So, what happens when you have a star — but not Hall-of-Fame level star — beginning to rack up the mileage while his long-time team is angling for yet another post-season berth?
And what happens to his baseball cards?
Well, consider the Bob Veale timeline …
- 1958 – The Pittsburgh Pirates signed Veale as an amateur free agent out of Benedictine College before the season.
- April 16, 1962 – The young lefthander spent four years climbing through the Bucs minor league ranks before making his Major League debut at the age of 26.
- 1964 – After a couple of seasons as a swingman, Veale became (primarily) a starter and he went 18-12, 2.74 ERA that first season in the rotation.
- 1965-70: Veale won ten games or more in each of the next six seasons, toiling for a Pirates team that never climbed above third place until the new decade washed away the old (see below).
- 1965 and 1966: Along the way, Veale made two All-Star teams and became a mainstay in the baseball card sets of the day, dressing up the place with those snazzy 1960s Pittsburgh uniforms.
- 1970: Veale won 10 games but lost 15 and posed a 3.92 ERA, even as the Pirates reached the postseason for the first time in his career.
- October 1970: Veale didn’t touch the ball once in the Pirates’ NLCS sweep at the hands of the Cincinnati Reds.
- 1971: Manager Danny Murtaugh moved Veale to the bullpen fulltime — age, a bad back, and slipping performance didn’t fit with the Bucs rotation needs as they pushed for more October glory.
- October 1971: A 6.99 ERA in 37 regular season appearances unsurprisingly left Veale on the bench through most of the playoffs, except for 2/3 of an inning in Game 2, when he gave up a run on a hit and two walks.
- 1972: Veale started the new season back in the Pirates’ bullpen, but a 6.00 ERA in five games got him sent to the minors for the first time in ten years. Then, in September, the Bucs sold the rights to the veteran to the Boston Red Sox.
From there, Veale rode out the string with the BoSox, appearing in six games down the stretch, then 32 in 1973, and finishing up with a 1974 split between Boston and Triple-A Pawtucket.
Find Bob Veale baseball cards on eBay (affiliate link)
Find Bob Veale baseball cards on Amazon (affiliate link)
But that wasn’t the end of the story for Veale, who has lived a long and full life, including stints as a minor league pitching instructor for the New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves.
And that wasn’t the end of the story for his baseball cards, either.
Even though Veale didn’t hook on with the Sawx until late in 1972, Topps pushed his 1973 card into a later series, which means he shows up with his new team — and with a new, um, feature.
See, throughout the 1960s, Veale always showed up cleanshaven with thick-rimmed glasses on his Pirates cards, but that 1973 Topps issue comes complete with tinted specs and a 1970s mustache — not Bobby Grich level, or anything, but serviceable.
And that was the end of the Bob Veale cardboard story because, even though he had time on the mound still in front of him, Topps took a pass in 1974 … and in 1975.
Thus, a man who helped build the Pirates into contenders in the Sixties closed out his bubblegum career in a Boston Red Sox disguise.
Wow! Wax of the Day
Every once in awhile, the packaging for a product is almost as good as what’s inside. That’s sorta the case for the 1973 Topps wax box, an example of which you can see for sale in the eBay lot below.
It’s a bit of a forerunner to the box-bottom card craze of the 1980s!
Check out the full listing right here (affiliate link).
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