In the Bullpen or Out, Turk Works

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Dick Farrell

The great irony of the career of right-hander Dick Farrell is that his best pitching resulted in some of his worst seasons statistically. Those seasons came in the early 1960s when, as a member of the starting rotation for the fledgling Houston Colt .45s, Farrell posted a 46-54 records from 1962 through 1965, though his earned run average over that period was only a combined 3.20.

From 1962-1965, pitching for the second-worst team in the National League, Dick Farrell averaged 11 wins and more than 200 innings per season.

From 1962-1965, pitching for the second-worst team in the National League, Dick Farrell averaged 11 wins and more than 200 innings per season.

Much like his starting counterpart Bob Bruce (and likewise Roger Craig with the New York Mets), “Turk” Farrell pitched better than his record, but not good enough to overcome the limitations of playing for an expansion team.

Boston born and raised, Farrell was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1953 and made his major league debut in Philadelphia at the end of the 1956 season. He had an outstanding rookie season in 1957, going 10-2 out of the Phillies’ bullpen with a 2.38 ERA and 10 saves in 52 appearances. He remained a reliever in his four-plus seasons with the Phillies, going 8-9 with 11 saves and a 3.35 ERA in 1958 and then slipping to 1-6 in 1959. He bounced back in 1960 with a 10-6 record and a 2.70 ERA. That season he appeared in 59 games for the Phillies, finishing 50 and saving 11 games.

Dick Farrell broke into the major leagues with the Philadelphia Phillies, going 10-2 with a 2.38 ERA as a rookie in 1957.

Dick Farrell broke into the major leagues with the Philadelphia Phillies, going 10-2 with a 2.38 ERA as a rookie in 1957.

In 1961, Farrell was traded with Joe Koppe to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Don Demeter and Charley Smith. With the Dodgers, he appeared in 50 games going 6-6 (8-7 overall) with a 5.20 ERA. That next winter, he was selected by Houston in the expansion draft.

In his first five big league seasons, Farrell had gone 37-31 with a 3.70 ERA. He had made only one start (his major league debut in 1956), working strictly – and, generally, effectively – out of the bullpens for the Phillies and Dodgers. In Houston, his professional life would change dramatically. He was transformed into a starter who still worked occasionally in relief as needed, and Farrell was a workhorse for the Colts. He posted a 3.02 ERA in 1962 (seventh best in the National League), and pitched 11 complete games with two shutouts, but was only 10-20 on the season.

In 1963, he was 14-13 with an identical 3.02 ERA, and then was 11-10 in 1964 and 11-11 in 1965. During those four seasons, with the second-worst team in the National League, Farrell averaged 11 wins and more than 200 innings per season. In 1966 he went 6-10 for the Astros, and the next season he was sold back to Philadelphia, where he again became exclusively a reliever. Farrell went 9-6 for the Phillies in 1967 (10-6 overall) with 2.34 ERA.

He pitched in 100 games for the Phillies over the next two seasons, going 7-10 with 15 saves and a combined 3.73 ERA. He retired after the 1969 season.

Farrell lasted a total of 14 seasons in the majors, going 106-111 with a 3.45 career ERA. He was named to the National League All-Star team four times.

 

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How Billy Bru Moved to Motown

 

Swap Shop: Bill Bruton for Frank Bolling

He was coming off the best overall season of his eight-year career. Then on December 7, 1960, Bill Bruton learned that he was no longer a member of the Milwaukee Braves, as he had been for his entire major league career.

Bill Bruton was solid at the plate and in the field. In 1961, his first season with the Detroit Tigers, he hit 17 home runs with 63 RBIs and led the America League in outfield putouts.

Bill Bruton was solid at the plate and in the field. In 1961, his first season with the Detroit Tigers, he hit 17 home runs with 63 RBIs and led the America League in outfield putouts.

The Detroit Tigers acquired Bruton in a trade that sent Gold Glove second baseman Frank Bolling to the Braves. Bolling was considered one of the best all-around second basemen in the American League, hitting .261 in six seasons with Detroit while averaging 21 doubles, 11 home runs and 52 RBIs per season. He won the Gold Glove in 1958, when he led all American League second sackers in fielding percentage.

