Shaw Me the Money

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Bob Shaw

Right-handed pitcher Bob Shaw was a battler on the mound and, when necessary, a guy who wasn’t afraid to stand up to management in his own defense. In many ways, he was fashioned from the mold of his former Chicago White Sox teammate, Early Wynn, though not quite as talented, or nearly as irascible.

After a 5-4 rookie campaign in 1958, Bob Shaw was 18-6 for the Chicago White Sox in 1959. His .750 winning percentage was the best in the American League.

After a 5-4 rookie campaign in 1958, Bob Shaw was 18-6 for the Chicago White Sox in 1959. His .750 winning percentage was the best in the American League.

Shaw was signed by the Detroit Tigers in 1953 and made his debut in Detroit at the end of the 1957 season. He opened the 1958 season with the Tigers but was demoted to the minors, and when he refused to report over a bonus payment dispute, he was traded with Ray Boone to the White Sox for outfielder Tito Francona and pitcher Bill Fischer.

It was a career-transforming move for Shaw, partly because he got the opportunity to pitch, and partly because of the influence of his roommate, the Hall of Fame bound Wynn. Shaw went 4-2 for the White Sox over the rest of the 1958 season, pitching primarily out of the bullpen.

The bullpen was where he started in 1959, but by the end of the season, Shaw was the number two starter for the American League champions behind the 1959 Cy Young Award winner, his mentor Wynn. Shaw went 18-6 with a 2.69 ERA, his .750 winning percentage the best among American League pitchers.

Shaw was 13-13 for the White Sox in 1960, and in 1961 he was traded to the Kansas City Athletics with Wes Covington in a deal that brought pitcher Ray Herbert to the White Sox. Shaw was a combined 12-14 in 1961, and after the season’s end was traded again, this time to the Milwaukee Braves in a deal that brought Joe Azcue, Manny Jimenez and Ed Charles to the A’s.

Bob Shaw split his 11-year major league career between starting and the bullpen. He was effective in both roles. In 223 starts, Shaw was 85-81 with a 3.60 ERA and 14 shutouts. In 207 relief appearances, Shaw was 23-17 with a 3.20 ERA and 32 saves.

Bob Shaw split his 11-year major league career between starting and the bullpen. He was effective in both roles. In 223 starts, Shaw was 85-81 with a 3.60 ERA and 14 shutouts. In 207 relief appearances, Shaw was 23-17 with a 3.20 ERA and 32 saves.

Shaw had an excellent season for the Braves in 1962, going 15-9 with a 2.80 ERA and 12 complete game. He slipped to 7-11 in 1963, posting a 2.66 ERA and pitching mostly out of the Braves’ bullpen. In December of 1963 he was traded with Del Crandall and Bob Hendley to the San Francisco Giants for Felipe Alou, Ed Bailey, Billy Hoeft and a player to be named later. As a relief specialist, Shaw led the Giants in appearances with 61 and saved 11 games with a 7-6 record, posting a 3.76 ERA. In 1965, he moved into the Giants’ starting rotation and went 16-9 with a 2.64 ERA.

In 1966, the Giants sold Shaw to the New York Mets, and he finished the season at 12-14 combined. His last season was 1967, split between the Mets and the Chicago Cubs. Shaw went 3-11 with a 4.61 ERA.

In 11 major league seasons, Shaw was 108-98 with a 3.52 career earned run average. He was a member of the National League All-Star team in 1962.

 

 

 

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Speed Wizard

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Jose Cardenal

Jose Cardenal built an 18-year major league career on speed: bat speed, speed in the outfield, and speed on the base paths. A line-drive hitter with an accurate throwing arm, Cardenal provided solid, consistent play for nine different major league teams.

Jose Cardenal’s best season came in 1972 when he 17 home runs with 70 RBIs for the Chicabo Cubs. He batted a combined .301 for the Cubs from 1972-1976.

Jose Cardenal’s best season came in 1972 when he 17 home runs with 70 RBIs for the Chicago Cubs. He batted a combined .301 for the Cubs from 1972-1976.

