Tuesday, May 18, 2010

50 Year Counterparts, Pt. 5

In the latest installment of 50-Year Counterparts, we will be looking at two speedy outfielders: Al Spangler from the 1961 Milwaukee Braves and this years Braves’ center-fielder, Nate McLouth.

1961 Topps #73 Al Spangler

Much like his career, this '61 Topps Spangler card can be described as decent, but unspectacular.

Coming into the 1961 season, Al Spangler spent the previous two seasons in Milwaukee as a reserve outfielder. Originally signed by the Braves in 1954, Spangler had been an All-American in college at Duke University and then broke into the majors in 1959. The 1960 season saw Al get 105 AB while appearing in 101 games. Seven of his twenty-eight hits that year would go for extra bases (5-2B, 2-3B), and being a slap hitter, this was pretty much the norm for his career. During the summer of 61, Spangler turned in another mediocre year offensively: 68 games, 125 plate appearances, .268 BA, and a .432 OBP (helped by 28 BB), yet continued his fine fielding by posting a 1.000 fielding percentage. The 1961 season was Spangler’s third and final season as a Brave, as he was drafted on October 10, 1961 with the 8th pick in the expansion draft by the Houston Colt .45’s. The next three seasons in Houston would be his best as a pro, and he actually led the .45’s in hitting their first two seasons.

Perhaps the highlight of Al’s major-league career came on June 2, 1969, when as a member of the Chicago Cubs, he went 3 for 5 with 2 home runs (his only 2 homer game as a major leaguer) and 4 RBI. Who were the victims that fateful day? Yep, the Atlanta Braves.

After retiring Al went on to become a legendary high school baseball coach in Huffman, Texas- so revered was he that they named their field after him. One of Al’s former players was former major league closer Keith Foulke.

2010 Topps Heritage #73 Nate McLouth

Similar to Spangler in stature and speed, Nate McLouth patrols CF for this years Braves team. Like the former Brave, Nate possesses a fine glove (he won an N.L. Gold Glove while with the Pirates in 2008) and appears to be on pace for the same type of .262 career batting average as Spangler. One advantage McLouth has over his counterpart is in the power department- Nate hit more homers in one year (26 in 2008) than Al Spangler had his entire thirteen-year career (21). And, in case you missed it earlier this year, Nate the Great likes to celebrate his ‘walk-off’ homers solo-style.

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