Thursday, December 29, 2016

#82 Ronnie Kline

Ron Kline (I never heard him called 'Ronnie') got off to a very inauspicious big league career losing all seven of his decisions for Pittsburgh in his rookie campaign of 1952. He served in the military for a couple of years after that and when he returned to the Pirates he continued to struggle as a starter. He led the NL in losses twice.

It wasn't until he moved to the bullpen that he found success. He moved around quite a bit until settling in as the Senators' closer in the mid-60s and he led the AL with 29 saves in 1965. He pitched a total of 17 seasons with nine different clubs. He retired after pitching briefly for the Braves and in the PCL in Hawaii in 1970. He ranks fifth on the list of pitchers with the most appearances without a postseason game.

He was 13-16 in 1958 but his stats look better than his W/L would indicate. The Pirates finished 2nd that season. During much the 50's the Pirates pitchers wore batting helmets while on the mound as mandated by owner Branch Rickey. This is the first card I've posted from this set that shows a pitcher wearing one other than the Vern Law card in the header. This article gives a lot of the background.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

#12 George Crowe

Big George Crowe played all or parts of nine seasons with the Braves, Reds and Cardinals before he retired in 1961. In 1958 he was coming off his one season as a true full time starter. He hit 31 homers in 1957 and had 92 RBI. Both were easily the best totals of his career. He made the NL All Star team in 1958. He had fairly mundane numbers at season's end but was hitting well over .300 on the strength of a red hot first half of the season so the selection was justified.

This is one of numerous uncorrected errors in the '58 set. The card lists Crowe's year of birth as 1923 when it actuality it was 1921. It's also one of several cards that was given 'plain' first letters as part of the name on the back. Check out the difference below. I haven't yet counted how many cards carry each style but the 'plain letter' one is much less frequent. I can find no common denominator among the cards with different lettering.  And I haven't turned up anything about this online. Most of the focus is one the 'yellow letter' variations in the first one hundred or so cards on the checklist.