Monday, January 20, 2014

Pittsburgh Pirates (88-73)–2nd Place NL East


Editor’s Notes:  Manny Sanguillen always seems to be happy, which is probably why the Bucs re-acquired him and why Steeltown fans still embrace him 35 years later.  Looks like Dave May and Doe Boyland posed for the same photographer minutes apart from each other.  The Blyleven and Frye are colorizations that I worked on.  Worst of the bunch is the Cito Gaston airbrush job that was used for his 1979 card.  I searched high and low to find a shot of him in a Bucs uni but came up woefully short and decided not to knock myself out on a guy who played just 2 games for the Bucs in ‘78 and retired after the season.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The ALCS: New York defeats KC (3-1) for the 3rd year in a row

Things looked good for KC, because Yankee ace Ron Guidry had to pitch in that little playoff game up in Fenway, and would not be ready until Game 4 of the ALCS.  After splitting the first 2 games in KC with lopsided wins, the series moved to the Bronx.

George Brett went off an hit 3 homers, all off Catfish Hunter in what looked like a sure fire win by the Royals.  In the top of the 8th Darrell Porter singled home Amos Otis to tie the game at 4-4.  Porter would score 3 batters later when Goose Gossage got Al Cowens to ground out.  Heading into the bottom of the inning Herzog allowed starter Paul Splittorff to begin inning.  After Roy White's 1 out single Herzog went to the pen.  Instead of bringing in the lefty (Hrabosky), he went with the righty (Doug Bird), who served up a 2 run shot to Yankee captain Thurman Munson, which put New York back on top by 1.  Gossage took the mound in the top of the 9th and set the Royals down in order to give New York a 2-1 series lead.

The following night Ron Guidry outdueled Dennis Leonard to clinch the AL Pennant.  Guidry scattered 7 Royal hits over 8 innings, while striking out 7 and allowing just 1 run to cross the plate.  KC's 1 run would come in the top of the first.  Their failure to score more that inning was their downfall.  Leonard, who gave up just 2 runs, was victimized by 2 long balls (Nettles in the 2nd & White in the 6th).  With Guidry mowing them down the Yankees looked like a lock until the top of the 9th when Otis led off with a double.  Yankee manager Bob Lemon realized that his ace had gone as far as he could go, went to the pen for flamethrower Goose Gossage.  Pinch hitter Clint Hurdle went down swinging and Porter made the second out by flying out to center.  Herzog dug deep into his bag of tricks and pinch hit one more time.  Lefty Pete LaCock was immediately in a 0-2 hole as Gossage was not playing around.  on the 3rd pitch he lifted a weak fly to left that fell neatly into defensive replacement Gary Thomasson's glove for the pennant clincher.  For the 3rd time in successive years the Royals came up short vs the Bronx Bombers.  Power once again outdid speed.

Topps only issued 1 card for the ALCS.  In years past they would issue a card per game played in B&W.  I decided as part of this project that I would add these "missing" LCS cards.

The Bronx Zoo

Welcome to the Bronx Zoo.  A team that had more subplots than any other World Champion in major league history.  Playing .700 ball from mid July through October is a good way to win a championship.  In the Yankees case all it guaranteed them was a 1 game playoff in Fenway Park on October 1st.  Massive injuries and the implosion of skipper Billy Martin left the Bombers all but dead in the water as the Red Sox built a huge double digit lead by July.  A managerial change brought in the steady Bob Lemon to replace the volatile Martin and all of a sudden the atmosphere changed.  Don't discount the fact that the troops got healthy and Ron Guidry was in the midst of a season for the ages, and all off a sudden the Yankees had the formula.  Slowly but surely they chipped away at the Red Sox lead.  Entering September they were 6 1/2 back, just within earshot of making a run.  Heading into a key 4 game set in Boston on September 7th the Bombers were 4 games behind the Red Sox.  All Boston needed was a split to keep the status quo.  Even 1 win would allow them to keep a 2 game lead.  Instead the Yankees blew the doors off the Red Sox in a 4 game sweep know in the Big Apple as "The Boston Masacre".  New York didn't just win those 4 games they pummeled the Red Sox by scoring 15, 13, 7 and 7 runs.  Just like that both teams were tied atop the AL East and the Yankees owned all of the momentum.  4 days later the two teams would again do battle, this time for a 3 game weekend set in the Bronx.  Before sellout crowds over 55,000 the Yankees won the first 2 games, then lost the finale.  The Yankees were now up by 2 1/2 games and the baseball world knew that the Red Sox were dead.  Unfortunately, the baseball world forgot to inform the Red Sox of their funeral.  Boston, to their credit, rallied back and tied the Yankees by winning on the final day of the season, while the Yankees dropped a 9-2 stinker to Cleveland.  That set the stage for the 1 game playoff in Boston on October 2, 1978.  The rest they say, "is history".

