Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mountain Men

I’m really curious how this became a fashion around the end of the decade. Was baseball particularly popular in the Ozarks during this time?  Did some scout make a name for himself by sweeping the remote hollows of West Virginia for talent? Or did some GM discover that guys raised by wolves in Montana just so happen to have particularly strong throwing arms? 

Honestly, what gives here?

Now Richmond, Texas (where Tom’s from) is right outside Houston. Funny, though, I don’t recall any mountains in that area. 

Pat Zachry’s career started out with a major bang. I’m talking 14-7 record, 2.74 ERA, two post-season victories, and sharing the NL Rookie of the Year award (with the immortal Butch Metzger no less!).

Unfortunately, it all went downhill from there. For the rest of his career, Pat would go 55-60, with a 3.71 ERA. He would also lead the league in losses in 1981.

Okay, okay. If your nickname’s “The Mad Hungarian,” I guess you can get away with – even be expected to go with – this kind of look. I still think the fu manchu looked so much better though.

I’ll bet a lot of folks don’t remember Al Hrabosky was anything other than a Cardinal. He was, however, the Royals closer for a couple of years. 

I’m sure we all remember his antics on the mound though. But here’s a link, just in case – happy birthday, Al! Needless to say, there’s plenty more out there on the YouTubes where that one came from.

Now, Roy here just so happens to be from Lompoc, CA. Funny, though, I just don’t associate anywhere in California with hillbillies.

Roy Howell’s been here before, where we admired some particularly groovy shades he was sporting as well as discussing some of his stats. Here are a couple of career highlights I neglected to share at that time:

  • Was the fourth overall pick in the ’72 draft
  • Set a Blue Jay record for RBIs in a game, with 9
  • Was a one-time All Star

Oh heck!  Is this an '81?  Ah well. This really was something that cut right across the decades.

Another California hillbilly (Corona). Who woulda thunk it?

Doug Bird kicked around the majors for 11 years, bouncing back and forth between starter and reliever. He did finish with 60 saves, to go along with 73 victories against 60 loses total. Wikipedia, though, says that Bird is “most known for surrendering a two-run homer to Thurman Munson in the 8th inning of Game Three during the 1978 ALCS.”

Most of Bird’s time was actually spent with the Royals, and this site has him finishing as the #43 Royal of all time. BTW, the #43 Yankee of all time includes – depending on what list you’re looking at – two Hall of Famers, Herb Pennock and Jack Chesbro. Hmm, I guess the Yankees just had a little bit more to work with.

It’s an ’82, but is still pretty darn great. And a Hall of Famer to boot.

Bruce Sutter was only the fourth reliever to be inducted into the Hall. Can you name the first three? (Answers below)

Some highlights from Sutter’s career include:

  • Being the first pitcher to effectively throw the split-finger fastball
  • Leading the league in saves five times
  • Winning a Cy Young award
  • Going to the All Star game five times
  • Tying the record for most saves in a season
  • Throwing over 100 innings in relief five times
  • Retiring with 300 saves, the third most overall at the time

Click here for a very different look.

Another 80s – and a Donruss – but, dang, what a classic!

Jim Kern was a fairly decent reliever. He was a three-time All Star, going 13-5 with a 1.57 ERA and 29 saves and finishing fourth in Cy Young Award balloting for one of those years. Overall, he was up for 13 years, finishing with a 3.32 ERA and 88 saves.

And here's Jim with a very different look.

Apologies to Jayson Werth, but you weren’t even born when these guys were rockin’ it, kid!

Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley

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