Me, Elsewhere: Great Duels of the ’70s

My latest at Hardball Times is the fourth and final installment of my Epic Pitchers Duels series. One game involves the Padres (they lost, naturally). Also featured are Dick Williams, Rollie Fingers (making a 7-inning relief appearance), Sandy Alomar Sr., Tony Gonzalez, Gene Tenace, Graig Nettles, and Gaylord Perry. Heck, even San Diegan Ted Williams, in his final year as a big-league manager, joins the party.

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5 Responses »

  1. Been enjoying the series, Geoff. It’s cool to imagine being there.

    Speaking of pitchers, where the heck is Pedro Martinez?
    If he’s willing and in shape to pitch, the Padres should give him a call and he can mentor even if he can’t dominate.

  2. I enjoyed that a great deal. The early 1970s is when I came of age (baseball-wise), and I have solid memories of each pitcher mentioned.

    For an expansion team, the Padres seemed to have an extraordinary amount of young pitching talent pass through their system those first few years. Dave Roberts, Clay Kirby, Joe Niekro, Fred Norman, Mike Caldwell. Granted, many of them did not have their success until years after leaving San Diego, but it still seems impressive to me.

    A lot of the expansion teams were lucky to have one or two good young pitchers during their early years. The Expos had Renko and Morton; Angels had Dean Chance; The Mets had Al Jackson, but I don’t think any expansion team had as much as the Padres.

    The six I listed all won 14 games or more in a season, and with the exception of Kirby, they had seasons where they received CYA votes, and their careers lasted until at least 1980.

  3. Whoops! I forgot to include Pat Dobson in the list. He and Fred Norman weren’t exactly young (28), but their best years in the game were still ahead of them.

  4. @Didi: Thanks… I wonder if Pedro is even looking for a gig and if so, what he might cost.

    @parlo: Glad you enjoyed it. The Padres did have some good pitchers back then. With a little control, Kirby could have been great. And Roberts’ 1971 campaign still ranks among the best ever by a Padres pitcher.

  5. It was the early ’70s and I was just a kid, but at the time I thought Kirby was clearly the better pitcher.

    Dave Roberts: WL 14-17; K 135; ERA 2.10
    Clay Kirby: WL 15-13; K 231; ERA 2.83

    Kirby HAD to be better. He won more games; had a winning record; and 100 more K’s. Of course, Roberts was gone after 1971 while Kirby stayed in town through 1973, so my team loyalty may have also played into it. It was a good 15 years or so before I realized Roberts was the better pitcher that season.

    1971 belongs to Fergie Jenkins and Tom Seaver in the NL, and Vida Blue overall, but it was really impressive at that time to have Roberts and Kirby among the NL leaders. I remember my baseball cards showing the two of them in the same ERA Leader list as Seaver, Perry, and Jenkins; and the Strikeout Leaders card ranking Kirby at #4. Then again, they lost 100 games anyway.