New York's strength was a veteran lineup that knew how to win.  When the New York tabloids went into full panic mode that summer the team never wavered   Bob Lemon was the right guy at the right time.  As the team suffered through stagnant play and injuries the fiery Martin made things worse.  Lemon's patience paid off as New York executed one of the greatest comebacks in modern baseball history.  31 year old Thurman Munson was the heart and soul of this team.  Playing on 2 gimpy knees, which reduced his homer outpu to just 6, he was able to lead his team to the promised land one final time.  "Sweet" Lou Piniella (.314) was the only regular to hit over .300.  Reggie and Craig Nettles both had solid seasons hitting in the .270's with 27 homers.  A cast of minor leaguers helped cover for the injured Willie Randolph, including Brian Doyle who had a post season to remember.  Steady veteran Roy White was injured hobbled most of year.  Dent, the hero in Fenway, missed 39 games.  Unheralded first baseman Chris Chambliss played in all 162 games and knocked in 90 runs.  Guidry (25-3, 1.74) dominated AL hitters better than any lefty before or since.  Louisiana Lighting fanned 248, including 18 Angels on an otherwise forgettable May night vs the Angels, up at the Stadium.  Ed Figueroa (20-9, 2.99) was an outstanding #2 starter, who logged 253 innings and somehow doesn't get the credit he deserved.  Led by Guidry the Yankee staff led the AL in ERA.  Due to injuries to anticipated starters Don Gullett and Andy Messersmith, swingman Dick Tidrow was moved into the rotation and he gave Lemon 185 solid innings.  Rookies Jim Beattie and Ken Clay filled the gap as well.  Ancient 32 year old future HOF'er Catfish Hunter (12-6, 3.58) was on his last legs.  Still he found a way to log 20 starts.  The pen had superstar free agent signee Goose Gossage logging 134 innings and notching 27 saves.  His setup man was former closer Sparky Lyle, who won the 1977 AL Cy Young Award.  Graig Nettles joked that Lyle, "went from Cy Young to Syanora".  Gossage was just that good in '78.  He was worth every penny of George Steinbrenner's millions that it took to get him to the Bronx.

I added 17 new cards to complete the Yankees 1978 set.

