Saturday, February 1, 2020
Spencer played 10 years in the National League with the Giants, Dodgers, Cardinals, and Reds. He grew up in Kansas where his father was an oil field drilling contractor who struggled through the Depression.
Spencer was never considered a top prospect but caught the eye of then scout Mel Ott as a semi-pro, and he was signed by the Giants. His career numbers are not impressive, but he had good power for a middle infielder and was known for driving in runs in clutch situations.
He passed away at the age of 88 in 2017. On this card he's saddled with the hand-painted SF Seals logo that Topps used for many of the Giants players in the '58 set.
Thursday, October 31, 2019
New York-born Joe Ginsberg was raised in Detroit and signed with the Tigers in 1944 at the age of 17. He soon found himself in the Army and playing service ball in the Philippines. After WWII he returned to the Tigers and debuted with them with a ten-game trial late in the 1948 season.
In 1950 he made the team for good and went on to spend thirteen seasons in the majors with seven different clubs. Except for a couple of years as the lead backstop in a platoon situation for Detroit, he played mostly as a backup catcher.
Ginsberg played his last big league game as an Original Met in 1962. He started their home opener in the Polo Grounds but mostly sat on the bench after that as was released around the first of May. He had a brief whirl in the minors later that season but soon retired to work as a sales rep for the Jack Daniels distillery.
He died in 2012 at the age of 86.
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
The year this card was produced was easily his best in the majors as he made the NL All-Star team and had career highs in homers, RBIs and batting average. He finished in the Top Ten of several offensive categories, including WAR.
He later toured much of the rest of the NL, playing for the Reds, Phils, and Dodgers, mostly as a fourth outfielder and pinch-hitter. He was on the Dodgers 1963 Series team but didn't get into a Series game.
He returned to baseball 15 seasons after his playing days as a coach and minor league manager. He died at 60 in 1993.
My copy is obviously off-center and sort of scuffed but, man, check out that cartoon!
Friday, June 7, 2019
Longtime big leaguer Lindy McDaniel's younger brother, Von, didn't have the kind of career as his older sibling. In fact, he only enjoyed 19 games in the majors. But he certainly made a splash in that short time.
In 1957 he signed out of high school with the Cards (Lindy's team at the time) and was placed on the roster as per the bonus signee rules in effect then. After a couple of relief appearances (including a win in Ebbetts Field), he pitched a two-hit shutout to beat the Dodgers on June 21 for his first win. He went on to win seven games and helped the Cards to a second place finish. This Cardinals blog has an entertaining post describing McDaniel's rookie season.
Von developed arm issues the following spring and lost command of his pitches. After a couple of rocky outings, the Cardinals shipped him to the minors where he eventually transitioned into a third baseman (he was a pretty good hitter) but he never returned to the majors.
The McDaniel brothers only appeared in one game together that I can find. In September of '57 Von had a bumpy start against the Reds and was relieved by Lindy in the second inning. Older brother ended up getting a win out in that one.
Thursday, May 30, 2019
Western Pennsylvania native Joe Lonnett spent 24 years in baseball as a player and coach, signing with the Philadelphia Phillies as a free agent in 1948. He missed two seasons while serving in the U.S. Navy in World War II and the Korean War. Lonnett spent four seasons as a catcher with the Phillies, from 1956-59, batting .166 with six home runs and 27 RBI. His roommate with the Phils was Robin Roberts.
He later coached for the Pirates under friend and fellow Pittsburgh area native Chuck Tanner. He was on the staff of the '79 championship team. He succumbed to Alzheimer's disease in 2011 at the age of 84.
Friday, May 24, 2019
Nuxhall debuted in MLB before his 16th birthday in 1944 due to the thinning of talent due to WWII. He then did the usual minor league work and returned to the Reds in 1952. Baseball Reference shows he was out of baseball in 1946 with 'voluntarily retired' given as the reason for no stats. I'd like to think he spent the year getting ready for his high school prom.
He went on to win 135 games over 16 seasons, all but five of those wins with the Reds. He went on to become a long-time, much-loved broadcaster for the Reds before retiring in 2004, a full six decades after his debut. Even then he wasn't completely retired as he sometimes pitched batting practice at Reds home games.
Joe Nuxhall died in 2007 at the age of 79.
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Since I only caught the tail end of Joe DeMaestri's career I think of him as a Yankee but he spent far more time with the Athletics through the 1950s.
He was originally a Red Sox signee out of the Bay Area but debuted with the White Sox in 1951 after being claimed in the Rule 5 draft. He played a year in Chicago, was dealt to the Browns and spend a year with them. He was a 'good field-no hit' infielder.
After two trades in the winter of 1952-53 he found himself in Philadelphia and he established himself as the Athletics' starting shortstop and held that spot for seven seasons. He was an All Starin 1957. After being dealt to the Yankees (in the same trade that brought over Roger Maris) he was on the pennant-winning 1960 club that lost to the Pirates. He had a hit in two trips in that Series. He was also on the Series-winning 1961 Yankee team but didn't play in the Series at all. He retired after the 1961 season and, like his pal Maris, went into the beer distribution business.
His biggest day in the majors came in 1955 with the A's when on July 8, at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, he had six singles in six at-bats.