Phantom Cardboard: The Strange Case of the 1970 Seattle Pilots

1970 Seattle Pilotsby Kevin Kimmes

If you have been reading the site lately, you are well aware that I have started a daily column, The Numbers Game, which looks at past and current players in the Brewers organization based on their jersey numbers, including the 1969 Seattle Pilots, the team that would become the Brewers. That column will return tomorrow. Today I wanted to share something interesting that I discovered while doing my research over the past week: There are no Milwaukee Brewers cards that appear in the 1970 Topps baseball card set, however there are Seattle Pilots cards, cardboard representations of a team that never was.

So how did this happen? It’s a simple timing issue really. Every year Topps releases Series 1 of their baseball product prior to the start of the regular season. It’s an appetizer, if you will, to the upcoming baseball season. Due to the lead time required to get all images approved and printed, any last minute transactions, or in this case changes in name and venue, would not be able to be accounted for, thus cards for a team that never played a single inning. According to Chris Olds, editor of Beckett Baseball, this is one of two incidents like this, the other being in 1974 when some San Diego Padres cards were printed with “Washington Nat’l Lea.” on them.

To give you an idea of how small of a window the change in ownership created, the Pilots were officially declared bankrupt on April 1, 1970. The Brewers would play their first official home game at Milwaukee’s County Stadium on April 7th, 1970, a mere six days later.

Below is a checklist/breakdown of every player that appears in the set in a Pilots uniform and where they actually played in 1970:

#  2 Diego Sequi – Played for Oakland

# 31 Marty Pattin – Played for Milwaukee

# 53 John Kennedy – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being sold to Boston on June 26th, 1970.

# 88 Pilots Rookies (Miguel Fuentes & Dick Baney) – Probably the most tragic card of the set, Fuentes not only threw the final pitch for the Pilots in 1969, but was murdered during the off-season in his native Puerto Rico by a bar patron who thought Fuentes was relieving himself on his car. Baney, who also appears on the card, did not play in the majors in 1970.

#111 Mike Hegan – Played for Milwaukee

#134 Danny Walton RC – Played for Milwaukee

#158 Jerry McNertney – Played for Milwaukee

#185 Don Mincher – Played for Oakland

#224 Steve Barber – Played for both Chicago (NL) and Atlanta

#249 Bob Locker – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being sold to Oakland on June 15th, 1970.

#271 Greg Goossen – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being sold to Washington on July 14th, 1970.

#289 Gene Brabender – Played for Milwaukee

#323 Wayne Comer – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being traded to Washington on May 11th, 1970 for Hank Allen and Ron Theobald.

#359 Phil Roof – Played for Milwaukee

#370 Tommy Harper – Played for Milwaukee. Harper is the only player to be named to the 1970 American League All-Star squad from Milwaukee.

#393 John Gelnar – Played for Milwaukee

#418 John Donaldson – Played for Oakland

#441 John O’Donoghue – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being traded to Montreal on June 15th, 1970 for Jose Hererra.

#473 Don Bryant – Played for Houston

#499 Skip Lockwood – Played for Milwaukee

#514 Steve Hovley RC – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being traded to Oakland for Al Downing and Tito Francona on June 11th, 1970.

#533 Buzz Stephen RC – Did not play in the majors in 1970. MLB experience consists of 2 games with the Twins in 1968 in which he went 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA.

#556 Dave Bristol (MGR) – Managed for Milwaukee

#574 Bobby Bolin – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being traded to Boston for Al Yates on September 10th, 1970.

#596 Mike Hershberger – Played for Milwaukee

#613 Dave Baldwin – Played for Milwaukee

#652 Rich Rollins – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being released on May 13th, 1970 and signed by Cleveland the same day.

#667 Bob Meyer – Played for Milwaukee

#688 Ted Kubiak – Played for Milwaukee

#713 Pilots Team Card

If you would like to see what the cards look like, high quality scans of both the fronts and backs are available here. I’ll be back tomorrow with Part 7 of The Numbers Game.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and an applicant for the 2013 MLB Fan Cave. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.

The Numbers Game: 6 Pack

Sal Bandoby Kevin Kimmes

Welcome back to The Numbers Game, where each day I look at former Brewers and Pilots who have worn that day’s jersey number. Today’s number was worn by Sal Bando, Billy Spiers and Jeff Cirillo during his second tour of duty. I must be talking about the number 6. Enjoy!

Seattle Pilots:

No player was assigned the number 6 in the Pilots organization in 1969.