Messersmith was a 4 time All-Star and Cy Young runner up who was suffering from arm trouble by the time he came to New York in 1978.  The Yankees hoped he could rekindle the form that helped him win 20 games twice, but he just had nothing left.  Only 3 years earlir he pitched a career high 321 innings for the Dodgers and won 19 games.  He would never be the same pitcher after that.  In 5 starts (6 games) he was a pitiful 0-3, 5.64.  His complete Yankee career would last just 22 innings.  The following season he returned to the scene of the 300 inning crime (LA) and rebounded slightly.  After the season he hung it up at the ripe old age of 33.  I found this spring training photo while doing a Google search.
Hoping to find someone who could eat up innings the Yankees called Kammeyer up from Triple A Tacoma where he was 12-2, 4.59.  In 21 innings he posted a 5.82 ERA for New York and did not get a decision   He would play in just 1 more major league game in 1979 and not record an out while allowing 8 runs.  He spent both '79 and '80 back at Triple A before being released.  His major league debut was on Monday Night Baseball vs the Red Sox.  Four of the AAA teams that he played on won championships.  After leaving baseball he became a CPA.  I found this autographed photo on ebay.
Doyle's claim to fame was his outstanding 1978 World Series performance in place of the injured Willie Randolph.  In six World Series games, he batted .438 with 7 hits in 16 at bats, 1 double, 4 runs scored and 2 RBI's, helping the Yankees to their second straight World Series victory.  Many thought that he should have been the series MVP, but because he was a fringe player he wasn't going to be honored. During the regular season he played in just 39 games and hit only .192 with no power numbers whatsoever.  In parts of the next 2 seasons as a spare part he hit .125 and .173 respectively before getting his final chance in 1981 with Oakland.  In 7 seasons at Triple A he hit just .259.  His 15 minutes of fame could not have come at a better time.  I found this photo while doing a Google search.
GarcĂ­a made his major league debut in 1978 with the New York Yankees He played in 29 games over the following two seasons before being traded with Chris Chambliss and Paul Mirabella to the Toronto Blue Jays for Tom Underwood, Rick Cerone and Ted Wilborn prior to the 1980 season.  In 18 games this 21 year old future All Star hit just .195.  Once in Toronto he would become a 2 time All-Star.  He finished 4th in the ROY voting in 1980.  I took his Yankee minor league photo and added the interlocking NY to the jersey.  His cap logo isn't visible, so that wasn't an issue.
Rajsich appeared in 4 games (2 starts) for the Yankees in 1978.  He had a 4.05 ERA without a decisions.  At the end of the season he was part of a blockbuster deal with the Rangers that netted the Yankees future standout Dave Righetti.  He spent 2 seasons with Texas and saw limited action.  Most of his time was spent on the AAA level.  To his credit he never surrendered the dream as he bounced from one organization to another on the minor league level until 1988 when he was 6-8, 2.86 with Louisville (STL-AAA).  this photo was taken during his minor league years in the Yankee chain.
Sherrill spent 5 seasons in the Yankee farm system before getting called up to the big club in 1978.  At the time he was playing at West Haven (AA) and hitting .292.  New York needed middle infield help due to injuries to Dent and Randolph and they were willing to try anyone in the organization. In 2 games Sherrill got 1 at bat and scored 1 run without getting a hit.  In 1980 he returned for 3 games and collected his one and only hit. This photo came from his 1979 Columbus Clippers card.  I changed the logo and go got rid of the Clippers red.
The 20 year old Ramos was summoned from Triple A Tacoma for 1 game to help out the Yankees middle infield situation.  He would never play another game for New York.  At the end of the season he was part of the previously mentioned blockbuster deal with Texas, who he never played for either.  Instead he was sold to the Blue Jays where he played a handful of games before being a rule 5 draftee by the Mariners.  From 1982-1987 he found his niche as a utility infielder in Seattle.  He would move on to 3 more organizations in that same roll.  His best sesaon (1987) saw him hit .311 in 42 games.  This card came from the same minor league set that the Damaso Garcia photo came from.  The same airbrush job was done on the jersey.
Thomasson played his whole career for California based team minus the 55 games he played for the Yankees in 1978.  He started the season in Oakland and arrived in New York on June 15th in exchange for Dell Alston and Mickey Klutts.  Thomasson did a great job as the Yankees 4th outfielder and late inning defensive replacement.  He caught the final out of the 1978 Series.  He hit .276 in 116 at bats for New York  I found this autographed photo on ebay.
By 1978 Johnstone was a well traveled veteran lefty bat that contenders coveted.  Having arrived in the majors as a 20 year old in 1966 with the Angels, Johnstone was in his 13th big league campaign in 1978.  He began the season with the Phillies and was traded along with Bobby Brown to the Yankees for a beat up Rawly Eastwick.  In 36 games in the Bronx as a pinch hitter and part time DH he hit .262 with 6 RBI's.  He would get traded exactly 1 year to the day later to the Padres.  He ended his career with a .267 lifetime average and 1,748 games played over 20 big league seasons.
