Friday, December 4, 2009

A Fairly Bizarro Card of the Day!

While reading one of my favorite blogs, Night Owl cards on Thursday morning he had a story about his All-Time Dodgers Nine, The Bizarro edition. I love All-Time teams and spend a whole of time thinking about them when I should be doing other things. Naturally I was sucked in and had to read it. He picked his All-Time worst hitters, position by position, to wear the Dodgers blue. This team was based on stats from one particular season. There weren’t a ton of surprises. Sandy Koufax who is arguably the Dodgers greatest pitcher ever was the starting pitcher on the team. I think he is the only one who made his all time best and worst teams respectively. It was based on his 1957 season when he was hitless in 27 trips to the plate. Not so good Sandy. Some of the players I could have predicted prior to reading, like Andruw Jones and his horrific season in 2008 where he batted .158. Franklin Stubbs made the team. I didn’t remember him being that bad, but I didn’t remember him being that great either. The middle infield was made up of two of my favorite guys-DeLino DeShields and Zoilo Versalles who admittedly had horrible years for the Dodgers. One of the names stood out to me though. It was outfielder Ron Fairly. Fairly’s MLB career lasted 21 seasons, over 3 decades. He broke in with the Dodgers in 1958 as a teenager. In 1959, in his rookie season, he hit .238 with 4 homers and 23 RBI, but was named to the Topps All Rookie team. He went to 4 World Series’ with the Dodgers and won 3 of them. He spent 12 seasons in Dodger Blue and hit a fairly (hah!) respectable .260 over that time, he also swatted 90 of his 183 career homers in a Dodgers uniform.
He remained with the Dodgers until 1969 when he was traded to the Expos to bring back Maury Wills and also Manny Mota. It was a good trade for the Dodgers, but it didn’t work out too bad for Montreal either. Fairly was an All Star for them in ’73 and he averaged 15 homers a year over his 5 seasons spent there. Still the question remains of how Fairly is on the Night Owls All Time Bizarro team. The Night Owl is seldom wrong, if ever, but Fairly couldn’t have been that bad and still remained a Dodger for 12 seasons could he? Did he have family in the front office? I couldn’t answer that question during my 5 minutes of research, I did find however that he was fairly (ha again!) well liked and respected in the clubhouse over his tenure. He was generally regarded as a decent outfielder who could play all 3 spots, plus first base on occasion. His best season as a Dodger came in 1961 when he was 22 years old. He batted .322 with 10 homers and 48 RBI. In fact, the back of the card on his 1962 Topps card #375 (which is today’s card of the day!) says:
“Ron started his career in the minors in 1958 and by the end of that season he was playing with the Dodgers. The good hitting outfielder is rated as one of the game’s future stars by baseball experts. A talented ball-player, Ron can handle himself well at first base, too”
Surely those words aren’t referring to the worst hitting outfielder in Dodgers history? The year prior he did hit .108, which is pretty awful, but he only played in 14 games. Perhaps the year that Mr. Owl is referring to is 1967 when he hit a meager .220? He did manage 10 homers and 55 RBI that year, but the following year, in 1968 his average rose (a little) but his run production dropped off considerably. In ’68 he batted .234 with just 4 homers and 43 RBI. Not great Mr. Fairly. Given the rich history of great hitting Dodgers outfielders, I suppose Ron Fairly is a fairly (ha once again!) good candidate for your All Time Bizarro Team Mr. Owl. I do think that Fairly does deserve a little bit of love from you based on his performance in the ’65 World Series though. He hit .379 with 2 homers and 6 RBI. If not for Koufax’ amazing pitching, Fairly could have made a fairly (this is too easy) good case for Series MVP. Okay, question answered. Yes, Fairly was a solid Dodger for 12 seasons, but his years at the plate in ’67 and ’68 are deserved of his Bizarro status. I think it might be more bizarre that after those off years in the late 60’s he became an All Star for the first time in ’73 after 16 seasons in the league. 19 seasons after his start he played for the Toronto Blue Jays during their inaugural season in 1977 and led the team in doubles, homers and runs batted in. He was also the Blue Jays first All Star. He struck out as a pinch hitter in his lone at bat.
Bizarro he may be, but it was his great year in ’61 however, makes him deserving of Collective Troll Card of the Day status. It’s a fairly good deal don’t ya think? Let’s take another look at the back of the card, shall we? Topps couldn’t resist either, it reads “Ron fares well” and mentions his numbers with Spokane of the PCL in 1960 when he hit .303 with 100 RBI.
That’s that. It’s still a fairly interesting card in my book and one of the few 1962s that I own. For those concerned, in his 21 year career Fairly batted .266 with 1010 hits and a career on base percentage of .360. He was twice an All Star and 3 times a World Champion. He also played in 2,442 games which is 63rd all time. His 1052 walks puts him in the top 100 All Time (91st) and he was walked intentionally an amazing 129 times over his career. He was also hit by a pitch 40 times over the years. I imagine he was fairly sore… Okay, I think I’ve gone too far! What one more. You had a very long and fairly successful career. Thanks for the memories, most were fairly good! After his lengthy playing career ended, Ron Fairly worked as a broadcaster for the Giants, Angels and Mariners. Since this post got so long I decided to add a few of my other Fairly cards, too. Ron had 21 regular issue Topps cards to represent his 21-year major league career. Shown also are his first (1959, card #125) and his last (1979, card #580) and for good measure, one in between (1969 card #120). I think if nothing else you could say that Ron had a fairly consistent career. He stuck around the majors for 21 years, averaged nearly 100 hits per year in around 350 at-bats and according to the back of his cards he weight never varied more than 5 pounds and he went from a wispy outfielder to a cagey DH. That is impressive to me. Thanks for the fodder Night Owl, I think this turned into a fairly decent post. Someday this post might be the answer to a contest question so you may want to take note of how many times I used (abused) fairly as an adjective! I love this hobby! Troll out.

1 comment:

  1. The hitting stats for a lot of players in the late '60s are horrible. Fairly included. Considering he was an outfielder -- where the sluggers often are -- it was even more apparent that Fairly didn't "fare well" in '67 and '68.

    He was quite popular in L.A. in the '60s. A matinee idol guy then. But fairly or unfairly, he made runner-up status on the bizarro team.