Cardenal was signed by the San Francisco Giants in 1960 and made his debut with the team at the end of the 1963 season. The Giants traded Cardenal to the California Angels in November 1964, and Cardenal became the Angels’ starting center fielder in 1965, hitting .250 with 37 stolen bases (second in the American League to his cousin, Bert Campaneris). He hit .276 for the Angels in 1966 with 16 home runs and 48 RBIs.

Injuries limited his productivity in 1967, and Cardenal was traded to the Cleveland Indians for outfielder Chuck Hinton. He hit .257 for Cleveland in each of the next two seasons. His 40 stolen bases in 1968 were second highest in the American League (again to Campaneris). Then Cardenal was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Vada Pinson.

Jose Cardenal stole 40 bases for the Cleveland Indians in 1968, finishing second to league leader Bert Campaneris for the second time.

Jose Cardenal stole 40 bases for the Cleveland Indians in 1968, finishing second to league leader Bert Campaneris for the second time.

Cardenal split the next two seasons between the Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers. He hit .293 for St. Louis in 1970, and had a career high 80 RBIs in 1971. Prior to the 1972 season, Cardinal was traded to the Chicago Cubs, where he stayed for six seasons, his longest tenure with any single team. He hit .291 for the Cubs in 1972 with 17 home runs (career high) and 70 RBIs. He hit .303 in 1973, .293 in 1974, and .317 in 1975, averaging 70 RBIs per season in his first four seasons with the Cubs.

From 1978 through 1980, Cardenal played for the Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets and Kansas City Royals. He retired in 1980 with 1,913 hits and a .275 career batting average.

Boffo Bonus Baby

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Ray Sadecki

The era of the “bonus baby” force-fed a number of talented kids into the major leagues before they were ready, leaving more potential shattered than fulfilled. One of the exceptions was Ray Sadecki, a talented left-hander who adapted early and well to major league competition and delivered quickly on the St. Louis Cardinals‘ investment in him.
Ray Sadecki was 20-11 for the pennant-winning Cardinals in 1964.

Ray Sadecki was 20-11 for the pennant-winning Cardinals in 1964.

The Cardinals signed Sadecki in 1958 and he made his debut with the team in 1960 as a 19-year-old, going 9-9 with a 3.78 ERA and 7 complete games. In 1961 he went 14-10 with 13 complete games and a 3.72 ERA.

His major challenge was his control, as he averaged over four walks per nine innings both seasons. He spent part of the 1962 season back in the minors, going 6-8 with a 5.54 ERA for St. Louis. He finished the 1963 season at 10-10 with a 4.10 ERA.

Sadecki’s breakout season was 1964, when the Cardinals took the National league pennant. Part of a strong starting trio that included Bob Gibson and Curt Simmons, Sadecki led the team with a 20-11 record and a 3.68 ERA. He was the winning pitcher in the first game of the 1964 World Series against the New York Yankees.
Sadecki’s record slipped to 6-15 in 1965, and early in the 1966 season he was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Orlando Cepeda. Sadecki had a combined 5-8 record for 1966, but rebounded for the Giants in 1967 with a 12-6 record and a 2.78 ERA. In 1968, despite a 2.91 ERA, Sadecki posted a 12-18 record, tied for the most losses in the majors.
Traded to the Mets in 1970, Ray Sadecki was 30-25 with a 3.36 ERA in six seasons in New York.

Traded to the Mets in 1970, Ray Sadecki was 30-25 with a 3.36 ERA in six seasons in New York.

The Giants traded Sadecki to the New York Mets following the 1969 season. He pitched for the Mets for six seasons as a spot starter and long reliever, with a combined record of 30-25 and a 3.36 ERA. Following the 1974 season, the Mets traded him to the Cardinals for Joe Torre. From 1975 through 1977, Sadecki pitched for six different teams (including the Kansas City Royals twice and the Mets again) before retiring during the 1977 season.

He pitched a total of 18 years in the major leagues, compiling a 135-131 record and a 3.78 ERA.

Quiet Production

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Norm Siebern

Tall, athletic and bespectacled, Norm Siebern was a solid hitter who “grew up” professionally in the New York Yankees organization and blossomed into an All-Star outfielder and first baseman with the Kansas City Athletics. The New York papers – and even Yankees manager Casey Stengel – occasionally made sport of his quiet demeanor, but there was no question about the quality of his production, at bat and in the field.

