Sixth in an occasional series. Collect ’em all! I’m working through a stack of Tigers baseball cards from the late 1960s and early 1970s, with occasional newer cards.
The Tigers picked up Woodie Fryman in August of 1972 after he was put on waivers by Philadelphia. He’d gotten off to a less-than-stellar start for a crummy Phillies squad that year, going 4-10 with a 4.36 ERA when they cut him. After coming to Detroit, though, Woodie turned his season around, going 10-3 with a 2.06 ERA and helping the Tigers overtake the Red Sox to win the American League East.
Going into the final weekend of the ’72 season, Boston was a half-game up on Detroit. Billy Martin started Mickey Lolich in the first game, and he threw a complete game victory to put the Tigers up by a half-game. Then Fryman took the mound in the second game. He allowed only three hits over 7 2/3 innings before turning things over to Chuck Seelbach for a four-out save that clinched the division.
In the 1972 ALCS, Fryman pitched Game Two in Oakland but wasn’t sharp, leaving the game down 1-0 in the fifth with the bases loaded. The Tiger bullpen couldn’t shut the door, all of the inherited runners scored, and the A’s won 5-0 to go up 2-0 in the best-of-five series. The Tigers rallied to take the next two games to tie the series, and Fryman started Game Five back at Tiger Stadium. He pitched well, giving up two runs and only four hits over eight innings. One of the A’s runs was on a steal of home by Reggie Jackson (who tore his hamstring running into Tigers catcher Bill Freehan and would end up missing the World Series), and the other was an unearned run thanks to a throwing error by second baseman Dick McAuliffe that pulled Norm Cash off the bag at first. But John “Blue Moon” Odom was even better, allowing only one unearned run in five innings of work. He was followed by Vida Blue, who worked four innings of perfect relief for the save and the A’s moved on to the 1972 World Series.
Woodie pitched for the Tigers in ’73 and ’74 before being traded to Montreal in December 1974 for catcher Terry Humphrey and pitcher Tom Walker. He spent two years in Montreal, then a season in Cincinnati. He started the 1978 season with the Cubs, but was traded to the Expos in June. He played with Montreal for parts of five more seasons before retiring in 1983 at the age of 43.
I’ve always thought this picture of Woodie looks like he’s bracing to tackle some streaker who’s just jumped onto the field at old Comiskey Park. Get ’em, Woodie!
After baseball, Woodie went back to his hometown of Ewing, Kentucky, where he had a tobacco farm, where (at least according to the back of this card) he also raised Black Angus cattle. He died there in February of 2011 at the age of 70.
Every year, Topps would include some cards that had multiple rookie players on them. These guys weren’t necessarily gonna make it, so they weren’t going to waste valuable cardboard acreage on a full card. Most of the time you never heard another thing about them, frankly.
John Gamble is the perfect example of this phenomenon. Born in Reno, Nevada, he was a 5’10”, 165 pound shortstop. His entire Wikipedia entry consists of three sentences. In 1972 he appeared in six games for the Tigers, batting three times with no hits, though he did get to play some shortstop. In 1973 he was in seven more games with no plate appearances or time in the field. It appears he was used as a pinch runner for whoever the designated hitter was that day (’73 was the first year of the DH rule), probably Gates Brown. He played three more years in AAA for the Expos and the Tigers before retiring.
After baseball, Gamble returned to Reno where he was a star for the Reno Toyota men’s fast pitch softball team, which was highly competitive and appeared in the International Softball Congress World Tournament. He also coached high school baseball and softball, including his daughter’s team from 2003 to 2007.
While he didn’t make much of a splash in the major leagues, John is still happy he had the chance. “It was really a neat time. I’m so grateful for the time I did have.”
Ed Glynn, the “Flushing Flash,” on the other hand, pitched in 175 major league games over ten seasons with the Tigers, Mets, Indians, and Expos. Ed bounced up and down between Evansville (then the Tigers’ AAA affiliate) and the big club from 1975 and 1978. Interestingly, though this is his 1977 “rookie” card, Ed made his debut late in 1975 against Milwaukee, pitching six decent innings but losing to one of the other guys on this card, Larry Anderson, who pitched a shutout. (Anderson was taken in the 1977 expansion draft by Toronto, which explains his headgear on this card, though he never pitched for the Blue Jays, instead being traded two months later to the White Sox. Anderson only pitched 16 games over three seasons and finished with a lifetime ERA of 5.66. So much for that early shutout.)
Glynn is one of the few Mets players to have actually grown up in the neighborhood where the team has played since 1964, Flushing, in the borough of Queens. When he was in high school, he sold hot dogs at Shea Stadium.
Ed finished his career with a 12-17 record and an ERA of 4.25. He struck out 184 batters in 264 2/3 innings.
Dave Gumpert was another of the guys who, despite having a 1984 Tigers baseball card, didn’t play for the World Series team that year. He was a Michigan boy, growing up in South Haven and pitching for Aquinas College in Grand Rapids.
Dave had a decent 1983 season with the Tigers, pitching in 26 games with a 2.64 ERA and a 1.128 WHIP while notching two saves and being named the team’s Rookie of the Year. But he didn’t head north with the team out of spring training in 1984, instead spending the season in Evansville where he put up numbers that didn’t exactly warrant a return to Detroit.
He pitched with the Cubs and Royals briefly, along with their AAA teams, from 1985 to 1987 before retiring from baseball. He went back to South Haven, where he coached baseball and was the athletic director at South Haven High School. He’s a member of the Aquinas College Athletic Hall of Fame and the South Haven High School Hall of Fame.
At 62, Dave still lives in South Haven. He retired recently but still is involved in the community and helped coach the 2018 South Haven girls’ softball team to district and regional titles. Here’s a short interview MLive did with him in 2018 as the team was making its run in the state playoffs: