Sunday, April 26, 2020

'67 Clemente (and friends)

I'm accumulating a bunch of 1967 Topps baseball these days. I really don't know if I'll go after the whole thing. But, even if I don't, there are worse things to have sitting around that these gems, yes?

I got this Clemente from a guy on Net54. My friends and I were endlessly amused by the fact that the Pirates wore caps with their letter logo applied via a patch on the front. That was the sort of thing we got as giveaways on Cap Days.

But 'patch cap' notwithstanding, it's a neat portrait card.

Glenn Beckert passed away recently, and I was reminded of how good that Banks-Beckert-Kessinger-Santo infield was back in their heyday. I also thought about it just this week while looking into Dick Ellsworth's 1960 card for an upcoming post on that blog. He had few good things to say about the Cubs' organization of that time.

Roy Face popped up on that blog as well with his special card shared with Hoyt Wilhelm.  Face went 18-1 for the Bucs in 1959 pitching 57 times out of the bullpen. I don't see how that's possible but it happened.

And it looks like Face had a legit, directly embroidered cap. I wonder how this all worked?

Here are three guys who were, at one point or another, Orioles.

Don Buford played for the O's for five seasons, from 1968 through the end of his career. He was with the Sox for five years before that although his first season was just 12 games. Buford played four years in Japan after his Orioles tenure.

He was an infielder during his Chicago days. When he came to Baltimore he played almost everywhere for a bit before settling in as the regular left fielder on those powerhouse clubs of  '69-'72. He made one All-Star team. In the 1971 ASG he batted for the guy whose card is just below and he whiffed.

My scanner cut the bottom border off Buford's card and I'm too lazy to dig it out to re-scan.

Here's one of my very favorite players, Mike Cuellar. I've always liked this road uni. It was what the 'Stros were wearing when I first got here and I followed them very closely. Cuellar was good in Houston. Begining in 1969, he was great for the Orioles.

This is as good a place as any to reprint my story of sitting next to Cuellar in the Astrodome for a 1968 game. This was posted back in 2014.
We came to Houston in the late '60s because my father was transferred here by Shell Oil. One of the perks was scoring company seats at the Astrodome from time to time. And I'm here to tell you that Shell had goooood seats. Second row behind home plate. So nice in fact that they shared that row with the Astro management and sometimes we were sitting next to team executives and other front office types.
But we attended one game in 1968 that had us seated next to then-Astro Mike Cuellar and  reliever Fred Gladding. Fred Flintstone was on the DL so I understood his being in street clothes in the stands but why was Mike Cuellar sitting next to me with some sort of binder charting pitches? Didn't guys do that from the dugout? But there he sat, wearing expensive-looking shoes, shiny silver/gray pants and a mock turtleneck. That 'look' was pretty much the off-the-field 'uniform' of major leaguers back then. I got my program signed by both players and I remember having a few brief exchanges with Cuellar.
Cuellar became a favorite of mine and I was thrilled when he was dealt to my Orioles that winter even though the thought then was that the O's got snookered, picking up a washed up junkballer. But tossing that remarkable screwball he went on to become one of the best pitchers in O's history, winning the Cy Young in 1969. I skipped school to stay home and watch him beat the Mets in Game 1 of the 1969 World Series and he cemented his place in my heart with his great win over the Reds in Game 5 of the 1970 Series which wrapped up the championship for the O's. That was the same year he hit a grand slam in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Twins. Didn't pitch well that day but his slam was a huge kick for me.
Last man up is Johnny Orsino. Unlike Buford and Cuellar, he was an ex-Oriole in '67. He came to Baltimore in 1963 after a long minor league climb through the Giants' chain and a few months of big-league time in San Francisco. He stepped into the starting catching job, played 116 games, hit .272 and swatted 19 homers. It was easily his best year in baseball. His playing time dropped over the next few years as his hitting regressed. He split time with Dick Brown and Charlie Lau for a couple of years. Andy Etchebarren pushed that entire crew out of the picture in the Orioles' championship year of 1966. Orsino had been dealt to the Senators for Woody Held. He played little and, in fact, had just one at-bat in '67 and never played in the majors again. But he can say something that a lot of major league vets can't say. His name is in a World Series box score. He had an at-bat in the '62 Series for the Giants. In Game One, he entered as part of a double switch in the top of the ninth and faced Whitey Ford in the bottom of the inning. Ford got him to ground into a 5-4-3 double play.


  1. We could get those patches for a quarter from a vending machine inside the front entrance to K-mart.

    1. I had a jacket with those things on it when I was in 2nd grade.

  2. Without any knowledge or research done, I'll ask this question: Could the patch caps have been the 1960's version of a Spring Training cap? Y'know, real caps are expensive, why waste them on Spring Training games?

    1. That's an interesting thought. Although any team (outside the Dodgers with their alphabetical/numerical uni system) having something specifically used in Spring training wasn't very common as far as I know.

      I should dig into Pirates cards of that era and see what I can find.

  3. Wow. 18-1 out of the pen? That's pretty impressive. Like you said... it doesn't even seem possible.

  4. We all know that you're going to be collecting the set, and that you'll be done with it in less than three months... so what's the next set going to be? :)

    1. LOL...normally I'd say you're right. But without my hotel shows once or twice a month, and, now that I think about it, without the summer TriStar show (probably), I can't see it happening until much later in the year.

  5. The Pirates' equipment guy went through a shitload of quarters every Spring, until they finally bought this machine outright!