Bullpen Survivor

 

Oh, What a Relief: Jim Brewer

Though his best seasons came in the 1970s, Jim Brewer was a consistently effective and versatile reliever for the Los Angeles Dodgers for most of the 1960s. And unlike most of baseball’s relief specialists, whose dominance lasts only a year or two until their arms flame out, Brewer got better as he matured. Continue reading

Chief of Relief

 

Oh, What a Relief: Ed Roebuck

For 11 major league seasons, Ed Roebuck was a stellar relief pitcher for three different teams. In 460 big league appearances, he made only one start (in 1957).

A mainstay in the Dodgers’ bullpen in the early 1960s, Ed Roebuck was 10-2 with nine saves in 1962.

A mainstay in the Dodgers’ bullpen in the early 1960s, Ed Roebuck was 10-2 with nine saves in 1962.

Roebuck was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949. He spent six years in the Dodgers’ farm system, finding moderate success as a reliever before pitching as a starter and reliever at the AAA level, winning 15 games in 1953 and 18 games in 1954.

When Roebuck was promoted to the Dodgers’ pitching staff in 1955, he began his major league career in relief, going 5-6 with a 4.61 ERA. He appeared in 47 games for the Dodgers, finishing 27 with 12 saves (second in the National League). He pitched in the sixth game of the 1955 World Series, tossing two innings of scoreless, one-hit relief. He was 8-2 with a 2.71 ERA in 1957, and was 0-1 with a 3.48 ERA and five saves in 1958.

In 1959, Roebuck was sent back to the minors, where he pitched exclusively as a starter at St. Paul in the American Association. He went 13-10 with a 2.98 ERA in 28 starts. Then he found himself back on the Dodgers’ roster in 1960, going 8-3 with a 2.78 ERA in 58 appearances … all in relief. He made only five appearances in 1961, but teamed with left-hander Ron Perranoski to form one of the most effective relief tandems in baseball in 1962. As the right-handed half of that pair, Roebuck appeared in 64 games with a 10-2 record and a 3.09 ERA. He finished 22 games and saved nine. Together, Roebuck and Perranoski combined for a 16-8 record with 29 saves.

In 1963, Roebuck opened the season with the Dodgers but was traded at the end of July to the Washington Senators for Marv Breeding. Roebuck was a combined 4-5 with four saves and a 3.69 ERA for 1963.

Ed Roebuck was 5-3 with a 2.21 ERA and 12 saves for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1964.

Ed Roebuck was 5-3 with a 2.21 ERA and 12 saves for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1964.

In April of 1964 Roebuck was purchased by the Philadelphia Phillies and went 5-3 with a 2.21 ERA and 12 saves for the Phillies. He was 5-3 with three saves in 1965, and appeared in six games in 1966 before being released by Philadelphia. He caught on with San Diego in the Pacific Coast League for a season and a half before retiring as a player after the 1967 season.

Roebuck finished his major league career at 52-31 for a .627 winning percentage. His career ERA was 3.35 with 62 saves.

Top_10_Dodgers_Cover

 

Free Report

Click Here for Instant Download

Zim Brings Relief

 

Swap Shop: Don Zimmer for Ron Perranoski

At the opening of the 1960s, Don Zimmer had already spent more than a decade as part of the Dodgers’ organization. An accomplished infielder with occasional pop in his bat, Zimmer was signed by the Dodgers in 1949 and made the Brooklyn squad in 1954.

Don Zimmer’s value as a utility infielder was worth three minor league players to the Chicago Cubs. But Zimmer spent only two seasons in Chicago before being drafted by the New York Mets. He was an All-Star selection in 1962, his second and last season with the Cubs.

Don Zimmer’s value as a utility infielder was worth three minor league players to the Chicago Cubs. But Zimmer spent only two seasons in Chicago before being drafted by the New York Mets. He was an All-Star selection in 1962, his second and last season with the Cubs.

His versatility as a fielder made him a valuable utility player for the Dodgers. From 1954-1957, he was the backup shortstop to Pee Wee Reese. In 1958, his only season as an everyday with the Dodgers, Zimmer took over as the team’s shortstop and delivered his best season at the plate: batting .262 with 17 home runs, 60 RBIs and 14 stolen bases for the Dodgers (now located in Los Angeles).

But in 1959, Zimmer split the shortstop duties with a young player named Maury Wills, and responded to platooning with a .165 batting average.

It would be his last season in Dodger blue.

