Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Rookie Star Orioles #201

Sam Bowens played 7 seasons in the big leagues, breaking in with the Orioles in 1963, appearing in 15 games. 1964 was the only full season Sam played in the majors, batting .263 with 22 HRs and 71 RBIs. Sam was known for his very strong arm in the outfield, with 249 putouts in 1964 while only committing 5 errors. However, knee injuries and struggles with alcohol shortened his career. He finished his career playing 90 games over two seasons in Washington. In 2003, Sam passed away in a nursing home at the age of 65.

Wally Bunker broke into the bigs as a 19 year old in 1964. Rated one of the top pitching prospects, Wally didn't disappoint, quickly becoming the ace of the staff with Milt Pappas and Robin Roberts. An Orioles rookie record of 19-5 secured the Sporting News Rookie of the Year award for Bunker, but he finished second in the actual ROY to Tony Oliva. His sophomore season was a letdown, as arm ailments limited his effectiveness, becoming a part time starter in '65 and '66. In the 1966 World Series, Bunker pitched a 6 hit shutout over the Dodgers, helping the Orioles take the title. Unprotected in the 1968 expansion draft, Wally was selected by the Royals and had his best season with them in 1969, going 12-11. Yet, the arm problems continued, and after a disastrous 2-11 campaign in 1970, he was released in May of 1971, ending his career at 26 years old. Currently, Bunker and his wife release children's books from their home in South Carolina.

Claim to fame: While Bunker's sinker pitch was once referred to by Yankee great Mickey Mantle as a pitch that "you could break your back on", Wally has the distinction of throwing the first pitch in Kansas City Royals history.

Comic answer: No comic on the back of the Rookie Stars cards.

Card condition: Badly off center, with the corners slightly dinged. However, the face it free of dirt and scratches. Back continues the off center cut, but is clean and bright.

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