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Richardson played up the middle for the New York Yankees in the days of Mantle and Maris.  A reliable defender, Bobby won five Gold Glove Awards despite never finishing in the Top Three in fielding percentage among his position peers.  He twice led second basemen in putouts and posted six consecutive seasons of turning over 100 double plays.  A table-setter offensively for the Yankees, Bobby was a difficult strikeout victim, adept at the sacrifice and once tallied 200 base hits in a single season.

Signed by the Yankees out of a Sumter, South Carolina high school in 1953, New York called up Bobby in ’55 for a brief trial.  The second baseman received another brief look in ’56 before garnering more playing time in 1957.  He made the first of seven All-Star appearances that season despite the fact that he shared second base with Jerry Coleman.  In that season’s World Series, manager Stengel only used Bobby in two games and not as a starter–he didn’t have a postseason at-bat.  But the Yankees were a dynasty at this time and Richardson would get plenty more opportunities in Fall Classics.

After a down year in 1958 in which the Yankees captured the World Series title, Bobby finally became an everyday player in 1959.  He responded with his first .300 season and was the third most difficult man to strikeout with an average of one whiff every 23.5 at-bats.  The Yankees failed to win the AL flag but when they brought in Roger Maris from Kansas City they won five straight pennants.  Bobby had a down year with the bat in 1960 but nevertheless kicked off his string of six straight seasons with 100 or more twin-killings turned.  Although his bat was MIA during the regular season he had an amazing World Series, driving in a dozen runs against the winning Pittsburgh Pirates.

Richardson won his first Gold Glove in 1961 the year Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single season homerun record.    He hit .391 in a World Series victory over the Reds and banged out 173 hits during the regular season.  But his best year was right around the corner.  In 1962 Bobby led the league with 209 base hits and 20 sacrifices.  He topped .300 for the second time in his career and set personal highs in runs scored (99), doubles (38), homeruns, RBI, slugging average and total bases.  An All-Star and Gold Glove winner, Bobby was the American League runner-up in MVP voting.  Richardson ended the season with a World Series victory over the Giants.

Bobby finished seventh in the league in stolen bases during the 1963 season and made another All-Star team and won yet another Gold Glove.  From 1962 to 1965, Bobby would both make the All-Star team and be awarded the Gold Glove for his position.  In 1964 he had his second 90 runs scored season and paced the league in sacrifices again, but the Yankees, despite Bobby hitting .406, lost their second straight World Series.  No one knew it at the time but New York was about to enter its darkest days.  They fell to sixth place under skipper Johnny Keane in 1965 as Rich remained the everyday second baseman and turned 121 double plays.  But the South Carolinian would end his career on a sour note, as the Yankees, who had been contenders throughout his tour with them, fell to tenth place in 1966–Richardson’s final season.

THE NUMBERS

G 1,412/R 643/H 1,432/2B 196/3B 37/HR 34/RBI 390/SB 73/BB 262/SO 243/BA .266/OBP .299/SA .335

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An exceptional batsman, Kevin Seitzer was a solid third baseman for a number of years, first in Kansas City and later in Milwaukee.  The Royals thought so highly of Seitzer in 1987 that they moved Hall of Famer George Brett across the diamond to open up third base for him.  Although he was no George Brett, Kevin was a reliable ballplayer with a knack for putting the ball in play.  Kevin typically walked more than he struck out and was a threat to hit .300 every season.  A two-time All-Star, Seitzer retired with a rather enviable career batting average and on-base percentage.

Seitzer was drafted by the Royals in the 11th round out of Eastern Illinois College.  It was unlikely that an 11th round pick would force a team to move a player of George Brett’s caliber, but after Kevin impressed in a late season trial with Kansas City in 1986, that’s exactly what happened in 1987.  The Royals shifted Brett to first base and gave the third base assignment to the rookie.  Seitzer rewarded the Royals with one of the greatest rookie seasons ever recorded.  He led the American League with 207 hits, scored 105 runs, hit .323 and posted an amazing .390 on-base percentage.  However, despite these awe-inspiring freshman numbers, Seitzer was denied the Rookie of the Year Award because some gorilla named Mark McGwire hit a lot of homeruns. 

After a rookie season that allowed him to make the All-Star team, Kevin had another .300 season as a sophomore in 1988.  His numbers were rather close to what they had been as a rookie with the exception of his power stats.  He swatted fifteen dingers as a rookie but only managed five long balls as a sophomore.  Those fifteen freshman homeruns would be the most Seitzer would tally over the course of a season as he never duplicated his early slugging numbers.  But despite his loss of power, Kevin was a mighty serviceable ballplayer.  In 1989 he drew 102 walks which enabled him to post a solid OBP of .387–which was fifty points higher than his slugging percentage. 