While Zimmer’s versatility made him a valuable bench asset to Dodger manager Walt Alston, he was valued more by the Chicago Cubs. Just before the start of the 1960 season, the Cubs acquired Zimmer for $25,000 and three players: minor league outfielder Lee Handley, infielder Johnny Goryl, and a 24-year-old southpaw named Ron Perranoski.

At first, it looked as if the Cubs had gotten the best of the deal. Zimmer played all three positions on the left side of the Cubs’ 1960 infield (plus two appearances in left field), batting .258 with six home runs and 35 runs batted in. In 1961, as the Cubs’ regular second baseman, Zimmer was named to the All-Star team in a season where he batted .252 with 13 home runs, 40 RBIs and a career-best 25 doubles.

Ron Perranoski was the anchor in the Dodgers’ bullpen for that team’s pennant seasons of 1963, 1965 and 1966. Perranoski won 16 games for the Dodgers (all in relief) in 1963 while saving 21.

Ron Perranoski was the anchor in the Dodgers’ bullpen for that team’s pennant seasons of 1963, 1965 and 1966. Perranoski won 16 games for the Dodgers (all in relief) in 1963 while saving 21.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers saw little early return on the trade. None of the players acquired in exchange for Zimmer played for the Dodgers in 1960. Handley never made it to the major leagues. Goryl spent two seasons in the minors before being drafted by the Minnesota Twins (where he played for three seasons as a utility infielder).

And then there was Perranoski. He spent the 1960 season in AAA, going 12-11 with a 2.58 ERA. But after having served primarily as a starter in two seasons in the Cubs’ farm system, Perranoski was being groomed as a reliever by the Dodgers. He made the Dodgers’ roster in 1961, coming out of the bullpen for all but one of his 53 appearances, and posting a 7-5 record with a 3.04 ERA and six saves. In 1962, he appeared in 70 games, finishing 39 and saving 19 to go with a 6-6 record and a 3.35 earned run average.

Zimmer spent the 1962 season in New York and Cincinnati, selected by the Mets in the 1961 expansion draft and then traded to the Reds five weeks into the 1962 season. He batted a combined .213. He would play three more seasons in the major leagues, followed by a year in Japan and an ill-fated comeback attempt in the minors in 1967. He spent the next four decades in baseball as a coach and manager, both in the minors and at the major league level.

Perranoski emerged as one of the most effective relievers of the 1960s. He was 16-3 for the Dodgers in 1963 with a 1.67 ERA and 21 saves. Over the next four seasons, he won 23 games and saved 54 with a 2.73 combined ERA. Perranoski was traded to the Minnesota Twins in 1968 and led the American League in saves in 1969 and 1970.

Zimmer’s baseball career lasted longer than the combined major league careers of the three players the Cubs surrendered to get him. But the trade for Perranoski turned out to be the biggest contribution Zimmer ever made to the Dodger organization that signed him.

Top_10_Dodgers_Cover

 

 

Free Report

Click Here for Instant Download

Ace Handler

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering John Roseboro

Rarely in baseball history has there been a righty-lefty pitching tandem to match the Los Angeles Dodgers’ dynamic duo of the 1960s: Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. Both were big-time winners. Both were capable of double-digit strikeouts in any game they started. And both pitchers had one other thing in common: their catcher.

John Roseboro was the Los Angeles Dodgers everyday catcher from 1958-1967, winning two Gold Gloves and playing for four pennant winners.

John Roseboro was the Los Angeles Dodgers everyday catcher from 1958-1967, winning two Gold Gloves and playing for four pennant winners.

John Roseboro was the player who caught those Hall of Famers. He was an excellent defensive catcher, winning the Gold Glove award twice, and being named to the National League All-Star team three times (as well as one All-Star appearance as an American Leaguer).

Roseboro was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1952 and joined the Dodgers at the end of the 1957 season. He became the Dodgers’ starting catcher for the 1958 season, replacing Roy Campanella, whose Hall of Fame career ended that winter in an automobile crash. Roseboro never approached his predecessor’s offensive prowess, but he was an able backstop who knew how to bring out the best of his pitchers … and he caught some of the best ever. Roseboro hit .271 his rookie season. His best season with a bat was 1961, when he hit 18 home runs with 59 RBIs. His highest batting average was .287 for 1964. In 11 seasons with the Dodgers, Roseboro hit a combined .251.

