Superduperswingmen (Part 3:  1950-1970)

This series tips the THT cap in honor of the Swingman, the pitcher who pivots from the starting rotation to the bullpen and back. This pitching role eschews the comfort zone of specialization, yet emerges as something of a specialist itself, simply because not every pitcher has the flexibility demanded by this double-duty assignment. The Swingman is too often an unsung hero, making a greater contribution to team success than his individual stats might suggest, due to his capacity to handle tasks that would otherwise require two or more pitchers to fulfill.

The term Swingman traditionally has been applied to any pitcher who frequently works as both a starter and a reliever, but here we’re recognizing the most prolific of these practitioners. We define a Superswingman as:

{exp:list_maker}A pitcher who appears in 40 or more games in a season
Among those 40 games, at least 15 must be starts and at least 15 must be relief appearances {/exp:list_maker}A pitcher who presents more than one such season in his career earns the exalted title of Superduperswingman.

Our first two chapters have profiled the Superduperswingmen of 1900-1930 and 1930-1950. This time we’ll be focusing on the period in which specialized bullpen roles came into full fruition, and the set starting rotation increasingly became the norm, both factors that would to reduce the prevalence of Swingman deployment—yet as we’ll see, the role not only persisted, but was performed by several highly successful pitchers.

Johnny Klippstein

One of the harder throwers in the league, and possessor of a wicked curve as well, through the 1950s Klippstein was given chance after chance by the Cubs and then the Reds to step forward as a front-line starter. But unable to find the strike zone consistently, Klippstein couldn’t translate stuff into effectiveness, and through this period his career was largely an exercise in frustration.

In his 30s, Klippstein would be converted to a full-time reliever, and while his success remained up-and-down—in the modern parlance, “location” would forever be a challenge for him—Klippstein would deliver a few first-rate seasons in that role. Given that, it might seem that in his years as a swingman Klippstein might have been distinctly more effective in his relief assignments than as a starter, but that really wasn’t the case. In two of the three seasons we see here, Klippstein had a better ERA as a starter than as a reliever, and in 1957 his relief ERA was a ghastly 6.12 in 43 innings.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1952 CHC        24   41   25    7    2   16   10    3    9   14  203  208   17   89  110 4.44   87
1953 CHC        25   48   19    5    0   29   21    6   10   11  168  169   15  107  113 4.83   92
1957 CIN        29   46   18    3    1   28    9    3    8   11  146  146   17   68   99 5.05   81

Stu Miller

This little guy, on the other hand, didn’t throw hard at all. He always had fine control, but his repertoire was a smoke-and-mirrors array of herky-jerky head fakes and taking something off the change-up and then taking something more off it. As such, it isn’t surprising that it took quite a while for Miller to master his artful technique and move beyond novelty-act journeyman status and emerge as a star. The two seasons we see here provide an aptly vivid contrast between the struggling early-career Miller and the later version that drove hitters nuts.

The turning point for Miller was precisely the 1958 season below, in which he suddenly burst out of mediocrity to lead the league in ERA. In his 21 relief appearances in 1958, Miller delivered an ERA of, get this, 0.81 in 44.1 innings. Is it any surprise that he quickly thereafter became a relief specialist, and one of the best in the game?

Teammate Dick Hall:

Stu Miller had the best change-up ever. He held it just like a fastball, and right at the last second he was able to break his wrist backwards so he had that real good fastball arm motion, and the ball had a fastball spin, but it never got there. They’d sit around waiting for the change-up, but it took so long to get there that they went on and swung anyway.

Miller’s exceptional skill at changing speeds and keeping hitters off-balance produced a consistently healthy strikeout rate, despite high-end velocity that was better measured by an hourglass than a radar gun. In every regard, the modern pitcher whose style Miller clearly compares with is Trevor Hoffman.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1953 STL        25   40   18    8    2   22   10    4    7    8  138  161   19   47   79 5.56   76
1958 SFG        30   41   20    4    1   21    7    0    6    9  182  160   16   49  119 2.47  153

Art Fowler

One of the longest and most intriguing careers in the history of professional baseball contained several distinct phases.

