Wednesday, December 25, 2013

#10 Larry Milbourne, Infield

Larry Milbourne was a player that could play three of the four infield positions and play it fairly well. He wasn't much of a hitter, but could get you a sacrifice when you need it. Larry had a tendency to double dip with teams. During his career he would be Yankee twice, and also make two go rounds with the Mariners. After spending some time in the majors with the Astros, the Mariners would trade Roy Thomas to Houston just before the 1977 season to bring Larry to Seattle. Mr. Milbourne would spend most of his time playing shortstop, but put in almost as much time at second base, and some little stops over at the hot corner. After the 1980 season the Mariners shipped Larry off to New York with a PTBNL for Brad Gulden and cash. Six months later, they send Brad back to the Yankees to complete the deal.

Larry would be a Yankee only to move onto Minnesota, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and eventually back to the Bronx. Then before the 1984 season, the Mariners came calling to New York and traded two players to bring Larry back to Seattle. After that season in 1984, Larry was finding that there were many rookies coming up behind him for the infield positions and tried to hold on by playing in AAA with the Calgary Cannons for the Mariners. The writing was on the wall and at age 34, Larry walked away from the game in the 1985 season.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

#9 Rupert Jones, Outfield

Prior to the end of the 1976 season, the Kansas City Royals had a 21 year old prospect named Ruppert Jones. He showed that he had some potential with the playing time he was given in the end of that 1976 season. The Royals decided to leave him unprotected in the expansion draft that off season, and he was taken by the Mariners with their first pick in the draft. Ruppert would be the starting center fielder for the Mariners in that first season, being elected as the Mariners only All Star representative in the Bronx that season.

Mr. Jones would become the first Mariners fan that the fans could cling to in those early days. In the Kingdome you would commonly hear what you thought were boos, but the fans were calling "RUUUPE." Ruppert would gibe the Mariners great numbers on a fairly poor team for three years through the 1979 season. After that third year, the Mariners dealt Ruppert to the Yankees with Jim Lewis for Rick Anderson, Jim Beattie, Juan Beniquez, and Jerry Narron. Mr. Jones would make it a year in NY before getting dealt to the Padres. Three years in San Diego would see Rupe move to Detroit in 1984 for a season, only to defeat his old team in the World Series. Mr. Jones would finally become a California Angel in 1985, and play his final three years in Southern California before riding off into the sunset on his baseball career.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

#8 Carlos Lopez, Outfield

Carlos would start professionally in 1969 playing in his native Mexico. He would play at the AAA equivalent in Mexico City with the Tigres until the California Angels purchased his contact to bring him to the minors in the States. Finally during September call ups Carlos would make it into 9 games and get 12 plate appearances never getting a hit with the Halos. With the 27th pick in the expansion draft, the Mariners chose Carlos to play some outfield. At age 26, he and Dick Pole were considered the "old men" on the team. Mr. Lopez would play most of his time in 1977 with the large right field wall behind him in the Kingdome. After having a fairly average year in 1977, the Mariners would send Carlos along with Tommy Moore to the Baltimore Orioles for pitching. They would bring Mike Parrott to Seattle with a whole three games of experience to town for the next four years.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

#7 Dan Meyer, 1st Base

With the 9th overall pick in the expansion draft, the Mariners would select Dan Meyer from the Detroit Tigers. While he would never be the power hitter that we see at first base nowadays, Dan was firmly entrenched as the everyday starting man at 1st. After playing at 1st in 1977 and 1978, Dan would move to split time between 3rd base and the outfield for his next three seasons of 1979 through the 1981 season. After the strike shortened season of 1981, the Mariners decided to trade Dan to the Oakland Athletics in December of that year for pitcher Rich Bordi. Dan would spend parts of the 1982 through 1985 seasons playing part time mostly as a designated hitter in Oakland. Dan would sit out the 1986 season, only to try and come back for three games with the A San Jose Bees in 1987.


