25 September 2012

the dodgers' mcmullen

[this is the forty-first installment in the double dippers posts.  here are the previous posts - brett butler, omar daaleric young, nick willhitechris gwynn, mickey hatcherdave anderson, don zimmerrafael landestoy, dave hansen, jose vizcaino, hideo nomo, greg maddux, mike madduxjon garland, chan ho parkvicente romogene mauch, denny lewallyn, von joshua, joe moellerdioner navarro, rudy seanez, bart shirleyrandy wolf, ismael valdes, bobby castillo, mike devereaux, pete richert, jay johnstone, jesse orosco, lee lacy, giovanni carrara, jeff weaverted sizemore,  orel hershisertom goodwinjoe fergusoneddie murray, and matt luke.]

there were probably some folks back in 1965 that lamented the likelihood that his was the last card that would feature ken mcmullen as a dodger.  mcmullen's 1964 topps card
was the first card on which he was flying solo, and although frank howard's 1965 topps card showed him still with the dodgers, mcmullen's had him listed as a washington senator.  mcmullen was included, along with phil ortega and pete richert (and later, dick nen) in the deal that sent hondo to washington in exchange for claude osteen and john kennedy in december of 1964.

at that point in time, mcmullen had 109 games of major league experience under his belt, with a .232 average, 6 home runs, and 30 rbi.  he debuted in 1962 and played in a handful of games, although the only defensive position he played that year was left field.  mcmullen played in 79 games during the 1963 season, most of which came as the dodgers' third baseman.  unfortunately, he did not appear in the world series that year due to a late season injury.

after a disappointing 1964 season in which mcmullen was down at spokane for an extended period of time, he was dealt to the senators.  there, he was their everyday third baseman and he responded by hitting 86 home runs over the next 5 seasons.  he never won a gold glove, but he did lead the league, or finish near the top of the leader board, in many defensive categories during his time in the nation's capitol.  just a few games into the 1970 season, however, mcmullen was traded to the angels.

his 1971 topps card features one of those fantastic in-game photos that the set is known for, and it's one of my favorite cards in the set.
we get to see the original yankee stadium set up, with the flag pole and the monuments in the field of play!  that's crazy stuff.

with the angels, mcmullen was once again the everyday third baseman.  he played in a career high 160 games in 1971, and hit a career high 21 home runs that year.  his home run total dropped to just 9 in 1972, but he hit .269 which was just a few points off his career best average.

now we get to the double dipping part.  when the dodgers traded frank robinson, bill singer, and bobby valentine (and others) to the angels prior to the 1973 season, they received andy messersmith and mcmullen in return.  mcmullen began the year as the dodger third baseman, and was hitting .389 through the team's first five games.  that's when he became wally pipp to ron cey's lou gehrig.  out with muscle spasms, mcmullen sat on april 11 while cey got the start.  mcmullen didn't get another start at third base until late june, and he was used primarily as a pinch hitter off the bench the rest of the season.  here's mcmullen's 1975 topps card to document his return to los angeles.
mcmullen spent three seasons with the dodgers the second time around - 1973 through 1975.  he was able to make his only career postseason appearance in 1974 during the nlcs against the pirates.  unfortunately, he struck out in his only at bat.  earlier that year, mcmullen lost his wife to cancer, and the dodgers wore black armbands for a few games in her honor.  in fact, on the night that hank aaron broke babe ruth's career home run record, al downing and the rest of the team were wearing the armbands on their left sleeves.  you can't really see it on this card, but there are a number of photos from the game that show the armband, like this one.

after the 1975 season, mcmullen was on the move again.  he returned to the american league, where he played in 98 games for the oakland a's.  then, during spring training 1977, mcmullen's contract was purchased by the milwaukee brewers.  it was with the brew crew that mcmullen closed out his big league career, hitting 5 home runs over the course of 63 appearances.  in his final big league at bat, mcmullen came off the brewers' bench to hit a two-run pinch hit home run against the mariners.  not a bad way to go out.

while mcmullen did get a card in the 1977 topps set, he was not included in the 1978 set, even though he played in more games in 1977 than he had in any of his three 'double dipper' seasons in los angeles.  that's just wrong, so i went ahead and threw a card that should have been together for him.
if i ever get around to doing the back, it will be a true final tribute.

these days, mcmullen maintains his ties with the dodgers, often making appearances on their behalf.  he is also a good ttm signer, as i will show you.  here's a copy of his 1973 topps card that he signed through the mail.
the 'shot from below' rather than a bad airbrush job. mcmullen came out ahead in this set.  bill singer, not so much.

mcmullen also signed a copy of his 1974 topps card, marking his triumphant return to the blue with a real photo
kudos to topps for not just going back to a photo from the early 1960's instead.  here's my ratty old version of his 1975 topps card that he also signed for me
and his 1976 card, the last to feature him as a dodger.
i also sent a printed copy of the 1978 card that should have been, and he signed that, too.
he also wrote me a short note and signed it as well.  super double dipper through the mail success awesomeness.

thanks ken!

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