Milwaukee Brewers:

Mike Hershberger – 1970: Hershberger was .235/.306/.316 in 49 games with the Brewers in their inaugural season, recording 23 hits and 10 walks. Hershberger has the dubious distinction of having lead the American League in sacrifice flies in 1966 with 7.

Ellie Rodriguez – 1971-73: Traded to the Brewers for Carl Taylor prior to the 1971 season, Rodriguez would serve as Milwaukee’s starting catcher. Despite playing in115 games in the ’71 campaign, he would record his second lowest batting average of his career (.210). Undaunted, Rodriguez would have a banner year in ’72 in which he would bat .285 (a career best) and be selected to his second All-Star team.

After splitting time behind the plate with Darrell Porter in ’73, Rodriguez was traded to the California Angels on October 22, 1973 as part of an 9 person trade.

Mike Hegan – 1974-76: You can find information on Hegan in the 4th installment of The Numbers Game.

Sal Bando – 1977-81: A 4 time All-Star selection (’69, ’72-’74) and 3 time World Series champion (’72-’74) while with the Athletics, Bando is best known to Brewers fans not for what he did on the field, but for what he did after he retired. Bando became the Brewers General Manager on October 8th, 1991 leading the team to only 1 winning season (1992)  in his 7+ seasons with the team. Many attribute that winning season, in which Milwaukee went 92-70 to the fact that most of the players on the squad were hold overs from previous general manager, Harry Dalton.

A mixture of low payroll, poor drafting and bad free-agent decisions would create a witches brew of disappointment for the franchise as they struggled to compete. To further exacerbate the situation, Paul Molitor was allowed to become a free agent due to a lack of urgency in offering him salary arbitration. Molitor would sign with the Blue Jays and go on to be the 1993 World Series MVP.

Bando’s tenure as GM would come to an end on August 12, 1999 when he was reassigned within the Brewers organization.

No player was assigned the number 6 in the Brewers organization from 1982 through 1988.

Bill Spiers – 1989-91: Spiers would wear number 6 for his first 3 seasons with Milwaukee, then change to number 9 for the next 3 seasons. As mentioned in the 1st installment of The Numbers Game, Spiers was the object of Gary Sheffield’s rage regarding being moved from shortstop to 3rd, claiming that Spiers was given the position because he was white and Sheffield was black.

A strange incident would befall Spiers while playing for the Astros in 1999. During the bottom of the 6th inning on September 24th, 1999, Spiers was attacked on the field by a 23 year old man at Milwaukee’s County Stadium. Spiers lost a contact, received a welt under his left eye, a bloody nose and whiplash from the ordeal. For more details on the incident, click here.

Andy Allanson – 1992: Appearing in only 9 games with Milwaukee in 1992, Allanson would bat a career best .320/.346/.360 with 8 hits and 1 walk. He would also be the last Brewer to wear the number 6 in the American League.

No player was assigned the number 6 in the Brewers organization from 1993 through 2001.

Jorge Fabregas – 2002: The first player to wear the number 6 for Milwaukee in the National League, Fabregas was acquired from the Angels along with Pedro Liriano in exchange for Sal Fasano and Alex Ochoa on July 31st, 2002. In 30 games, Fabregas would post a disappointing .164/.178/.343 with 11 hits and 2 walks in 67 at-bats.

Keith Ginter – 2003-04: After wearing number 1 in 21 appearances in 2002, Ginter would switch to number 6 for his next two seasons in Milwaukee. Acquired from the Astros along with Wayne Franklin for Mark Loretta and cash considerations, Ginter would bat .257/.344/.448 in his 3 seasons with Milwaukee with 211 hits and 89 walks. He would be named National League Player of the Week during the final week of the 2004 regular season in which he batted .407  with three homeruns and a league leading 11 RBIs. He also led the league with 25 total bases and .926 on-base percentage.

Jeff Cirillo – 2005-06: In his second appearance as a Brewer (he donned number 26 from 1994-99), Cirillo found his stroke again hitting for .281 in 2005 and .319 in 2006 after a 3 year power outage that saw his seasonal batting average dip to as low as .205 in 2003.

No player was assigned the number 6 in the Brewers organization from 2007 through 2012.

So, there you have it, the good, the bad and the ugly of the number 6. Come back tomorrow for a look at Don Money,  J.J. Hardy and everyone else who has worn the number 7.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and an applicant for the 2013 MLB Fan Cave. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.

The Numbers Game: Enter the 5th Dimension

George Scottby Kevin Kimmes

Welcome back to another installment of The Numbers Game. Today we’ll be looking at every player who has ever worn the number 5 for the Pilots and Brewers, including the ever colorful George Scott and former slugger Geoff Jenkins. So, let’s get down to business.

