Glancing Back, and Remembering Vern Law
A member of the Pittsburgh Pirates for his entire 16-year major league career, Vern Law was a fixture in the Bucs’ starting rotation from the late 1950s through the mid-1960s. He was signed by the Pirates in 1948 and made the big league club in 1950, pitching for two seasons before entering the military.
Law rejoined the Pirates for the 1954 season and was a consistent, “innings-eating” starter. From 1954 through 1960, he averaged nearly 30 starts per season with over 200 innings pitched per year. He posted a combined 3.69 ERA during that period. Law blossomed in 1959, winning 18 games while completing 20 with a 2.98 ERA.
In 1960, Law was baseball’s best pitcher, winning the Cy Young award with a 20-9 record and a 3.08 ERA. He led the majors with 18 complete games that season, and won two games in the 1960 World Series. Injuries slowed him over the next three seasons, when he posted a combined 17-16 record and averaged only 92 innings per season. But he came back to win 12 games in 1964 and 17 games in 1965. His 2.15 ERA in 1965 was the best of his career and third best in the National League behind Sandy Koufax (2.04) and Juan Marichal (2.13).
In 1966, at age 36, Law was 12-8 and pitched 177.2 innings. But his 4.05 ERA was the highest of any full season in his career. He retired after the 1967 season with a career record of 162-147 and a career ERA of 3.77. For the Pirate franchise, Law ranks seventh all-time in victories and shutouts (28).