I began paying attention to the White Sox starting pitching rotation right around 1980. That was the season a former Yankee minor league phee-nom named Lamarr Hoyt made his first big league start for Chicago and went an impressive 9-3 in his rookie year. The Yankees had included Hoyt in the package of players they used to acquire shortstop Bucky Dent from the White Sox three seasons earlier and I had kept an eye on Hoyt’s progress ever since.
The Chicago rotation Hoyt joined that season included some very good young pitchers headed by 21-year-old Britt Burns, who led the staff with 15 victories that season. Hoyt and Burns were joined by 22-year-old left-hander Steve Trout and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant, Rich Dotson. Dotson was a 21-year-old rookie at the time, who finished the year with an impressive 12-10 record. Back then, the Yankee rotation by contrast was ancient but still effective, with 39-year-old Luis Tiant, 37-year-old Tommy John and 35-year-old Rudy May helping 29-year-old Ron Guidry win the AL East. Yankee fans like me couldn’t help but notice the young guns being assembled in the Windy City and wish our favorite team was as well-stocked with fresh young arms.
Dotson had a superb start to his sophomore year. By June 9th of the ’81 season, the young right-hander was 7-3 and four of those seven victories were complete game shutouts. Two days later the season stopped when players went on strike. The disruption clearly bothered Dotson, who went just 2-5 during the second half of the split season.
The Cincinnati native would reach his apex as a pro two years later when he went 22-7 to help lead the White Sox to an AL West Division flag. It looked as if he was on his way to becoming one of baseball’s premier right-handed pitchers after he started the ’84 season with 11 wins in his first 15 decisions and made the All Star team. But he fell apart in the second half of that year and the White Sox collapsed in the standings. A circulatory problem was later discovered in Dotson’s throwing shoulder and it limited him to just nine starts in 1985. After two more losing seasons in Chicago, he was traded to the Yankees in November of 1987, for outfielder Dan Pasqua.
Ironically, both Steve Trout and Britt Burns had preceded their former pitching mate to the Bronx in earlier deals and both had failed miserably. Dotson fared better in pinstripes than both of them, winning 12 games for New York in 1988, but his ERA hit five and the Yankees finished in a disappointing fifth place in the AL East. When he continued to struggle the following year, new Yankee manager Dallas Green demoted Dotson to the bullpen and a few weeks later, the pitcher was given his unconditional release. He retired after the 1990 season with a lifetime record of 111-113.
|CHW (10 yrs)||97||95||.505||4.02||254||250||4||50||11||0||1606.0||1594||799||718||156||637||873||1.389|
|NYY (2 yrs)||14||14||.500||5.13||43||38||2||5||0||0||222.2||247||136||127||35||89||91||1.509|
|KCR (1 yr)||0||4||.000||8.48||8||7||1||0||0||0||28.2||43||29||27||3||14||9||1.988|
An on-the-field failure by today’s birthday celebrant, actually left me in tears. Yeah, I know Tom Hanks insisted “there’s no crying in baseball” in the movie “A League of Their Own,” but he wasn’t a six year old at the time, watching his beloved Yankees lose the final game of the 1960 World Series.
In fact, the pitch that Ralph Terry threw to to Bill Mazeroski on that October afternoon in Pittsburgh almost fifty years ago, is the first memory I have of being a Yankee fan. When that ball sailed over the ivy-covered left field wall of old Forbes Field, my tears started flowing. I was more livid with Mazeroski than anybody else. How dare this perennial singles hitter get lucky against the world’s greatest baseball dynasty. And my grudge lasted against the Pirate’s longtime second baseman. When the Veteran’s Committee put him into Baseball’s Hall of Fame years later, I distinctly remember cursing the committee. I was pretty upset with Terry too, but it did not take long for my hostile feelings against the tall right-hander to dissipate.
In 1961, Terry went 16-3 for one of the greatest Yankee teams in history as the Bombers reclaimed the World Championship by beating Cincinnati four games to one, in that year’s World Series. Terry was the loser in the one game the Yankees lost to the Reds so he still wasn’t entirely off my list of “players I was angry at.”
