Sunday, November 7, 2010

50 Year Counterparts: Bob Hartman/James Parr

One of my favorite sets from the 60s is the 1960 Topps baseball. With the 2009 release of the Heritage set, I think that Topps really got it right that year and turned out a great set. So-let's take a look at some counterparts from those two releases.

1960 Topps #129 Bob Hartman
Born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Hartman is only one of four Kenosha natives to have pitched in the Big Leagues. The lefty was signed by the Braves as a free-agent in 1955-five years after he began throwing batting practice to major leaguers at the young age of 13. By 1958, Hartman looked like he was going to be a middle of the rotation starter for Milwaukee, as he went 20-10 with a 2.94 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP for Double-A Atlanta. Hartman was lucky to have had the opportunity to still be pitching at that point: while at AAA Witchita in Spring Training 1956, he was diagnosed with diabetes after he saw his health plummet, dropping 50 pounds in two months. He eventually came back that July, although he then battled an arm injury. Bob spent most of the 1959 season in AA Louisville, although he did appear in three games for Milwaukee that April and June. As it turns out, those would be the only games he would play for the Braves. In 1962, Milwaukee traded Hartman to Cleveland, where he would pitch in 8 games for the Indians that season-his last in the majors. After his playing days ended in 1963, Hartman was heavily involved in youth baseball and softball in his hometown. Bob died this past June at the age of 72.

2009 Topps Heritage #129- James Parr
Being a pitcher in today's Atlanta organization isn't an easy task. Loaded with great starting pitching at all levels, one can find himself buried behind more heralded prospects. Every once in a while, though, a pitcher will make his way to Atlanta-even if it is for just a cup of coffee. One such prospect is James Parr, a fourth round pick in the 2004 draft. Despite an unspectacular minor league career up to that point, the Braves brought Parr up in September of 2008 to make a start against the Washington Nationals on Sept. 4. Parr threw six shut-out innings that day to pick up the victory in a 2-0 Braves win. The next week, against Colorado, Parr would make his second start, and once again threw six shut-out innings. This time, however, he would not pick up the victory. In fact, Parr would go onto to pitch in three more games that season-as well as eight in 2009- without another decision. Perhaps James' greatest claim to fame was combining with Angelo Burrows to throw the first no-hitter in Rome history, as they did on June 8, 2005. Or, perhaps, it is his being featured in Sports Illustrated's "Pop Culture Grid" in the 3/11/09 issue. In it, the featured athletes were asked, "I'm really sick of hearing about...", in which Parr replied, "President Obama". Good call.

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