Coal Miner’s Son (with a Rifle Arm)

 

The Glove Club: Larry Brown

Larry Brown was an excellent infielder who rarely hit and even more rarely struck out. He made contact often enough that you could count on his bat to advance the runner, but probably not drive that runner in.

What kept Brown in the major leagues for a dozen years was his skill in the field. Continue reading

Stuart’s Big Bounce

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(August 19, 1963) Known for his brute power rather than his speed on the base paths, Boston Red Sox first baseman Dick Stuart hit the second inside-the-park home run of his career today as the Cleveland Indians beat the Red Sox 8-3 in Fenway Park.

Stuart didn’t do it alone. He had the help of a ladder, a wall, and the head of Indians center fielder Vic Davalillo. Continue reading

Winning with What’s Left

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Bud Daley

In his prime, Bud Daley was a very good pitcher with a very bad team.

He was a knuckleball pitcher who offset the flutter pitch with an outstanding curve ball. And he was that most prized of baseball assets: a southpaw with control. Continue reading

Indians Trade Power for Pitching

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball …

(April 2, 1962) The Cleveland Indians announced today that the team had acquired veteran right-handed pitcher Pedro Ramos in a trade with the Minnesota Twins.

Pedro Ramos averaged 19 losses per season from 1958-1961. He led the American League in losses each of those four seasons.

Pedro Ramos averaged 19 losses per season from 1958-1961. He led the American League in losses each of those four seasons.

In exchange for Ramos, the Twins received left-handed pitcher Dick Stigman and first baseman Vic Power, acknowledged by many to be the best defensive first baseman ever.

Ramos was signed by the Washington Senators in 1953 and made his major league debut with the team in 1955. In seven seasons with that organization (the last year in Minnesota), Ramos recorded only a single winning season (12-10 in 1956). From 1958 through 1961, he led the American League in losses, with a record of 11-20 in 1961.

Vic Power won three Gold Gloves with the Cleveland Indians before being traded to the Minnesota Twins in 1962. He won four more Gold Gloves after the trade, and was generally considered the league’s most spectacular first baseman in the in the first half of the 1960s.

To acquire the league’s losingest pitcher, the Indians parted with the league’s best first base glove … maybe of all time. Power won his third consecutive Gold Glove in 1961. He would collect seven in all during his career, as well as leading American league first basemen in assists six times.

A career .292 hitter going into the 1961 season, his average dropped to .268 in 1961. With the Twins in 1962, Power’s batting average would rebound to .290 and he would be voted the team’s Most Valuable Player.

Dick Stigman was 7-16 in his two seasons with the Cleveland Indians. He was 27-20 in his first two seasons with the Minnesota Twins.

Dick Stigman was 7-16 in his two seasons with the Cleveland Indians. He was 27-20 in his first two seasons with the Minnesota Twins.

Stigman moved into the Twins’ starting rotation, winning 12 games for Minnesota in 1962 (while leading the American League with a .706 won-loss percentage).

 

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How the Yankees Found Their Savior for 1964

 

Swap Shop: Pedro Ramos for PTBNL

On September 4, 1964, the New York Yankees looked like they might not repeat as American League champions after four consecutive pennants.

After going 7-10 for the Cleveland Indians in 1964, Pedro Ramos turned into a lights-out reliever for the Yankees in September, going 1-0 with eight saves and a 1.25 ERA in 13 relief appearances.

After going 7-10 for the Cleveland Indians in 1964, Pedro Ramos turned into a lights-out reliever for the Yankees in September, going 1-0 with eight saves and a 1.25 ERA in 13 relief appearances.

After beating the Kansas City Athletics that day, the Yankees found themselves in third place, three games behind the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox. The Yankees had been stuck in third place for nearly a month after leading the league at the end of July. They struggled through a 14-16 August, and were 2-2 thus far in September.

That was about to change in 24 hours.

On September 5, the Yankees announced that they had acquired pitcher Pedro Ramos from the Cleveland Indians for cash and players to be named later. Ramos had started and relieved for the Tribe, and brought with him a record of 7-10 with a 5.14 ERA.

Ramos was a proven innings-eater who had made a career of pitching for bad teams – and mostly losing. He led the American League in losses for four consecutive seasons from 1958 through 1961, when he lost 20 games for the Minnesota Twins. The Twins traded him to Cleveland in 1962, when he posted only the second winning season (9-8) of his nine-year career.

No one in the media saw Ramos as a season saver. But that’s what he turned out to be.