Before he reached the big leagues Fowler spent a full decade toiling in the minors, where he won 120 games. Finally arriving in the majors as a fully formed veteran, Fowler spent several seasons providing solid work as the durable, versatile Swingman we see below.

But at the age of 34, in 1957, he encountered a bad year, and as he bounced around from majors to minors over the next few seasons it appeared that the end of the line was very near. But then, in May of 1961, the first-year expansion Angels took a chance on him, and the 38-year-old Fowler was reborn as a dependable major league reliever. His exploits with that famously rambunctious crew in Los Angeles in the early 1960s (let’s just say they were baseball’s version of the Rat Pack) are delightfully chronicled in Danny Peary’s oral history, We Played the Game.

As an active pitcher, Fowler in 1964 also was named pitching coach by Angels manager Bill Rigney. But that didn’t last long; he was let go by the Angels in May of that season. Not yet ready to retire, Fowler signed with the Denver Bears of the Pacific Coast League. Deep into his 40s, Fowler spent several more years as an effective Triple-A relief pitcher.

In mid-1968, Billy Martin took over as the Denver manager, and he and Fowler became close friends. Martin embraced Fowler as an ideal pitching coach (and drinking buddy), and in that capacity Fowler would follow Martin for the next couple of decades: with the Twins in 1969, the Tigers in 1971-73, the Rangers in 1973-75, the Yankees in 1977-79, the Athletics in 1980-82 and the Yankees again in 1983 and 1988. In his nearly half-century in baseball, Fowler never missed a party, yet unlike Martin he would make it to the ripe old age of 84.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1955 CIN        32   46   28    8    3   18    9    2   11   10  208  198   20   63   94 3.90  107
1956 CIN        33   45   23    8    0   22    9    1   11   11  178  191   15   35   86 4.05   97

Brooks Lawrence

Lawrence was not your average tobacco-chewing 1950s baseball player. He spent most of his spare time reading: his favorites included Hemingway …

He also saw both sides of baseball’s effort to integrate. “It was a two-way street,” he said. “It was a totally new experience for the white players too.” As a veteran, he discouraged black teammates from bunching together in locker rooms. “If we keep huddled up, we’re not going to learn anything, and the people around us aren’t going to learn anything.”

Lawrence railed against the discrimination he endured, especially during spring training in Florida. “We can go to the dog races, if we sit in a special section set aside for us,” he said. “The only distinction they don’t make is the color of our money …. a man would have to be out of his mind to bring a wife and children down here and expose them to this sort of treatment.”

Lawrence emerged as the ace of the Cincinnati staff in 1956-57, and as we see, manager Birdie Tebbetts deployed him in the old-fashioned manner of aces in the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s: taking a regular turn as a starter, but also coming out of the bullpen in high-leverage situations.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1956 CIN        31   49   30   11    1   19   12    0   19   10  219  210   26   71   96 3.99   98
1957 CIN        32   49   32   12    1   17   10    4   16   13  250  234   26   76  121 3.52  116
1958 CIN        33   46   23    6    2   23   13    5    8   13  181  194   12   55   74 4.13  101

Dean Stone

As a rookie in 1954, Stone had made the All-Star team. But as we see, things steadily unraveled after that, as Stone’s control evaporated.

Struggling or not, southpaws with intriguing stuff will keep getting chances, and Stone would be given a try by several organizations. But he never again established himself as a consistently effective major leaguer.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1955 WSH        24   43   24    5    1   19    5    1    6   13  180  180   14  114   84 4.15   95
1956 WSH        25   41   21    2    0   20   10    3    5    7  132  148   10   93   86 6.27   66

Ray Narleski

Relief aces in the 1950s were rarely young pitchers. Instead the standard fireman was a wily, grizzled veteran extending his career with a few years as a bullpen specialist.

Cleveland manager Al Lopez bucked that trend in 1954. That season Lopez featured not one but two rookies as ace relievers, and both performed sensationally as the Indians breezed to their phenomenal 111-43 record.

Ideally every team in the majors should have at least two excellent relief pitchers—one left-handed and one right-handed. And ideally each of us should be handsome, charming, intelligent, and rich.

