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.
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.
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.