Thursday, August 29, 2013

1964/2013 Counterparts: Gloveman and Batman & Batboy

"He's the toughest, nicest little man I know. He's a shortstop who can break up more rallies with his glove than most hitters can start with their bat."~ former manager and Braves VP Birdie Tebbets.

1964 Topps #238 Roy McMillan
Had Roy McMillan been born about 58 years later, there would be many people-fans, media members, perhaps even those in the game itself- who would question whether or not McMillan was a major-league player. That's because the talented fielding shortstop had a career slash line of .243/.314/.321 over a sixteen year career, which, in today's game wouldn't cut it for a middle infielder-even one with an outstanding glove. And while he may not have put up overly  impressive offensive numbers, he did put the ball in play more often than not-striking out only 711 times in 7653 plate appearances.

Few were better defensively at the shortstop position, where he won the first three N.L. Gold Glove awards (1957-1959).

Looking to strengthen their infield, Milwaukee acquired McMillan from Cincinnati for pitchers Joey Jay and Juan Pizzaro in December of 1960. Many people outside the organization were critical of the trade (as well as the one in which outfielder Bill Bruton was sent to Detroit for second baseman Frank Bolling), believing that the Braves had given up too much in the trade. One rival Farm Director even claimed that in plugging a leak in the infield, Milwaukee sprang two more- one in the outfield, and one on the mound.

After appearing in 391 games during his first three seasons in Milwaukee, Roy saw very little time on the field in 1964 before being traded to the Mets on May 8. McMillan appeared in 8 of the Braves' first 20 games, collecting 4 hits in 18 at-bats.

For its 2013 Heritage set, Topps featured Joe Nathan on card 238- hardly a proper match-up for McMillan. Yes, they did include Andrelton Simmons within the set-but that was on card #22, so I'm going to do a custom for another light-hitting, top defender from Texas (who also began their career with the Reds)- Mr. Paul Janish.

I'm not a huge fan of the Bleacher/Report- but I will give them this, they had a heck of a line in describing Janish's 'bat control' during the Braves/Phillies game a couple of weeks ago.

"Atlanta Braves shortstop Paul Janish is hitting only .083 so far this season, but he showed great bat control against the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night [August 14]. This, however, is not the normal kind of bat you typically see during a baseball game..." 

If you haven't seen the video, it's must see. Does the bat boy have the winged creature?

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