Thursday, October 26, 2017

Joe Christopher Revisited

This time we revisit an earlier subject, former Mets outfielder Joe Christopher.

We covered a previously unrecorded transaction sending him to Richmond here.

Now we are going way back to the start of his career.

Christopher's Baseball-Reference page lists his first transaction as:

Before 1955 Season: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an amateur free agent.

But we have found an article that contradicts that. Christopher started his pro career in the Orioles organization, in Phoenix, a Class C team for them at the time. Partway through the 1955 season he goes to the Pirates system. Turns out he was involved in a trade that included former major leaguer Earl Smith.

From the Arizona Republic of July 12, 1955:

"Earl Smith, slugging outfielder from last year's champion Stars, was returned to Phoenix yester day along with Howard Padgett.

But it was no bargain basement deal for the Stars, who had to sell Outfielders Joe Christopher and Gene Stair to Lincoln, Neb of the Western League in order to complete the deal."

Lincoln was a Pirates Class A team, and except for a stint in Mexico City, Christopher stayed in the Pirate chain until his major league debut.

The deal was not on Smith's Baseball-Reference page.

Still have to find a few deals involving Christopher, so we will keep looking. 

Christopher pic from eBay.
Smith stolen from

Monday, October 16, 2017

Howie Koplitz? Fine, Thank You!

Howie Koplitz not only had a great name, but had a great AA season for himself in 1961, going 23-3 for Birmingham in Detroit's system, He continued winning pitching in a late season callup with the Tigers, going 2-0 with a complete game. That made him 25-3 on the season!

He didn't stick around in the bigs, though, a 3-0 record in 1962 was accompanied by an-over-5 ERA. So he was available for a Rule 5 pickup by the Senators in 1963 as noted on his Baseball-Reference page.

He finished his career with the Senators and their minors, but I always wondered about a small detour he took in 1964, where he was bounced to the minors and to Tacoma in the Giants' system. No mention about the transaction on his B-R page, so I went on the search. I found this from the Kane (PA) Republican of May 14, 1964:

“WASHINGTON Sold pitcher Howie Koplitz to Toronto of the International League and optioned catcher Ken Retzer to the same club on 24 - hour recall.”

Toronto had shared affiliation between the Senators and Braves...but this was a straight out sell to the team, not an option.

This was re-affirmed by the deal that sent Koplitz way out west.  From the Post-Crescent of Appleton WI of Aug. 12,1964:

"The Leafs also sold pitcher Howie Koplitz to Tacoma of the PCL, and placed pitcher Marshall Bridges on the 30-day disabled list."

So Toronto, who held the rights to Koplitz, sold him to the Giants' minors. Koplitz was back in the Senators system the next season, belonging to Hawaii. I cannot find the deal that sent him there, but I did find the deal that brought Koplitz back to the majors. From the Corpus Christi Caller Times of May 23, 1965:

 "The Senators purchased right hander Howie Koplitz from Hawaii of the Pacific Coast League and lefthander Barry Moore from York of the Eastern League They also optioned catcher Joe McCabe to Hawaii.."

Not a recall on option, a sale. So Koplitz was; sold to Toronto outright by Washington; sold to Tacoma by Toronto; went from Tacoma to Hawaii in an UNKNOWN TRANSACTION; and then sold to Washington from Hawaii.

If someone can fill in that Tacoma-Hawaii gap, let me know!

Koplitz lifted from