Seattle Pilots:

Don Mincher – 1969: As mentioned in yesterday’s article, the Pilots had two All-Star selections in 1969: the previously mentioned Mike Hegan and Mincher. The interesting thing here is that Mincher is the only Pilot to have actually played in an All-Star game as Hegan, selected as a reserve, did not see play.

Mincher is also one of five Twins players (including  Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Rich Rollins, and Zoilo Versalles) to have hit a homerun in the 7th inning of the June 9, 1966 contest against the Kansas City Athletics. The five home runs in a single inning still stand as a Major League record for the most home runs batted in a single inning. The hits were given up by Catfish Hunter and Paul Lindblad.

Milwaukee Brewers:

Phil Roof – 1970-71: A great defensive catcher who was not really known for his bat, Roof recorded a career best 13 home runs for the fledgeling Milwaukee club in 1970. Early in 1971, Roof would suffer a concussion on a ball pitched by Twins pitcher Bert Blyleven.  Three months later, he would find himself traded to the Twins where he would catch for Blyleven in just his second appearance for Minnesota.

Paul Ratliff – 1971: The third former/future Twin on today’s list, is Paul Ratliff. A sub-Mendoza Line batter (.171 in ’71 and .071 in ’72), Ratliff was acquired from the Twins for the previously mention Roof in 1971, acquiring his previously worn number 5 (he would switch to 17 in ’72). He was traded to the California Angels on July 28, 1972 and never again appeared in a major league game.

George “Boomer” Scott – 1972-76: The first player on today’s list who didn’t play for the Twins is the one-of-a-kind Scott. George was a 3 time American League All-Star (’66, ’75, ’77) and an 8 time Gold Glove award winner (’67-’68 and ’71-’76). Offensively, Scott hit over 20 homeruns (which he refered to as “taters”) six times in his career, and tied Reggie Jackson for the most in the AL in 1975 with 36,  a career-high.

Known for his sense of humor, Scott wore a distinctive necklace which he told a reporter was made of the 2nd baseman’s teeth, and nicknamed his 1st baseman’s glove “Black Beauty”. Scott is also well known for wearing a batting helmet while in the field, something he started doing while with Boston in the 60’s after opposing fans pelted him with objects while playing on the road.

Jamie Quirk – 1977: Quirk played one season with Milwaukee in which he went .217/.251/.330 with 48 hits and 8 walks in 93 games.

Tony Muser – 1978: In his final year in the majors, Muser only appeared in 16 games for Milwaukee where he recorded an underwhelming .133/.212/.233 with 4 hits and three walks in 30 at bats.

No player was assigned the number 5 in the Brewers organization in 1979.

Ned Yost – 1980-83: Used primarily as a backup catcher, Yost spent the first 4 years of his playing career in Milwaukee. He had his best hitting season as a member of “Harvey’s Wallbangers” in 1982 recording a stat line of .276/.324/.429 with 27 hits and 7 walks over the span of 40 games.

Yost would return to Milwaukee as manager in 2003 where he would take the team from perennial losers to championship contenders. He would be fired from the team on September 15, 2008 after the team went into a two week long tailspin en-route to a wildcard playoff appearance.

Doug Loman – 1984-85: In Loman’s only 2 seasons in the majors, he had a career stat line of .246/.325/.366 with 35 hits and 16 walks in 47 games.

No player was assigned the number 5 in the Brewers organization in 1986.

B.J. Surhoff – 1987-95: Drafted 1st overall by the Brewers in the 1985 amateur draft, Surhoff would make a career for himself based on both consistency and versatility. He batted over .280 in 12 of his 19 major league seasons and appeared at every defensive position, other than pitcher, throughout this time. Despite these accomplishments, Surhoff would only be selected to the All-Star game one time (1999). He finished his career with 2,326 hits and 1,153 RBIs.

No player was assigned the number 5 in the Brewers organization in 1996.

Kelly Stinnett – 1997: The final player to wear number 5 for Milwaukee in the AL is Kelly Stinnett. In 44 games for Milwaukee between ’96 (wearing number 11) and ’97, Stinnett was .177/.250/.244 with 11 hits and 5 walks.

Geoff Jenkins – 1998-2007: Playing all but his final season with Milwaukee, Jenkins ranks 3rd on the Brewers all-time home run list behind Hall of Famer Robin Yount and Prince Fielder. To add to this accolade, Geoff hit over .300 in both his 2nd and 3rd seasons in the majors (.313 in ’99 and .303 in ’00), was named team MVP in 2000 and was selected to the National League All-Star team via the All-Star Final Vote contest in 2003.