Of course in the real world none of these things is ever going to come to pass, although for three brief years in the early fifties the Cleveland Indians had as close to the perfect relief tandem as any team is likely to come up with. Ray Narleski was the right-hander of the pair and Don Mossi was the left-hander; and the efficiency of their work in the Indian bullpen was only overshadowed by their almost total lack of color and personality out of it.

They always reminded me of two small-town undertakers who, having found the world at large a particularly cold and hardhearted place to do business in, have banded together in a desperate and distrustful partnership for the purposes of mutual self-preservation. Narleski with his sly little-boy grin and the darting, fishy eyes of the small-time criminal handles the customer relations, and Mossi with his loving-cup ears and the dark hulking presence of the newly dead or resurrected does all the dirty work.

Over the years the Indians gave both Narleski and Mossi an increasing proportion of starting assignments along with their bullpen work, and both continued to perform successfully.

Following the 1958 season, Cleveland GM Frank Lane traded the pair to Detroit (in exchange for, interestingly enough, Billy Martin). But there the small-town undertakers would part ways: Narleski immediately imploded, his career skidding to a halt, while Mossi continued to pitch well as both a starter and a reliever into the mid-1960s.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1957 CLE        28   46   15    7    1   31   24   16   11    5  154  136   14   70   93 3.09  121
1958 CLE        29   44   24    7    0   20   11    1   13   10  183  179   21   91  102 4.07   91

Larry Jackson

He was never a superstar—well, maybe he was in 1964, winning 24 games in 298 innings and finishing second in the major-league-wide Cy Young Award vote—but Jackson was among the most consistently dependable and durable pitchers in baseball for a long time.

Before he became a full-time starter, the Cardinals deployed Jackson extensively in the bullpen. In 1956 he was almost exclusively a reliever, and in the two seasons below they continued to call on him in relief as well as in the starting role. Jackson’s combined record as a reliever in 1957-58: 45 games, 96 innings, 9-7 with nine saves and a 2.54 ERA.

Jackson still was pitching as well as ever when he opted to retire from baseball at the age of 37. Handsome, articulate and popular, he operated an insurance company and would become executive director of the Idaho Republican Party in 1972. He eventually served eight years in the Idaho state legislature, and in 1978 Jackson made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination for governor. He died of cancer at the age of 59.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1957 STL        26   41   22    6    2   19   11    1   15    9  210  196   21   57   96 3.47  115
1958 STL        27   49   23   11    1   26   16    8   13   13  198  211   21   51  124 3.68  113

Billy O’Dell

Signed as a bonus baby out of Clemson University, O’Dell never spent a day in the minor leagues. He always was liberally deployed as both a starter and a reliever, and while he thrived in both roles, in relief O’Dell tended to be especially effective. His aggregate record in 69 games and 140 innings out of the bullpen from 1957 through 1960 was a won-lost record of just 5-9, but with 15 saves and an ERA of 2.45.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1958 BAL        26   41   25   12    3   16   12    8   14   11  221  201   13   51  137 2.97  121
1960 SFG        28   43   24    6    1   19    6    2    8   13  203  198   16   72  145 3.20  109

Glen Hobbie

Hobbie was part of a group of highly impressive young pitchers the Cubs brought to the majors in the late ’50s/early ’60s, that included Moe Drabowsky, Dick Drott, Bob Anderson and Dick Ellsworth. But for all their promise, this quintet would achieve a mixed bag of major league success.

In Hobbie’s case at least, the fizzle might be traced to the enormous workload the Cubs saddled him with as a youngster. Following the workhorse swingman 1958 season we see below, in 1959 and ’60 Hobbie would make 69 starts and 23 relief appearances, totaling 493 innings and allowing 679 baserunners at ages 23-24.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1958 CHC        22   55   16    2    1   39   21    2   10    6  168  163   13   93   91 3.74  105
1962 CHC        26   42   23    5    0   19   12    0    5   14  162  198   19   62   87 5.22   79

Bob Shaw

A knockabout control-artist journeyman, Shaw was bedeviled by inconsistency. But when he was good, he could be outstanding, as in the seasons we see below. As a reliever in these two years, Shaw worked 53 games and 99 innings, and went 6-5 with 16 saves and a 1.64 ERA.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1959 CHW        26   47   26    8    3   21   12    3   18    6  231  217   15   54   89 2.69  141
1963 MLN        30   48   16    3    3   32   27   13    7   11  159  144   10   55  105 2.66  121

Mike McCormick

By the late 1950s, the concept of drawing a clear line through the pitching staff, with full-time starters working in regular rotation on one side, and full-time relievers on the other, was beginning to take hold in the majors. But it was by no means universal.

