Friday, August 30, 2013

1977 Topps Baseball #621 - Detroit Tigers / Ralph Houk

  • The Detroit Tigers were better than they were the last couple of years, but Mark Fidrych's injury problems helped to derail a potentially good season. They brought up Jason Thompson and Steve Kemp to start the 1977 season, and future stars Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammel, Jack Morris, and Lance Parrish all came up late in the season.
  • Ralph Houk was signed by the New York Yankees in 1939. Ralph was a catcher in the minors for a couple of years and then his career was interrupted by World War II. Houk entered the war as a private, was decorated for his bravery during the Battle of the Bulge, and was discharged as a major (hence his nickname "The Major"). Ralph returned to baseball in 1946 and was brought up to the Yankees in 1947. Ralph wasn't going to get much playing time with Yogi Berra as the starting catcher. He was mostly in the minors in 1948 and 1949 and then spent a lot of time on the bench for the Yankees from 1950-1954. In eight years with the Yankees Houk played in only 91 games, but he did bat .272 during that span.
  • In 1955 Houk became a player-manager for AAA Denver. He did the same thing in 1956 and then was exclsively the manager in 1957.
  • Ralph was very successful as a manager and in 1958 he was promoted to the majors to be Casey Stengel's first base coach. He coached for the Yankees from 1958-1960.
  • By the end of the 1960 season Houk was a very hot commodity as a possible manager. The Yankees didn't want to see him leave, so they discharged Stengel and made Ralph the manager of the club. The Yankees won three pennants and two world championships from 1961-1963 under Houk.
  • Ralph moved into the General Manager's role in 1964 and hired Yogi Berra to manage the Yankees. Houk was disenchanted with Yogi's work as manager and after the Yankees lost the 1964 World Series he fired the popular Berra. Houk hired Johnny Keane to manage the Yankees in 1965, but he was more suited to managing younger players than the aging veterans that made up the  Yankees team. After the team struggled in 1965 and in 1966, Houk came back to the dugout in May 1966. 
  • Houk managed the Yankees from 1966-1973. The  Yankees never made it back to the post season during Ralph's second tenure as manager. Ralph resigned as the Yankee manager after the 1973 season and was promptly hired by the rebuilding Detroit Tigers.
  • The Tigers struggled in Houk's first two seasons, but by the end of the 1977 season the team was on its way to start contending again. Houk retired after the 1977 season.
  • Ralph stayed retired for three years and then came out of retirement to manage the Boston Red Sox. Houk managed the Red Sox from 1981-1984. Houk was a special assistant for the Minnesota Twins from 1987-1989.
  • Ralph passed away at the age of 90 in 2010.
  • Record: 74-88, .457, 4th in AL East, 26 games behind New York Yankees

    • Attendance:  
    • Team Batting: .264 (8th in AL)
    • Team HR: 166 (4th in AL)
    • Team Stolen Bases: 60 (13th in AL)
    • Team ERA: 4.13 (9th in AL)
    • Team Fielding: .978 (5th in AL)
    • All Stars: Mark Fidrych (P), Jason Thompson (1B)
    • Awards:  none
    • AL Leaders:  none
    • Batting Leader: Ron LeFlore (.325)
    • Home Run Leader: Jason Thompson (31) 
    • RBI Leader: Jason Thompson (105)
    • Stolen Base Leader: Ron LeFlore (39)
    • Victories Leader: Dave Rozema (15)
    • Losses Leader: Fernando Arroyo (18)
    • Strikeout Leader: John Hiller (115)
    • Saves Leader: Steve Foucault (13)
    • ERA Leader (starters): Mark Fidrych (2.89)
    • ERA Leader (relievers): Steve Foucault (3.15)
    • Players who could have had Tigers cards in 1977 (batters with over 100 AB, pitchers with over 40 innings) :
      • Jack Morris (1-1, 3.74 ERA in 7 games / 6 starts)
      • Steve Foucault (7-7, 13 saves, 3.15 ERA in 44 games)
      • Milt Wilcox (6-2, 3.64 ERA in 20 games / 13 starts)
      • Tim Corcoran (UT) (.282, 3 HR, 15 RBI in 55 games)
      • John Wockenfuss (C) (.274, 9 HR, 25 RBI in 53 games)

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