The Braves finished second to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960, their second-straight runner-up finish after winning the National League pennant the previous two seasons. The Braves’ perennial All-Star second baseman, Red Schoendienst, was injured for most of 1959 and split time at second in 1960 with Chuck Cottier, a good defensive player with little pop in his bat. The Braves were looking to fill the hole at second base, and wanted the 29-year-old Bolling. They paid plenty to get him.

Bruton was the key player in the trade for the Tigers. He finished the 1960 season batting .286 with 27 doubles, 12 home runs and 54 RBIs. He stole 22 bases, his best total since 1955, and led the National League with 13 triples. The deal for Bolling also included Cottier, catcher Dick Brown and relief pitcher Terry Fox.

In Frank Bolling, the Milwaukee Braves acquired an All-Star second baseman who provided outstanding defense.

In Frank Bolling, the Milwaukee Braves acquired an All-Star second baseman who provided outstanding defense.

The deal was productive for both teams. Bruton played solid center field for the Tigers, flanked by sluggers Rocky Colavito in left field and Gold Glove winner Al Kaline in right. Bruton led all American league center fielders in putouts in 1961.

Bruton batted .257 in 1961 with 17 home runs and 63 RBIs. He again stole 22 bases, sixth best in the American League. He followed up with another fine season in 1962, batting .278 with 16 home runs and a career-best 74 runs batted in. Bruton finished his major league career with Detroit, hitting a combined .266 in four seasons.

Bolling had All-Star seasons for the Braves in 1961 and 1962. He batted .262 in 1961 with 15 home runs and 56 RBIs. He finished second in the league in putouts and double plays, and led all National League second basemen with a .988 fielding percentage. His .989 fielding percentage was best in the NL again in 1962, when Bolling batted .271 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs.

With both Bruton and Bolling performing as expected for their new teams, the “wild card” in the deal turned out to be reliever Terry Fox. The right-hander pitched six seasons for the Tigers, going 26-17 in 207 appearances, with a 2.77 ERA and 55 saves.

 

 

 

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Innings Eater, Wins Producer

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Chris Short

During the mid-1960s, the Philadelphia Phillies had arguably the second-best righty-lefty starting pitcher tandem in the National League … second to the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ four-Cy Young award combo of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.

Chris Short was the only Phillies pitcher to chalk up a 20-win season during the 1960s. He was 20-10 with a 3.54 ERA in 1966.

Chris Short was the only Phillies pitcher to chalk up a 20-win season during the 1960s. He was 20-10 with a 3.54 ERA in 1966.

The Phillies tandem was buoyed by right-hander Jim Bunning, who won 19 games in each season from 1964-1966. Bunning’s left-handed counterpart was Chris Short, who won 20 games in 1966 and averaged 17 victories per season from 1964-1968.

Short was signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent in 1957 and made the big league club to stay in 1960. He was a spot starter for Philadelphia from 1960 through 1962, with a combined record of 23-30. A 2.95 ERA in 1963 was good enough for only a 9-12 record, but in 1964 – Bunning’s first season with the Phillies – Short emerged as one of the best pitchers in the National League, posting a 17-9 record with a 2.20 ERA (third best in the league).

Chris Short was a workhorse for the Philadelphia Phillies during the mid-1960s. From 1963-1968, he averaged 243 innings per season, averaging 15 wins with a 2.84 ERA.

Chris Short was a workhorse for the Philadelphia Phillies during the mid-1960s. From 1963-1968, he averaged 243 innings per season, averaging 15 wins with a 2.84 ERA.

Short won 18 games in 1965 and went 20-10 in 1966. After slipping to 9-11 in 1967, Short rebounded with a 19-13 record in 1968. It would be his last season with a winning record. He went 17-31 over the next four seasons with Philadelphia, and retired after a 3-5 season for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1973. He finished his 15-season career at 135-132 with a combined 3.43 ERA. He remains third on the list for career victories in a Phillies uniform.

 

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Hall Adds Kiki and Goose

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(January 28, 1968) Kiki Cuyler and Goose Goslin today were added to the Hall of Fame by unanimous vote of the Special Veterans Committee.

Kiki Cuyler

Kiki Cuyler

The addition of Goslin and Cuyler rounded out the Hall of Fame class for 1968. The baseball writers had earlier selected St. Louis Cardinals outfielder and former National League Triple Crown Winner Joe Medwick for Hall of Fame enshrinement.

