05 October 2014

sunday morning dodgers - tommy used to work on the docks

today's sheet of 15 brooklyn/los angeles ballplayers is not a bad one.  some big names and some good stories.  here goes another installment of cards from the 1990 target dodgers set that celebrated the franchise's 100 years of membership in the national league.

tommy brown

if brown looks young on his card, that's because he is young on his card. after quitting school at the age of 12 to work on the docks with his uncle, brown was signed by the dodgers at an open tryout, and he debuted as a major leaguer in 1944 at the ripe old age of 16.  i believe that he is the youngest position player to appear in the major leagues (reds' pitcher joe nuxhall was younger), and he is certainly the youngest to ever hit a home run in the big leagues, having connected in 1945 at the age of 17.  over the course of 7 seasons with the dodgers, brown appeared in 272 games and hit .237.  it appeared that he might finally realize his potential when, in 1952, he hit .320 for the cubs, but he regressed in 1953 and his 9-year major league career came to an end at brown's ripe old age of 25.  he continued to play in the minors, and set a record by reaching base safely in 20 consecutive plate appearances.

sid bream

bream, who debuted as a dodger in 1983, was never really a threat to greg brock as the dodgers' first baseman in their post-steve garvey days. he played in a total of 66 games for the dodgers from '83 to '85, hitting .159, before he was traded to the pirates in the bill madlock deal.  bream had some solid years as the pirates' first baseman, but he is best remembered as a brave - the brave who scored on francisco cabrera's pinch-hit single in game 7 of the 1992 nlcs against the pirates to send atlanta to the world series.

lindsay brown
this brown played in 48 games for the 1937 dodgers, hitting .270 and playing shortstop in 45 of those games. his cap suggests that he was also affiliated with the cleveland indians or more likely the cincinnati reds, for whom he played some minor league ball following his lone year in the majors.

tom drake
like ted williams, tom drake hit .400 in 1941.  drake, however, was just 2 for 5 at the plate that year, as he pitched in just 10 games for the dodgers. drake was 1-1 in those appearances with a 4.38 era which marked the sum total of his experience as a member of the dodgers.

don drysdale
big d! drysdale never hit .400 in a season, although he did hit .300 in 1965 along with 7 homers.  drysdale led the league in wins and strikeouts in 1962 en route to the cy young award, and famously threw 8 shutouts in 1968 (his final full season in the majors) while setting a record of 58 and 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings.  drysdale was elected to the hall of fame in 1984 and sadly passed away in 1993 while serving as a dodger broadcaster on a road trip in montreal.

leo durocher
leo the lip, like tommy lasorda (and bill russell and glenn hoffman), both played for and managed the dodgers, but his card in the set is clearly about his managerial stint(s).  as a player, durocher joined the franchise in 1938, and became the team's manager the following season, even as he continued to play.  overall, durocher appeared in 345 games as a dodger between '38 and 1945, and he represented them in two all-star games.  he led the team to the pennant in 1941, but following a second place finish in 1946, the league suspended durocher for associating with known gamblers. durocher returned in 1948 as the dodgers' manager, but was allowed by branch rickey to be lured away by the giants, for whom he won his only world series as a manager in 1954. durocher did return to the dodgers as a coach in the early 1960's while in between other managerial assignments.  he was posthumously inducted into the hall of fame as a manager in 1994.

jack graham
graham was the son of peaches graham, a major leaguer from the early 1900's.  while a minor leaguer in 1940, this graham was traded to the dodgers by the yankees, and he eventually made his big league debut for the brooklyn club in 1946.  he was 1 for 5 in his two games as a dodger before the new york giants purchased his contract. after finishing the season with the giants, graham spent two seasons in the minors before finishing his major league career with the browns in 1949.  he did play for more seasons in the minors, racking up a career total of over 350 minor league homers.

joe kelley
hall of famer kelley, known as a good hitter with speed, was one of the players that ned hanlon brought with him from baltimore to brooklyn when he became a stockholder in the club prior to the 1899 season.  hanlon's arrival, by the way, was the reason for the name change from bridegrooms to the superbas in 1899 - apparently there was a popular vaudeville act known as "hanlon's superbas", and if the name fits…  as for kelley, he brought his .342 lifetime average and wound up hitting .317 as a superba in his three seasons in brooklyn.  he returned to baltimore for the 1902 season, but was pilfered by the reds during the season when the orioles' owner had to sell during the season to pay other debts.  the story of the 1902 orioles is pretty interesting, as this was the club that sort of became the new york yankees.

dennis lewallyn
i've told lewallyn's tale before. as a double dipping member of the 1977 and 1978 dodgers, he's good by me.  even if he's wearing bobby welch's number in the photo used for his 1990 target dodgers card.

tom paciorek
paciorek was one of the players that the dodgers selected in their historically awesome 1968 draft class. he did his best to crack the big league roster, debuting in 1970 and appearing in 264 games between then and the end of the 1975 season, but wound up as a piece in the trade with the braves that netted the dodgers dusty baker.  funnily enough, paciorek and baker shared space on the same 1971 topps rookie card.

jesse petty
although we can't see it, there's a black armband on petty's left sleeve, don't you know.  1925, the year represented in petty's photo (we know this thanks to the national league 50th anniversary patch that teams wore that season), was the first of four seasons in which petty pitched for the robins.  overall, he was 54-59 with a 3.52 era.  his 17 losses in 1926 (when he had an era of 2.84) led the league, although he lost 18 games the following year (with a 2.98 era) without suffering the shame of leading the league again.

jim roberts
big jim roberts (no relation to big jim slade or just plain ol' big jim) pitched for the robins in 1924 and 1925. he was 0-3 in 1924, pitching in 11 games, 5 of which were starts.  roberts made it into only one game in 1925, giving up an unearned run in his lone inning of work.

johnny schmitz
schmitz spent parts of the 1951 and 1952 seasons with the dodgers.  he joined the club in '51 via the same trade that netted the dodgers andy pafko, and left the club in a trade with the yankees in august of '52 for wally hood, son of double dipper wally hood.  overall, schmitz was 2-5 in 26 games for the dodgers, but the best part of his tenure was that he was included as a dodger in the 1952 topps set.

ted sizemore
like lewallyn, sizemore was a dodger double dipper, so i've told his story before.  the 1969 rookie of the  year was traded by the club to the cardinals for dick allen, and then reacquired in a trade with the redbirds involving joe ferguson.  the dodgers later traded sizemore away as the player to be named later in the move that brought johnny oates on board from the phillies.

steve yeager
speaking of ferguson and oates, here's the guy who led that catcher quadfecta (jerry grote was the other dodger backstop) in 1978 (after the dodgers reacquired ferguson).  yeager was the catcher of the team of my youth, playing 14 of his 15 big league seasons for the dodgers.  he was a part of four pennant winning teams - 1974, 1977, 1978, and 1981 - and was a co-mvp of the 1981 world series with ron cey and pedro guerrero.  he is the player i think of when i think of the number 7 (sorry mickey mantle), and i recently posted about having just entered the 'yeager' year of this blog.

like i said up top, that was a pretty good sheet of cards.  we'll have to see what next week brings.

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