Oh, What a Relief: Ted Abernathy
In boxing, the belt is a boundary that is out of bounds for any punch. Hence, the prohibition against “hitting below the belt.” Continue reading
Oh, What a Relief: Jim Coates
In both starting and relieving roles, Jim Coates was a critical component in the New York Yankees’ pitching success from 1960 to 1962. Effective in both roles, he wasn’t afraid of pitching tight to batters. And he was tough in the face of adversity, on the mound and in his career. Continue reading
Oh, What a Relief: Jack Baldschun
As baseball entered the 1960s, the National League’s worst team (pre-expansion) was indisputably the Philadelphia Phillies. The National League champs in 1950, the Phillies had fallen to the bottom of the standings by 1958 and stayed there through 1961, spared in 1962 only by the arrival of the New York Mets and the Houston Colt .45s, as well as the decline of the Chicago Cubs. Continue reading
Oh, What a Relief: Ed Roebuck
For 11 major league seasons, Ed Roebuck was a stellar relief pitcher for three different teams. In 460 big league appearances, he made only one start (in 1957).
Roebuck was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949. He spent six years in the Dodgers’ farm system, finding moderate success as a reliever before pitching as a starter and reliever at the AAA level, winning 15 games in 1953 and 18 games in 1954.
When Roebuck was promoted to the Dodgers’ pitching staff in 1955, he began his major league career in relief, going 5-6 with a 4.61 ERA. He appeared in 47 games for the Dodgers, finishing 27 with 12 saves (second in the National League). He pitched in the sixth game of the 1955 World Series, tossing two innings of scoreless, one-hit relief. He was 8-2 with a 2.71 ERA in 1957, and was 0-1 with a 3.48 ERA and five saves in 1958.
In 1959, Roebuck was sent back to the minors, where he pitched exclusively as a starter at St. Paul in the American Association. He went 13-10 with a 2.98 ERA in 28 starts. Then he found himself back on the Dodgers’ roster in 1960, going 8-3 with a 2.78 ERA in 58 appearances … all in relief. He made only five appearances in 1961, but teamed with left-hander Ron Perranoski to form one of the most effective relief tandems in baseball in 1962. As the right-handed half of that pair, Roebuck appeared in 64 games with a 10-2 record and a 3.09 ERA. He finished 22 games and saved nine. Together, Roebuck and Perranoski combined for a 16-8 record with 29 saves.
In 1963, Roebuck opened the season with the Dodgers but was traded at the end of July to the Washington Senators for Marv Breeding. Roebuck was a combined 4-5 with four saves and a 3.69 ERA for 1963.
In April of 1964 Roebuck was purchased by the Philadelphia Phillies and went 5-3 with a 2.21 ERA and 12 saves for the Phillies. He was 5-3 with three saves in 1965, and appeared in six games in 1966 before being released by Philadelphia. He caught on with San Diego in the Pacific Coast League for a season and a half before retiring as a player after the 1967 season.
Roebuck finished his major league career at 52-31 for a .627 winning percentage. His career ERA was 3.35 with 62 saves.
Oh, What a Relief: Terry Fox
Terry Fox came to the Detroit Tigers in 1960 in a multi-player trade that sent Dick Brown, Bill Bruton and Chuck Cottier to Detroit in exchange for Frank Bolling and Neil Chrisley (named later) going to the Milwaukee Braves.
Fox turned out to be the “steal” in the deal. Over the next five seasons, he developed into a consistently effective reliever for the Tigers, a bullpen ace who posted winning records in each of those seasons and led the team in saves four out of those five years.
Fox was acquired by the Braves some time before 1956 and toiled in their farm system for four years before making his major league debut in 1959. He pitched in five games with no decisions and a 4.52 earned run average in his rookie season.
In 1960, his first season in Detroit, Fox went 5-2 in 39 appearances, with a 1.41 ERA and 12 saves. In 1962 he went 3-1 in 44 games, with 16 saves (third in the American League) and a 1.71 ERA.
In 1963, Fox led the Tigers in pitching appearances (46) and saves (11), while his 8-6 record made him fourth on the team in wins. In 1964, he became the “forgotten” man in the Tigers’ bullpen with only 32 appearances as Larry Sherry and Fred Gladding took over as the team’s closers. Fox went 4-3 with a 3.39 ERA and only five saves in 1964. He was 6-4 with a 2.78 ERA in 1965, again leading the team with 10 saves.
After making four appearances at the start of the 1966 season, Fox was purchased by the Philadelphia Phillies. He pitched for one season in Philadelphia, going 3-2 with a 4.47 ERA and four saves.
He retired after the 1966 season with a career record of 29-19 with a 2.99 career ERA. He appeared in 248 games in a 7-year major league career, closing 145 games with 59 saves.