Monday, November 12, 2012

#246 George Bamberger - New York Mets

It had been 24 years since George Bamberger was able to claim Topps card for himself.  His 1959 issue can be seen here.  Bamberger looks pretty jolly in this picture and it reflects his personality.  While he was in Milwaukee he was known to stop by tailgating fans and have a beer before the game.

Player:  George Bamberger tossed only 14 innings in his big league career which consisted of three cups of coffee with the Giants in '51-'52 and the Orioles in '59.  He won over 200 games in the minors and played until 1963.

Bamberger spent the '64 through '67 seasons as the Orioles minor league pitching instructor.  He was Earl Weaver's pitching coach on the O's from '68 to '77 where he oversaw some very impressive pitchers

Manager:  After the '77 season Bamberger left Baltimore to manage in Milwaukee.  He oversaw a power hitting team with sluggers like Cecil Cooper, Gorman Thomas, Ben Oglive as well as future Hall of Famers Robin Yount and Paul Molitor.  "Bambi's Bombers", as they came to be known, were the forerunners to Harvey's Wallbangers.

Milwaukee won 93 games in '78 but finished third behind the Yankees and Red Sox.  In '79 they won 95 but finished in second in the AL East behind his former feathered friends from Baltimore. 

1980 would prove to be a difficult one for Bamberger.  He had a heart attack in spring training and after triple-bypass surgery did not take the reigns until June.  He stepped down in September citing the rigors of managing on his repaired heart.

After a year of serving in the Brewers front office, Bambi took over as the Mets field general prior for the 1982 season.  A 65 win campaign and the 16-30 start to the '83 season would be enough to tax anyone and Bamberger again stepped aside due to health concerns. 

Bamberger came back for a second stint with the Brewers in '85 and managed the squad to a 71-91 finish.  He called it quits for good in September 1986 when they were 10 games under .500.   

Flipside:  Wow 68.2 consecutive innings without a base on balls!  That's impressive no matter what level of competition.  It's too bad his control left him in his brief major league career as he walked 10 in 14 innings. 

Oddball:  Bamberger, his coaching staff, and a plumber suffered burns when a gas explosion at the Brewers spring complex ignited in February of 1986.  The fireball severely burned coach Tony Muser, destroyed the coaches office, and launched Bambi 10 feet from his chair. 

History:  Bamberger had a solid team in his first go around with the Brewers.  His  managerial record after that is less than stellar.  He had much more success as Earl Weaver's right hand man.  Born on Staten Island he taught many pitchers his renowned "Staten Island Sinker", which many suspected was actually a spitter.  In his ten year term as the O's pitching coach he oversaw 18 twenty-game winners.
Bamberger passed away in 2004 after a three year battle with cancer.

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