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Card of the Week: 1960 Topps #321 Ron Fairly All-Star Rookie

Posted by Andy on February 27, 2010

A few years ago, this might have been a more interesting post for many readers. In 2008, Topps released a "Heritage" set that recycled the design of the 1960 set and included an all-time All-Star Rookie set using the above design. Before Topps and the other card manufacturers went crazy reproducing old designs, these classic cards were really something special.

I love photos like the one used of Fairly. Although it's not an action shot, I like being able to see the stadium and crowd in the background. Fairly must have been out toward the outfield since everyone in the stands in looking to the right, presumably toward the infield. I do wonder a bit about the coloring of this card, as that Dodger blue isn't looking all that blue. This might be due to the age of the card or the fact that print quality wasn't nearly as good back then as it is today.

I'm not sure why Fairly received the honor of an All-Star Rookie card. He didn't hit all that well in 1959, garnering a 74 OPS+ over 284 plate appearances. He came in as a defensive replacement during the 1959 World Series and was part of the winning team but I am still surprised that he made the cut for the honor. This list of outfielders in their 1st or 2nd years in 1959 with at least 100 PAs shows some possible better choices.

In 1960, Fairly got into only 16 games and, since they were all late in the season I assume he had been relegated back to the minors and only got called up in September. He ended up doing something statistically odd, becoming the only guy since 1901 to hit 3 triples in a season without any singles:

1 Ron Fairly 3 0 1960 21 LAD NL 14 45 37 6 4 0 1 3 7 0 12 0 1 0 1 0 0 .108 .250 .351 .601 /*97
2 Roberto Ortiz 3 2 1942 27 WSH AL 20 48 42 4 7 1 1 4 5 0 11 1 0 0 0 0 0 .167 .271 .405 .676 /97
3 Wally Pipp 3 2 1913 20 DET AL 12 34 31 3 5 0 0 5 2 0 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 .161 .235 .355 .590 *3
4 Eugenio Velez 2 1 2007 25 SFG NL 14 13 11 5 3 0 0 2 2 0 3 0 0 0 0 4 0 .273 .385 .636 1.021 /47
5 Mark Johnson 2 0 1998 22 CHW AL 7 24 23 2 2 0 0 1 1 0 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 .087 .125 .261 .386 /*2
6 Jeff Stone 2 1 1983 22 PHI NL 9 4 4 2 3 0 0 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 4 0 .750 .750 1.750 2.500 /8
7 Chico Walker 2 0 1983 24 BOS AL 4 5 5 2 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .400 .400 1.200 1.600 /*7
8 Karl Pagel 2 1 1981 26 CLE AL 14 19 15 3 4 0 1 4 4 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .267 .421 .733 1.154 /3
9 Gary Moore 2 1 1970 25 LAD NL 7 16 16 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 1 0 .188 .188 .438 .625 /*93
10 Bill Connelly 2 0 1952 27 NYG NL 11 12 11 2 4 2 0 3 1 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 1 .364 .417 .909 1.326 *1
11 Bobby Estalella 2 0 1936 25 WSH AL 13 13 9 2 2 0 0 0 4 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 .222 .462 .667 1.128
12 Cecil Bolton 2 0 1928 24 CLE AL 4 15 13 1 2 0 0 0 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .154 .267 .462 .728 /*3
13 Babe Ellison 2 1 1917 20 DET AL 9 37 29 2 5 1 1 4 6 0 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 .172 .333 .448 .782 /*3
14 Limb McKenry 2 0 1916 27 CIN NL 6 5 5 0 2 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .400 .400 1.200 1.600 /*1
15 Ed Irwin 2 0 1912 30 DET AL 1 3 3 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .667 .667 2.000 2.667 /*5
16 Mike O'Neill 2 0 1907 29 CIN NL 9 32 29 5 2 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 .069 .129 .207 .336 /*7
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/23/2010.

These guys all had more triples than singles and, as such, either had poor batting averages or played in a vanishingly small number of games.

In the end, Fairly had a very solid major-league playing career including a series of good years with the Expos and a very nice season towards the end of his career with the first-year expansion Toronto Blue Jays.

