Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Topps photogs foiled by Foiles

Uncommon commons: In more than 30 years in sportscards publishing I have thrown hundreds of notes into files about the players – usually non-star players – who made up the majority of the baseball and football cards I collected as a kid. Today, I keep adding to those files as I peruse microfilms of The Sporting News from the 1880s through the 1960s. I found these tidbits brought some life to the player pictures on those cards. I figure that if I enjoyed them, you might too.

Trying to get a current photograph of career back-up back stop Hank Foiles, Topps photographers were led on a merry chase in 1960-61.

That's because Foiles was the property of seven different teams in one year's time.

On Dec. 12, 1959, Foiles was traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Kansas City A's, for whom he played the first half of the 1960 season. While that trade is reflected in the typography on Foiles' 1960 Topps card, he is still pictured as a Pirate on both front photos.

On June 1, 1960, the A's traded Foiles back to the Pirates, who had designs on sending him down to their AAA farm club at Columbus in the International League to bolster the team's catching corps.

Foiles, however, refused to accept the demotion and was given permission to seek a trade. On June 2, he was dealt to the Cleveland Indians.

Less than two months later, Foiles was traded to the Detroit Tigers, on July 26.

At the end of the 1960 season, he was placed on the roster of the Tigers' AAA team at Denver, then champions of the American Association.

In the Rule 5 minor league draft on Nov. 28, 1960, the Baltimore Orioles selected Foiles.

On his 1961 Topps card, Foiles is listed with the O's, but the photo shows him capless, in a Pirates' jersey.

On his 1962 Topps card, Foiles is finally listed with the same team whose uniform he wears -- the Orioles . . . but he never played for Baltimore that season, having been sold to the Cincinnati Reds on April 20.

Foiles' final two Topps cards show him with the correct and current teams, the Reds in 1963 and the L.A. Angels in 1964.

Hank Foiles played 11 seasons in the major leagues, mostly as a back-up catcher. He averaged just over 55 games a season, playing in more than 100 games only in 1957 and 1958 with the Pirates. He was a career .243 batter, but never hit more than nine home runs in a big league season.

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