Wednesday, June 2, 2010

50 Year Counterparts, Pt. 6

Turning the clock back once again to 1961, we see a strange pairing of cards #105: from the '61 Topps, Carl Willey, and from the 2010 Topps Heritage, Tim Hudson.

Willey pitched for the Braves over the course of five seasons ('58 to '62) before being purchased by the New York Mets at the beginning of the '63 season. Over those five years, he pitched in 142 games for the Braves, starting 83 of those games. His win/loss record for the Braves was 28-40 with an ERA of 3.94. Looking at his record, his strikeout/walk ratio and his WHIP, one wonders why Topps would place Huddy opposite him in this years set at card #105. Coming into the '10 season, Hudson has 34 more wins in his time in Atlanta than Willey had in his Milwaukee tenure (both having, incidently, 40 loses), as well as a better K/BB ratio and WHIP. And considering that Hudson is the ace of the Braves vaunted staff, while Willey was the #4 starter in '61, you wonder why Huddy wasn't paralleled with Lew Burdette.

Anyway, Willey's career early on looked as if he might just be a future ace. His professional debut in 1951 saw him go 15-5 with a 1.95 ERA for Quebec in the Class C Provincial League. The next year he would pitch for the Atlanta Crackers, a AA team in the Southern Association, going 10-6 but with a 4.19 ERA. After years serving in the military, Carl would pitch three more seasons in the minors, eventually making it to Milwaukee in 1958- the year the Braves would make it to the World Series. That season he would be named the NL Rookie Pitcher of the Year by the Sporting News after going 9-7 with a 2.70 ERA in 19 starts (and appearing in a total of 23 games), including 9 complete games and finishing first with 4 shutouts! Willey would never be able to match the success he had that first season in the majors. The 1961 season would be his second to last season with the Braves, and he would get the most inning in his career to that point. While he posted a losing record of 6-12, his ERA and his WHIP would drop from the previous two seasons. The record he posted would be on par with what was happening in the Milwaukee organization at that time- a decline in wins. Since their glorious late '50s, the once proud Braves would continue to drop in the standings until their move to Atlanta in 1966. After his playing days, Willey spent time in the Phillies organization as a scout. In 2009, Carl would die of lung cancer at the age of 78.

I have to admit I was somewhat surprised that the Braves would sign Hudson to an extension after the 2009 season, considering the arm problems he had and the failure to match the success he had had while in Oakland. With the year he's having in 2010,Huddy is making me look like a real genius. In his first 11 starts, he's 6-1 with a 2.30 ERA. Considering all the success in Oakland, this year Huddy has actually given up the fewest hits/9 IP in his career. And even though his walks are up, his WHIP is back to where it was in his days in Oakland. Barring some disastrous outings in the next few weeks, Tim looks to be a lock for the All-Star game this year.

As far as the cards go, both share the somewhat familiar background of a shot with stadium seats. Both pitchers also share that same icy stare, although the photo of Willey is kind of difficult to really tell since it's not a very crisp shot. The back of Hudson's card declares that he's had 5 starts in which he's allowed just 1 hit. I did not know that- yet another reason to like the retro cards, they give you some pretty cool facts about the player.

1 comment:

  1. Hudson was one of the few bright spots of the Braves pitching staff earlier this season. Tim is a great guy and I'm happy for him to have bounced back from surgery like he has.