Friday, August 21, 2015

1964 Topps Reds Rookie Stars: Sammy Ellis, Mel Queen

This 1964 Rookie Stars card was not Sammy Ellis's first card. He was signed as a free agent in 1961 by the Reds and made his first MLB start in early 1962.  After a shaky start he was sent down to the minors only to be called up again that September. With a 2-2 record, Topps included him in the 1963 set. He shared a card with Reds catcher Jesse Gonder and Phillies Pitchers Ray Culp and John Boozer. As luck would have it, he then spent the entire 1963 season in the minors.
When he returned to the Reds in 1964 he went 10-3 with 14 saves and even got a few MVP votes. In 1965 he was selected to the All Star team and went 22-10 for the season. In the 1966 and 1967 seasons he led the NL in earned runs. In 1968 he was dealt to the Angels, then in 1969 to the White Sox where his big league journey ended.

Despite only 7 Major League seasons, Ellis was well represented on cardboard. In addition to his 2 rookie cards, he had cards on the Reds in 1965-67 then on the Angels in 1968 and '69. For his Card That Never Was I made a 1970 Topps card with him on his final team, the Chicago White Sox.


Mel Queen began his Major League career in 1964 as an outfielder for the Reds. His Father was a pitcher for the Yankees and Pirates from 1942-1952. After struggling to get playing time on the big league roster and spending most of the 1965 season in the minors, he converted to pitching. In 1966 he played 32 games in the outfield and pitched 7 innings, all in relief. His 1967 Topps card had his position listed as Pitcher/Outfielder.
By 1967 he was a full time pitcher. He went 14-8 with a 2.76 ERA.  In 1968 his shoulder injury limited his playing time and in 1969 he spent most of the season in the minors. After the 1969 season he was bought by the California Angels and operated mainly out of the bullpen. He would still get the opportunity to pinch hit every now and then, even after being dealt to the Angels.In all Queen spent parts of 9 seasons in the Majors, compiling a 3.14 ERA and a .179 batting average. 

After his playing days were over, Queen worked as a pitching coach in several different organization, both major and minor. He even served as interim manager of the Blue Jay for the final 5 games of the 1997 season after Cito Gaston was fired . 

I noticed a couple of gaps when looking at Mel Queen's baseball cards. He had Topps cards from 1964-1972 but was missing in the 1965 and 1970 sets. For his Card That Never Was, I made this 1970 Topps card showing him in his first season in California.


I rate this card a solid 4. Set filler. Even though it was his second rookie card, Ellis had a good year on the mound in 1964. And while Queen's year was not as good, it was interesting to see him listed as an outfielder even though he spent most of his career pitching and even went on to be a pitching coach.

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