Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The New Skipper is a Familiar Face

In 1972, the Brewers gave their manager job to a man who was well-known to the fans in Milwaukee:

Card #646 -- Del Crandall and Coaches, Milwaukee Brewers

He also appeared on Topps cards as a player every year (except one) from 1952-'66.

Del Crandall was one of the most consistent catchers of the 1950s, beginning when the Braves were still playing in Boston. With Crandall calling the pitches, the Braves' staff (including Warren Spahn, Lew Burdette and Bob Buhl) was one of the best in the league. The team finished in first or second seven times between 1953 and '60, including two pennants and a World Series title. He also caught three no-hitters in that time period.

After retiring, Crandall turned to managing. His stint in Milwaukee lasted through 1975, and he piloted the Mariners in 1983-'84. Unfortunately, he was placed in charge of teams that had little spark and ended up with a losing career record.

Harvey Kuenn was also well-known to the previous generation of Topps collectors. He and Crandall had briefly teamed up in 1963 with the Giants, but Kuenn was one of the better hitters of the late 1950s, winning the batting title in 1959 and being respected as a batter who could hit well to any part of the field. He was named as the interim manager for the Braves when Crandall was fired in 1975, but he returned to the position in 1982 and led "Harvey's Wallbangers" to the World Series. He passed away in 1988.

Joe Nossek, on the other hand, was a relatively recent player. He had been active from 1964-'70, mainly with the Twins and A's. 1973 was his first year as a major league coach; he would spend 28 years in various dugouts and was known for his skill in picking up opposing teams' signals.

Bronx-born Bob Shaw was a pitcher for several teams between 1957 and '67, including stints with Detroit (where he teamed with Keunn) and the Braves (where Crandell caught him). He served as the pitching coach for the Brewers and was later a manager in the minor leagues. Cancer took Shaw in 2010.

Jim Walton's playing career was confined to the minor leagues, and was managing minor league teams while still in his 20s. He was a new addition to the Brewers' coaching staff in 1973, where he served as the first base coach. Since 1975, he has worked as a scout and a developer of players.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know Bob Shaw was a pitching coach for the Brewers. I'll have to get that card sometime -- I interviewed Shaw once.