Cuyler was a .321 career hitter in 18 seasons, all in the National League. Cuyler played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers. His best season came in 1930 when he batted .355 for the Cubs with 50 doubles, 17 triples, 13 home runs and 134 runs batted in. He also led the league with 37 stolen bases that season, the fourth stolen base crown of his career.

Goose Goslin

Goslin played 18 seasons with the Washington Senators, St. Louis Browns and Detroit Tigers. He was a career .316 hitter who played in four World Series. He led the American League with 129 RBIs in 1925 and led the league in hitting with a .379 average in 1928.

Talent in Turmoil

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Bob Bruce

It would be hard to imagine a more frustrating position in major league baseball than starting pitcher for an expansion team. Just ask Roger Craig or Al Jackson of the original New York Mets. Or ask Ken Johnson and Dick Farrell of the Houston Colt .45s.

Or ask Bob Bruce.

Bob Bruce won 15 games with the Houston Colts in 1964 with a 2.76 ERA.

Bob Bruce won 15 games with the Houston Colts in 1964 with a 2.76 ERA.

Bruce was a hard-throwing right-hander whose performance on the mound was consistently better than his won-lost record. He was signed by the Detroit Tigers in 1952 and made his major league debut with the Tigers in 1959. In 1960 and 1961 he had a combined 5-9 record for the Tigers.

In December of 1961, the Tigers traded Bruce and Manny Montejo to the Colts for Sam Jones. He immediately moved into the Houston starting rotation, and at 10-9 was the only starter with a winning record (on a team that lost 96 games in its inaugural season).  In 1963 his record slipped to 5-9, but rebounded in 1964 with a 15-9 record and a 2.76 ERA. He also set team records that season with nine complete games and four shutouts.

It would be the last winning record of Bruce’s career.

Bob Bruce was originally signed by the Detroit Tigers. After three seasons working out of the Tigers bullpen, he was traded in 1961 to the Houston Colt .45s.

Bob Bruce was originally signed by the Detroit Tigers. After three seasons working out of the Tigers bullpen, he was traded in 1961 to the Houston Colt .45s.

In 1965 he went 9-18 on a still-respectable ERA of 3.72. He set personal highs that season for innings pitched (229.2) and strikeouts (145). His 3-13 record in 1966 prompted Houston to trade the right-hander to the Atlanta Braves in a deal that brought Eddie Mathews to Houston. In 12 appearances for the Braves, Bruce posted a 2-3 record with his only career save. He was assigned to the Braves AAA club in Richmond, where he went 7-2 but never again pitched in the majors.

Bruce finished his career at 49-71 with a 3.85 ERA. But in his first three seasons with Houston, he was the team’s best starting pitcher and best chance at winning, going 30-27 with a 3.43 ERA.

 

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Ron to the Rescue

 

Oh, What a Relief: Ron Perranoski

It was pitching that carried the Los Angeles Dodgers to their World Series championship in 1963. It wasn’t their hitting. Despite having the league’s batting champion in Tommy Davis, the Dodgers as a team batted .251, only fourth best in the National League. They were fifth in the league in runs scored.

Ron Perranoski was the bullpen ace who complemented the Dodgers’ starting rotation of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Johnny Podres. Perranoski was 16-3 with 21 saves for the Dodgers in 1963.

Ron Perranoski was the bullpen ace who complemented the Dodgers’ starting rotation of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Johnny Podres. Perranoski was 16-3 with 21 saves for the Dodgers in 1963.

But that kind of offense was enough for a team that featured Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Johnny Podres in its starting rotation. And even though those three starters accounted for 47 complete games in 1963, the Dodgers’ success also came from a solid bullpen, led by a left-hander who won 16 games in relief in 1963, Ron Perranoski.

Signed off the Michigan State University campus by the Chicago Cubs, Perranoski was traded to the Dodgers in 1960. (While attending Michigan State University, he was a teammate of Dick Radatz, the ace reliever for the Boston Red Sox in the mid-1960s.)

Perranoski made the Dodgers’ squad in 1961, appearing in 53 games (including the only start of his career), and going 7-5 with six saves and a 2.65 ERA. He established himself as the Dodgers’ closer in 1962, appearing in 70 games and finishing 39 of them, with 20 saves and a 2.85 ERA.

After eight seasons with the Dodgers, Ron Perranoski was traded to the Minnesota Twins and led the American League with 31 saves in 1969 and 34 saves in 1970.

