17 November 2009

managerial through the mail successes!

as a result of upgrading my 1978 set, i wound up with a bunch of doubles. combine that with the unexpected fun i have had/am having with my modest 1978 topps dodgers autograph project, and i decided to send out some of those 1978 topps doubles on through the mail missions. many of the cards i have sent were accompanied by another card showing them as a dodger (like bill buckner or dave goltz), but some were just guys that i enjoyed watching (like cecil cooper).

with one or two exceptions, i didn't see any of these guys play, but the 1978 manager cards are just too cool not to get signed. so, here are some managerial through the mail successes!

first up, roy hartsfield. hartsfield was an infielder for the boston braves in the early 1950s, however, there is a dodger connection! hartsfield was traded prior to the 1953 season to the dodgers for andy pafko! hartsfield spent the remainder of his playing career in the dodgers' minor league organization, and was actually a player/manager for them from 1958 through 1961. he continued managing in the dodgers' system through the 1968 season before being replaced as the spokane indians' manager by tom lasorda. hartsfield also managed in the padres system before getting the call to become the blue jays' first manager in 1977. he managed the team for three years, losing over 100 games each year. just for good measure, hartsfield also signed his 1978 o-pee-chee card.as an aside, the only two manager cards in the o-pee-chee set are hartsfield and dick williams of the expos. i wish williams didn't charge so much for his autographs...

next, we have alvin dark.dark had a fairly successful major league career spanning 14 seasons. a shortstop, he was the 1948 rookie of the year for the boston braves, and was a three-time all star. he also played for the giants, cardinals, cubs, phillies, and ended his career with the milwaukee braves - kind of full circle, just about 850 miles west. dark managed the san francisco giants to the 1962 pennant, then went to the kansas city a's for a couple of years, followed by four in cleveland with the indians. in 1974, he inherited a very good ballclub in oakland, and led the a's to the world championship over the dodgers. after one more year in oakland, he would manage the 1977 padres in his managerial swan song.

here's bill virdon.virdon was a star for the pittsburgh pirates and a key member of their 1960 world championship team. he was also, however, a former yankee farmhand (traded for enos slaughter) and the 1955 rookie of the year for the st. louis cardinals. in 1972, virdon would begin his major league managing career with the pirates, leading them to the postseason (they lost to the reds in the nlcs). he was fired (i think) during the 1973 season, but became the yankees manager for the 1974 season. fired again (i think) during the 1975 season, he was installed that same year as the astros manager. virdon managed the astros for 7 more seasons, finishing in first place in 1980 (thanks to that one-game playoff against the dodgers) and in the second half of the 1981 season (but lost the nlds to the dodgers - ha!). after being fired (i think) by the astros in 1982, virdon would manage the expos in 1983 and part of 1984. he also sent along a diamond collection card, which was nice of him.

next up, it's ralph houk.houk was a backup catcher for the yankees from 1947 to 1954. this means he was a member of the 1947 and 1952 world champions who beat the dodgers in the world series. his big league managing career began at the top - as manager of the 1961 yankees. seriously, as a rookie manager, he gets mantle and maris (61!) and wins a world championship. more of the same for houk the next year, as the yankees beat dark's giants in the fall classic. not so good in 1963 though, as the yankees win the pennant but get swept by the dodgers! houk would be brought back to manage the yankees in 1966 and would remain in that post through the 1973 season. he moved to the detroit tigers in 1974, and was there through 1978. his best showing in detroit was 86 wins in 1978. in 1981, houk was hired to manage the boston red sox, thus joining a small club of guys who have managed both the yankees and the sox. houk's last year as manager was 1984, so this 1985 topps card he was kind enough to sign is his final tribute!

joe altobelli's turn.altobelli played with the indians in 1955 and 1957, and was an original minnesota twin in 1961! in between those franchises, he passed through the dodgers' system, but never appeared in the majors as a dodger. he began his managerial career in the baltimore orioles' system, but got his first big league managing gig for the 1977 san francisco giants. he led them to a 89-win season in 1978, but was fired towards the end of the 1979 campaign. he later would lead the 1983 baltimore orioles to a world championship, but he would be dismissed during the 1985 season. altobelli was kind enough to sign his 1984 donruss and 1984 fleer cards, too.

tony larussa didn't have a 1978 topps card, but i tried for his autograph anyway, using his 1984 fleer cardand his 1987 topps card. larussa was an infielder who played in the majors for 6 seasons, primarily in the athletics organization. he finished his big league career in 1973 with a .199 lifetime average, although he would continue to play in the minors for 4 more years. in 1978 and 1979 he would manage in the white sox minor league system before being given the major league job towards the end of the 1979 season. he had some success with the southsiders, but was fired during the 1986 season. shortly thereafter, he was picked up by the a's and promptly led them to three pennants and a world series championship in the next five years. it should be noted that two of those teams lost to big underdogs - the dodgers in 1988 and the reds in 1990. he would move to st. louis in 1996, where he has won two more pennants and another world series championship. he is a 4-time manager of the year, and his 2552 career managerial victories are third all-time.

ron washington, the current rangers manager, signed and returned his 1983 topps
and 1984 fleer cards.
ron is a former dodger farmhand who made his major league debut for the big blue wrecking crew in 1977. he played 10 years in the big leagues for five different teams, and managed in the low minors for two more years. he spent several years as a highly respected coach for the a's, and was named the manager of the rangers for the 2007 season. since then, he has led them to two straight second place finishes in the al west, although only one of those seasons saw the team finish above .500, and had them in the wild card hunt late into the 2009 campaign.

the next two guys aren't managers in the 1978 set either, but jim fregosi comes close.fregosi, of course, may be best known for being traded by the angels to the mets for nolan ryan. he joined the pirates in the middle of the 1977 season, and was released by them about a year later. immediately upon his release from the pirates, fregosi took over as manager of the california angels. in 1979, he led the angels to their first al west title, but they would have a disastrous 1980 season and when things didn't turn around during the first half of the 1981 season, the former all-star was dismissed. he would go on to manage the white sox and the phillies (winning the 1993 pennant) before managing the blue jays in 1999 and 2000.

last but not least, here's don baylor.he was still very much a player in 1978, as he would go on to win the al mvp in 1979 and had a great run towards the end of his career, playing on three straight pennant winners - boston in 1986, minnesota in 1987, and oakland in 1988. besides being my first non-dodger favorite player, baylor appeared on the same 1971 topps rookie card as the dodgers' tom paciorek and future dodger dusty baker. anyway, baylor was the inagural manager of the colorado rockies, and won the manager of the year award in 1995 after winning the wild card. he would continue as their manager through 1998, and would later manage the cubs from 2000 into 2002. baylor is currently back in colorado as a coach. just for good measure, he also signed his 1978 o-pee-chee card.thanks to all these managers for their time and signatures!


zman40 said...

Looks like you did pretty good there!

Play at the Plate said...

Very nice collection.