Fun Fact:  Johnstone was know as one of the games greatest pranksters.  He is credited with stuffing his shirt, graying his hair and walking around Dodgertown pretending to be Tommy Lasorda.  You can read about his exploits in one of his 3 books or by clicking here and reading a neat article by SABR.  I found this autographed photo on ebay.
Beattie was considered "the jewel" of the Yankee farm system in the late 70's, but he and other phenoms Ken Clay and Gil Patterson were frustrated when the Yankees kept signing veterans like Gullett, Eastwick, Messersmith and Gossage.  Thanks to injuries he made the big club right out of Spring training and won his first start in a battle vs future HOF'er Jim Palmer.  He won his next start then fell into a rut dropping his next 7 decisions in a row.  He finally righted the ship and won two key games vs Boston down the stretch as well as a win in the ALCS and World Series.  He finished the season 6-9, 3.73 in 22 starts.  After a sub-par '79 season he was packaged in a deal to Seattle that brought Ruppert Jones to the Yankees.  He would put together 7 successful seasons in Seattle until arm trouble hit.  He moved into the front office as a GM for both Montreal and Baltimore.  This autographed photo came from ebay.
Only George Steinbrenner would trade for a gold glove 1st Baseman like Spencer, when he already had his carbon copy in Chambliss.  Spencer who won 2 gold gloves was now relegated to the role of DH.  If he was that stout a hitter he wouldn't have been a guy who consistently played just vs righties and had a lifetime .250 average.  Such was the logic in the Bronx.  Spencer was a good soldier and did not complain  He played in 71 games and hit just .227 in 1978 with 7 homers.  With increased playing time the following season he hit .288 with 23 homers, which was by far his best season in the biggs.  The Yankees rewarded him by trading Chambliss, which should have paved the way for him to start at first.  Instead they went out and signed Bob Watson and once again Spencer was a part time / platoon player.  Pictured here is his 1978 Burger King mid season update card.
Desperate for arms, due to injury, the Yanks dug deep into their minor league system and brought up Larry McCall, who pitched in 5 games (1 start).  McCall had a 1-1, 5.63 record in 16 innings of work.  He would get a second cup of coffee in '79 then disappear back into the minors where he bounced from the Yankees to the Rangers to the Indians and then finally the Blue Jays organization.  His final season in professional ball was 1981 at Syracuse (AAA-TOR).  This photo came from that same minor league set that I found Garcia's.  This was the only one that required the interlocking NY to be added to the cap.
Klutts was a hard nosed utility infielder, who was a favorite of Billy Martin who managed him in both New York and Oakland.  He batted a perfect 1.000 in 1978 (2-2) in his one game in the Bronx, which was an April 15th win over the Chisox at the Stadium.  After being traded to Oakland in the Thomasson deal he played the rest of the season in Vancouver (AAA), where he hit .293.  He spent parts of the next 4 seasons in Oakland and hit .269 in almost 200 AB's in 1980 and .370 in 46 AB's during the strike shortened 1981 season. I found this autographed photo on ebay.
Heath was destined to be Munson's backup for a long time to come.  The Yankees figured that they were set at the catcher's position for at least the next 5 years, so they included heath in the Righetti deal with Texas.  He spent the balance of the '78 season in AAA then was traded to Oakland where he blossomed into a front like catcher for the next 10-12 years.  During the '78 season he hit .228 in 92 at bats, which encompassed 33 games behind the dish.  I found this autographed photo while doing a Google search.
Lindy arrived mid season from Texas in the hopes that his 38 year old body had one more stretch run left in it.  Having pitched out of the A's pen during their dynasty years he was a known commodity for getting lefties out.  He pitched in just 7 games for the Bombers posted a 4.42 ERA, which did not instill confidence by management.  1978 would turn out to be his 14th and final season in the majors.  Pictured here is his Burger King update card.
The extent of Eastwick's career in the Bronx was 8 relief appearances early in the season before being dealt to Philly for Jay Johnstone.  In just under 25 innings of work Eastwick had a 2-1, 3.28 record.  He would not be as successful in Philly.  He had an amazing 2 seasons in 1975 and 1976 as the Reds closer, where he lead the league in saves twice and won two championships.  This is his Burger King update card taken in Spring Training.
Davis had two call-ups to the Bronx during the '78 season.  First in late July where he pitched in 1 game vs Minnesota and gave up 2 runs without recording an out.  As part of the September call ups he was thrown right into the fire and got the final out on September 8th vs Boston.  His 2 subsequent outings saw him pitch 2 more innings and give up 2 runs (1 earned).  While in the minors that season Davis was having an amazing year at Double A West Haven where he went 9-2, 1.50 with 5 saves.  1979 would mark an amazing season for Davis (14-2, 2.85, 9sv), who replaced Sparky Lyle as Gossage's setup man.  After 2 more seasons setting up Gossage he requested a trade and was sent to Minnesota for Roy Smalley, where he became the Twins closer for the next 4 seasons.  Davis, ever the competitor refused to quit baseball when his stuff began to disappear in his early 30's.  He took an assignment to AAA Phoenix (SFG) for 2 years and then back with the Yankees Columbus team before hanging it up in 1990.  His claim to fame today is that his son is Ike Davis, the Mets slugging 1st baseman.