Norm Siebern’s best season came with the Kansas City Athletcs in 1962, batting .308 with 25 home runs and 117 RBIs.

Norm Siebern’s best season came with the Kansas City Athletcs in 1962, batting .308 with 25 home runs and 117 RBIs.

Siebern was signed by the Yankees in 1951 and, after two years in the minors and a military tour, Siebern made his debut with the Yankees in 1956, hitting .204 in 54 games. The well-stocked Yankees outfield left no room for Siebern, so he returned to the minors in 1957, hitting .349 for Denver in the American Association, with 45 doubles, 15 triples, 24 home runs and 118 RBIs. He was named Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year for 1957.

That performance earned Siebern a permanent place on the Yankees roster in 1958, and he responded with 14 home runs, 55 RBIs and a .300 batting average. Siebern won the Gold Glove for his left field play, but ironically, it was pair of errors in the 1958 World Series that sent him to the bench for most of that Series.

Siebern hit .271 in 1959, and after the season was traded with Hank Bauer, Don Larsen and Marv Throneberry to the Kansas City Athletics for Joe DeMaestri, Kent Hadley and Roger Maris. He hit .279 for the A’s in 1960 with 19 home runs and 69 RBIs. His performance was overshadowed by the MVP season that Maris had for the Yankees.

Siebern’s hitting kept improving, especially as he spent more time at first base for the A’s. He batted .296 in 1961 with 36 doubles, 18 home runs and 98 RBIs. In 1962, Siebern hit .308 (fifth highest in the American League) with 25 doubles, 25 home runs and 117 RBIs (second in the AL to Harmon Killebrew‘s 126).

Norm Siebern had an outstanding rookie season for the New York Yankees in 1958, batting .300 and winning the Gold Glove in left field.

Norm Siebern had an outstanding rookie season for the New York Yankees in 1958, batting .300 and winning the Gold Glove in left field.

Siebern’s production fell off slightly in 1963, batting .272 with 16 home runs and 83 RBIs, and after that season he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for first baseman Jim Gentile. He hit .245 for the Orioles in 1964 with 12 home runs and 56 RBIs, and he led the majors with 106 walks. In 1965, the O’s, to make room for Curt Blefary and Paul Blair, moved Boog Powell from the outfield to first base, limiting Siebern’s playing time. After that season he was traded to the California Angels for Dick Simpson, whom the Orioles later packaged in the trade for Frank Robinson.

Siebern hit .247 in 1966, his only season with the Angels. He was traded to the San Francisco Giants for outfielder Len Gabrielson, and in July of 1967 was purchased by the Boston Red Sox. A part-time player for Boston, Siebern was released by the Red Sox in August of 1968 and retired.

Siebern finished his 12-season major league career with a .272 batting average. He had 1,217 hits and 132 home runs. He was an All-Star from 1962 through 1964.

Spraying Rockets Around the National League

 

Homer Happy: Willie McCovey

What was most impressive about slugger Willie McCovey – beyond the career hitting statistics that earned him a place in the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility – was his consistency as a power hitter throughout his 22-season career, even though he battled injuries in nearly half of them. Twelve times he hit 20 or more home runs in a season, and in the six seasons from 1965 through 1970, he hit no fewer than 31.

From 1965-1969, Willie McCovey led the National League in home runs twice. He averaged 37 home runs and 102 RBIs during those five seasons.

From 1965-1969, Willie McCovey led the National League in home runs twice. He averaged 37 home runs and 102 RBIs during those five seasons.

His total of 521 career home runs – clearly Hall of Fame worthy – was limited by his opportunities to play during the first five years of his major league career. McCovey was signed by the New York Giants in 1955 and made his debut with the San Francisco Giants on July 30, 1959. In the remaining two months of that season, McCovey batted .354 with 13 homes runs and 38 RBIs – all in what was essentially a third of a season. He also posted a .656 slugging average, and was named National League Rookie of the Year.

As good as he was, McCovey wasn’t good enough to find a place in the Giants’ everyday lineup, a lineup that included Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Felipe Alou and Willie Kirkland. By the end of the 1960 season, McCovey had earned a starting spot at first base.