Friday, December 6, 2013

#6 Larry Cox, Catcher

After making brief appearances with the Phillies in three seasons, Larry was sent to the Twins. He would spend his one season for Minnesota as a member of the AAA Tacoma Twins. The Mariners must have had an interest if they saw him, since they would purchase him from the Twins after the 1976 season. Larry would again do his part time thing with the expansion Mariners in 1977. The Mariners would send Larry off to the Chicago Cubs after the '77 season for a minor leaguer in Steve Hamrick. After a season in the Windy City, the Cubs would send him back to Seattle, this time for little known Luis "Puchy" Delgado. Larry would see much more time in 1979 and 1980 with the Mariners before being part of a huge 11 player deal during the 1980-81 off season. Larry made an appearance in Texas in 1981, and an even shorter one back with the Cubs in 1982 before being done with baseball. Larry would move on to manage for the Cubs at A Quad Cities in 1983 and 1984. He would move up to the AAA Iowa Cubs from 1985 through the 1987 season as their manager. In 1988 and 1989, Larry was the bullpen coach for Don Zimmer's Cubs in Chicago. Sadly, Larry would die from a heart attack during the off season before the 1990 season while playing racquetball. He was only 42 years old.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

#5 Dave Collins, Outfield

With the 14th pick in the 1976 Expansion Draft, the Seattle Mariners would select Dave Collins as an outfielder from the California Angels. Dave would spend most of his time during that season playing 66 games in left field. He would also play four games in right, and three in center. Dave would also have put in time as the Designated Hitter in 41 games that season. After the end of the 1977 season, Dave would be traded in December to the Cincinnati Reds for pitcher Shane Rawley. Dave would stay in the majors through the 1990 season, seeing time with the Reds, Yankees, Blue Jays, Athletics, Tigers, the Reds again, and finally the Cardinals. Dave has coached in the majors, at the high school level, and in the minors since retiring after the 1990 season.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

#4 Steve Braun, Outfield

Steve Braun was an outfielder for the Minnesota Twins from the 1971 season through the end of the 1976 season. Steve went to Twins management and asked them to make him available for the upcoming expansion draft. He would be selected with the 38th pick in that draft by the Mariners. Steve would find time as a designated hitter and in most outfield positions. On June 1st during the 1978 season, the Mariners would trade Steve to the Kansas City Royals for Jim Colborn. Steve would stay in Missouri with the Royal and Cardinals for the rest of his playing days ending after the 1985 season.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

#3 Skip Jutze, Catcher

Skip originally made his way to the majors for a brief stop with the Cardinals in 1972. He would bounce up and down with the Astros between the 1973 and 1976 seasons. Prior to the inaugural 1977 season in Seattle, the Mariners would send a minor league pitcher and cash to Houston for Skip to come to Seattle. While Bob Stinson and a few other catchers would be behind the dish, Skip also got his share of time in 1977. At the end of the 1978 spring training Skip was let go by the Mariners and would retire from baseball after making the maiden voyage in Seattle.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

#2 Julio Cruz, 2nd Base

  1. After coming up in the California Angels system, the Mariners took a chance on Julio in the expansion draft after the 1976 season. While playing on loan to the AAA Hawaii Islanders, Julio was Called up and made his debut with Seattle on July 4th during the 1977 season in the Kingdome against the Chicago White Sox. Julio would bat lead off and go 2 for 3 on that first day. One of the first bigger stars in Seattle would become a staple in the Mariners infield until in June of 1983 when Julio was ironically traded to the White Sox for a slightly younger Tony Bernazard who was thought to be a better 2nd baseman. Tony made it through 1983 and was shipped to Cleveland for another 2nd baseman in Jack Perconte along with DH Gorman Thomas. Julio Retired as a player after the 1986 season on the South Side. He has been doing the Spanish play by play for the Mariners since the early 1990's and is still active in the community in the Seattle area.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

#1 Bill Stein, 3rd Base

This is how Topps envisioned the Mariners for their 1977 set

The Mariners would set sail on their maiden voyage in the Kingdome in 1977. The man that would play almost the whole season that year, and most of the first four seasons was Bill Stein. Bill was chosen with the 5th pick in the expansion draft that was Mariners and Blue Jays coming in the league. Bill was the rock at the hot corner in 1977 and 1978 before being moved around and losing most of his playing time in 1979 and 1980. After the 1980 season, Bill left Seattle in free agency to go to the Texas Rangers where he would play through the 1985 season and would retire from baseball as a player. Bill would coach and manage in the minors and independent ball from the 1987 season through the mid 90's before calling it quits.

This is how Bill looked on the 1976 set. Notice the tighter shot and airbrushing to make him a Mariner for '77
pic courtesy of the Baseball Card Cyber Museum

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Fly by night, and ready, set sail!!

As you may know through the history of baseball, the Pilots were a one year team. As they were to head north for Seattle to start the 1970 season, the team was secretly sold to a car salesman named Bud Selig and moved to Milwaukee.  While the team was not a big success in Seattle, they weren't give the time to get to be the Northwest's team.

