Wandering Through Wednesday

My condolences to Al Kaline’s family and to the Detroit Tigers family. Kaline, a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, died on Monday aged 85.

Although he is associated with the Tigers, Kaline was born and raised in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. He signed with the Tigers as a “bonus baby” in 1953. In those days before the amateur draft, teams would often spend a lot of money on signing bonuses for high school and, less frequently in those days, college players. (Remember that with no draft all amateur players were, technically, free agents.) In an effort to remove the incentive to do so, baseball instituted a scheme where a team giving a player more than a specified bonus would have to keep the player in the major leagues for two years before they could send him to the minors. Sandy Koufax was also a “bonus baby.” Of course, teams would often get around the two-year rule by “misreporting” the bonus.

Charlie Eckman—native Baltimorean, long-time NBA coach and referee, and long-time sports commentator on Baltimore TV and radio—tried to get the Washington Senators to sign Kaline. He graduated from high school before the St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles.

Kaline never played in the minors before his major league debut in June of 1953. He won the American League “batting title” in 1955 at the age of 20 and in just his second full major league season. Of course, we know better today than to think that the player with highest batting average is automatically the best batter.

Kaline’s list of accomplishments is quite long and culminated in his being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1980. He continued to work for the Tigers organization in various roles until his passing.

From the Baseball Hall of Fame a picture of Al Kaline:


See the source image


Not as significant as the passing of Al Kaline, but my lip has improved although it is not completely healed. Yesterday, frankly in a state of panic over the lip sore, I took the dose of Amoxicillin I would normally take before a trip to the dentist. Whether because of that or because I finally had a decent night of sleep, my lip is far less painful today. Of course, I am still going to take it easy on solid foods in an effort to minimize the risk of biting the lip again.


Another very funny post from Archon’s Den includes these:


People in sleeping bags are the soft tacos of the bear world.

Any job is a dream job…. if you fall asleep during staff meetings.

All my childhood punishments have become my life goals:
Eating vegetables, having a nap, staying home, going to bed early.


What automobile preferences do you have that might be considered odd by many? My infatuation with the Buick Reatta and Cadillac Allante would probably qualify. In an ideal world with an extra digit or two in our net worth one or both of those would probably reside in our garage.

I think I have shown this car before, but here is another “odd” preference, a 1960 Rambler American (a 1958 or ’59 would suffice, the picture is from Barn Finds):


See the source image


“The heart wants what it wants.” I don’t think I can articulate why this car appeals to me. Maybe it’s the angled B-pillar, maybe the hood/deck proportion just appeals to me, I don’t know.

This was certainly not a performance car as the most powerful engine available from the factory was a 196 cubic-inch inline six that produced 127 HP. I couldn’t find the torque rating for this optional engine. Output for the standard engine was 90 HP/150 LB-FT.

As I have written before, except for my strong disdain for certain German makes, I am kind of an agnostic when it comes to cars. An automobile from almost any country or make can appeal to me depending on the particulars.

I would like to read about your “odd” car preferences. Don’t worry; no one will judge you here.







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Throwback Thursday

Two of my favorite and most valuable books are History of the American Auto and Encyclopedia of American Cars, both by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide®. The first title has inspired quite a few of the nearly 1,000 posts I have written for two blogs over almost seven years.

The History of the American Auto has hundreds of color photos of US autos and many black and white photos of pre-1920s cars. The book also contains hundreds of factoids arranged by year. For example, in 1960 “four-fifths of all American families own at least one automobile—that number is up almost a third since 1940.”

I just wanted to acknowledge the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide® and their contribution to my enjoyment and my learning. Given the 2005-ish publication date for both books, they are a little dated and, I think, out of print. Still, given the amazing thing called Internet shopping if one is so inclined then one or both books can be purchased.

One note from History of the American Auto for 1960 is interesting to me, for some reason. “Plymouth holds third place for the last time until the Seventies; Rambler is fourth, with the highest production ever from an independent.” By 1970 the Rambler name was extinct and, of course, the Plymouth name was discontinued in 2001.

What did the Plymouth and Rambler 1960 model year cars look like? OK…

See the source image

From ebay a photo of a 1960 Plymouth Fury convertible. Most of the other decent photos that popped up in an Internet search were from Barrett-Jackson or Mecum and I have become increasingly nervous about infringing on copyrights. Famed car designer Virgil Exner was responsible for the look of Chrysler Corporation products from the mid-1950s through the mid-1960s. His “Forward Look” design featuring a gradually rising body line from front to back and the use of fins was very influential in the design of most American cars, not just those from Chrysler.

See the source image

From amcrc.com a picture of a 1960 Rambler American. To me this car looks older than its year and newer at the same time. This body style reminds me of a little of Alfa Romeo and Facel, two European automobile manufacturers. George Romney (Mitt Romney’s father) was president of AMC and cast aside long-time makes Hudson and Nash after 1957 to focus on the Rambler, which represented a departure from the large, fin-dominated designs of the Big Three. The plan worked for awhile. To wit:

Model-Year Production Totals for Rambler

1958     162,182

1959     374,240

1960     458,841

The Big Three finally started producing smaller cars in the early 1960s to respond to the success of Rambler, the Studebaker Lark and the increasing number of foreign-made small cars being sold in the US like the Volkswagen Beetle.

With the dominance of SUVs and pickup trucks in the American market will we ever see a resurgence of smaller cars? What do you think?