The Royal Flush

For most of the summer the Royals played "cat and mouse" with the Rangers and Angels, but by late August they asserted themselves to finally take the division lead.  During September they ran their lead up to 6 games.  A mid September series vs California where they took 2 of 3 boosted their lead to 4.5 and they never looked back.  Playing just 8 games during the month of September vs teams with a winning record sure helped.  Having a scrappy team lead by Whitey Herzog that was a 2 time defending AL West Champ did not hurt either.  Herzog's team was built around pitching and speed, which was his hallmark.  This Royals team did not hit more than 100 homers and had just 1 guy (Amos Otis), who hit more than 20.  What they did have was a lineup with 8 guys who stole 10 or more bases.  Rookie Willie Wilson, who reached base just 61 times stole an incredible 46 bags.  Freddie Patek stole 38 and Otis had 32 thefts.  Even superstar George Brett, who failed to hit .300, swiped 23.  This perpetual moving machine managed to score the 3rd most runs in the league despite not having one .300 hitter who played every day.  Couple that with a gold glove caliber infield and an equally adept outfield and you have a team that could beat you on both sides of the ball.

27 year old Dennis Leonard (21-17, 3.33) anchored the staff by posting 20 complete games in nearly 300 innings.  Herzog basically had a 4 man rotation.  Instead of a 5th starter he spread 28 starts among 5 other pitchers.  The big disappointment would be Steve Busby, who at a very young age showed flashed of brilliance while pitching 2 no hitters.  At the age of 28 Busby was suffering from shoulder issues.  Herzog gave him 5 starts to recapture the magic, but physically his body was done.  Yankee killer, Larry Gura, was 16-4, 2.72 in over 220 innings.  Paul Splittorff was 1 game shy of 20 wins and youngster Rich Gale (14-8, 3.09) might have been the best #4 guy in the league that year.  The "Mad Hungarian" Al Hrabosky (8-7, 2.88, 20sv) came over from cross state rival St. Louis to solidify the bullpen.  KC's pen, which seemed to falter in big games needed a take charge guy in big situations.  Hrabosky was viewed as the guy who could come up big down the stretch and in the post season, where they lost in the ALCS to the Yankees in each of the past 2 seasons.

After taking care of business in AL West a well rested Royals team was poised to wrestle AL dominance from a Yankee team that was coming off a 1 game playoff win vs Boston.  Once again though, the power team from the Bronx edged out the speed team from KC in another classic LCS (more on that later).

16 new cards were added to round out the Royals team set.

