Friday, January 22, 2010


I opened up the sports page this morning in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram to be greeted by the sad news of the passing of local legend Bobby Bragan. Although I know of no association with the Angels, I've had a lot of exposure to Mr. Bragan since I live in this area and go to many Fort Worth Cats games, an association he had for many years. You can read the story here:

Mr. Bragan was always very kind to offer well-wishes, a handshake, or an autograph. Always very approachable, he was just one of those cool baseball-lifers to be around and listen to.

Robert Randall Bragan
Bats: Right , Throws: Right
Weight: 175 lb.
Born: October 30, 1917 in Birmingham, AL
Died: January 21, 2010 in Fort Worth, TX
Debut: April 16, 1940 Philadelphia Phillies
Final Game: June 27, 1948 Brooklyn Dodgers

Bobby Bragans Legacy

  • Played seven seasons in the majors, with the Philadelphia Phillies (1940-42) and the Brooklyn Dodgers (1943-44, 47-48), as an infielder-catcher.

  • Player-Manager Fort Worth Cats (1948-52) with two Texas League regular-season and one playoff championship.

  • Major League Manager Pittsburgh Pirates (1955-57), Cleveland Indians (1958), Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves (1963-66).

  • President of the Texas League, 1969-75.

  • President of Minor League Baseball, 1976-78.

  • Assistant to the President, Special Projects for the Texas Rangers, 1979-91.

  • In 2005, managed Fort Worth Cats one game, becoming the oldest person (87) to manage a professional game.

  • Fort Worth's Mr. Baseball for decades.

  • Chairman of Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation, which provides college scholorships in the Metroplex.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

#36 Joe Koppe

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Joseph Koppe (born Joseph Kopchia)
Bats: Right , Throws: Right
Height: 5' 10" , Weight: 165 lb.
Born: October 19, 1930 in Detroit, MI
MLB Debut: August 9, 1958 Milwaukee Braves
Final Game: September 11, 1965 California Angels

Purchased by the Los Angeles Angels from the St. Louis Cardinals for $1,000 on June 19, 1961.

1962 Topps

Started at shortstop and went 2 for 4 with a double, 2 runs scored and 1 batted in against the Red Sox at Wrigley Field, LA on June 20, 1961.

1961 - 1965
Hit .236 in 372 games over 5 years, and commited 67 errors playing 2B, 3B and SS.

1960 Topps and 1964 Topps

In 1949, for the 18-year-old Joe Koppe the class B Big State League Greenville Majors was his first stop in a long trip to the major leagues. It took ten years, seven leagues and seven teams before he got his chance.
On September 3, 1955 the Milwaukee Braves purchased Joe from the AA Texas League Shreveport Sports. It would be late season 1958 before the Braves called him up and he got his first look at major league competition. He was a 27-year-old rookie shortstop who appeared in 16 games, had 9 at bats with 4 hits for a .444 batting average.
On March 31, 1959 Joe was traded by the Milwaukee club, along with Gene Conley and Harry Hanebrink to the Philadelphia Phillies for Johnny O'Brien, Ted Kazanski and Stan Lopata.
He spent his first full season in the majors, with the 1959 Phillies, getting in 126 games and hitting for a .261 average. He was at the shortstop spot 113 games and second base for 11. He fielded at a .954 clip. Koppe had another full season with the 1960 Phillies, got into 58 games, hit .171 and fielded .966.
Koppe started the 1961 season with the Phillies but on May 4, he was traded along with Turk Farrell to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Don Demeter and Charley Smith. The Dodgers on May 16, traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals for Duke Carmel. On June 19 of the same year, the Los Angeles Angels purchased him from the Cardinals for $1,000.
During his free time in 1961, Joe played in the PCL with the Spokane Indians and the Portland Beavers for a combined total of 30 games. The infielder then finished out the year with the Los Angeles Angels, appearing in 91 games, hitting .251 and fielding .947.
From 1962 through 1964 Koppe was with the Los Angeles Angels for the entire three seasons. He was used as a utility infielder, playing when and where needed at a .961 clip. His batting average hovered around the .230 mark.
1965 was to be his last year in pro baseball. He appeared in 23 games for the California Angels and also spent time with the PCL Seattle Angels, playing in 63 contests with a .262 batting average and fielding at a .966 mark.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

#35 Jim Donohue

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James Thomas Donohue
Bats: Right , Throws: Right
Height: 6' 4" , Weight: 190 lb.
Born: October 31, 1938 in St. Louis, MO

Aquired by trade with the Detroit Tigers to the Los Angeles Angels for Jerry Casale on June 7, 1961.
Later traded by the Los Angeles Angels to the Minnesota Twins for Don Lee on May 29, 1962.

In the second game of a double-header pitched the final third of the 11th and final inning in relief of a 5-5 tie at Boston on June 8, 1961.

1960 Topps
1961 - 1962
In 50 games (8 as the starter) went 5-6 with 5 saves and a 4.19 ERA.

Custom Index card

Donohue was a Cardinal and Dodger farmhand before Detroit drafted him. Primarily a reliever, he was 5-7 with six saves as a rookie, and 1-1 in his second and final season.
His MLB debut was on April 11, 1961 for the Detroit Tigers and his last MLB appearance was June 22, 1962 for the Minnesota Twins.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

#34 Russ Heman

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Russell Frederick Heman
Bats: Right , Throws: Right
Height: 6' 4" , Weight: 200 lb.
Born: February 10, 1933 in Olive, CA

Purchased by the Los Angeles Angels from the Cleveland Indians on June 5, 1961.
Later traded by the Los Angeles Angels with Ken Hamlin to Toronto (International) for Billy Moran on June 22, 1961.