After eight seasons with the Dodgers, Ron Perranoski was traded to the Minnesota Twins and led the American League with 31 saves in 1969 and 34 saves in 1970.

In 1963, Perranoski had a career year, with a 16-3 record and 21 saves with a 1.67 earned run average. He appeared only once in the World Series, shutting down the New York Yankees in the bottom of the ninth to earn a save in preserving a 4-1 victory for the Dodgers and Podres. (Every other game was a complete-game victory for the Dodgers’ starter.)

Over the next four years, Perranoski appeared in 256 games for the Dodgers, saving 54 while going 23-27 with a 2.73 ERA. He was traded to the Minnesota Twins following the 1967 season, and saved 65 games for the Twins over the next two years, leading the American League in that category both seasons. His performance tailed off sharply after that, and Perranoski retired in 1973 after 13 seasons.

His 179 career saves made him the all-time leader among left-handers at the time of his retirement. Today his save total still leaves him ninth on the all-time list among left-handed relievers. His 16 wins in relief in 1963 tied him with Philadelphia’s Jim Konstanty for the second highest total in a season. (Roy Face set the record with 18 relief wins in 1959, a record that still stands.)

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Astros Ace

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Larry Dierker

Right-hander Larry Dierker was the first Houston Astros pitcher to win 20 games in a season. He retired after 13 seasons in Houston with the most wins (137) in the history of the franchise. (He remains second all-time in Houston victories to Joe Niekro.)

With a 20-13 record in 1969, Larry Dierker became the first 20-game winner in the history of the Houston Astros.

With a 20-13 record in 1969, Larry Dierker became the first 20-game winner in the history of the Houston Astros.

Dierker was signed by Houston in 1964 while he was still 17 years old, and he debuted with the big league team at the end of the 1964 season. He pitched in only nine games in the minor leagues.

Dierker was a starter from the beginning of his major league career. He was 7-8 with a 3.50 ERA in 1965 and 10-8 with a 3.18 ERA in 1966. Injuries limited him to 6-5 in 1967, but he was 12-15 with a 3.31 ERA in 1968 and was 20-13 with a 2.33 ERA in 1969. His 20 complete games and 305.1 innings pitched are still franchise records. At the close of the 1960s, the 22-year-old Dierker already had accumulated 55 major league victories.

From 1970 through 1976, Dierker was 82-67 with a 3.49 ERA. He averaged 188 inning pitched per season, an average slightly skewed down by the mere 27 innings Dierker pitched in 1973. He was the Astros’ workhorse and the team’s ace for more than a decade.

Larry Dierker averaged 15 victories per season for the Astros from 1968-1972.

Larry Dierker averaged 15 victories per season for the Astros from 1968-1972.

In November of 1976, Dierker was traded with Jerry DaVanon to the St. Louis Cardinals for Bob Detherage and Joe Ferguson. He appeared in only 11 games for the Cardinals in 1977, going 2-6 with a 4.58 ERA. The Cardinals released him after the season, and he retired as a player, though he returned to Houston 20 years later for a highly successful five-season tour as the team’s manager.

Dierker finished with a career record of 139-123. His career earned run average was 3.31. He pitched 2,333.2 innings including 106 complete games and 25 shutouts. Dierker was a member of the National League All-Star team in 1969 and 1971.

 

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In 1963, It Pays to Be Mays

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(January 15, 1963) The San Francisco Giants today made outfielder Willie Mays the highest-paid player in baseball.

Willie Mays became baseball’s highest-paid player in 1963 at $105,000.

Willie Mays became baseball’s highest-paid player in 1963 at $105,000.

The new contract will pay Mays $105,000 for the 1963 season.

What did the Giants get for that money? In 1963, Mays would hit .314 with 38 home runs and 103 RBIs, one of his “lesser” offensive seasons during the early 1960s.

Maybe that’s why Mays didn’t get a raise after the 1963 season. Mays would earn the same $105,000 salary in 1964 and in 1965. In both those seasons, he would lead the National League in home runs with 47 in 1964 and with a career-high 52 in 1965, the year he would be named National League Most Valuable Player.

For those efforts, Mays would finally earn another raise – to $125,000 for the 1966 season. He would continue to earn $125,000 per season through 1970.

Today the minimum salary for major league baseball players is $507,500.

