Monday, November 19, 2018

#22 Hal Naragon

Catcher Hal Naragon advanced through the Indians' minor league system despite rather pedestrian numbers and a two year Korean War era military stint with the US Marines. In 1954 he stuck with the big club and spent until early in 1959 as Cleveland's primary backup catcher. He worked mostly behind Jim Hegan over that time and generally got 140ish at bats. His stats in the majors, at least with the Indians, were better than his minor league work would have suggested.

He spent the bulk of 1958 at AAA and was dealt to the Senators early in the  '59 season. In four seasons with the Nats/Twins he played again in a backup role. He retired after the '62 season in which he had less than 40 plate appearances.

After his playing days, he was a coach on the staffs of the Twins and Tigers through 1969. After that, he returned to his Barberton, Ohio hometown and ran a sporting goods store until he retired in 1990. He is currently alive and well at age 90 and still a fun interview apparently. His SABR bio is an entertaining read. 

The card's back is far better than the front thanks to cartoons that pointed out his field generalship and the 'lusty' .323 he hit in 1955.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

#21 Curt Barclay

A baseball/basketball player at the University of Oregon Curt Barclay got the bulk of his big league experience in 1957 with the Giants in New York. He notched nine of his ten wins that year in 28 starts. He had been a workhorse in the minors after debuting in 1952 and then doing his military duty during the Korean War.

A sore shoulder derailed his career and he only made a few appearances with the Giants in San Francisco before retiring after the 1960 season. He worked for a lumber company after his playing days and died at the age of 53 from cancer.

The Confederate flag makes an appearance in one of the cartoons on the back of this card. As does the artistic rendering of the SF cap logo we've seen on these '58s.

BTW....his 1957 Topps card is the cat's meow:

Monday, November 12, 2018

#20 Gil McDougald

Gil McDougald had three impressive minor league seasons after signing with the New York in 1949. He then went on to have an excellent decade-long career with the Yanks playing short, second and third. He was the 1951 ROY, beating out Minnie Minoso.

He was a five-time AL All-Star and three-time Top 10 MVP vote getter. But, of course, he was overshadowed by his more celebrated teammates. He played in eight World Series' for New York and won five rings. He won titles in his first three seasons in the majors. I'd be interested in checking to see how many other players have been that fortunate.

McDougald retired following the 1960 season rather than continue his career with the expansion Angels and briefly served as a scout for the Mets. He and his wife served as foster parents for many years. He was heavily involved in civic and charitable work and was the head baseball coach at Fordham University.

I love the fact that the card shows his home as Nutley, N.J. That wonderful small town is where spent my elementary school years. I was there in October and it's hardly changed at all. He later lived in Sea Girt, down the central Jersey shore, which is just down the road from where I attended high school.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

#19 SF Giants Team Card

With 1958 being the Giants' first season on the west coast we are obviously looking at the '57 NEW YORK Giants, the final Polo Grounds version. The '58 club was much improved over the previous year when the Giants finished sixth in the NL. The addition of Rookie of the Year Orlando Cepeda was a huge boost to the line-up.

Bill Rigney was in his third season as manager and '58 was his first over .500 as the Giants went 80-74. Johnny Antonelli anchored the starting staff and was joined by a young Mike McCormick. Marv Grissom, at 40 the oldest pitcher on the roster, was the closer and had 11 saves.

The Giants spent much of the first half of the season in first place. They slipped back in mid-June, fought the Braves toe-to-toe through much of July and then, as August rolled around they folded their tent and dropped out of serious contention.

I'm not very fussy about checklists being marked. I figure most kids were like me back then. A checklist was for checking. This one had its marks erased at some point.

Willie Mays is the third from the left in the second row, right behind Monte Irvin. Those old team photos were fun. I like that they included the clubhouse custodian, the traveling secretary, and the trainer. 

Sunday, November 4, 2018

#18 Frank Sullivan

I reeeealy need to work on my scan settings. A lot of these '58s, like this Frank Sullivan card, look much worse here than they do in hand. But on to Sullivan.

Southern California native Frank Sullivan signed with the Sox in 1948, spent some time in the military sandwiched by minor league seasoning, and made the staff in 1954. He was a workhorse for the Red Sox from 1954 through 1959 as this table shows:

Standard Pitching
11 Y11 Y11 Y97100.4923.603512195373151732.01702797692149559959
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 11/4/2018.

He made the AL All-Star clubs in 1955 and '56. But in 1960 his numbers nosedived and he was dealt to the Phils after the season and finished up in Minnesota with the Twins soon after that.

He was a golf pro and resort golf director in Hawaii after his baseball days alongside his friend and former teammate, Sammy White.

My favorite Sullivan card is his 57T.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

#17 Felix Mantilla

I posted Felix Mantilla's 1960 card over on that set's blog about 5 weeks ago. Not much in the Mantilla World has changed. But I found something worth posting.

Last year Felix Mantilla was awarded an honorary degree at Milwaukee's Cardinal Stritch University. He was honored for his work in the Milwaukee community, particularly for the Felix Mantilla Little League he founded back in 1972 and is still going strong. 

Through that league players from Wisconsin and from Mantilla's native Puerto Rico have visited each other's locale and connected through a unique baseball 'exchange' program.

Great stuff. Much better than a couple of paragraphs of my foolishness.