Bill Rigney’s handling of the Giants’ staff in 1958-59 was particularly old-school in this regard. In ’58, Rigney’s top three starters Johnny Antonelli, Ruben Gomez and McCormick combined for 92 starts, but they also made 33 relief appearances and had five saves. And in 1959, Antonelli, McCormick, Sam Jones and Jack Sanford made 135 starts and 38 relief appearances, finished 24 games and had 10 saves.

McCormick was an exceptionally young pitcher to be ridden this hard, and in the early 1960s, just as he was on the verge of breaking out as a big star, he would be felled by a sore arm. But McCormick battled his way through the arm trouble, resurfacing with the Senators as a screwball specialist and demonstrating outstanding control. In 32 innings as a reliever in 1965, he allowed just 18 hits and seven walks, striking out 30 and flashing an ERA of 1.41.

McCormick would return to the Giants and cap off the comeback with a Cy Young Award-winning season in 1967.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1959 SFG        20   47   31    7    3   16    9    4   12   16  226  213   24   86  151 3.99   95
1965 WSA        26   44   21    3    1   23    8    1    8    8  158  158   17   36   88 3.36  103

Frank Sullivan

Sullivan, 6-foot-6, had been a full-time starter, and a star, in the mid-’50s. But in his decline phase he was a Swingman, and taking some lumps for tail-ender teams.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1960 BOS        30   40   22    4    0   18    4    1    6   16  154  164   12   52   98 5.10   78
1961 PHI        31   49   18    1    1   31   19    6    3   16  159  161   19   55  114 4.29   95

Frank Baumann

A pleasant surprise for the White Sox in 1960, the sinkerballing Baumann led the league in ERA. But things went the other way for him in a hurry; the next season his home run rate doubled and his BABIP leapt from .261 to .329.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1960 CHW        26   47   20    7    2   27   10    3   13    6  185  169   11   53   71 2.67  142
1961 CHW        27   53   23    5    1   30   13    3   10   13  188  249   22   59   75 5.61   70

Don Lee

His dad Thornton Lee was one of the better pitchers in the American League in the late 1930s and early 1940s. But Don was just a hardworking journeyman.

Don was born in Globe, Ariz., in 1934. If you’ve ever been to Globe, then like me you might be wondering just what sort of a place that rough-and-tumble mountain mining town must have been in 1934.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1960 WSH        26   44   20    1    0   24   10    3    8    7  165  160   16   64   88 3.44  115
1963 LAA        29   40   22    3    2   18    4    1    8   11  154  148   12   51   89 3.68   93

Dick Stigman

A big, strong southpaw who always racked up impressive strikeout rates, Stigman never was able to quite turn the corner into sustained major league effectiveness. In the Georgia State League in 1956, Stigman had gone 17-9 with a 1.44 ERA and 263 strikeouts in 213 innings.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1960 CLE        24   41   18    3    0   23   16    9    5   11  134  118   13   87  104 4.51   83
1962 MIN        26   40   15    6    0   25   14    3   12    5  143  122   19   64  116 3.66  112

Barry Latman

Kind of in the same boat as his teammate Stigman, this hard-throwing right hander out of USC continually was expected to step forward as a star. The Indians had surrendered Herb Score to get him in trade, and the Angels then would offer up Leon Wagner, but Latman never would make it out of the journeyman ranks.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1961 CLE        25   45   18    4    2   27   12    5   13    5  177  163   23   54  108 4.02   98
1962 CLE        26   45   21    7    1   24   11    5    8   13  179  179   23   72  117 4.17   92
1964 LAA        28   40   18    2    1   22   11    2    6   10  138  128   15   52   81 3.85   85

Jack Hamilton

Yet another in the category of guys with an impressive fastball but able to find only intermittent success in the majors. Hamilton’s struggles with control were monumental; in one season in the minors, he struck out 225 but walked 156 in 190 innings. It was Hamilton’s great misfortune to be the pitcher whose errant fastball struck down Tony Conigliaro in 1967.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1962 PHI        23   41   26    4    1   15    8    2    9   12  182  185   18  107  101 5.09   76
1967 NYM-CAL    28   43   21    0    0   22   10    1   11    6  151  128    8   79   96 3.35   94

Dean Chance

A sidearmer with a sinking fastball and a sweeping curve, Chance was among the better pitchers in baseball through the mid-1960s. It was Chance, in fact, who beat out Larry Jackson for the MLB-wide Cy Young Award in 1964.

