Thursday, August 15, 2013

1964/2013 Counterparts: Six Teams and 31 Flavors

"Here's Ty Cline, who's modeled a few uniforms. His name reminds you of Ty Cobb. And he's batting .185" ~ Harry Caray

1964 Topps #171 Ty Cline

Having played for six teams over twelve years in the majors, Ty Cline spent more time with the Braves (5 years) than any of the other five organizations whose uniform he wore.

Drafted by the Indians out of Clemson in 1960, Cline never spent a full season in the minors. Only months after being drafted, Ty found himself in the majors as a September call-up after hitting .311 and slugging .478 in only 95 games for AA Mobile. The outfielder/first baseman would split time between the minors and majors in only three other seasons (1961, 1963, and 1966).

Ty was traded to Milwaukee in March of 1963 as the PTBNL in the Joe Adcock trade. And while he did spend five seasons with the Braves, Ty's playing time was minimal, collecting only 648 plate appearances for the team. Despite having the tools (good speed, decent arm, good range) to be the center-fielder/lead off hitter the Braves had been searching for since Bill Bruton departed in 1960, he never was able to gain a starting spot in the lineup. Cline's greatest strength was soon realized to be that of a pinch-hitter- a role in which he fared well  for the Braves, with a collective .290 with 1 HR and 14 RBI in 100 at-bats.

Cline's best season for the Braves came in the 1964 campaign- when he hit .302 in 116 at-bats. Ty was a dangerous pinch-hitter that year, hitting .350 in 40 at-bats with a homer, 9 RBI, and 2 walks. There was talk that spring of him perhaps being one of the three staring outfielders for the '64 season, as Cline showed improvement at the plate after switching to a heavier bat. Manager Bobby Bragen spoke of Ty needing to be a "Richie Ashburn-type" hitter, using his speed and ability to bunt. Lee Maye eventually won the spot, but it was Cline to whom the team looked to off of the bench.

Picked up by the Cubs in the 1965 Rule 5 Draft, Mr. Cline would spend the first half of the 1966 season in Chicago before rejoining the Braves in their new Atlanta home on July 26th after his contract was purchased from the Cubs. His second stay with the Braves would be a relatively short one- Atlanta sold him to the Giants on May 31st, 1967.

After retiring from the game following the 1971 season, Cline entered into the business world- first, as an owner of some Baskin Robbins ice-cream stores, and then as an owner of a minor-league baseball team in the Western Carolinas league.

Did You Know?
 Former member of USA team that played in the Pan-Am games in 1959
 Played three seasons for Clemson University
 Scored the game winning/pennant clinching run for the Reds in the 1970  NLCS

Cline's counterpart from the 2013 Topps Heritage set is Rangers pitcher Derek Holland. However, I'm going to post a custom card instead. This one is of Atlanta's own pitch-hitting extraordinaire, Reed Johnson.

2013 Chops Legacy #171

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