This Week in 1960s Baseball
Glancing Back, and Remembering Ed Charles
Ed Charles was a graceful, even acrobatic, third baseman who hit with some sting in his bat. Charles paid his dues with nine years in the minor leagues, and for his effort was rewarded with a major league career that was spent mostly with two of the worst teams of the 1960s, only to be rescued at the end of his career by a “miracle.” Continue reading
Glancing Back, and Remembering Jerry Lumpe
Strong in the field with a bat that popped, Lumpe was signed by the New York Yankees in 1951 and made the big league club to stay in 1958, hitting .254 for the world champion Yankees. Two months into the 1959 season, he was traded with pitchers Johnny Kucks and Tom Sturdivant to Kansas City for Hector Lopez and Ralph Terry. He was the starting second baseman in Kansas City for the next five seasons.
Lumpe hit .293 for the A’s in 1961 and had his best season in 1962, when he hit .301 with 10 home runs and 83 RBIs, second on the team to Norm Siebern’s 117 RBIs. He followed that performance with a .271 batting average in 1963.
Lumpe was the key Kansas City player in a trade to Detroit following the 1963 season. He was dealt with pitchers Ed Rakow and Dave Wickersham for pitcher Bob Anderson and Tiger slugger Rocky Colavito. In four years with Detroit, Lumpe averaged .248 and retired after the 1967 season.
Lumpe finished his 13-year major league career with 1,314 hits and a .268 batting average. His career fielding average of .984 ties him for ninth all-time among second basemen.
Glancing Back, and Remembering Hector Lopez
Hector Lopez was the second Panama-born major league player, and the most effective hitter native to Panama until the arrival of Rod Carew nearly a decade later. He was a good-hustle, good-hit player whose versatility made him a valuable roster asset for the Kansas City Athletics and New York Yankees during his 12-year major league career.
A native of Colon, Panama, Lopez was purchased by the Philadelphia Athletics in 1952 and made his major league debut in Kansas City in 1955, hitting .290 as a rookie third baseman with 15 home runs and 68 RBIs. In his four seasons with the A’s, Lopez played both the infield and the outfield, though his strength was his hitting. He batted .294 in 1957, and hit 17 home runs with 73 RBIs in 1958.
In May of 1959, Lopez was traded with Ralph Terry to the Yankees for Johnny Kucks, Jerry Lumpe and Tom Sturdivant. He posted career highs in home runs (22) and RBIs (93) that season, batting .283 combined for the A’s and Yankees. He finished among the top 10 American League hitters in RBIs, hits (153), doubles (26) and slugging percentage (.471).
Over the next seven seasons, Lopez’s versatility and clutch hitting made him a valuable batting order cog in the Yankees’ slugging machines. He batted .279 in 1962, and in 1963 he hit 14 home runs with 52 RBIs. As a member of the Yankees, Lopez appeared in 15 World Series games, batting .286 with one home run and seven RBIs.
Lopez retired after the 1966 season and later became the first manager of color at the AAA level. He finished his playing career with a .269 average on 1,251 hits. He hit 136 career home runs with 591 runs batted in. As a member of the Athletics, Lopez recorded a 22-game hitting streak in 1957, the longest by any player during the 12 years that franchise was in Kansas City.
Glancing Back, and Remembering Dave Wickersham
Dave Wickersham was a dependable right-handed starting pitcher whose 10-year career neatly spanned the 1960s. He was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1955 and was selected by the Kansas City Athletics in the 1959 minor league draft.
Wickersham debuted with the A’s in 1960, appearing in 5 games with no decisions. He was 2-1 in 1961 and moved into the Kansas City starting rotation in 1962, going 11-4 with a 4.17 ERA. In 1963 he went 12-15 with a 4.09 ERA, tied for the team lead in wins with Orlando Pena. Following the 1963 season, he was traded with Jerry Lumpe and Ed Rakow to the Detroit Tigers for Bob Anderson, Rocky Colavito and $50,000.
Wickersham had his best season pitching for the Tigers. He went 19-12 in 1964 with a 3.44 ERA. That season he posted career highs in starts (36), complete games (11) and innings pitched. He finished tied for third in the American League in victories (with Juan Pizarro and Wally Bunker, behind 20-game winners Dean Chance and Gary Peters) and sixth in innings pitched. In 1965 he slipped to 9-14 with a 3.78 ERA and a career-high three shutouts.
In 1966 Wickersham posted an 8-3 records as a starter and reliever. In 1967 he was used almost exclusively as a reliever, going 4-5 with a 2.74 ERA and 4 saves. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Dennis Ribant, and went 1-0 for Pittsburgh with a 3.48 ERA. He was purchased by the Kansas City Royals in 1969, and went 2-3 with a 3.96 ERA in his final major league season.
Wickersham’s career record was 68-57 with a 3.66 ERA.