Hrabosky "the Mad Hungarian" had himself some shtick when he would enter games.  Since he didn't have overpowering stuff he relied mainly on guile and antics.  For the previous 2 seasons it seemed to work well for him in St. Louis.  The growling at the hitters, the slamming of the rosin bag and of course the one man huddle behind the mound.  This shtick and his ability to get hitters out late in games got him enough votes to finish in the top 10 twice for NL Cy Young balloting.  Moving cross stated gave him a new place and a new league to impress.  Hrabosky had a fine season (8-7, 2.88, 20sv) anchoring a bullpen that was known for having good regular seasons, but awful post seasons.  Unfortunately for him, and the Royals, manager Herzog called on him one batter too late in one of the most pivotal playoff games the franchise would participate in (spoiler alert...).  Hrabosky spent 2 seasons in KC before his act wore thin.  He would finish his career off with 3 nondescript seasons in Atlanta before hanging it up at 32.
Bobscustomcards created this 1978 card for career backup catcher Art Kusnyer.  Not much good can be said about a 32 year old journeyman catcher who was a career .176 hitter.  One would think that he fell into the "catch and throw" category, but his error ratio during his limited MLB exposure was horrific.  What Kusnyer did do was string his RBI's in bunches.  He had 21 lifetime and 11 were accounted for in two 3 RBI games and one 5 RBI game.  On June 26, 1978 he hit his only home run of the season for the Royals (he had just 3 hits) against All-Star pitcher Frank Tanana.  For the season he got into just 9 games and hit .231 (3-13).  In 61 games at Omaha (AAA) he didn't fare much better hitting .234.  Kusnyer would spend one more year in the minors (1979), which would be the luckiest year of his career.  His minor league manager, one Tony LaRussa, took a liking to him.  When LaRussa was tapped to manage the White Sox later that year Kusnyer was invited to be his bullpen coach.  That was the beginning of a relationship that would last over 30 years across 3 franchises that LaRussa piloted.

As a minor leaguer, Paschall was serviceable   As a major leaguer, during his 3 cups of Joe, he was barely used.  His best season at Omaha was 1978 (14-9, 3.63), which is why he was brought up to the big club.  For the Royals he got into 2 games and posted an 0-1, 3.38 record in 8 innings on the hill.  He would get two more brief shots in 1979 and 1981 before being released.  In total he pitched in 11 games during his 3 stints with the Royals.  This photo came from his Omaha minor league card.

Now you know I'm not a fan of the BHNH photos that the boys at 1 Whitehall street were so adept at using on at least 15-20% of their cards each year.  Typically my updates feature a player in full cap and uniform.  I made an exception in this case, because this photo appeared on the cover of SI, and I loved those covers except for the off white sticker that usually had my address on it.  I did some airbrushing to remove the text and decided to make this his card photo.  Hurdle, who today has made a name for himself as a well traveled manager, was a great utility player for the Royals.  1978 marked the first time this first round pick (9th overall) saw extended action.  Hurdle played 5 positions and hit a solid .264 with 7 homers in over 400 AB's.  That's pretty much the type of player he would be for the rest of his career.  Hurdle had the bad luck of playing for the Mets in '85 and finishing 2nd to the Cards, who he played for in '86 and finished 2nd to the Mets.  Then in '87 he returned to the Mets and finished 2nd once again to the Cards.  Talk about timing.

After hitting .300 at AAA Omaha Cripe received a September call up to join the Royals.  In just 7 games he hit .154 (2-13).  His 1st major league hit occurred on September 10th and came off of Nolan Ryan.  He would return to the minors for 2 more seasons before being released.  Whitey Herzog had this to say about him after the season, "Dave really didn't get a chance to play much with us last September because of the divisional race, but we know he is a pretty good hitter.  We also know he can play third and we'll watch him closely in the spring."  You get the feeling that Whitey was trying to be kind here.  Cripe could have been the next Brooks Robinson at the hot corner and he wasn't going to get a look at third with future HOF'er George Brett entrenched there.  I took a B&W photo, colorized it and superimposed it on a Royals Stadium background.  Notice the ugly Astroturf ?  It's hard to find a photo of Royals Stadium that has the turf on it.