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Workhorse Tiger

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Mickey Lolich

Every pitching staff can use a Mickey Lolich: lots of innings, lots of strikeouts, lots of wins. He’s the workhorse who keeps the pitching staff anchored. And on occasion, he rises to moments of true greatness, as Lolich did in October of 1968.

Mickey Lolich won 207 games in 13 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, the most in franchise history.

Mickey Lolich won 207 games in 13 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, the most in franchise history.

Lolich was signed by the Detroit Tigers in 1958 and was promoted to the big league club in 1963. He went 18-9 for the Tigers in 1964, and followed with a 15-9 campaign in 1965. After a pair of 14-victory seasons, Lolich went 17-9 during the Tigers’ pennant-winning 1968 season. But in the season when Detroit’s Denny McLain won 31 games, Lolich emerged as the Tigers’ other ace during the 1968 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Lolich went 3-0 in the Series, with three complete games and a 1.67 ERA. He struck out 21 batters in 27 innings, and even hit a home run in Game Two … the only home run of his 16-year career. Lolich was selected as the 1968 World Series Most Valuable Player.

From 1964 through 1974, Lolich never won fewer than 14 games or pitched fewer than 200 innings. Four times during that period, he pitched over 300 innings in a season and was twice a 20-game winner, with a 25-14 record in 1971 and 22-14 in 1972. In 1971, Lolich led the American League in victories, games started (45), complete games (29), innings pitched (376), and strikeouts (308). He finished second in the voting for the Cy Young award to Vida Blue, whose 24-8 season garnered both the Cy Young and MVP awards.

Mickey Lolich was the Most Valuable Player in the 1968 World Series, winning three complete games with a 1.67 ERA.

Mickey Lolich was the Most Valuable Player in the 1968 World Series, winning three complete games with a 1.67 ERA.

Lolich won 207 games for the Tigers in the 13 seasons that he pitched for them, and then was traded to the New York Mets in 1975 in the deal that brought Rusty Staub to Detroit. His one season in New York, plus two seasons with the San Diego Padres, produced a total of only 10 victories.

Lolich finished his 16-year major league career with a record of 217-195 and a 3.44 earned run average. A three-time All-Star, Lolich leads all American League left-handers in career strikeouts with 2,679, also the most among all Tigers pitchers. He is the Tigers’ career leader in wins and shutouts.

Lolich is third in career strikeouts among all lefthanders, following Steve Carlton and Randy Johnson. He is still the only southpaw to win three complete games in a single World Series.

 

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Quiet Man with a Booming Bat

 

Homer Happy: Felipe Alou

Through the early and mid-1960s, Felipe Alou was a durable player with a productive bat for two of the National League’s best offensive teams: the San Francisco Giants and the Braves in both Milwaukee and Atlanta. In his prime, he consistently hit for average and power, complementing the Hall of Fame sluggers who surrounded him in those teams’ batting orders.

Felipe Alou hit 31 home runs for the Milwaukee Braves in 1965.

Felipe Alou hit 31 home runs for the Milwaukee Braves in 1965.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Alou was signed by the New York Giants in 1955. He made his debut with the San Francisco Giants in 1958 and was a starting outfielder with the Giants by 1961, when he hit .289 with 18 home runs and 52 RBIs. In the Giants’ pennant-winning season of 1962, Alou hit .316 with 25 home runs and 98 RBIs.

Following the 1963 season, Alou was traded with catcher Ed Bailey and pitcher Billy Hoeft to the Milwaukee Braves for catcher Del Crandall and pitchers Bob Hendley and Bob Shaw. After struggling through the 1964 season, he bounced back in 1965, hitting .327 with 31 home runs and 74 RBIs. That season he led the National League in hits (218) and runs (122). He also led the league in hits with 210 in 1968, batting .317.

Felipe Alou’s .327 batting average in 1965 was second in the National League to brother Matty Alou. He led the league in both hits and runs.

Alou’s offensive numbers declined steadily after that, as he made stops in Oakland, New York (Yankees), Montreal and the Milwaukee Brewers, retiring three games into the 1974 season. He was the brother of two other major leaguers, Matty and Jesus, as well as the father of Moises Alou. He spent 14 seasons as a manager for the Montreal Expos and the Giants, and as the Expos’ skipper was named Manager of the Year in 1994.

In 17 major league seasons, Alou batted .286 with 2,101 hits and 206 home runs. His 165 home runs during the 1960s put him at number 32 among major league sluggers of that decade.

 

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