I received a package from Thoughts and Sox the other day. I had no idea that inside was the key to time travel.
Adam started me off in present day baseball with a fantastic shot of Grady Sizemore doing what Grady does - chase down fly balls. I suppose you could say it's "Grady being Grady!" In his case, that is a positive thing! This is his 2009 Topps card:
And then, as I slid Grady's card onto the table, I suddenly found myself transported back in time (which happens to be one of my all-time favorite Huey songs!)* Adam sent me nine 1960 Topps cards that were on my 'wanted' list! And it gets even better:
Ernie Johnson was signed and released by Cleveland in 1960. Better known for his pitching with the Milwaukee Braves and Baltimore Orioles, Johnson never saw action in a Tribe uniform (so far as I could find). On the other end of the spectrum, we have newcomer Don Dillard. Dillard was featured on two Topps "Rookie Star" cards - the '60 you see here and the '59. How does one get to be a 'rookie star' in two seasons? I dunno. Well, in 1959, he batted in 10 games and earned a .400 average. I guess that might help. In 1960, he netted a .143 average in 7 games. Ouch. The Indians kept him until 1962, when they traded him and two others for Joe Adcock and Jack Curtis.
Next up, we have Jack Harshman and Bob Hale ("Oh, Hale" as my Dad would say, though his was actually "Oh, hail!!" - as in balls of ice falling on our heads. He was a comedian in his own mind and we loved him dearly for it - even if we did spend most of our time shaking our heads... I digress, again.)
Jack Harshman had a busy 1959. He started with the Orioles, gets traded to Boston to play in 8 games and then finds himself in Cleveland. I think the guys at Topps finally caught up with him, threw on a Tribe hat and said, "Stand still so we can get a picture of you in SOMEONE'S uniform!" On the back off his card, there is a list of highlights from '59. The very first stat is not one I would think many Indians fans would want on a card of one of their players: "June 18: After losing 6 straight as an Oriole, Jack beats Cleveland." Well, I guess if you're looking for a pitcher, you sign the guy that beat you, right? He played two seasons with the Indians, netting a 3.285 ERA. Bob Hale came to the Indians by way of the Orioles, batting .300 in his first year with the Tribe. Unfortunately his average fell to .167 as he played in about 2/3rds as many games. In 1961, he was sold to the Yankees. The back of his cards says he is a "husky portside swinger... and a specialist at extra bases." Something I had no idea about: He started his baseball dreams in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. If that town sounds familiar, you may have heard of a guy named Torii Hunter from the same place.
Next up, the "Youth of America" selected Johnny Romano as the Topps All-Star Rookie Catcher. The Youth of America? How was this done? Did Topps have ballots out at the stores where they sold cards? Was this an insert ballot in packs? I am very curious about that one. In the meantime, I cannot help but wonder if Johnn and comedian Ray Romano are somehow related. I mean, dang, I could almost put Ray's face there and not tell a difference... Well, not much of one. Johnny came to the Tribe from Chicago (and after his time in Cleveland went back to Chi Town) and went on to be selected for the '61 and '62 All-Star teams, playing in both games. He averaged 378 at-bats per season in his five years with the Tribe and netted a .258 batting average. I think the 'Youth of America' knew what they were talking about.
Gary Bell spent 10 seasons with the Indians. In 419 games, he amassed a 96/92 pitching record with a 3.709 ERA. In '59 (the season before the card), he recorded a 7-hitter win against Detroit, a 4-hitter the next month against Detroit again, a 6-hitter victory in July against Washington then four days later beats Boston with a 6-hitter. Want more? Okay, in September of that same season, he pitched a 5-hit win over the Royals followed by a 3-hit win against the Nationals. He was a two-time all-star while sporting an Indians uniform.
Johnny Temple came to the Indians in 1960 from the Reds, played two seasons and then was traded off to the Orioles. Temple played second and third base for the Tribe and was selected for the 1961 all-star team. In his two years with Cleveland, he batted a .272 average. In 1961, he was walked 61 times and brought in 30 RBIs while getting 143 hits and 22 doubles. Is it really any surprise why he was selected for the all-stars? I don't think so.
Ed Fitzgerald is actually Ed Fitz Gerald. Did you know that? Probably you already did. I didn't. Ed spent his MLB career with the Pirates and the Senators. He came to the Indians, as so many do, to finish out his time in the "Bigs." By the time he came to Cleveland, he played 10 years in the MLB. He played in 49 games for the Indians, getting 129 at-bats and earning a .271 average. He served mainly as a back-up catcher throughout his career. I'd say going out with a .271 is a pretty good way to go.
The last card in the package shows the face of a man who looks like he was just shown how the whole time-travel thing works. I'm not sure what expression Herb Score was going for here, but he looks more shocked than anything to me. Perhaps the photographer called out his name and said "Look!" Herb Score was one of the all-time greatest Indians. His passing last year was a blow to Indians fans everywhere. Ironically, this 1960 card features him in a Tribe uniform though he was traded to the White Sox that year. Maybe that's the look on his face - "Hey, you just got traded to the White Sox!" He played on two all-star teams and in his first two years with the Tribe, he struck out a combined 508 batters. Yes, over 500 batters in two seasons. "Holy Crap!"
A super huge THANK YOU goes out to Thoughts and Sox for these timeless Tribers - from today and days gone by! They are welcome additions to the Tribecards family!
*I worked for several years as a radio DJ back in my younger days. "Back in Time" is a great song for radio guys. Near the end of the song, there are two sections where a whole phrase of music is played between two chorus repetitions. It is the perfect place to throw in the station's call letters, wait for the chorus, throw in the station's frequency, wait for the next chorus, then the song starts to fade and a DJ could either come on live or move on to the next song. I preferred to come on live since I had already "interrupted" the song with my break. I had one specific incident where a caller told me they had been recording the song on tape (we had things called cassettes back then) and now my voice was on their recording. I told her to save it and I would autograph the cassette if she wanted me to. Evidently, she didn't.