With only 260 official at-bats in 1960, McCovey finished the season with 13 home runs and 51 RBIs. But the first base job went back to Cepeda in 1961, and McCovey returned to the role of part-time outfielder for the next two seasons. He hit 18 home runs in 1961 and 20 in 1962.

In 1963, McCovey was tabbed to be the team’s regular left fielder, and he responded with a league-leading 44 home runs and 102 runs batted in. A foot injury limited his playing time and productivity in 1964, when he batted .220 with 18 home runs and 54 RBIs. He rebounded in 1965 with 39 home runs, and hit more than 30 homers in each of the next three seasons, leading the National League in home runs (36) and RBIs (105) in 1968.

McCovey’s best season came in 1969, when he batted .320 and led the National League in home runs (45), RBIs (126) and slugging average (.656). He was selected as the National League Most Valuable Player that season.

McCovey bashed 39 home runs in 1970, the most he would hit in a single season over the rest of his career. Dogged by injuries over the next few years, he managed 29 home runs and 75 RBIs in 1973. He was traded to the San Diego Padres, and after two years split the 1976 season between the Padres and the Oakland Athletics. He returned to San Francisco in 1977 and had a strong comeback season at age 39, batting .280 with 28 home runs and 86 RBIs. He hit only 28 more home runs as a part-time player over the next three seasons, and retired in 1980. He finished with a career batting average of .270.

McCovey was a six-time All-Star, and was the Most Valuable player in the 1969 All-Star game. He hit 231 home runs in Candlestick Park, the most by any player. And McCovey was the first major league player to twice hit two home runs in a single inning.

He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986.

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Wet Wins

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Gaylord Perry

Gaylord Perry was a great pitcher partly because he was also a great mound psychologist.

Gaylord Perry won 314 games over a 22-year major league career. He was the first pitcher to win the <a rel=

Notorious for being the last great spitball pitcher (a pitch outlawed four decades before Perry’s career began), he deftly used the uncertainty of that pitch to keep batters thinking about it rather than concentrating on his “stuff,” which was considerable … wet or dry.

Perry was signed by the San Francisco Giants in 1958 and made his debut with the team at the end of the 1962 season. He was used primarily as a long reliever and spot starter during his first three seasons with the Giants, but gradually moved into the Giants’ starting rotation and posted a 21-8 record with a 2.99 ERA in 1966.

Perry was always an “innings eater” and, from 1967 through 1975, never pitched less than 280 innings in a season. He pitched more than 300 innings six times in his career. He won 50 games for the Giants from 1967 through 1969, and led the National League in victories with a 23-13 record in 1970 (the same year that brother Jim Perry led the American League with 24 wins and won the American League Cy Young award).

Perry went 16-12 in 1971 with a 2.76 ERA, and over the winter the Giants dealt Perry and shortstop Frank Duffy to the Cleveland Indians for Sam McDowell. Perry responded with the best season of his career: a 24-16 record (one-third of the Indians’ 72 victories), a 1.92 ERA over 342.2 innings pitched, and 29 complete games, including five shutouts. He was named American League Cy Young award winner for the 1972 season.

Gaylord Perry’s breakout season came in 1966, when he went 21-8 with a 2.99 ERA for the San Francisco Giants. That season he was also named to the All-Star team for the first time.

Gaylord Perry’s breakout season came in 1966, when he went 21-8 with a 2.99 ERA for the San Francisco Giants. That season he was also named to the All-Star team for the first time.

Perry won 19 games for the Tribe in 1973 and 21 games in 1974. He pitched 57 complete games over those two seasons. During the 1975 season, he was traded to the Texas Rangers for Jim Bibby, Jackie Brown, Rick Waits and $100,000. He won a combined 18 games that season, and followed up with a pair of 15-win campaigns over the next two seasons. Then Perry was traded to the San Diego Padres, and posted a 21-6 record with a 2.73 ERA in 1978 – good enough to claim his second Cy Young award. Perry was the first pitcher to win that award in each league.

He hung on for five more years, pitching for Texas, the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals. He closed out his 22-year career with a 314-265 record and a 3.11 ERA. He pitched 5,350 innings over his career, the sixth highest total in major league history.