After declining Jenkins option for 2008 on October 30, 2007, Geoff would go on to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies on December 20, 2007. As a member of the 2008 Phillies, his team would defeat the Brewers in the NLDS en-route to winning the World Series. Jenkins would be released by the Phillies at the end of Spring Training in 2009.

Jenkins would retire from baseball as a Milwaukee Brewer on on July 9th, 2010.

Ray Durham – 2008: Acquired in a trade with the Giants for prospects Steve Hammond and Darren Ford in July of 2008, Durham would finish his major league career as a Brewer. He would bat .280/.369/.477 in 41 games with 30 hits and 15 walks.

No player was assigned the number 5 in the Brewers organization in 2009 and 2010.

Taylor Green – 2011-12: Debuting on August 31st, 2011 as a pinch hitter, Green singled in his first at bat. He would average .270 in 37 at bats for Milwaukee that year. Due to the acquisition of Aramis Ramirez in 2012, Green’s current role is that of utility infielder and pinch hitter.

I’ll be back tomorrow to look at those players who wore number 6.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and an applicant for the 2013 MLB Fan Cave. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.

The Numbers Game: 4 Love of the Game

Paul Molitorby Kevin Kimmes

In the history of the Brewers franchise, only five numbers have ever been retired. They are:

4 – Paul Molitor
19 – Robin Yount
34 – Rollie Fingers
42 – Jackie Robinson
44 – Hank Aaron

Now I know someone is looking at that list and saying, “Wait a minute, Jackie Robinson didn’t play in Milwaukee!” Well, right you are my astute friend, he didn’t, but in 1997 the MLB universally retired Robinson’s number across all teams meaning that the only time you will see anyone wearing number 42 each year is on Jackie Robinson Day which lands on April 15th to commemorate the day Robinson broke the color barrier and debuted with the Dodgers.

Today, however, we are looking at one of the other numbers, 4, the one made famous by the man known as “The Ignitor”, Paul Molitor. Molitor wore jersey number 4 during his entire tenure in Milwaukee which stretched over 15 seasons and included time on three very famous Brewers squads: “Bambi’s Bombers”, “Harvey’s Wallbangers”, and “Team Streak”. As a member of “Team Streak”, Molitor recorded a 39 consecutive game hitting streak which ranks as the fifth-longest in modern-day baseball history, and the longest consecutive game streak since Pete Rose went on a 44 game tear in 1978.

For more info on Molitor, including his hall of fame induction speech, check out his National Baseball Hall of Fame page.

So, who else wore the number 4? Well, let’s take a look.

Seattle Pilots

No player was assigned the number 4 in the Pilots organization in 1969.

Milwaukee Brewers

No player was assigned the number 4 in the Brewers organization from 1970 through 1972.

Tim Johnson – 1973-76: I mentioned Tim Johnson in the first part of this series on Tuesday. Johnson was the everyday starting shortstop in 1973 before losing the job to “The Kid”, Robin Yount. Loss seems to be a recurring theme for Johnson as he would also lose his jersey number to Mike Hegan prior to the 1977 season. Speaking of…

Mike Hegan – 1977: In his final year in the majors, Hegan wore number 4 having previously worn number 8 (in ’69 as a Pilot and ’70-71 as a Brewer) and 6 (for Milwaukee from ’74-’76). Hegan is famous for hitting the first home run in Seattle Pilots history in his first at-bat of the ’69 season. He was also 1 of 2 Pilots to make the All-Star squad in ’69 (the other was Don Mincher). After retiring from play, Hegan would go on to be the Brewers television color commentator for 12 seasons.

Paul Molitor – 1978-92: See above.

No player was assigned the number 4 in the Brewers organization from 1993 through 1995.

Pat Listach – 1996: Having previously worn number 16 over the course of 4 seasons with Milwaukee, Listach switched to number 4 in 1996. Bad move.

The former AL Rookie of the Year would find himself traded to the Yankees along with Graeme Lloyd, while Milwaukee would receive Gerald Williams and Wisconsin native, Bob Wickman. The deal, which was primarily made so that the Yankees could acquire Lloyd, went south when Listach suffered what was initially thought to be a bruise, but turned out to actually be a broken bone in his foot. Adding insult to injury, literally, The Yankees returned Listach to the Brewers, and took Gabby Martinez in his place.

No player was assigned the number 4 in the Brewers organization from 1997 or 1998. The number was retired by the Brewers in 1999.

Come back tomorrow as we look at those players who wore the number 5.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and an applicant for the 2013 MLB Fan Cave. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.