I had the opportunity to hear Fairly call numerous TV games as a broadcaster for the Seattle Mariners and, I have to say--I found him to be an awful broadcaster. He had a long career on TV so I bet my opinion is in the minority but I always found him to be the master of saying the plainly obvious. I was also bugged by the fact that despite having a long and successful playing career, he seemed to rarely offer any insight about the game from the perspective of a former player.

22 Responses to “Card of the Week: 1960 Topps #321 Ron Fairly All-Star Rookie”

  1. Tim Lee Says:

    The reason he is a Rookie All Star seems to be because he was "elected" by the Youth of America,whoever that is. I'm sure his World Series appearance and College World Series title, besides playing for the glamorous Dodgers raised his profile above those more deserving.

  2. Barry Virshbo Says:

    Fairly's photo was taken at Chicago's Wrigley Field. Many of the photos of National League players shown on Topps cards between 1958 and 1961 were shot there since the Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field were no longer available for Brooklyn based Topps.

  3. DavidRF Says:

    1959 was the very first All-Star Topps Rookie Team:

    Johnny Romano, C, Cleveland Indians
    Willie McCovey, 1B, San Francisco Giants
    Pumpsie Green, 2B, Boston Red Sox
    Jim Baxes, 3B, Cleveland Indians
    Joe Koppe, SS, Philadelphia Phillies
    Bob Allison, OF, Washington Senators
    Ron Fairly, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
    Willie Tasby, OF, Baltimore Orioles
    Jim Perry, RHP, Cleveland Indians
    Jim O'Toole, LHP, Cincinnati Reds

    A nice feature for a website would be to keep track of players who still have their rookie status. From the other list, Pinson and Alou had likely played too much in 1958 to qualify.

  4. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Johnny Romano, C, Cleveland Indians:

    I've heard of the guy, and perhaps he had a decent career. I had a trading card for him in a later year.

    Willie McCovey, 1B, San Francisco Giants:

    Hall of Famer.

    Pumpsie Green, 2B, Boston Red Sox:

    Best remembered today as the first black player on the last team to integrate.

    Jim Baxes, 3B, Cleveland Indians:


    Joe Koppe, SS, Philadelphia Phillies:

    Rings a slight bell in my memory (remember, I didn't live in Philadelphia then), but I don't remember any accomplishments by him.

    Bob Allison, OF, Washington Senators:

    One of the players we folks in the Washington area regretted losing when the team moved to Minnesota between the 1960 and 1961 season.

    Ron Fairly, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers:

    The one that caused this to brought up. I remember having a trading card from him that came from the back of a cereal package, possibly Post cereals. After an absence of not following baseball as closely as I had done so earlier caused by the arrival of Beatlemania, while getting back into the swing of things, sometimes confused him with a Dodger teammate Jim Fairey.

    Willie Tasby, OF, Baltimore Orioles:

    Went to the new Senators in the expansion draft and became one of his new team's stars, relatively speaking. According to his Baseball page, he actually began his career with the St. Louis Browns before making it to the Orioles many years later.

    Jim Perry, RHP, Cleveland Indians:

    Had a decent career that would have been better remembered if he had not been overshadowed by a Hall of Fame brother. According to my father, Perry and Indians teammate Jim "Mudcat" Grant were major nemeses against the Senators in 1960. By 1965, both had become members of the relocated team in Minnesota and pitched for the Twins in the World Series.

    Jim O'Toole, LHP, Cincinnati Reds:

    I've heard of the guy, and perhaps he had a decent career.

  5. Gerry Says:

    I didn't know about the triples/singles thing. I think Fairly's claim to trivia fame has been holding the record for career home runs (215) by a player who never hit 20 in a season. I haven't checked to see whether he still holds that record.

  6. Tim Lee Says:

    Fairly and Fairey spend a lot more time together as teammates on the Expos than they did for the Dodgers.

  7. DavidRF Says:

    #5 Cool fact about Fairly never hitting 20 HR.