Seitzer’s batting average fell steadily each year after his rookie season and after a injury-plagued 1991 season the Royals cut ties with Kevin.  He signed a free agent deal with the Brewers in 1992 with plenty to prove.  He showed the Royals that they gave up on him too soon with a healthy ’92 campaign in Wisconsin.  Seitzer, who led the AL in errors at third base twice while in Kansas City, paced the junior circuit with a .969 fielding percentage (20 points above league average) for the Brew Crew.  He rebounded with the stick also to drive in 71 runs. 

Granted free agency after the season, Seitzer signed with the A’s in 1993 but ended the season back in Milwaukee.  Seitzer hit a combined .269 between the two teams before reeling off three straight seasons with a batting average above .310.  Kevin hit .314 in the strike-shortened ’94 season and in 1995 he made his second All-Star team.  That year Kevin hit .311 with a .395 on-base percentage.  But he was even better the following season.  Near the end of the ’96 season, the Brewers sent Kevin to the contending Indians where he hit a lusty .386 down the stretch.  Between the two teams, Kevin hit .326 with an amazing .416 on-base percentage.  Seitzer played one final year with the Indians before retiring.

THE NUMBERS

G 1,439/R 739/H 1,557/2B 285/3B 35/HR 74/RBI 613/SB 80/BB 669/SO 617/BA .295/OBP .375/SA .404

George “The Firebrand” Stovall was a hot-tempered Missouri country boy who was a fan favorite of the Cleveland Indians during the Deadball Era.  During Stovall’s tenure with Cleveland the club was usually referred to as the Naps after star player Nap Lajoie, but George was a valuable piece to the team’s success.  One of the top first basemen of his day, Firebrand was an elite defender with a decent stick, but his volatile nature got the better of him at times.  He once was ousted as player/manager when he let loose an ample stream of tobacco in an umpire’s face after a disagreement. 

Born in Leeds, Missouri, Firebrand was already 26-years-old when given his first look in the Majors.  He followed brother Jesse “Scout” Stovall to the Majors and even though Scout pitched for Cleveland in 1903, the Stovall bothers weren’t teammates on the Naps because Jesse joined Detroit during George’s rookie season.  In his freshman season, Firebrand hit .298–it would be the highest mark of his career.  Stovall began to play regularly in 1905 but not at a fixed position.  He was employed at first, second and third base his first three years in the Majors before settling in at the initial sack in 1907. 

A gifted defender at first base, Firebrand possessed exceptional range afield.  The quick fielding Missouri boy led his league in assists four times and fielding percentage twice.  Firebrand enjoyed perhaps his finest year in 1908 when he hit .292 and set career highs in runs scored, hits (6th in AL), doubles (5th in AL) and total bases (7th in AL).  The Naps were contenders during the Deadball Era–they finished second in 1908–but never could get to the World Series while Stovall was with the club. 

In 1909 Firebrand set a personal high in triples and began a three-year string of leading first basemen in assists.  The following year he upped his RBI total and led American League first basemen with a .988 fielding percentage.  In 1911, his last year with Cleveland, he again led first basemen in fielding percentage and set a career high with 79 RBI.  Stovall managed the Indians most of the 1911 season but his intense qualities led to his trade to the Browns for Lefty George.  The Browns dismissed Bobby Wallace as skipper after a poor start in 1912 and gave the manager’s job to Firebrand who acted as player/manager.  St. Louis finished in seventh place under George’s watch and when he splattered the face of a cantankerous arbiter in 1913, the Browns dismissed him and gave his job to Jimmy Austin.

Firebrand was essentially run out of the American League for creating a makeshift spittoon.  But fortunately for Stovall the Federal League began play as a third Major League in 1914 and he caught on as first baseman/manager of the Kansas City Packers.  In the Federal League’s first year of operation, Firebrand had a heckuva season by setting a career high with seven homeruns while also driving home 75 runs.  But he was unable to duplicate his success in 1915 and when the Federal League folded, Firebrand’s days in the Majors were over.  After his playing days, the 40-year-old Stovall helped his country during time of war when he worked at a shipyard during World War I.  Fifteen years later, during WWII, Firebrand returned to the shipyards and helped build vessels during the Second World War.

THE NUMBERS

G 1,414/R 547/H 1,382/2B 231/3B 56/HR 15/RBI 564/SB 142/BB 174/SO 324/BA .265/OBP .293/SA .339

A crafty southpaw, Osteen is best remembered for his years with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  He joined the club near the end of Sandy Koufax’s career and thus was asked to fill shoes nobody could fathom of filling.  Unlike Sandy, Claude relied more on guile than dominating stuff.  His craftiness allowed him to win close to 200 career games and post eleven consecutive 200+ innings pitched seasons.

Osteen was originally signed by the Reds in 1957 out of high school and made his Major League debut that season.  The slim southpaw worked four innings and surrendered just one run.  After spending the 1958 season on the farm, Osteen received another brief trial with Cincy in ’59.  He was able to crack 20 games pitched in 1960 as a 20-year-old but was dealt to the Senators in 1961 for Dave Sisler.  Washington made Claude a starting pitcher in 1962 and the following season he began his lengthy string of 200+ innings pitched seasons.  A valuable workhorse, Osteen took his turn in the rotation with admirable consistency.

Claude enjoyed his breakout year in 1964 when he won 15 games for a lowly Senators team.  Washington was in desperate need for offense so they traded Osteen to Los Angeles for Frank Howard and Ken McMullen.  The deal worked out well for both sides.  Claude won 15 games on a 2.79 ERA his first year in California.  The southpaw worked 287 innings and posted a two-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio.  In 1966 he was the most difficult pitcher in the National League to take deep as he surrendered just six gopher balls in 240 innings.  The Dodgers, who won the World Series in 1965 backed by a 0.65 ERA from Osteen, made the Fall Classic again in ’66 but Claude lost his only start despite a sensational 0.571 WHIP.  Over the course of his career, Claude had a losing World Series record but had an enviable Fall Classic ERA of 0.86.

Osteen won 17 games in 1967 and finished second in the league in the shutout department.  He made the first of his three All-Star appearances that season by posting a career best 2.92-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.  After leading the National League in losses in 1968, Claude enjoyed his first 20-win season in ’69.  The lefty made 41 starts and finished second in the league with 321 innings worked.  He made the All-Star team again in 1970 but didn’t enjoy his second 20-win season until 1972.  Claude posted a 2.64 ERA and completed 14 of his starts. 

But the Dodgers hadn’t been to a World Series since 1966 and Osteen, although just a 32-year-old, was an aging veteran.  He pitched one final year with the Dodgers in 1973–his eleventh straight 200+ innings pitched campaign.  Osteen had long been an institution in Los Angeles but he was traded to the Astros for Houston’s long-running institution, Jimmy “The Toy Cannon” Wynn.  Claude pitched most of the ’74 season with the Astros but was dealt late season to the Cardinals for two lesser ballplayers.  He ended his career in 1975 with yet another 200+ innings pitched season with the Chicago White Sox.

THE NUMBERS

W 196/L 195/PCT /501/ERA 3.30/G 541/CG 140/SHO 40/IP 3,461/H 3,471/BB 940/SO 1,612

Although Big Gorm didn’t hit for the lofty averages of guys like Gwynn, Boggs and Carew, he put on power displays that left the aforementioned Judy-hitters in awe.  A burly looking, stout man from South Carolina, Thomas didn’t look the part of a center fielder but he was better than serviceable.  Thomas could hawk balls quite well and unlike swift center fielders of his day, he offered big-time power.  Gorman led the American League in homeruns twice and was denied a third title in 1981 courtesy the player’s strike–he finished fifth that year but Gorm could have made a run and ended atop the leader board had it been a usual 162 game season.

Originally a first round draft choice by the one-year-in-existence Seattle Pilots, Thomas spent his amateur days as an infielder but was converted to the outfield in the minors.  The Pilots relocated to Milwaukee and became the Brewers and Gorman would eventually become the franchise’s best slugger.  Gorman received his first trial in the Majors in 1973 but he failed to impress with 61 strikeouts in just 155 at-bats.  High strikeout totals were always a concern with Thomas but his occasional moon-tower blasts were a decent enough tradeoff.

After hitting .261 in a late season look in 1974, Gorman became a regular in 1975.  That year he reached double-digits in homeruns for the first time but his batting average of .179 made Brewers brass feel he’d never hit well enough at the Major League level.  He didn’t dispel their concerns in ’76 when his slugging average fell off and he again failed to hit .200.  But the Brewers were patient and Gorman rewarded them with a breakout season in 1978.  That season Gorman ripped 32 homeruns and led the American League in at-bats per homerun with 14.1.  Although he fanned 133 times, he offset that total with 73 walks which bumped his on-base percentage up to the respectable mark of .351.