Over the final 24 games of the season, the Yankees would capture the American League pennant by winning 20 games. Ramos appeared in 13 of those games, finished 11 and saved eight games. He was 1-0 with a 1.25 ERA for the Yankees, and his addition, along with the emergence of Mel Stottlemyre following his call-up in August, propelled the Yankees to their fifth consecutive American league pennant.

The late-season acquisition of Pedro Ramos turned out to be a “buy now, pay later” bargain for the Yankees. After winning the 1964 pennant, the Yankees sent pitchers <a rel=

And best of all, the Yankees gave up nothing for Ramos until after the season. The players to be named later turned out to be two pitchers: right-hander Ralph Terry, who was 7-11 with a 4.54 ERA in 1964, and Bud Daley, a lefty who went 3-2 with a 4.63 ERA in 1964. Essentially, the Yankees traded two pitchers on the downside of their careers for a pennant. No brainer.

There was one downside for the Yankees. Since Ramos was acquired in September, he was not eligible for the World Series. They could have used him, dropping the 1964 World Series four games to three to the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Ramos acquisition continued to pay benefits to the Yankees in 1965. Working exclusively out of the bullpen, Ramos made 65 appearances in 1965 with a 5-5 record and a 2.92 ERA. He finished 42 games and saved 19, eighth most in the league.

Cuban Fire Fighter

 

Oh, What a Relief: Pedro Ramos

Pedro Ramos had what amounted to two careers during his 15 years pitching in the major leagues. A durable starter for eight years, Ramos had the distinction of leading the American League in losses for four consecutive seasons from 1958-1961. In games he started from 1955-1964 for the Washington Senators and Minnesota Twins, Ramos was 82-127.

Acquired by the New York Yankees in September of 1964, Pedro Ramos established himself as a force out of the Yankees’ bullpen.

Acquired by the New York Yankees in September of 1964, Pedro Ramos established himself as a force out of the Yankees’ bullpen.

When he became a full-time reliever at the close of the 1964 season, his fortunes on the mound changed dramatically for the better. Acquired by the New York Yankees in September from the Cleveland Indians for players to be named later (who turned out to be pitchers Bud Daley and Ralph Terry), Ramos established himself as a force out of the Yankees’ bullpen. In 13 appearances, Ramos finished 11 games for the Yankees, winning one and saving eight with a 1.25 ERA. Along with rookie right-hander Mel Stottlemyre, who won nine games over the last two months of the season, Ramos bolstered the Yankees’ shaky pitching staff to save the season and bring the Yankees their fifth consecutive American League championship.

As a closer for the full 1965 season, Ramos was nearly as effective for the Yankees – if not as spectacular – as he was in September of 1964. In 65 appearances – all in relief – Ramos was 5-5 with a 2.92 ERA. He finished 42 games and saved 19 for a Yankees team that slipped from first to sixth in the standings. Again as in 1964, Ramos and Stottlemyre were the bright spots on a mostly lackluster Yankee pitching staff.

By 1966, the 31-year-old Ramos had already piled up over 2,000 major league innings pitched, and signs of wear were starting to show. His performance in 1965 slipped to 3-9 with only 13 saves in 52 relief appearance. His 3.61 earned run average that season should have produced better results, but Ramos found himself pitching for another last-place team in the 1966 Yankees, a situation reminiscent of his early career as a workhorse starter for the consistently deficient Washington Senators. He did make one start for the Yankees during the 1966 season. It would be the last start of his career.

The Yankees traded Ramos to the Philadelphia Phillies in December of 1966, and he was released by the Phillies after only six appearances. He pitched in the minors for a year and a half and finally re-emerged with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1969, and made stops in Cincinnati and Washington before being released in 1970. He pitched in the minor leagues and in Mexico trying to get back to the major leagues. But he never made it.

For so much of his career, Ramos pitched better than his record and better than the teams behind him. For the one month in 1964 when he actually pitched for a championship caliber team, Pedro Ramos made the most of his opportunity, and proved – when the Yankees needed him most – to be the best reliever in baseball.

 

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More Than Meets the Eye

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Dick Stigman

Left-hander Dick Stigman won only 46 games in seven major league seasons, but it wasn’t for any particular lack of ability or drive on his part. Stigman was a tough competitor and a hard thrower whose won-lost record belied his effectiveness on the mound. Injuries and a lack of timely run support were the biggest challenges he faced in his all-too-short career.