Angels manager Rigney continued his practice of bringing his starters out of the bullpen in between starts; he would be one of the last managers to employ this practice liberally. In 1963-64, Rigney deployed Chance in essentially the same manner as such aces as Lefty Grove, Carl Hubbell and Dizzy Dean in the 1930s: Chance made 70 starts in those two seasons, but also 21 relief appearances in which he was 4-2 with 7 saves and a 1.80 ERA.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1962 LAA        21   50   24    6    2   26   16    8   14   10  207  195   14   66  127 2.96  130
1970 CLE-NYM    29   48   19    1    1   29   16    5    9    9  157  175   18   61  109 4.36   90

Gaylord Perry

The Giants had signed the teenaged Perry in 1958 to a lavish bonus; only a relaxation of the bonus baby rules allowed them to farm him out. But Perry’s progress hadn’t been as dramatic as hoped. At the conclusion of the 1963 season he was 25 years old and had been in pro ball for six years, but had only delivered 119 major league innings with a 4-7 record and a 4.46 ERA. Perry’s brother Jim, just two years older but long established as a solid major leaguer, once made the less-than-brotherly crack that “Gaylord got the money, but I got the talent.”

As of Memorial Day in 1964, things still weren’t looking up for Gaylord. He’d made just one start on the season, had appeared in only eight games overall, and had a 4.76 ERA in 17 innings. The second game of the holiday doubleheader went into deep extra innings, and with their bullpen depleted the Giants turned to Perry in the bottom of the 13th. He notched a scoreless inning, then another. Then another and another as the Giants and Mets traded goose eggs long into the night.

Perry ended up delivering 10 innings of shutout relief, striking out nine, and earned the win as the Giants finally broke the tie in the 23rd inning. Legend has it that Perry, feeling he had nothing to lose, in this game tried out a new pitch he’d been taught by his cagey veteran teammate Bob Shaw, whom we met above: the greaseball.

Whether that’s the case or not, the game was a turning point for Perry. He would proceed to deliver the highly impressive Superswingman season we see below. The following year, deployed in the same manner, he’d struggle a bit, but in the season following that Perry would earn a spot in the regular starting rotation and break through as a star.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1964 SFG        25   44   19    5    2   25   11    5   12   11  206  179   16   43  155 2.75  130
1965 SFG        26   47   26    6    0   21    8    1    8   12  196  194   21   70  170 4.19   86

Ron Herbel

Into the mid-1960s, it still wasn’t uncommon for teams to eschew a hard rotation; here we see the Giants deploying teammates Perry and Herbel in old-fashioned ad-lib starter-reliever fashion.

Herbel was an unremarkable journeyman as a pitcher. But he rapidly gained great renown as one of the least capable hitters in major league history. In his rookie season of 1964 Herbel went a cool 0-for-47 at the plate, with 30 strikeouts. He would finally get his first hit (an RBI single) in May of 1965 after 55 hitless major league at-bats. For his career Herbel would go 6-for-206 (an .029 average) with three runs batted in, eight total bases, eight walks, and 125 strikeouts. His career OPS+ was -70.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1964 SFG        26   40   22    7    2   18    8    1    9    9  161  162    7   61   98 3.07  116
1965 SFG        27   47   21    1    0   26   10    1   12    9  171  172   16   47  106 3.85   94

Luis Tiant

Few performers have ever experienced Tiant’s high highs and low lows. Forget a roller-coaster ride; Tiant’s career arc resembled the manic endeavors of a drunk stunt pilot with a sticky throttle.

