Thursday, April 7, 2016

1965 Topps All-Star Rookie Team

Here they are - the fourth class of the Topps All-Star Rookie Team, selected "by the Youth of America" following the 1965 season and featured in the 1966 Topps set.

I have completed the run of these up through 2016 Series one, at least all regular issue cards that bear the All-Star Rookie Trophy. 

  Outfielder - Ron Swoboda
You'll notice that there are a few Mets in the early to mid 60s as All-Star Rookies - Ron Swoboda is yet another young player that found a niche in Flushing and became a key contributor for the Miracle Mets of 1969. He's probably best known for the following:
What makes the catch extra special is that Swoboda's nickname among teammates was "Rocky," a not so kind description of his fielding prowess. Rocky fielding notwithstanding, Swoboda made an immediate impact with the Mets in 1965. He still holds a team record with 15 homers in the first half of his rookie campaign. Only Darryl Strawberry has more homers over a full Mets rookie season. It was the season of 1969 that had Ron's biggest highlights, however. Steve Carlton set a record with 19 strikeouts against Swoboda's Mets, but it was the Slugger's two towering home runs that gave the Mets the last laugh in that game. Manager Casey Stengel got the most out of his lineup, using Swoboda as a platoon outfielder against lefties like Carlton. This platoon approach meant that Ron did not appear in the NLCS, but played in 4 of the 5 World Series games facing off against the Orioles' duo of Mike Cuellar and Dave McNally. He responded by leading all batters in hits. 

Ron's Rookie Card is #533 in the 1965 Topps set along with three other Mets.

 First Baseman - Tony Perez
Hall of Famer
Big Dog. Tony Perez may not have had as many hits as Pete, or the speed of Joe Morgan, or the defense of Concepcion, but no one on the Big Red Machine supplied the power like him. He was known to his teammates as "Mr. Clutch." Over 23 major league seasons, Perez was the main run producer and the most feared bat in almost every lineup he appeared on. He was a seven time All-Star and compiled some impressive numbers over the decades. His Hall of Fame case my have been boosted by his role on the Reds in the 60s and 70s including 2 World Series titles, but there's no denying his consistency. He could be routinely counted upon to slug 25-30 Homers and knock in nearly 100 runs a season.

Tony's Rookie card is in the 1965 Topps Set.

Right Handed Pitcher - Frank Linzy
The 1960s did not really have closers, but Frank Linzy was about as close as one could get in his rookie season. He finished 40 games for the '65 Giants, often coming in with the game close in the late innings. He saved 20 games that year and had a minuscule 1.43 ERA.  He appeared in a total of 57 games that year, and came in 3rd place in the NL rookie of the year vote. He was a mainstay in the Bay Area Bullpen until being traded in 1970 to the Saint Louis Cardinals. He pitched in over 500 games in his career, and finished with a winning record (62-57). He hit his only career home run in 1965 as well, a 7th inning blast at Candlestick Park off Ray Washburn of the Cardinals, Linzy's future team.

Frank's Rookie Card is in the 1965 Topps Set.

 Catcher - Pat Corrales
Corrales is probably familiar to most people that watched Braves games on TBS in the 90s and 2000s. A member of Bobby Cox's coaching staff during their impressive run of playoff and World Series appearances, Corrales had also been a manager of a handful of clubs on his own up to that point. He has the dubious honor of managing a first place team (the Phillies) and a last place team (Cleveland) in the same season (1983). He was fired mid season in Philly with the team sitting at 43-42. He was hired in Cleveland a few months later and the team limped to a last place finish in the AL East. Corrales is a curious selection for the All-Star Rookie team - he was highly regarded by teammates and opponents as a good fielder, but his hitting was so bad in 1965 that he was traded for Bob Uecker! OK, he was part of a deal that included Bill White, Dick Groat, Alex Johnson, and Art Mahaffey. But he certainly was not known for his bat. Looking at the rest of the rookie class, no catcher really stood out in 1965. Corrales played in just 63 games in 1965, splitting time in Philadelphia with two other backstops. He had a career high 39 hits that season.

Pat's Rookie Card is in the 1965 Topps Set.
Left Handed Pitcher - Marcelino Lopez
Lopez struggled to gain a foothold in the majors in the early 60s due to elbow problems. He debuted in 1963 with the Phillies, but the combination of a rough first outing and more arm troubles sent him back down to AAA before finishing a full season. Lopez was born in Cuba, and like Tony Perez and Tony Oliva made his way to the United States just in time to avoid the sanctions from the U.S. government that kept talented Cuban players from leaving Cuba to play in the majors. Lopez was determined to make the most of his situation, and continued to showcase his skills in the minors and in Winter League action in South America. He was sent to the Angels following the 1964 season and made his American League debut the next year. He impressed scouts and opponents with an improved curve ball and won 14 games for Los Angeles California. His heavy workload of pitching in the U.S. and in Venezuela (215 innings for the Angels and 150 in VZ) put more stress on his arm. Lopez would not regain the form that made him a promising rookie in 65, however he did find success as a reliever for the Orioles on their 1970 championship winning team.

