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#196 – Terry Fox

February 8, 2012

Two posts, two Tigers hurlers, and comparing this to the Don Mossi posted below, you can see a few subtle differences. Mossi is listed as “Detroit Tigers – P”, and Fox as “Det. Tigers – Pitcher”. On the back, the baseball in the upper corner with the number inside it is now bigger on Fox’s, the number itself is also larger, and “TOPPS” has been added above it. The difference in the “Detroit Tigers/Det. Tigers” text is duplicated on the back, as well.

Terry Fox debuted in September of 1960 with the Braves, getting into 5 games as the season wound down, and was then part of a 4-player package Milwaukee sent to Detroit for 2B Frank Bolling (the back of this card claims he was “considered just a toss-in” in that deal). He immediately settled in as the Tigers’ ace reliever (“closer” just doesn’t sound appropriate for the era) putting up a combined 1.56 ERA with 28 saves between 1961 and ’62. That ERA did rise a bit over the next 3 seasons, but never topped 3.59, and he led the team in saves again in ’63 and ’65.

In May, 1966, Detroit sold Fox to the Phillies, and one rough season there (4.47 ERA, 1.669 WHIP) marked the last time he’d appear in an MLB game. He spent 1967 with San Diego, the Phils’ AAA club in the PCL, but the decline continued (5.23 ERA in 43 IP), and his career was over at age 31. He compiled a career record of 29-19, a 2.99 ERA, and 59 saves.

The backs of both his 1962 and 1965 cards mention arm troubles, so that may explain why it all seemed to fall apart for him beginning in 1966.

February 8th, 1962: “Peppermint Twist” by Joey Dee & the Starliters is the #1 song in the land.

#105 – Don Mossi

February 7, 2012

In working on the 1965 set, I felt a little ripped off that I didn’t get to include a Don Mossi in it. He appeared in every Topps set from 1955 to 1964, and returned for a curtain call in 1966, but was left out in ’65. He’d been released by the White Sox in October of ’64 and wasn’t signed by KC until the end of May, ’65, so that may have had something to do with it. Which makes it all the more funny that he’s in the 1966 set, since he never appeared in a game (majors or minors) after ’65.

Many people consider Mossi one of the ugliest men to ever play major-league baseball. I won’t be that unkind, but he definitely has to be one of the most unique-looking.

What often gets overlooked in all that talk about his appearance is what a good pitcher the guy was. As a rookie in 1954, he went 6-1, 1.94 in 93 innings of work, teaming with Ray Narleski to give the Indians a fantastic left-right combo out of the ‘pen and helping them to their then-record 114 regular-season wins (his success continued in the World Series, hurling 4 scoreless innings over 3 games, but the Tribe couldn’t keep up their winning ways and were swept by Willie Mays and the Giants).

After a couple of more top-notch years of relief-work, Cleveland moved Mossi to the starting rotation in 1957, where the results probably weren’t what they hoped for (11-10, 4.13 in 36 games, 22 starts; ironically, he made his only All-Star team that year). A return to the bullpen the following season didn’t seem to improve things very much, and he was shipped off to Detroit along with Narleski and Ossie Alvarez for Billy Martin and Al Cicotte.

Given a second opportunity to be a starter by the Tigers, Mossi didn’t waste it. He averaged 14 wins a season over the next 3 years (peaking with a career-high 17 in 1959) with a 3.23 ERA and never lost more than 9 games.

The year this card was released, Mossi’s success as a starter began to wane, and Detroit finally sold him to the White Sox during spring training of 1964. Moving back to the bullpen full-time brought back some of his success of 10 years earlier, and as mentioned previously, he signed on with the Athletics for one final season in May of 1965, turning in a decent effort on a last-place team.

He retired with a career record of 101-80, a lifetime 3.43 ERA, 50 saves, and the highest fielding percentage among pitchers (.990).

February 7th, 1962: The United States bans all imports from (and nearly all exports to) Cuba. Singer Garth Brooks is born.

And we’re off…

February 7, 2012

Okay, first post.

Like I said in the “About Me”, I grew up collecting cards as a kid in the late-’80s, and have always loved the 1987 Topps set, with its cool retro-ish wood borders. I always sort of wistfully wished I could build its daddy, the 1962, but back then finding local dealers with vintage commons was just about impossible. (And even if I’d made a start on it, I probably would’ve sold most of it when I liquidated the best parts of my collection a few years later; *sigh*.)

But better late than never, and I’ve created this blog to track my progress. It won’t be witty, and it may not even be very interesting or informative. But at least it’ll help keep me off the street and away from drugs and gangs, right?

So here we go…