Wednesday, October 31, 2018

#16 Charley Neal

Posed action shots are few and far between in the '58 set but when they pop up I love 'em. 'Charley' Neal's card is no exception. You also have to love the fact that the card attributes his power to "lightning wrist action".

First of all, this is the last time for a few years that Topps referred to him as 'Charley'  Beginning in '59 he was the more common 'Charlie'. Then in '62, it was back to 'Charley'. For whatever that's worth. 

Neal debuted in the low minors in the Dodgers chain in 1950. For a brief time he was on the roster of the Atlanta Black Crackers of the Negro Southern League. He fought his way up the ladder before debuting in Brooklyn in 1956. He grabbed a regular role the next season as the club's second baseman. He kept a starting job, either at second or short, for the better part of five seasons.

His 1959 season stands out. Neal made the first of two consecutive NL All-Star squads, led the NL in triples and sac hits, won a Gold Glove and finished #8 in the MVP voting. To say nothing of earning a ring as the Dodgers won the World Series. Oh, that Series? He was 10 for 27 with two homers.

His play fell off in 1960/61 and he was traded to the expansion Mets in December of 1961. After a season and a half in the Polo Grounds he was dealt to the Reds partway through 1963. That was his final big league season.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

#15 Jim Lemon

Jim Lemon was an outfield mate of Roy Sievers who coincidentally is the subject of the post I put up today in my 1960 set blog

After breaking in with the Indians in 1950 and spending a couple of years in the service Lemon got his feet under him with the Nats who purchased his contract in 1954. In his first full season as a starter, 1956, he led the league in whiffs AND triples which I find rather amusing. The huge dimensions of Griffith Stadium probably contributed to the three-bagger total.

He played 10 years for the Senators/Twins and had an outstanding 1960 season with 38 homers and 100 RBIs. He made his only All-Star team that year. Interestingly he finished his career with the Phils and White Sox which are the same clubs that Sievers played for after he left the Nats.

The first thing that strikes you about this card is the cartoon which portrays President Dwight Eisenhower. Ike was a baseball fan and Lemon was his favorite player. The three-dinger game that is mentioned in the cartoon's text is elaborated upon in his SABR bio's opening paragraph.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

#14 Rip Repulski

Eldon John 'Rip' Repulski came up through the Cardinals system in the late 40s/early 50s. He showed he could hit for power and average. But back then a Cardinal farmhand had a long road to the majors given the strength at the top and the talent that filtered down.

Ripulski finally debuted in 1953 as their everyday centerfielder and earned himself plenty of Rookie of the Year consideration. That season he played between Stan Musial and Red Schoendeinst. He was a fixture there in the outfield for four seasons culminating with an All-Star selection in 1956. He was known as a good fielder and he hit for power although never a big slugger.

He was traded to the Phils that off-season, had his final solid season that year, and then began a slow slide in productivity. He was a member of the Champion LA Dodgers in 1959 and drew an intentional walk from Billy Pierce in his only at-bat. He finished his career with the Red Sox in 1961.

Repulski owned a bar in his native Minnesota before working for the Great Northern railroad.