On August 22, 1965, Roseboro was the victim of an attack by San Francisco Giants pitcher Juan Marichal. Marichal claimed that Roseboro had thrown back to Koufax purposely close to Marichal’s face in retaliation to earlier brushback pitches by Marichal. Marichal attacked Roseboro and struck him three times with his bat, opening a two-inch gash in his head that required 14 stitches. Marichal was suspended for nine games and prohibited from traveling with the team to Dodger Stadium later in the season.

In November of 1967, the Dodgers dealt Roseboro, along with pitchers Bob Miller and Ron Perranoski, to the Minnesota Twins for Mudcat Grant and Zoilo Versalles. Roseboro’s steady performance behind the plate was instrumental in Minnesota’s finishing first in the Western Division in 1969.

The Twins released Roseboro following the 1969 season and he signed with the Washington Senators. He appeared in 46 games as a backup for Washington in 1970, retiring after being released by the club in August of 1970.

Roseboro batted .249 in 14 major league seasons. He won his Gold Gloves in 1961 and 1966.

Top_10_Dodgers_Cover

 

 

 

Free Report

Click Here for Instant Download

An Extra Dose of Sweet

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Lou Johnson

“Sweet Lou” Johnson was the centerpiece of the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ offense in the mid-1960s. In those seasons, the Dodgers were winning pennants, but they were doing it primarily with the best pitching in the major leagues … with arms like those of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Johnny Podres, Claude Osteen and Ron Perranoski.

The Dodgers of 1965 and 1966 generally didn’t score a lot of runs, but they scored enough to win. Those teams manufactured runs with their legs as well as their bats. And Lou Johnson was an integral part of that “just enough” offense.

Lou Johnson spent 13 season in the minors before finally winning an everyday role with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1965.

Lou Johnson spent 13 season in the minors before finally winning an everyday role with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1965.

Johnson was an all-around star athlete, who excelled particularly on the basketball court. He was signed by the New York Yankees in 1953.

He spent the next 13 years working his way into a full-time major league gig. His first opportunity came in 1962 with the Milwaukee Braves after brief appearances the two previous seasons with the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Angels. He appeared in 61 games with the Braves, batting .282.

In May of 1963, Johnson was traded by the Braves to the Detroit Tigers for shortstop Chico Fernandez. It meant another two seasons in the minors, but the turning point in Johnson’s career came just before the start of the 1964 season when Johnson was traded to the Dodgers for pitcher Larry Sherry.

Johnson spent 1964 in the minors and started the 1965 season as a reserve outfielder for the Dodgers. In early May the team’s hitting star and two-time batting champion, Tommy Davis, suffered a season-ending broken ankle. Johnson took over in left field and hit .259 in 131 games, with 24 doubles, 12 home runs, 58 RBIs and 15 stolen bases. In the 1965 World Series against the Minnesota Twins, Johnson hit .296 with two home runs and four RBIs.

Lou Johnson’s best season with the Dodgers came in 1966, when he batted .272 with 17 home runs and 73 RBIs.

Lou Johnson’s best season with the Dodgers came in 1966, when he batted .272 with 17 home runs and 73 RBIs.

He was the Dodgers’ starting left fielder for the duration of the team’s 1966 pennant-winning season. He hit .272 with 17 home runs and 73 RBIs. He followed up in 1967 by hitting .270 with 11 home runs and 41 RBIs.

Johnson would play for only two more major league seasons. Following the 1967 campaign, the Dodgers sent Johnson to the Cubs, who traded him in June of 1968 to the Cleveland Indians for outfielder Willie Smith. Johnson hit .257 in 65 games with the Tribe, and just before Opening Day of 1969 he was traded to the California Angels for outfielder Chuck Hinton. Johnson hit .203 for the Angels, playing in only 61 games that season, and retired at the end of the season at age 34.

Johnson finished his eight-season major league career with a .258 batting average.

 

Top_10_Dodgers_Cover

 

 

Free Report

Click Here for Instant Download

Ron to the Rescue

 

Oh, What a Relief: Ron Perranoski

It was pitching that carried the Los Angeles Dodgers to their World Series championship in 1963. It wasn’t their hitting. Despite having the league’s batting champion in Tommy Davis, the Dodgers as a team batted .251, only fourth best in the National League. They were fifth in the league in runs scored.

Ron Perranoski was the bullpen ace who complemented the Dodgers’ starting rotation of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Johnny Podres. Perranoski was 16-3 with 21 saves for the Dodgers in 1963.

