.

Wes Covington was a pretty good player who never had more than 405 plate appearances in a single season. Over 11 seasons, he posted a fairly impressive OPS+ of 121.

Signed by the Boston Braves in 1952, Covington came up with the team after it moved to Milwaukee and played in two World Series with the Braves — 1957 (a win over the Yankees) and 1958 (a loss to the Yankees).

In both pennant years with the Braves, Covington was a major factor in the team’s success. In fact, in 1958 one could say that Covington was perhaps the most underappreciated player in baseball. He only played 90 games with 324 PA, but hit .330/.380/.622 with 24 homers and an astounding 1.002 OPS. Had Covington qualified for batting categories, he actually would’ve tied Willie Mays for the highest OPS in the NL. Even teammate Hank Aaron only had a .931 OPS. He racked up a 3.3 WAR despite essentially playing half a season. And that number was dragged down by awful fielding numbers. He was, looking at both his numbers and game logs, a bad fielder, as the Braves often pulled him for a defensive replacement late in games.

He wasn’t quite as good the previous season offensively, but still hit 21 homers with a .284/.339/.537 line in 371 PA.

Despite career highs in games played and plate appearances, he dipped to 7 homers in 1959 and plunged to a dismal .249/.288/.420 line in 1960. By 1961, Frank Thomas was brought in to play left field, so the Braves waived Covington. He was picked up by White Sox and played fairly well in regular duty, but the Sox traded him after just a month to the A’s in an 8-player deal that brought Don Larsen to Chicago.

Three weeks later, Kansas City flipped Covington to Philadelphia for Bobby Del Greco. This made him one of few major leaguers to play for 4 teams in the same season.

Covington was an above-average player in all 4 full seasons he played for the Phillies. In 1963, he hit 17 homers with a .303/.354/.521 line (a 150 OPS+). He had another decent year in 1964, the year of the infamous Phold. After his batting average dove again in 1965 (but he still hit 15 HR in 264 PA), the Phils shipped him to the Cubs in the offseason.

He wrapped up his career by going 5-for-44 with the Cubs and Dodgers in 1966. His last appearance was in Game 1 of the World Series, when he struck out as a pinch hitter in the 7th inning.

This article contains some more details about Covington’s career and retirement, which included 20 years as an advertising manager for the Edmonton Sun. Covington’s currently 78 years old.

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