Dick Stigman went 12-5 in 1962, posting a 3.66 ERA and leading the American League with a .706 winning percentage.

Dick Stigman went 12-5 in 1962, posting a 3.66 ERA and leading the American League with a .706 winning percentage.

A Minnesota native, Stigman was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1954. He made his major league debut with the Tribe in 1960, and was selected to be part of the American League All-Star team as a rookie. He finished his first season at 5-11 with a 4.51 ERA as a starter and reliever. He started 18 games and finished 16 in relief, with nine saves.

Injuries limited him to 22 appearances and a 2-5 record in 1961. The Indians traded Stigman (with Vic Power) to the Minnesota Twins for Pedro Ramos. Stigman went 12-5 in his first season with the Twins, posting a 3.66 ERA and leading the American League with a .706 winning percentage. In 1963 he went 15-15 with a 3.25 ERA and a career-high 241 innings pitched. His numbers for 1963 don’t tell the whole story about his pitching that season. Seven of his 15 losses were one-run decisions. The Twins were shut out four times when Stigman started, and the team scored less than three runs for Stigman in seven other starts. With a little more support (from a team known for its offensive firepower), Stigman could have easily won 20 games in 1963.

In 1964, his record slipped to 6-15 with a 4.03 ERA. But again, the Twins’ bats seem to go silent when Stigman pitched. They were shut out during five of his starts, and scored less than three runs in 11 Stigman starts.

Injuries limited Stigman to a 4-2 record in 1965, and in the following off-season he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Russ Nixon and Chuck Schilling. He was 2-1 for Boston as a starter-reliever in 1966, and then was dealt with Rollie Sheldon to the Cincinnati Reds. He would never pitch for Cincinnati, or for any other major league team.

Stigman finished his career with a 46-54 record and a 4.03 ERA.

 

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Ah the Power of Gold (as in Glove)

 

The Glove Club: Vic Power

As talented as he was as a hitter, Vic Power’s legacy came from his glove and his then-unique fielding style that has redefined how first base is played today.

Vic Power revolutionized first base defense on his way to winning 7 consecutive Gold Gloves.

Vic Power revolutionized first base defense on his way to winning 7 consecutive Gold Gloves.

Power was born Victor Pellot in Puerto Rico and was signed by the New York Yankees in 1951. Despite his success in the Yankees’ minor league system (hitting .331 in Triple-A in 1952 and .349 in 1953 – with no “call up” either season), the Yankees never played Power but sent him to the Philadelphia Athletics in December 1953 as part of an 11-player deal. He batted .255 as an outfielder in his 1954 rookie season. In 1955, the A’s moved to Kansas City, and Power moved from the outfield to first base. He batted .319 (second in the American League to Al Kaline) 2ith 19 home runs and 76 RBIs. He also had 34 doubles and 10 triples in 1955.

Power followed up in 1956 with a .309 batting average. After hitting .259 in 1957, Power batted .312 in 1958 in a season split between Kansas City and the Cleveland Indians. Power was traded to the Indians with shortstop Woodie Held in the deal that brought Roger Maris to the A’s (en route to the New York Yankees). Power led the American League with 10 triples that season, and drove in 80 runs.

The 1958 season was also the first season that the Gold Glove awarded, and Power won the first one for his play at first base. He would win it that year and for each of the next six seasons. He established the style of catching the ball one-handed, increasing his reach on throws to first base. It’s the standard for first base play today, but was considered flamboyant when Power introduced this style, though it seemed natural to him.

In an era when teams typically used first base as a defensive default for less than athletic sluggers, Power showed what athleticism at first base could do for an infield’s defense. He shares the record for two unassisted double plays in the same game (as well as being one of the few major league players to steal home twice in a single game). He also led the league in assists at first base a record six consecutive years.

Power spent four seasons in Cleveland, batting a combined .288 and setting his career high with 84 RBIs in 1960. In 1962, Power was traded with Dick Stigman to the Minnesota Twins for Pedro Ramos. He batted .290 for the Twins in 1962 with 16 home runs and 63 RBIs, and was selected as the team’s Most Valuable Player. In 1964, he was involved in a major trade that sent him to the California Angels (with Lenny Green). Power hit .249 as a part-time player for the Angels, and was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies (for pitcher Marcelino Lopez) at the end of the 1964 season. The Angels re-acquired Power and he hit .259 in 1965, his last year in the majors.

Power played for 12 seasons in the major leagues, batting .284 for his career with 1,716 hits. He was selected for the American League All-Star team four times.

 

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