    I did some scripting with the 2009 Lahman Database and got the following:

    Most never hitting 74 HR - Bonds 762
    Most never hitting 48,49...73 - Aaron 755
    Most never hitting 46,47 - Ramirez 546
    Most never hitting 44,45 - TWilliams, FThomas 521
    Most never hitting 43 - Ott 511
    Most never hitting 34,35...42 - Murray 504
    Most never hitting 30,31,32,33 - Kaline 399
    Most never hitting 29 - RHenderson 297
    Most never hitting 27,28 - Biggio 291
    Most never hitting 26 - Hendrick 267
    Most never hitting 25 - Pinson 256
    Most never hitting 23,24 - Molitor 234
    Most never hitting 20,21,22 - Fairly 215
    Most never hitting 19 - Lazzeri 178
    Most never hitting 18 - Grace 173
    Most never hitting 17 - Rose 160
    Most never hitting 15,16 - Jorge Orta 130
    Most never hitting 13,14 - Cobb 117
    Most never hitting 11,12 - Wagner 101
    Most never hitting 10 - Brad Ausmus 80
    Most never hitting 9 - Edd Roush 68
    Most never hitting 8 - Tommy Leach 63
    Most never hitting 7 - Eddie Collins and Luis Alicea 47
    Most never hitting 6 - Red Ruffing 36
    Most never hitting 5 - Warren Spahn 35
    Most never hitting 4 - Walter Johnson 24
    Most never hitting 3 - Mickey Doolan and Tom York 15
    Most never hitting 2 - Bill Sherdel 9
    Most never hitting 1 - Tie by many 0 🙂

    No guarantees this is 100% correct. I found a disagreement between Lahman/Forman for Tom York's 1872 total (Lahman-1/Forman-0). There might be similar errors in there, hope not, though.

    Funny how many great names are in the lower part of the list.

  8. Dan Franzen Says:

    So you say Ron Fairly had a habit of stating the obvious as a broadcaster?

    Wouldn't that make him Ron Fairly Obvious?

  9. Gerry Says:

    DavidRF - thanks!

  10. JeffW Says:

    Ron Fairly's astute analysis on every hitter who ever lived:

    "He likes the ball out over the plate, so he can extend those arms."

    I am so glad he's no longer part of the Mariners' broadcast team.

  11. steven Says:

    Jim O'Toole was a very good lefthanded pitcher for the Reds until 1965, when arm miseries began, shortening his career. Fairly led the weak-hitting, World Champion Dodgers in RBI with 70 in 1965.

  12. Detroit Michael Says:

    So the most recent player to have had 2 triples and no singles in a season was a catcher. Who would have predicted that?

  13. Andy Says:

    Wow, lots of very useful comments here.

    First of all, DavidRF, thanks for that extremely interesting chart. Amazing to know that Luis Alicea holds some sort of batting record. Eddie Murray's hold over a large range of values demonstrates how underrated the guy was. I mean--he was an easy Hall of Famer but I'm not sure the average fan really appreciates how consistent the guy was without ever having huge gaudy numbers. He was simply consistently excellent. And interesting that most of the guys toward the bottom of the list are pitchers--unsurprising of course, but still interesting.

    #8 Dan--that made me chuckle 🙂

    In general I should add some comments about the Mariners broadcasts. When I was able to hear their broadcasts, they had Fairly, Dave Niehaus, Rick Rizzs, Dave Henderson, and Dave Valle. In general, for the whole team, it can be said that they were unbelievable homers. Everything that ever went well for the Mariners was due to the skill of the players, manager, or general managers, while everything that ever went well for the opposing team was blind luck. I saw several instances where the same thing happened to each team in the same game--for example once I think a failed bunt to move a runner was followed by a homer--and Niehaus analyzed the same event completely differently when it happened to the Mariners vs when it happened to the opposing team. In the case of the Mariners, it had been smart for the manager to try to bunt because he knew the guy who followed had a good chance of scoring the run on a homer anyway, so nothing was lost. In the case of the other team, it was extremely stupid for their manager to bunt because they cost themselves a run since, unexpectedly, the following batter hit a homer. As a fan, these guys enraged me to listen to. The only exceptions were Henderson and Valle, who provided interesting insight about the game and specific players, and I think avoid the homerism to the extent possible.