Marcelino's Rookie Card was in the 1963 Topps Set, on one of the 4 player cards from the set.

Second Baseman - Joe Morgan
Hall of Famer

 1965 was the year of the NL rookie second basemen - in addition to Hall of Famer Morgan, the NL Rookie of the Year Jim Lefebvre and Cubs 2nd sacker Glenn Beckert had impressive debuts. Morgan's rookie campaign was tremendous, and his numbers look even better considering the poor hitting conditions in Houston's pre-Astrodome days. The record speaks for itself. 10 time All-Star, MVP in '75 and '76, Most homers ever hit by a second baseman in a career, 40 or more steals in a season 9 different times, league leader in walks four times, the list goes on. Morgan was named by Bill James as the greatest second baseman of all time, and he might be correct. Despite the fact that Morgan wanted to play his whole career in Houston and Cincinnati fans mourned the loss of slugger Lee May and fan favorite Tommy Helms, everyone got over the trade quickly enough when Morgan led the league in runs scored and stole 58 bases in his first season for the Reds. In addition to his speed and power and patience at the plate, Morgan also won 5 straight Gold Gloves at second base in the 70s. Truly one of the all time greats.
 Joe's Rookie Card was in the 1965 Topps Set, and apparently he's also an excellent billiard player.

 Shortstop - Rico Petrocelli
A Lifetime Boston Red Sox player, Rico was a steady presence at Shortstop and at Third Base for over a decade. He led the league in fielding percentage at short in 1968 and 1969. When the Sox acquired Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio, Rico ranged even further to his right and became a slick fielding Third Baseman instead of a slick fielding Shortstop. Before the move, Rico set a record for homers hit by a shortstop, belting 40 in 1969. He finished his career with over 200 round trippers, and is in the top five all time among third basemen in fielding percentage. Rico had a rather tame rookie campaign in '65, but his career blossomed soon after and he became a minor star for Boston for years to come.

Rico's Rookie Card is in the 1965 Topps Set.

 Third Baseman - Paul Schaal
"If it weren't for Brooks Robinson" Gold Gloves would have rained down on Paul Schaal. The hot corner was played coolly by Schaal throughout his 11 major league seasons, and his bat eventually would come around as well. His rookie season ended with a middling batting average of .224. He did not improve much the following season, and by 1968 he was swimming under the Mendoza line. Schaal's fielding prowess was not enough to protect him from the expansion draft, and the Kansas City Royals were all too happy to snap him up. He provided a solid foundation in Kansas City at third, and by the time George Brett arrived Schaal's career had started to come to its natural conclusion. In Royal Blues, Schaal was able to back up his exceptional skills in the field with respectable hitting in the .260 to .280 range for several seasons.

Paul's Rookie Card - you guessed it - 1965 Topps.
 Outfielder - Curt Blefary
Blefary might be the anti-Schaal. Blefary's bat was the main reason he was named AL Rookie of the Year in 1965, crushing 22 homers and driving in 70 runs. Like fellow ASR Ron Swoboda, Teammates were quick to give him an unflattering moniker for his exploits in the outfield. Frank Robinson dubbed Curt "Clank," and the name stuck. Curt was a member of the O's in 1966. His fielding was bad enough in the outfield that he tried switching positions numerous times. He even tried his hand behind the plate, catching a no hitter from Tom Phoebus in 1968. He bounced around the leagues after being traded to Houston for Mike Cuellar - becoming a pinch hitter and minor role player in the early 70s.

Curt's Rookie Card was in the 1965 Topps Set.

 Outfielder - Jose Cardenal
The third Los Angeles California Angel on the list, and the third Cuban Born player as well. Jose Cardenal was a fast Center Fielder with a great arm. He stole 37 bases in 1965, good for second in the AL. His prime years came in the early 1970s with the Cubs, where he would achieve career highs in home runs, runs scored, and batting average. For his career, he played for 9 different teams in 18 seasons, though most of his time was spent with the Angels and the Cubs. He finished with more than 1,900 hits, 900 runs scored, 300 Stolen bases, and over 750 runs batted in.  Cardenal went on to coach and won 3 World Series rings as a member of Joe Torre's staff in New York in the late 90s.

Jose's Rookie Card was also in the 1965 Topps Set.


  1. The Perez and the Morgan cards are sharp! I'm digging this series. Keep them coming!

    1. Thanks! I'm hoping to get back to doing them once a week, but the write-ups take long enough that I can't always devote as much time to them as I'd like to.

  2. You already know I dig this series.