A five-time All-Star, Perry was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dodger Destroyer Strikes Again

 

Lights Out: Larry Jaster Blanks Los Angeles for the Fifth Time … in One Season

When: September 28, 1966

Where:  Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri

Game Time: 2:27

Attendance: 16,146

Pitcher Larry Jaster won 35 games during his seven-year major league career. Five of those victories came in a single season, against a single team: the team that would claim the National League pennant.

Larry Jaster was 11-5 with a 3.26 ERA for the Cardinals in 1966. Against the Los Angeles Dodgers that season, Jaster was 5-0 with a 0.00 ERA. He struck out 31 Dodgers in 45 innings pitched.

Larry Jaster was 11-5 with a 3.26 ERA for the Cardinals in 1966. Against the Los Angeles Dodgers that season, Jaster was 5-0 with a 0.00 ERA. He struck out 31 Dodgers in 45 innings pitched.

The left-handed Jaster was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1962 and made his debut with the Cardinals in 1965, pitching a scoreless inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game St. Louis lost 3-2.

Jaster made three starts after that initial appearance, going 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA. The Dodgers were the only team Jaster faced but didn’t beat in 1965. That would be rectified – repeatedly – in 1966.

Jaster was 1-1 when he first faced the Dodgers in 1966, beating them 2-0 on a seven-hit shutout, striking out seven batters and walking none. He faced the Dodgers again on July 3, and shut them out again on three hits.

On July 29, Jaster faced the Dodgers again and pitched another shutout, winning 4-0 on a five-hitter. When Jaster faced the Dodgers for the fifth time that season, they were still fighting off the Pittsburgh Pirates for the National League pennant. The Dodgers started 12-game winner Don Sutton against the Cardinals and Jaster, who was 10-5 coming into his final start on the season. Both teams were scoreless after three innings. Jaster retired the first 11 Los Angeles batters.

Larry Jaster’s mastery over the Dodgers lasted only one season. Take away his 1966 performance, and Jaster was only 4-5 with a 4.18 ERA in 20 career appearances (13 starts).

Larry Jaster’s mastery over the Dodgers lasted only one season. Take away his 1966 performance, and Jaster was only 4-5 with a 4.21 ERA in 20 career appearances (13 starts).

In the bottom of the fourth, Curt Flood reached base on an error and Tim McCarver walked. Two outs later, both runners scored on Ed Spiezo’s double. Jaster retired the Dodgers in order in the fifth and sixth innings. In the top of the seventh, Jaster gave up two singles, but struck out Al Ferrara to notch another scoreless inning. In the top of the eighth, Jaster gave up a walk but no runs. In the top of the ninth he retired the Dodgers in order.

Jaster’s four-hitter was his fifth shutout of the Dodgers that season: five starts, 45 innings, no runs. Over the rest of his career, which would last only five more seasons, Jaster would be 4-5 with a 4.21 ERA against the Dodgers.

The Dodgers survived Jaster to win the 1966 National League pennant by 1.5 games over the San Francisco Giants.

Lasting Relief

 

Oh, What a Relief: Lindy McDaniel

The 1960s were the baseball decade that witnessed the emergence of the relief specialist. And among the outstanding relief pitchers who toiled during the 1960s, few could claim a more brilliantly consistent career than that of Lindy McDaniel.

Lindy McDaniel led the National League in saves in 1959, 1960 and 1963.

Lindy McDaniel led the National League in saves in 1959, 1960 and 1963.

He pitched for 21 seasons, from 1955 to 1975. Among relievers, only Hoyt Wilhelm could match his record for longevity.

The St. Louis Cardinals signed McDaniel as a free agent in 1955. His minor league career lasted only six games (4-1 with a 3.64 ERA) as he joined the big league club at the end of 1955. He took turns as both a starter and reliever for the Cardinals in 1957, going 15-9 with a 3.49 ERA.

Gradually, McDaniel did less starting and more relieving for the Cards. In 1959 he went 14-12 and led the major leagues with 15 saves (in the days when starters were expected to pitch complete games). McDaniel had an outstanding season in 1960, with a 12-4 record and a 2.09 ERA. His 26 saves that season were again best in the majors, and earned McDaniel the first Fireman of the Year award as baseball’s best reliever. (He would win that award again in 1963.)