Pitched an inning (8th) of scoreless relief in a 6-5 loss at Boston on June 8, 1961.

Threw 10 innings over 6 games for a 1.80 ERA and no record.

Custom Index card
The 6'4", 200 lb. right-hander was signed by the Chicago White Sox as an amateur free agent before the 1952 season. He played for the Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Angels, both in 1961.
Heman made his major league debut on April 20 against the Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Stadium. He pitched two innings and gave up three earned runs in the 11-4 Indians loss. He struck out one batter, pitcher Frank Lary. He earned his first big league save three days later in a road game against the Kansas City Athletics. The winning pitcher in the 10-8 game was reliever Wynn Hawkins. He pitched in a total of six games for Cleveland, allowing four earned runs in ten innings, and was sold to the Angels on June 5. He pitched very effectively for Los Angeles in the short time he was there, giving up just two earned runs in ten innings.
On June 22, 1961 Heman was traded along with shortstop Ken Hamlin to the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League for second baseman Billy Moran, and never again pitched in a major league game. Season and career totals include 12 games pitched, all in relief, a 0-0 record, 7 games finished, and 1 save. In 20 innings pitched he allowed 12 hits and 10 walks for a very low WHIP of 1.100. He struck out 6 and had an earned run average of 2.70.

Friday, January 8, 2010

#33 Art Fowler

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John Arthur Fowler
Bats: Right , Throws: Right
Height: 5' 11" , Weight: 180 lb.
Born: July 3, 1922 in Converse, SC

Purchased by the Los Angeles Angels from the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 26, 1961.
Later released by the Los Angeles Angels on September 8, 1962, resigned as a free-agent for the 1963 season, then released again on May 16, 1964.

Starting pitcher against Detroit at Wrigley Field, LA on May 28, 1961. Gave up 2 runs on 3 hits over 6 innings for a no-decision in a 9-4 loss.

1961 - 1964
In 162 games (3 as a starter) went 14-16 with a 3.16 ERA and 27 saves.

Custom Index card

Fowler was born in Converse, South Carolina. His brother Jesse pitched for the 1924 St. Louis Cardinals. Jesse was nearly 24 years older than Art, and the Fowlers hold the record for the largest age difference between brothers who played Major League baseball. Art Fowler pitched 10 years in the minor leagues with a record of 140-94. Finally reaching the major leagues at the age of 31, Fowler made his major league debut in relief on April 17, 1954 against the Milwaukee Braves at Milwaukee County Stadium. His first big league win came in his first start, a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on April 25 at Crosley Field. He had a good rookie season, finishing 12-10 with a 3.83 earned run average. He ranked ninth in the National League with 227-2/3 innings pitched. In 1955 and 1956, his last years as a regular starter, he combined for a 22-21 record with an ERA of 3.97. He started seven games for Cincinnati in 1957, and then appeared almost exclusively in relief thereafter.
After a poor year with the Dodgers in 1959, Fowler resurfaced in the major leagues in 1961 at age 38 with the expansion Los Angeles Angels. He, along with Tom Morgan, and later Jack Spring and Julio Navarro, were the Angels' most reliable pitchers out of the bullpen during their first three seasons. Fowler's combined record from 1961 to 1963 was 14-14 with 26 saves and a 2.96 ERA in 158 games. He was released by the Angels on May 15, 1964 at age 41, the oldest player to appear in an American League game that season.

Monday, January 4, 2010

#32 Lee Thomas

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James Leroy Thomas
First base/Outfield
Bats: Left , Throws: Right
Height: 6' 2" , Weight: 198 lb.
Born: February 5, 1936 in Peoria, IL

Aquired via trade with the New York Yankees with Ryne Duren and Johnny James to the Los Angeles Angels for Bob Cerv and Tex Clevenger on May 8, 1961.
Later traded by the Los Angees Angels to the Boston Red Sox for Lou CLinton on June 4, 1964.

1963 Topps 1962 Topps

Pinch hit for Ken Hamlin in the 9th and flew out to left in a 5-4 loss at Minnesota on May 12, 1961.

1964 Topps Stand-Up

1961 - 1964
Hit 61 HR with 253 RBI with a .265 batting average in 486 games over 4 years (26 HR with 104 RBI in 1962).
1961 Topps All-Star Rookie Team (24 HR, 70 RBI, .284)
AL All-Star (1962)

1947-66 Exhibit card

A powerful outfielder and first baseman who batted left-handed and threw right-handed. Originally a member of the New York Yankees organization (1954-61), Thomas could not break into the Bombers' strong lineup despite putting up strong offensive statistics in minor league baseball. He had two at bats for the 1961 Yanks (garnering one hit), then was traded to the expansion Los Angeles Angels during the Halos' first American League season. As an everyday player with the Angels and Boston Red Sox from 1961-65, Thomas topped the 20 home run mark three times, and drove in 104 RBI for the Angels in 1962. The remainder of his major league playing career (1966-68) was spent in the National League as a part-time player and pinch hitter with the Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros. He compiled a career batting average of .255 with 106 home runs. After his major league career, he played in Japan in 1969 for the Nankai Hawks.

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