Not to be confused with his namesake who walked 4,000 miles across America, this George Throop just walked major leaguers at an alarming rate during his 5 mini-seasons in the majors.  Throop pitched in just 1 game for the Royals in 1978 and allowed no runs, 2 hits and 3 walks in 3 innings of work.  He would log 42 innings during his major league career with 22 of them coming after being traded to Houston in 1979 for serviceable utility man Keith Drumright.  Throop, who possessed an intimidating 6'7" physique struggled with his control.  In the minors he could intimidate hitters into swinging at bad pitchers, but not in the majors.  When he threw strikes, batters usually hit him.  His numbers at Omaha in 1979 prove that out (12-10, 5.47 with 170 hits in 153 innings.  I colorized this B&W photo for my '77 project and decided to re-use it since he really didn't see much action.

Quirk spent 18 seasons in the big leagues as a member of 8 different franchises.  He spent 11 of those seasons in Kansas City during 3 separate tours of duty.  1978 marked the start of this utility man's second tour in KC after a 1 year detour in Milwaukee.  Quirk got into 17 games and hit just .207.  He would serve his utility man roll for 5 seasons before moving across the state to St. Louis in '83.  He would return in 1985, just in time to be part of KC's only World Championship team.  He would finish out his career in Oakland in the early 90's and win another ring.  Most of his action in '78 came at Milwaukee's Spokane AAA team where he hit .292 in 97 games.  He also spent time in the Mexican league in 1979 and back in the minors in '84, '85 and '89.  Pictured as a Brewer on his '78 card I used an autographed photo found on ebay for this updated card.

This former 6th round draft pick was a standout ball player while attending his hometown Tulane in NOLA.  Never a prime star as he eased his way up the minor league system.  Gaudet hit just .222 in 107 games as Omaha's primary receiver.  He was called up in September and got into 3 games (8 AB's) and did not log a hit.  The same scenario followed in 1979.  In his first game back on September 1st he posted his only major league hit.  He would float around the minors for the next 3 seasons before hitting .143 for Syracuse (TOR-AAA), which signaled the end of his career.  I found this photo while doing a Google search

Silverio had himself an 8 game major league career, but his numbers sure jump out at you.  In 11 at bats he got 6 hits.  Two were doubles and 1 was a triple.  His lifetime average will stand forever at .545 and his OPS was an off the charts 1.524.  Why did this corner outfield phenom fail to make it???  The answer lies in the numbers that he posted in 9 seasons in the minors.  During that same 1978 season he hit .230 at Omaha.  He got injured in '79 and had to return to rookie ball for conditioning.  In 1980, back at Omaha, he hit just .214.  1981 saw him demoted once again.  He did pick it up again in 1982, where he hit .260 at Omaha, but injuries sapped him of his speed and power, which led to his eventual release.  Upon his release he became a coach for the next 35 years in the Royals organization  Still he has one of those awesome outlier numbers that sports sim managers love to have on their bench !  Pictured here on his card he is wearing his Omaha cap, which is where he spent the better part of his career.

Sold to the Royals during the offseason Bass played in just 2 games and went hit-less in 2 AB's in KC during the '78 season.  In Omaha he had a monster season (.279-22-78).  In fact he was a monster every step of the way in the minors.  He was a can't miss prospect, who just couldn't hit major league pitching.  After having another monster minor league season at Denver (AAA-TEX) he left the US and headed to the Japanese league where he spent 6 seasons.  Those seasons elevated him to legendary status.  During one season he hit over .400.  Another season he hit 55 homers and was poised to break Sadahara Oh's record.  Japanese pitchers refused to pitch to him for fear of a foreigner breaking he great Oh's record.  He even delivered a championship to his Hanshin Tigers team.  Still to this day the great and mighty "Ba-su" is revered in Japan as an all time great.  I used his rookie panel card B&W photo for this card.  Due to it's grainy composition it was almost impossible to colorize.  Click here to read a great SI article about his stay in Japan.

1978 marked the 2nd and final appearance in a Royals, or any major league team's, uniform for McGilberry.  After going 1-4, 2.84 in 25 games for Omaha he was called up to the parent club in KC.  McGilberry logged 25 innings over 18 games and finished with a 0-1, 4.21 record.  He would return to Omaha in 1979 and have a sub-par season, so the Royals traded him to the Mets for equally disappointing Kevin Kobel.  At Triple A Tidewater he seemed to pitch batting practice (3-4, 6.25) and was eventually released.  This photo comes from his minor league card.  I added the KC logo.