Lindy  McDaniel and <a rel=

Following the 1962 season, McDaniel was traded with pitcher Larry Jackson and catcher Jimmie Schaffer to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder George Altman, pitcher Don Cardwell and catcher Moe Thacker. For the Cubs in 1963, he won 13 games (all in relief) and saved 22 more (NL best). In his three seasons in Chicago, McDaniel averaged 64 relief appearances per season with a 3.06 ERA.

McDaniel spent two seasons with the San Francisco Giants, and then was traded to the New York Yankees in 1968 for pitcher Bill Monbouquette. In six seasons with the Yankees, McDaniel appeared in 265 games with a combined ERA of 2.89. His best season in New York was 1970, when his record was 9-5 in 62 appearances, with 29 saves and an ERA of 2.01. He closed out his career with the Kansas City Royals, retiring after the 1975 season.

In 21 major league seasons, McDaniel won 141 games and saved 174 with a 3.45 career earned run average. He was an All-Star in 1960.

 

 

 

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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.

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Bullish on Slugging

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Orlando Cepeda

If you want to understand how really good a ballplayer Orlando Cepeda was in his prime, consider this: for more than six years, he kept a future Hall of Famer – who would produce 521 career home runs – out of the starting line-up.

That player was the great Willie McCovey, one of the most feared hitters in National League history, and deservedly so. But in the early 1960s, McCovey wasn’t good enough to displace Cepeda from first base in the Giants’ starting line-up.

In 1961, Orlando Cepeda led the National League with 46 home runs and 142 RBIs. From 1960 through 1964, Cepeda batted a combined .307, averaging 34 home runs and 109 RBIs per season.

In 1961, Orlando Cepeda led the National League with 46 home runs and 142 RBIs. From 1960 through 1964, Cepeda batted a combined .307, averaging 34 home runs and 109 RBIs per season.

Though remembered as a slugger himself, Cepeda (nicknamed “The Baby Bull”) was actually a well-rounded ballplayer. He was signed by the Giants in 1955, and was San Francisco’s starting first baseman by the beginning of the 1958 season. He was the National League’s Rookie of the Year that season, hitting .312 with 25 home runs, 96 RBIs and 15 stolen bases. He also led the league with 38 doubles. His second season was even better, hitting .317 with 27 home runs, 105 RBIs and 23 stolen bases.

In 1961, Cepeda led the league in both home runs (46) and RBIs (142) while hitting .311. He finished second in the MVP voting to Cincinnati’s Frank Robinson. From 1960 through 1964, Cepeda batted a combined .307, averaging 34 home runs and 109 RBIs per season.

During weight training following the 1964 season, Cepeda injured a knee, and tried playing through the injury without telling team management. Knee surgery sidelined him for most of the 1965 season, and in 1966 the Giants traded Cepeda to the St. Louis Cardinals for left-handed pitcher Ray Sadecki, a 20-game winner two seasons before. The Cardinals got the better end of the deal, as Cepeda’s bat rebounded with the gradual improvement in the health of his knee. For the Cardinals in 1966, Cepeda hit .303 with 17 home runs and 58 RBIs in 123 games.

Orlando Cepeda was the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1967 when he led the league with 111 RBIs.

Orlando Cepeda was the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1967 when he led the league with 111 RBIs.

In 1967, Cepeda captured the National League’s Most Valuable Award as the offensive leader of the pennant-winning Cardinals. He hit .325 with 25 home runs and a league-leading 111 RBIs. His power numbers slipped to 16 home runs and 73 RBIs as the Cardinals repeated as National League champions in 1968. However, in the 1968 World Series against the Detroit Tigers, Cepeda hit two home runs with six RBIs.

In the spring of 1969, Cepeda was traded to the Atlanta Braves for catcher-first baseman Joe Torre. His 22 home runs and 88 RBIs played an integral role in the Braves’ divisional championship. The following year, Cepeda had his last strong season, hitting .305 for the Braves with 34 home runs and 111 RBIs. He retired in 1974 after stops in Oakland, Boston and Kansas City.

In 17 seasons, the 11-time All-Star finished with 379 home runs and a career batting average of .297. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.

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