In the minors, Tiant would endure a harrowing season in which he went 5-19 with a 5.92 ERA, but a few years later he was flying at 15-1 with a 2.04 ERA in Triple-A, earning a midseason call-up to the majors. Tiant would find clear blue skies in the big leagues, going 19-7 with a 3.00 ERA in his first 12 months, but then nosedived into a 2-8, 4.05 slump.

He arrested the sudden descent with the outstanding 1966 Superswingman performance we see below, which would allow Tiant to regain full-time starter status and attain major stardom. But after soaring success, Tiant would stall out and nearly crash and burn, plummeting to a 9-20 record in one season and 1-7 in another, finding himself released and back in the minors. But he re-established his bearings with the scintillating 1972 Superswingman effort, and once he made it back to the top a second time, Tiant was finally able to stabilize and cruise to 229 victories.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1966 CLE        25   46   16    7    5   30   22    8   12   11  155  121   16   50  145 2.79  123
1972 BOS        31   43   19   12    6   24   12    3   15    6  179  128    7   65  123 1.91  170

Stan Williams

Another guy who resurrected his career from dead-arm, back-to-the-minors oblivion, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Williams turned in back-to-back strong-as-an-ox whatever-it-takes seasons for the Indians. The Twins then acquired him in a trade (along with, incidentally, Tiant), and deployed him as a relief specialist, a role in which Williams in 1970 would produce a glittering 10-1, 15-save, 191 ERA+ performance in 68 games and 113 innings.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1968 CLE        31   44   24    6    2   20   16    9   13   11  194  163   14   51  147 2.50  119
1969 CLE        32   61   15    3    0   46   26   12    6   14  178  155   25   67  139 3.94   95

Diego Segui

Deployed by the A’s in nearly the exact same manner five seasons apart, Segui achieved dramatically different results. The two seasons vividly symbolize the 20-something Segui, with impressive stuff but lacking the finer points of consistent command, versus the 30-something Segui, who transformed himself from “thrower” into “pitcher” and was efficiently effective in both bullpen and spot starting assignments into the mid-1970s.

Segui led the league in ERA as a Superswingman in 1970, a feat achieved by three others on this list: Stu Miller (1958), Frank Baumann (1960) and Luis Tiant (1972).

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1965 KCA        27   40   25    5    1   15    2    0    5   15  163  166   18   67  119 4.64   75
1970 OAK        32   47   19    3    2   28   14    2   10   10  162  130    9   68   95 2.56  138

Lew Krausse

Charlie Finley signed Krausse upon his high school graduation in 1961, and immediately assigned him to the big club. Krausse responded with a complete-game three-hit shutout in his first game, but reality quickly set in, as unsurprisingly Krausse proved to be not ready for the majors.

He was sent to the minors, and following several years of development would make it back. He’d never be especially good, but Krausse was good enough to deliver several useful seasons as an innings-eating Swingman. The pointlessness of bringing up a high-schooler too soon wouldn’t faze Finley, though; he’d essentially repeat the same stunt with Mike Morgan in the late 1970s.

Year Team      Age    G   GS   CG  SHO   GR   GF   SV    W    L   IP    H   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
1967 KCA        24   48   19    0    0   29   16    6    7   17  160  140   17   67   96 4.28   75
1969 OAK        26   43   16    4    2   27   15    7    7    7  140  134   23   48   85 4.44   78
1971 MIL        28   43   22    1    0   21    4    0    8   12  180  164   23   62   92 2.94  118

Next installment

The superduperswingmen from the 1970s up to the current day.

References & Resources
The info on pitchers’ repertoires, including the Dick Hall quote on Stu Miller, comes from Bill James and Rob Neyer, The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers, New York: Fireside, 2004.

Danny Peary, We Played the Game, New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 1994.

The Brooks Lawrence quote comes from Larry Moffi and Jonathan Kronstadt, Crossing the Line: Black Major Leaguers, 1947-1959, Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1994, pp. 114-115.

The Ray Narleski-Don Mossi observation is from Brendan C. Boyd and Fred C. Harris, The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading, and Bubble Gum Book, Boston: Little, Brown, 1973, p. 64.

Print Friendly
 Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Google+0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone
« Previous: Anatomy of a player: Scott Kazmir
Next: TUCK sez: Sheffield served »

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current ye@r *