Wednesday, October 30, 2013

WE HARDLY KNEW YA: 1971 #283 DICK SUCH

The very first baseball card I ever got of a defunct baseball team was a 1971 Topps Dick Such #283, sometime in 1980.
I remember there was this antique store in Bensonhurst in the late-70's/early-80's that also sold rubber banded blocks of old baseball cards.
My lord, I remember it was $2 for a small stack of cards from the 1960's and $1 for huge stacks from the 1970's.
I literally went every other day with every dollar I had!
On top of that, he had those plastic sheets hanging in the window with cards that were more "expensive", and I bought the following all for about $5 each: 1956 Mickey Mantle, Roy Campanella  and Willie Mays, 1959 Mantle, Mays, Hank Aaron, 1958 Roger Maris and 1957 Aaron!
Man I MISS those days when you could frequently find scores like that!
Anyway, a bit before the BIG buys just mentioned, I bought a big stack of cards from the '70's for a buck, and there were cards from every year of the decade.
As I was flipping through the stack right outside the store I came across a "Senators" card.
Wow! I stared at that card for a long minute, excited that I finally had one.
I remember seeing the team name "Senators" on the backs of some current player cards, like Jeff Burroughs and Tom Grieve, just as I saw the name "Colt .45's" on Joe Morgan and Rusty Staub's cards, and wondered why these teams were no longer around.
For a little kid it became some mystical ghost of baseball's past.
Anyway, here was this Senators card of a young pitcher named Dick Such, and I built up my idea of what this guy did on the baseball diamond within minutes.
It wasn't until I got my very first Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia soon after that I was grossly disappointed!
Turns out that Such's career was over before this card ever even saw the light of day.
After starting out the 1970 season up in the Majors with the Senators, Such appeared in 21 games, good for 50 innings of work.
Sadly, it wasn't "good" work, as he went 1-5 with a bloated 7.56 e.r.a. both as a spot starter and a middle reliever.
After seeing some action on July 17th, 1970, he was demoted and never made it back up as a player in the Major Leagues again, eventually calling it a career after the 1973 season.

My first foray into defunct baseball teams.

Although Such's playing career didn't pan out, he did find success as a pitching coach both in the Majors and Minors.
As a matter of fact from 1986 through the 2001 season Such was the Minnesota Twins pitching coach under Ray Miller and Tom Kelly, even coaching both Twins World Champion teams in 1987 and 1991.
Such is still coaching in the Minors today, now for the Boston Red Sox and their Rookie-Level Gulf Coast Red Sox team.
One last thing to mention: can you imagine a more frustrating season for a pitcher than Such's 1967 Minor League year at York in the Double-A Eastern league for Washington?
That season, playing for a bad team, Such posted a season E.R.A. of 2.81 in 20 starts and 128 innings, yet had nothing but an 0-16 record to show for it!
Ugh.

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