The 6'7" imposing Gale's most productive season came in his rookie year (1978), when he went 14–8 with 88 strikeouts and a 3.09 ERA, including a 5–0, one-hit shutout against the Texas Rangers at Royals Stadium on June 13, 1978. His no-hitter bid was broken up by Al Oliver with a triple in the fourth inning. Gale finished fourth in the American League Rookie of the Year vote in 1978.  In 1979, Gale faded to 9–10, but he resurfaced with a 13–9 mark in 1980, helping his team the reach the 1980 World Series. He started games three and six of the Series, going 0–1 with a 4.25 ERA against the eventual World Champion Philadelphia Phillies. During the next three seasons his playing time was limited by arm injuries and he did not pitch again in a major league game after 1984.

Braun spent 15 years in the majors as a fine utility man and clutch lefty bat off the bench.  He filled that role to perfection in his 2 full seasons in KC ('78-'79).  During the '78 season he hit .263 in 137 AB's.  He posted similar numbers the following season.  He recorded over 100 career pinch hits.  He earned a ring with the Cardinals filling the utility role to perfection.  The early part of his career was spent in Minnesota, where he saw extensive action.  He batted in the .280's but did not exhibit much power.  His final shot at being a regular occurred for the expansion Mariners in 1977, where he hit just .235 in 139 games.  He played in 32 games for the M's during the '78 season before being dealt to the Royals for pitcher Jim Colburn.  He finished his career on the '85 Cardinal pennant winner and compiled a lifetime .271 average.  I found this autographed photo, which looks like it was taken at Comiskey, on ebay.

Foucault was selected off of waivers by the Royals on August 16, 1978 from the Detroit Tigers.  He appeared in just 3 games and was released on September 5th.  He never played in the majors again.  Houston took a chance on him in 1979 and sent him to Charleston (AAA), where he was horrible (0-2, 7.71) in just 5 games (7 innings) of action.  His best years were during his 4 year tenure in Texas, where he was a workhorse out of the pen.  In 1974 he compiled an 8-9, 2.24, 12sv record for a horrible Rangers team.  He had double digit saves the following season as well as in 1977 with Detroit.  Due to his brief stay in KC I could not find any photos  of him in a Royals uniform.  I took his '75 SSPC card and airbrushed out the Texas colors and logos and added the appropriate KC look.

Used primarily as a pinch runner and defensive replacement during the '78 season, Washington was well on way toward earning the Royals starting shortstop role.  In 69 games during the '78 season he hit .264 and stole 12 bases.  By 1980-83 he would hold down the starting shortstop spot for KC.  By 1984 he was a part time player and in 1985 he was dealt to the Expos for two nondescript minor leaguers.  After 1 season in Montreal he moved on to Pittsburgh where he spent extensive time over the next two seasons back in the minor leagues.  After hanging them up he became a coach in the Royals system and was reactivated for 1 game in 1992 at their AA affiliate in Memphis.  Known for his trademark toothpick in his mouth, Washington was also on base when Brett hit his famous "Pine Tar" game homer in 1983.  I found this great action shot on ebay.

Wilson, in my mind, is a first ballot nominee for the Hall of the Very Good.  His lifetime .285 average, 2,207 hits and 668 stolen bases scream out "Very Good, but not HOF material".  Wilson was the catalyst for the early 80's Royals team.  His 1980 season, where he had 230 hits and hit .236 was off the charts.  In 1982 he won the AL batting title.  Along the way he had several All-Star appearances, a few silver slugger awards and a gold glove.  He led the league in triples 5 times and for 15 consecutive seasons he logged double digits in stole bases.  Having a switch hitter with speed like Wilson's really makes a team go.  As a 22 year old rookie in 1978 he hit just .217 in 198 at bats.  He miraculously swiped 46 bags even though he only had 43 hits.  He retired in 1994 at the age of 38.  I found this action shot while doing a Google search.  Not sure what season it was from, although he was missing his trademark beard.