In 1979, Gorman led the American League with 45 homeruns.  This output established a Brewers record that held until Prince Fielder recently broke it.  The big basher had his most productive season that year as he drove in 123 runs and scored 97 more.  He may have led the league with 175 strikeouts, but with an at-bats per homerun output of 12.4 (a league leading stat) every whiff came with the realization that Big Gorm would soon rip one.  In the outfield, Thomas finished second among center fielders in fielding percentage and had the third highest total of putouts among outfielders.

With the new decade came more production from Thomas.  He set a personal high with 150 base hits in 1980 while clubbing 38 homeruns with 105 RBI.  The following year Gorman was named to his only All-Star team as he finished fifth in homeruns in the strike shortened ’81 season.  The Brew Crew nevertheless made the postseason, and true to form, Gorman clobbered a homerun in the Division Series against the Yankees, but the Bronx Bombers prevailed and ventured to the ALCS.  Thanks to the strike, Big Gorm was denied a chance to string together four straight 100 RBI campaigns.  He drove in 123 in 1979, 105 in 1980 and in ’82, the year after the strike, Gorman chased 112 mates across the dish.

The 1982 season was a magical one for the Brewers.  They made their first World Series that season and Thomas played an integral part in the team’s success.  The club, nicknamed Harvey’s Wallbangers, after skipper Harvey Kuenn, romped to the World Series with Gorman leading the American League with 39 dingers.  The powerful center fielder slugged over .500 for the third time in his career and also crossed the plate 96 times.  Gorman smashed a homerun in the ALCS against the Angels but failed to take St. Louis pitchers deep in a World Series loss to the Cardinals.  The next year the Brewers would send their prolific power hitter packing.

After a rough start to the 1983 season, Gorman was sent to the Indians for southpaw Rick Waits and his center field successor Rick Manning.  Manning, a swift, slap-hitter, was more the prototypical center fielder than Gorman was but not half the run producer Big Gorm had been.  After the season he was sent to the Mariners with speedy second baseman Jack Perconte for Tony Bernazard and he missed most of the ’84 season to injury.  Healthy again in 1985, Gorman won Comeback Player of the Year honors by socking 32 homeruns for the Mariners.  He played one final year, split between Seattle and the Brewers before ending his Major League playing days.

THE NUMBERS

G 1,435/R 681/H 1,051/2B 212/3B 13/HR 268/RBI 782/SB 50/BB 697/SO 1,339/BA .225/OBP .324/SA .448

One of the top strikeout pitchers of the Deadball Era, Ames was in his prime during the days of Lajoie and Wagner, Mathewson and McGinnity.  Since Red pitched in the same rotation as the latter duo, Christy and Ironman McGinnity, he often went overlooked despite his stellar numbers.  From 1905 to 1907, Red led the National League in most strikeouts on average over nine innings of work.  He racked up his strikeout totals in an era when the boys didn’t swing and miss like they do nowadays.  If a guy struck out 170 times a year or more, like Ryan Howard or Mark Reynolds, they were promptly shot in the Deadball Era.

Ames had a long tenure with John McGraw’s Giants after the turn of the century.  Red joined the club in 1903 and tossed two complete game victories in his only Major League action that year.  His playing time increased in 1904 but since McGraw had Mathewson and McGinnity to give the ball to, Red didn’t work as often as he would on lesser teams.  The Giants captured the NL flag in 1904 but refused to play in the World Series against the hated American League.  McGraw relaxed his stance in 1905 because he realized he denied his players a sizable World Series purse.  Red had his breakout year in 1905 by going 22-8 and finishing second in the league with 198 strikeouts.  His 6.8 strikeouts over nine innings average was tops in the league but with McGraw’s bevy of arms, he only pitched one innings in a World Series romp over Connie Mack’s Athletics.

Red led the National League with a 6.9 strikeouts over nine inning average in 1906.  He trimmed his ERA down to 2.16 in 1907 and for the third straight year led the senior circuit in highest strikeout average.  But he was limited to just 18 games in 1908 before bouncing back in 1909.  Ames won 15 games and worked 244 innings that season.  He posted a 2.22 ERA in 1910 before leading the Giants back to the World Series in 1911.  During the regular season, Red worked 205 innings and didn’t surrender a homerun all year.  In the World Series, Red posted a terrific 0.875 WHIP but lost his only postseason decision.  The Giants repeated as NL champs in 1912 as Ames posted a .688 winning percentage.  But McGraw’s men dropped their second straight World Series.

