long time friend of mine who I knew only through playing Scoresheet baseball died recently. He was 69 – Jack Creaney.
As a tribute I devised what would be his ultimate fantasy team of sorts: the best possible 25 man team of players born within
a year of his birthday, which is March 27, 1936.
cf-lf-2b Don Buford
2b Bill Mazeroski
rf-1b Frank Robinson
3b-1b Harmon Killebrew
lf-dh Frank Howard
1b Don Clendenon – Pit-mon-NYM-stl
c Clay Darlymple
ss Tony Kubek - NYY
Tony Taylor - Chc-Phi-det-phi
3b Clete Boyer -
1b-of Felipe Alou
of Floyd Robinson
cf-ph Vic Davalillo
c Dick Brown - cle-chw-Det-bal
Rotation: (they only used four starters then)
sp Bob Gibson - StL
sp Sandy Koufax -
sp Don Drysdale -
sp Jim Perry - Cle-Min-det-Cle-oak
clsr-p Lindy McDaniel
rp Ron Perranoski
rp Jim Brewer - chc-LAD d.’87
p Mudcat Grant -Cle-Min-lad-mon-stl-oak-pit-oak
p Bob Veale - Pit-bos
p Sonny Siebert -
p Juan Pizzaro mil-ChW-pit-bos-cle-oak-ChC-hou-pit
birth year’s all-stars is weakest at catcher (by far), but has a total of six Hall-of-Famers on this team: Frank Robinson,
Killebrew, Gibson, Koufax, Drysdale, and Mazeroski.
was a wealth of pitchers who didn’t quite make the cut. Gary Bell (Cle-Bos-sep-chw), Bill Momboquette (Bos-det-nyy-sf),
Don Cardwell (Phi-ChC-Pit-NYM-atl), Ralph Terry (nyy-kca-NYY-cle-kca-nym), Stan Williams (LAD-NYY-Cle-min-stl-bos), and Jim O’Toole
(Cin) were solid starters omitted, while Fred Gladding (Det-Hou), Larry Sherry (LAD-Det-hou-cal), John Wyatt (kca-bos-nyy-det-oak d.’98) Joe Hoerner (hou-StL-Phi-atl-kcr-phi-tex-cin d.’96), Eddie Fisher (sf-ChW-bal-cle-Cal-chw-stl), and Terry Fox
(Det-phi) were outstanding relievers with no room to honor.
is dicey in that Buford was really a leftfielder and secondbaseman, but was fast enough to be adequate in center. It is why
I included Davalillo on the team instead of Don Demeter (bro/lad-Phi-det-bos-cle). Although, Demeter
did play a fair amount of centerfield, it was Davalillo’s primary position. Hence, he would make a better defensive
sub in center with Buford taking over left from Howard, which would improve the outfield defense enormously. Davalillo, also,
had a very long career extended due to his abilities as an extraordinary pinch hitter and bunt master.
was weak compared to secondbase. After Maz and Tony the Tiger (and Buford, too) getting cut were Jerry Adair (Bal-chw-bos-kcr d.’87), Julian Javier (StL-cin) and Bobby Richardson (NYY). Each fine secondbasemen almost as deserving
as Kubek. The next best shortstop was Dick Howser (kca-Cle-nyy d.’87), who had far less playing
time than the secondbasemen who missed the list.
this to a modern team would put Grant in the rotation. Veale had a lower ERA, but was largely aided by cavernous Forbes Field.
For the same reason, I chose Clendenon over Alou as a starter. However, with a DH they could both play moving Howard to hit
for the pitcher. Alou, by the way, had a career year with the Atlanta Braves at age 33 that you would have sworn he achieved
with steroids. Alou had a better single year and a better career than Floyd Robinson, but I’d take Floyd over a five
Alou and Howser were both at separate times considered the best manager in baseball. Frank Robinson was
the first “black” manager and along with Alou is still a manger today. Lee Thomas (nyy-LAa-bos-atl-chc-hou) recently stepped down as a GM. Bill Kunkel (kca-nyy) became an MLB umpire. One more thing about
this Alou. What percentage of retired players get quite chubby in their retirement years? Certainly most do it seems. Felipe
appears to be much more slender in his managerial years than he was as a player! Sterrrr-roids. (I am joking.)
Besides Alou, Kunkel, and Buford, Dick Schofield (stl-Pit-sf-nyy-lad-stl-bos-stl-mil) Julio Navarro (laa-det-atl),
Ruben Amaro (stl-Phi-nyy-cal), and Marty Keough (bos-cle-was-cin-atl-chc) spawned Major
Leaguers who were about as good or better. Alou, Keough, Boyer, and Perry each had younger brothers who were about as good
or better. Keough’s brother Matt is my age 18 years younger.
Three players of Jack’s age were famous as trade bait. Don Demeter for Jim Bunning; Steve Demeter
(det-cle) for Norm Cash; and Ernie Brogilo (StL-chc) for Lou
Bo Belinski (LAA-phi-hou-pit-cin
d.’01) was a famous playboy. Polish born Moe Drabowsky (ChC-mil-cin-KCA-Bal-kcr-bal-stl-chw)
was a famous baseball personality. Bob Uecker (mil/-stl-phi-atl) became a very famous personality with a TV series. Like Uecker, Kubek became a famous national sportscaster.
Kubek was one of the best in the business until he got tired of the job and strung out some bitter years here in Toronto
before retiring. Steve Hamilton (cle-was-NYY-chw-sf-chc d.’97) was
reknown for his height and for the funniest pitch I ever saw: the Folly Floater. Frank Funk (cle-mil/) was famous only
for his funky name.