This is not a good airbrush job on Fred's hat. The coloring just isn't right. The only thing I'll give the artist credit for is they made the hat on the guy in the background match the Indians' dark hats of the time. The rock in the back tells me this is an Arizona spring training site, which both the Indians (Tucson) and the Brewers (Tempe) had at the time. I'm going to say Fred's got a Milwaukee Brewer hat on because the Indians acquired him in late March 1971, so he would have spent most of 1971 in Brewers' camp. This raises an interesting question: could the guy in the background have truly an Indian in a Spring Training game between the Tribe and the Crew?
Fred was not the best "Frederick Stanley" that ever played. However, I've got to play a trick to make that statement. The best was Frederick Stanley McGriff. However, Chicken had a long and interesting career. He was a Pilot (so he goes on that checklist). In 1972 he was sent from the Indians after only 6 games to the Padres for the rest of the year. The Yankees picked him up for the 1973 season and he stayed with them through the 1980 season. He then finished up with a couple of years in Oakland.
Fred was never a regular. He got his most playing time in 1975, but only got into 117 games and had 252 at bats. In 1976 he started 87 games at short, the most games started in his career. He didn't have any real production, but the Yankees made the playoffs anyway (their appearance in the World Series was tainted by Chris Chambliss' failure to touch home plate in Game 5 of the ALCS). The next year they picked up Bucky Dent and Fred was back to the bench.
Fred only hit 10 homers, but 2 of them were grand slams (1973 off Kevin Kobel, 1978 off Mike Torrez). Fred was one of the worst "sluggers" of modern times. In 1976 he had 260 at bats and 5 extra base hits. He had a lifetime batting average of .216, slugged .263 and a career OPS of .564. That's not very good.
"Chicken" is now the director of player development for the Giants. He had a lot of years to sit on teh bench and continue working his butt off to be ready. Guys like Fred may not have been the kind of ballplayer that you'd build a team around, but every team that wins has a guy like Fred that's versatile and ready to step in and get the job done.
Jose Guzman on baseball cards
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