In 1913 Red was involved in a steal of a trade for the Cincinnati Reds.  McGraw sent two aging pieces in Ames and Josh Devore to the Reds for pitcher Art Fromme.  That trade looks lackluster, but McGraw also threw in a prospect named Heinie Groh who would become one of the best hot corner men of all-time.  Ames was able to win 11 games for the Reds in 1913.  He proved the workhorse of the Reds staff in 1914 when he worked a career high 297 innings.  He completed 18 of his starts and also paced the league in saves–which wasn’t an acknowledged stat back then. 

After a rough start in 1915 the Reds sold his contract to the Cardinals and Ames righted his ship by going 9-3 the rest of the way for the Redbirds.  In 1916, Red again led the senior circuit in saves while taking his regular turn in the rotation.  In the Deadball Era, there wasn’t such a thing as firemen.  If a starter struggled, another starter was asked to relieve him and Red did this quite often.  Ames would win 15 games in 1917 and then trimmed his ERA down to 2.31 in 1918.  He split the 1919 season, his final in the Majors, with the Cardinals and Phillies.

THE NUMBERS

W 183/L 167/PCT .523/ERA 2.63/G 533/CG 209/SHO 27/IP 3,198/H 2,896/BB 1,034/SO 1,702

Over the course of his career, Hank was a member of seven World Series champion teams and after his playing days he won another championship as skipper of the Baltimore Orioles.  But it was a miracle that Bauer even made the Major Leagues at all.  Before his debut at the highest level, Hank served his country during World War II.  Bauer wasn’t one of the idle boys who just played ball during his tenure.  Attached to the Marine Corps, Bauer saw heavy combat action in the European Theatre of Operations and won numerous battlefield citations.

After his stint with Uncle Sam was completed, the war hero went back to baseball and the Yankees gave him a cup of coffee in 1948.  His playing time increased in 1949 as he socked ten homeruns rotating all over the outfield.  Hank made at least 20 starts at every post in the pasture.  Hank saw some action in the World Series that year as the Yankees were victorious over Brooklyn.  He would be a regular on the Yankees roster when they captured the World Series title the next four seasons. 

Bauer had his best year for batting average in 1950 when he hit a resounding .320 during the regular season.  He reached 70 RBI and 70 runs scored for the first time that year as the Yankees made quick work of the Philadelphia Whiz Kids in the World Series.  Hank hit .296 in 1951 and then socked 17 homers in ’52, but in all those seasons, Hank was a fine hitter during the regular season but a no-show in postseason play.  In 1951 he hit .167 in the World Series but that was a mighty mark compared to his ’52 Fall Classic batting average of .056.  Despite Bauer’s weak showing in the World Series, they nevertheless copped the title each year.

Hank put his World Series woes to rest in 1953.  A member of the American League All-Star team, Hank set a personal high with a .394 on-base percentage.  In the ’53 World Series, Bauer finally topped the .200 batting average when he hit Brooklyn pitchers at a .261 clip.  For the first time since the Yankees made Bauer a regular in their lineup, they failed to reach the World Series in 1954.  Hank was named to his third straight All-Star team that season, but, surprisingly, when his power numbers spiked, his name was no longer called for the Midsummer Classic.

Bauer helped the Yankees return to the World Series in 1955 when he clubbed 20 dingers and scored a career high 97 runs.  He hit a robust .429 in the World Series but the Dodgers finally had the Yankees number and beat the Bronx Bombers.  The following season, 1956, Bauer’s batting average reached an all-time low but it may have been his best season.  He set personal highs in both homeruns (26) and RBI (84) as New York won yet another AL pennant.  Hank finally notched his first World Series homerun in the ’56 Fall Classic as the Yankees got their revenge over the Dodgers. 

Bauer had two more years left with the Yankees.  In 1957 he paced the American League in triples and socked a pair of homeruns in a World Series loss to the Braves.  His best Fall Classic performance was right around the corner however.  As a 35-year-old veteran, Hank socked four homeruns and drove in eight runs in a World Series triumph over Milwaukee.  After a dozen years with the Yankees, New York shipped Hank to Kansas City after the season.  The trade was made because Bauer was aging and he had a reputation for wild nightlife living.  It was written that the Yankees wanted to clean up their image so they sent the brawling, heavy-drinking Bauer to the Athletics for a kid named Roger Maris.  Bauer’s career was essentially over while Maris won back-to-back MVP Awards with New York.

THE NUMBERS

G 1,544/R 833/H 1,424/2B 229/3B 57/HR 164/RBI 703/SB 50/BB 521/SO 638/BA .277/OBP .346/SA .439