Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sunday School: History Lesson 22

Tony Gonzalez was an outfielder with the Phillies from 1960-1968. The Cuban born Gonzalez was a terrific defensive outfielder who was solid at the plate also. Gonzalez debuted in the Major Leagues with Cincinnati in 1960, but veterans Frank Robinson, Gus Bell and Vada Pinson were blocking his playing time. Gonzalez was traded along with Lee Walls to Philadelphia for Harry Anderson, Fred Hopke and Wally Post on June 15, 1960.

Gonzalez would quickly contribute as our Phillies' centerfielder, batting .299 in 78 games played. Gonzalez would go on to bat over .300 three times for the Phillies. Gonzalez was small in stature (5'9", 170 pounds), but he would display surprising power also. In 1963, Tony hit 20 homers. His best offensive season, however, came in 1967, when he posted a .339 batting avg, to finish second in the batting race.

On defense, Gonzalez had a couple remarkable seasons as well. In 1962, he played 112 games in the outfield without an error. And, the year he finished 2nd in batting (1967), he led all NL outfielders in fielding percentage.

In 1968, Tony's batting average shrunk a full 75 points, down to .264, and and his OPS dropped 198 points, so the Phillies left him unprotected in the following offseason's expansion draft. The brand new San Diego Padres selected Gonzalez in the draft. He played just 53 games for the Padres before being dealt in another mid-June deal, this time to the Braves. Gonzalez would play in the NLCS that season with against the Metropolitans. He had 5 hits in 14 at bats (.357 avg) in 3 games of that series. Tony would go on to play in the Majors through 1971, and even played a portion of the 1972 season in Japan.
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