    However, I think not all of this can be laid on the broadcasters. Remember that the Seattle baseball franchise has not had a lot of success. They haven't had too many winning seasons and the period I'm talking about saw them with their first truly great player (Griffey.) I think during this time, a lot of Seattle people were becoming fans for the first time and there was a lot of ignorance among their fans. To a large degree, I think the broadcasters tailored their comments to fit the mentality of the audience. Such stuff would never fly in Boston, Philly, St. Louis, or New York, where the local fans are far too educated to accept such homerism, even if it is their own team being favored.

  14. DoubleDiamond Says:

    In fact, I had my facts backwards regarding the team movement made by Jim Fairey in 1973. I knew that he was released by one team after a long holdout in spring training and picked up by another one that sent him to the minors. But I thought he had been released by the Dodgers and picked up by the Expos, instead of the reverse. Also, I thought that he had never made it back to the majors again, but after I checked his Baseball page, I saw that he did appear in 10 games for the Dodgers in 1973. I didn't check his 1973 game log to see if they were at the beginning of the season before being cut loose, during the September call-up period, or in mid-season. Whatever happened, though, he never played in the majors again after 1973.

    In 1973, I had recently entered the working world and was glad to get any kind of salary my then-limited experience could get for me. In that spring, I remember two players in particular, Jim Fairey and Dave Duncan of the defending World Series winners the Oakland A's, holding out for money and not reporting to spring training. Both had had poor offensive seasons in 1972. Duncan had even lost his starting job to Gene Tenace before the postseason. And in both cases, their teams decided they didn't want them back. Fairey was actually released. Duncan was traded to Cleveland for Ray Fosse. Like a lot of working folks, I was beginning to wonder why these athletes couldn't be happy with just being major leaguers. Fairey ended up losing his job completely and only appearing in 10 more games in his career. Duncan was traded from the top-ranking team in baseball to one of the worst, thus missing out on possibly two more World Series rings. At least he played for a lot more years, including some time with the Orioles when they were a good team, and he's had a notable coaching career. Of course, the money that Fairey and Duncan were demanding in 1973 probably pales compared to what players are asking for today.

    Sorry to change the subject and pontificate like this.

  15. Andy Says:

    No need to apologize. That sort of free association is one if the things I love about comments on this blog. Duncan certainly makes more as a coach now than he ever made as player, even correcting for inflation.

  16. Brian Says:

    Lifelong Seattle Mariners fan here. You are certainly not in the minority. Just about everyone in Seattle couldn't stand Fairly as a broadcaster. He was the type of guy who would say "Whichever team scores more runs will likely end up winning the game." I have some friends in the broadcasting business, and they have told me that Fairly was really intelligent and told fantastic stories, but he just didn't come across well over the airwaves.

  17. Baseball-Reference Blog » Blog Archive » Most extra-base hits in a season with no singles Says:

    [...] You Are Here > > Blog > Baseball Stats and Analysis B-R Blog & Stat of the Day Numbers, News, and Notes « Card of the Week: 1960 Topps #321 Ron Fairly All-Star Rookie [...]

  18. Ryan Says:

    All I know is Fairly couldn't be as good of a predictor for Seattle games as the almighty Mike "Nostradamus" Blowers...

  19. JDV Says:

    I'd have to guess that Vada Pinson still had his "rookie" status in 1959 after only 27 G & 96 AB prior to that. If so, what an injustice that he was not made a part of that all-rookie team. He even received a hand-full of MVP votes that year (no 1st place votes, but consideration nonetheless).

  20. Andy Says:

    Keep in mind that players needn't have been official rookies (going by MLB rules) to qualify for the Topps team. There are numerous examples of them awarding the rookie cup to guys already past their official rookie years.

  21. tmckelv Says:

    DavidRF - thanks

    Andy - Not only does Luis Alicea hold some sort of offensive record - but he shares it with Eddie Collins.

  22. Andy Says:

    Heh, good point--Alicea and Collins being tied for something is utterly bizarre.