But it was 1962 that forever changed the way I felt about Ralph Terry. First off, he won 23 regular season ball games that year. When you’re a Yankee fan, however, you don’t measure players by their regular season performance. Instead it becomes all about the post season. That year, the Yankees faced a very talented San Francisco Giants team, led by Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, and Juan Marichal.
The series was tied three games apiece. Terry had pitched well in the second game but lost 2-0, his fourth consecutive Series defeat over the past three seasons. He finally broke that skid when he came back to get the win in Game 5 but I’m sure I was feeling pretty nervous when New York Manager, Ralph Houk gave his big righthander the ball to start the seventh and deciding game. Terry pitched brilliantly that day and had held the home team Giants scoreless thru eight innings. In the bottom half of the ninth, with the Yankees leading by just one run, Matty Alou led off with a bunt single. Terry then settled down and struck out Matty’s brother, Felipe and Chuck Hiller. Willie Mays then doubled sending Alou to third with the tying run. The next hitter, Willie McCovey blasted a line drive toward right field. If “Stretch” had hit that ball just a few inches further left or right, Ralph Terry might have officially replaced Bill Mazeroski as my most despised baseball player in history. Fortunately, however, McCovey’s screaming liner was hit directly at Yankee second baseman Bobby Richardson, who after the game admitted he just threw his glove up and luckily snared it. Richardson still claims it was the hardest hit ball he’d ever fielded.
Terry was born in Big Cabin, OK, in 1936. He became a golf pro after his baseball playing days were over and actually competed on the PGA Senior Tour. He shares his January 9th birthday with this former co-owner of the Yankee franchise, this one-time Yankee outfield prospect and this one too.
|NYY (8 yrs)||78||59||.569||3.44||210||161||25||56||14||8||1198.0||1109||515||458||133||270||615||1.151|
|KCA (4 yrs)||18||33||.353||4.03||85||69||4||13||4||2||457.2||457||238||205||60||142||282||1.309|
|NYM (2 yrs)||0||1||.000||4.18||13||1||7||0||0||1||28.0||28||14||13||1||11||19||1.393|
|CLE (1 yr)||11||6||.647||3.69||30||26||1||6||2||0||165.2||154||77||68||22||23||84||1.068|
His real name was Leslie Ambrose Bush and he won 196 regular season games during his seventeen-year big league career that began in 1912. He pitched for seven different Major League teams during that time including the Yankees for three seasons, from 1921 through 1924. During his first year in pinstripes. he won 26 games and lost 7, marking the first and only time the right-hander reached the 20-victory plateau. His performance propelled New York to the team’s second straight AL Pennant that year, but he lost both his starts in the 1922 World Series as the Yankees were swept by the Giants. The following season Bush went 19-15 and earned a victory in that year’s Fall Classic, helping New York to finally beat their inter-city rivals from the Polo Grounds in the third straight postseason match-up of the two teams. When New York failed to make it back to the Series in 1924 and Bush went 17-16, the Yankees then traded this native of Ehime, MN to the Browns for pitcher Urban Shocker. After winning 14 games in his first season in St. Louis the bullets were gone from Bush’s right arm and he won just 11 more games during the final three seasons of his career. Bush died in 1974 at the age of 81.
|PHA (7 yrs)||65||76||.461||3.19||191||124||52||71||15||8||1115.1||1002||506||395||15||499||575||1.346|
|BOS (4 yrs)||46||39||.541||3.25||110||97||11||65||10||4||777.2||781||340||281||16||282||311||1.367|
|NYY (3 yrs)||62||38||.620||3.44||115||91||20||61||6||4||783.0||765||341||299||32||311||297||1.374|
|PIT (2 yrs)||7||8||.467||3.61||24||15||5||9||2||3||117.1||111||59||47||8||40||39||1.287|
|WSH (1 yr)||1||8||.111||6.69||12||11||1||3||0||0||71.1||83||54||53||6||35||27||1.654|
|NYG (1 yr)||1||1||.500||7.50||3||2||1||1||0||0||12.0||18||10||10||1||5||6||1.917|
|SLB (1 yr)||14||14||.500||5.09||33||30||3||15||2||0||208.2||230||129||118||18||91||63||1.538|