Me, Elsewhere: Freisleben’s No-No and Other Bits of Minor-League History

My latest installment of This Week in Minor League History at Baseball Prospectus includes a look at no-hitters by four pitchers who spent time with the Padres. Mickey Lolich, Fred Norman, and Larry Andersen all came up elsewhere and spun theirs as members of other organizations. Right-hander Dave Freisleben, however, notched his while with the Padres Triple-A affiliate, the Hawaii Islanders.

The Padres selected Freisleben in the fifth round of the 1971 June draft (Andersen, coincidentally, was taken by the Cleveland Indians two rounds later) out of a Texas high school. After going 7-3 in his pro debut for Tri-City of the Northwest League, Freisleben enjoyed a 17-9 showing for Alexandria of the Texas League in 1972. He led the league in wins and also in ERA (2.32). Not bad for a 20-year-old at Double-A.

Freisleben’s skipper for the Aces was Duke Snider, the former Dodgers outfielder who served as Padres color commentator during their inaugural campaign and who recommended they select Cito Gaston in the expansion draft. Freisleben’s teammates on that squad included Johnny Grubb, Mike Ivie, and Randy Jones.

The next year, at Hawaii, Freisleben led the Pacific Coast League with a 2.82 ERA and 206 strikeouts. He finished second to Tucson’s Glenn Abbott with 16 wins. Freisleben made three more starts for the Islanders in 1974 before being recalled to the big club, for whom he went 9-14 with a 3.66 ERA (97 ERA+) at age 22.

Sadly, Freisleben’s rookie campaign would prove to be his best. After that season, among his top comps at Baseball-Reference were Darryl Kile, Pete Smith, and Mudcat Grant. Those three men won 325 big-league games among them. Freisleben won 34 and was finished by age 27.

It is fitting that one of his top career comps is former Padres right-hander Steve Arlin. The two were even teammates in ’74, and both ended up with eerily similar numbers:

            GS    IP  ERA ERA+  H/9 HR/9 BB/9  K/9  W-L
Arlin      123 788.2 4.33  78  9.04 0.70 4.26 5.28 34-67
Freisleben 121 865.1 4.30  83  9.33 0.70 4.47 4.47 34-60

It was almost as if there had been a passing of the torch, from one talented but largely disappointing right-hander to the next. From Freisleben, it passed to Juan Eichelberger, and then to Andy Hawkins. After Hawkins, there was an awkward gap filled briefly by the likes of Ricky Bones and Frank Seminara. Then the relay continued with Joey Hamilton, Matt Clement, Adam Eaton, Justin Germano, Mike Thompson, Josh Geer… It may not be much, but even the humblest traditions deserve to be recognized.

Freisleben’s best game with the Padres came as a rookie, when he spun 13 shutout innings in a 1-0 victory over the Big Red Machine at home on August 4, 1974. Freisleben took a no-decision because his teammates couldn’t score against ex-Padre Clay Kirby and the Cincinnati bullpen until the 14th. That Reds squad won 98 games, behind a lineup that featured Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, and Tony Perez, among many other talented hitters.

Freisleben earned 31 of his 34 big-league victories as a member of the Padres. He headed to Cleveland in a June 1978 trade for left-hander Bill Laxton, then spent the following year in the Toronto bullpen before calling it a career.

Tagged as: , , ,

2 Responses »

  1. Freisleben’s 13-shutout-innings of the Big Red Machine in 1974 ranks as one of the top starts in Padre history! Here’s a few fun facts I dug up about Dave for a Friar Faithful article a couple of years ago …

  2. You have to wonder if Dave F. hurt his arm sometime in 1976 and was never the same thereafter. He began his ’76 campaign on May 24th with two consecutive shutouts (and actually 3 consecutive shutout starts) and (eerily following the 1975 campaign of Joe McIntosh) enjoyed a 1.52 ERA after a start 4 weeks hence. Thereafter it was all downhill … both for Dave and the ’76 squad.

    On a personal note, as a twelve-year-old that summer was the first time I saw my beloved Pads play in person (and also, perchance, stayed at the same hotel with them, where among others I got Dave’s autograph) in a deadly 5-game series with Cincinnati at the end of July, where they were swept by the Big Red Machine.

    Also another odd parallel with Steve Arlin . . . both of them headed to Cleveland immediately after their time with the Pads.