Ron Perranoski was the bullpen ace who complemented the Dodgers’ starting rotation of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Johnny Podres. Perranoski was 16-3 with 21 saves for the Dodgers in 1963.

But that kind of offense was enough for a team that featured Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Johnny Podres in its starting rotation. And even though those three starters accounted for 47 complete games in 1963, the Dodgers’ success also came from a solid bullpen, led by a left-hander who won 16 games in relief in 1963, Ron Perranoski.

Signed off the Michigan State University campus by the Chicago Cubs, Perranoski was traded to the Dodgers in 1960. (While attending Michigan State University, he was a teammate of Dick Radatz, the ace reliever for the Boston Red Sox in the mid-1960s.)

Perranoski made the Dodgers’ squad in 1961, appearing in 53 games (including the only start of his career), and going 7-5 with six saves and a 2.65 ERA. He established himself as the Dodgers’ closer in 1962, appearing in 70 games and finishing 39 of them, with 20 saves and a 2.85 ERA.

After eight seasons with the Dodgers, Ron Perranoski was traded to the Minnesota Twins and led the American League with 31 saves in 1969 and 34 saves in 1970.

After eight seasons with the Dodgers, Ron Perranoski was traded to the Minnesota Twins and led the American League with 31 saves in 1969 and 34 saves in 1970.

In 1963, Perranoski had a career year, with a 16-3 record and 21 saves with a 1.67 earned run average. He appeared only once in the World Series, shutting down the New York Yankees in the bottom of the ninth to earn a save in preserving a 4-1 victory for the Dodgers and Podres. (Every other game was a complete-game victory for the Dodgers’ starter.)

Over the next four years, Perranoski appeared in 256 games for the Dodgers, saving 54 while going 23-27 with a 2.73 ERA. He was traded to the Minnesota Twins following the 1967 season, and saved 65 games for the Twins over the next two years, leading the American League in that category both seasons. His performance tailed off sharply after that, and Perranoski retired in 1973 after 13 seasons.

His 179 career saves made him the all-time leader among left-handers at the time of his retirement. Today his save total still leaves him ninth on the all-time list among left-handed relievers. His 16 wins in relief in 1963 tied him with Philadelphia’s Jim Konstanty for the second highest total in a season. (Roy Face set the record with 18 relief wins in 1959, a record that still stands.)

Top_10_Dodgers_Cover

 

 

 

Free Report

Click Here for Instant Download

 

Most Valuable Twin

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Zoilo Versalles

Sometimes timing is everything. Have a career year for a perennial second-division team that rises to American League champion and you too could win a Most Valuable Player award.

Just ask Zoilo Versalles.

Zoilo Versalles was the American League MVP in 1965 when he batted .273 with 19 home runs and 77 RBIs and winning his second Golden Glove.

Versalles was signed by the Washington Senators in 1958 and made the major league club for keeps in 1960, the team’s last year in the nation’s capital. From 1963 through 1965, Zoilo Versalles was the only American League player with double-figure totals in doubles, triples and home runs.

The Minnesota Twins sparkplug was clearly the team leader when the 1965 American League pennant arrived in the Twin Cities. The 5-foot-10 Cuban-born shortstop led the American League in at-bats (666), runs (126), doubles (45), triples (12), and total bases (308) while batting .273 with 19 home runs and 77 RBIs and winning the Golden Glove (his second).

He continued his clutch hitting in the World Series, which the Los Angeles Dodgers took four games to three. Versalles hit .286 with four RBIs on eight hits, including a double, a triple and a home run.

His batting average in 1966 slipped to .249, and his home runs and RBIs fell by more than half (to seven home runs and 36 runs batted in). His batting average dipped to .200 in 1967, and the Twins traded Versalles and Mudcat Grant to the Dodgers for Bob Miller, Ron Perranoski and John Roseboro. The change of scenery didn’t help his hitting, as he batted .196 for the Dodgers in 1968. Versalles spent the 1969 season with the Cleveland Indians and Washington Senators, and was released after batting a combined .236.

After a season in the Mexican League, Versalles was signed by the Atlanta Braves and was a part-time player in 1971, his last season in the majors. He spent three more seasons in the minors before retiring in 1974.

A lifetime .242 hitter, Versalles led the American League in triples three times, and was never more productive at the plate than he was during his MVP season.

 

Top_10_Twins_CoverJPG

 

Free Report

Click Here for Instant Download