Thankfully for the fans in Seattle, Sen. Slade Gorton would fight MLB to bring a team back in time for the 1977 season. The city and King County would build a multi purpose domed facility for the soon to be Mariners, and the expansion NFL Seahawks. Sadly for the fans of the new team would have to deal with another re run of the 1969 team.

The Pilots would consist of a bunch of has been's, could be's, and never will be's. They would show that with a 64-98 season in Seattle. When the Mariners would come to be, they were in the same boat with the cast of characters in their first season would match the Pilots with a 64-98 record. Sadly, the team would take 14 seasons just to finally make it to a .500 season in 1991. The team would finally make the postseason in 1995, and would make it again in 1997, and 2000. In the 2001 season the Mariners would tie the record for wins in a season with 116, but would fall in the ALCS. Since the 2002 season, it was been a wasteland of success in Seattle baseball.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

#56 Jim Bouton, Pitcher

Probably the most famous of the Seattle Pilots was Jim Bouton. If you've ever any baseball books, you should have read his book:

Jim was purchased from the Yankees before the 1969 season came. He would make 57 appearances with the Pilots before being traded to the Houston Astros on August 24, 1969.

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Jim would see time with Houston in 1969 and 1970. He would resurface in the minors in 1975, and would make one final run with the Atlanta Braves in 1978.

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

#51 Billy Williams, Outfield

How would you like to be a 36 year old player that has been in the minors since 1952 only to finally make your debut in 1969? Billy had spent 17 seasons in the minors only to see four games in the majors during August of 1969 and nothing more. He never got a hit in 12 plate appearances either. You would wish for a little better for a guy that waited that long.

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Since you were able to get the back story on Seattle's Billy, hopefully you didn't confuse him with a more famous Billy Williams of the 60's seen here.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

#45 Gary Timberlake, Pitcher

It is not easy to find any photos of a guy that saw time in two games for the Pilots, let alone his whole MLB career. Gary saw 4 1/3 innings on June 18th, and another 1 2/3 on the 24th of June only to never see the majors again.

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

#43 John O' Donoghue, Pitcher

After a month of baseball in Seattle the Pilots sent two players to the Baltimore Orioles. In return they got three players back including John.

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John's son by the same name would make into a handful of games with the Orioles in 1993. He would only be in the majors for that one season.

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

#42 Skip Lockwood, Pitcher

Skip had a brief stint with the KC Athletics in 1965as a 3rd baseman. Skip would bounce between the A's and Astros farm systems and find himself converted to a pitcher in 1968. The Pilots would select him in the expansion draft. Skip would continue to pitch in the big leagues ending his career after the 1980 season with the Boston Red Sox. Skip would stay in the Boston area and receive his degree from MIT in 1983.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

#41 Dooley Womack, Pitcher

Late in August of 1969, the Pilots traded Jim Bouton to the Houston Astros. They received Dooley in return. He would see time in 9 games in August and September of the 1969 season.

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

#40 Jerry Stephenson, Pitcher

Jerry was a very short timer for the Pilots. He saw 1 2/3 innings on June 29th in LA against the Angels. His only other appearance was in Minnesota against the Twins for an inning on July 12th. He never got a chance to pitch in the home whites in Sick's Stadium.

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Jerry was shown on the 69 Topps set with the Red Sox. he would never Topps cardboard as a Pilot.

Topps forgot about Jerry for the 1970 set, but he did only see two games as a Pilot in 1969. He would play for the Dodgers in 1970 and be done so the 1971 card would be a final tribute card for Jerry. Jerry's dad was a catcher for the NY Giants, Chicago White Sox and Cubs from 1943-1947. Sadly, Jerry passed away in June of 2010.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

#39 Gary Bell, Garry Roggenburk, George Brunet/ Pitcher

The jersey #39 was a popular one for the Pilots in 1969. It would see time with three players while getting passed around the clubhouse in Sicks Stadium.

The number would start with Gary Bell on the mound. Gary was shipped off the the White Sox on June 8th of the year.

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Fast forward about two weeks and Garry Roggenburk was purchased from the Boston Red Sox. Garry was a short timer seeing only seven games and was done with the Pilots after July 27th.

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 Four days later on the 31st of July, the Pilots purchased George Brunet from the California Angels. George would finish the 1969 season in the Emerald City before heading to DC to be a Senator for the 1970 season.