Friday, April 27, 2007


TERRY FELTON, The Biggest Loser.

Terry Felton pitched for the Minnesota Twins from 1979 to 1982, and his career record will go down as the worst in the history of major league baseball. He lost 16 games and won none in his career. That's zero, zilch, nada. In his final season, 1982, he lost 13 and won none. On a couple of occasions, he was in line to finally win a game, but ill timed homers by the opposing team sank his chances.

In all fairness, he did win some games in the minor leagues. A player has to be fairly good in the minors to ever reach the majors. Pitching for the Toledo Mud Hens for 4 years, Felton won more games than any other Mud Hen pitcher, 33 wins, and he held that record for over 20 years. But Toledo ain't the major leagues, and therein lies the problem.

Although he had a good fastball, he walked too many batters and tended to give up home runs at the wrong time. He did have 3 saves with the Twins, as he had to do something worthwhile to stay in the major leagues that long. After the Twins mercifully released him, he became a detective in the Baton Rouge, LA. sheriff's department.

Among other pitchers with abysmal records was Don Larsen, a friend of my father in law, who achieved fame by pitching a perfect game no-hitter in the 1956 World Series for the NY Yankees. Larsen, pitching for the pitiful Baltimore Orioles in 1954, won 3 and lost 21. After being traded to the Yankees, he became a decent pitcher.

RON HUNT, Nothing Can Hurt This Guy.

An unusual record was set by Montreal Expos second basement Ron Hunt who was hit by pitches an incredible 50 times during the 1971 season. Ouch! That sounds more like dodgeball. Hunt, who apparently had a high tolerance for pain, led the league in hit by pitches 7 years in a row, and he came in second in 2 other seasons. In 6 of those years, he was hit by pitches 24 times or more. Although he hit few home runs, he was a pesky singles hitter who leaned over home plate when he batted. He was the consummate lead off hitter. Although pitchers had no reason to be afraid of him, he finagled 58 walks the same season and had an on-base percentage of .402. In another season, Hunt's on-base percentage was .418.

Now, in baseball if the umpire doesn't think the batter made an effort to get out of the way of the pitch, he will not award the batter first base. Hunt made that into an art, by squirming in such a way as to look like he was trying to evade the pitch, when he really wasn't. In any case he achieved enough respect to appear in 2 All Star Games. He was quoted as saying that while some people give the bodies to science, he gave his to baseball.

EDDIE YOST, The Walking Man

One of the weakest hitters on one of the worst teams in baseball was third baseman Eddie Yost of the Washington Senators of the 1950's. Yost, who broke into the major leagues in 1944, at age 17, led the American League in receiving bases on balls for 6 seasons. In 1951 and 1954, he came in second in that category to Hall of Famer Ted Williams, considered one of the greatest hitters of all time.

The comparison to Ted Williams ends there, however. For example, in 1956, Yost obtained 151 walks (including 9 intentional walks) in 152 games, while his batting average was an anemic .231. In 1952, Yost coaxed 129 walks from American League pitchers, while batting only .233.

Because of his talent in working pitchers for bases on balls, his on-base percentage was over .400 in 7 different seasons, and he led the league in getting on base in 1959 and 1960. His secret was his keen eye for the strike zone and his ability to foul off many good pitches. Pitchers wanted Yost to hit the ball because it never went very far, but after he would foul off many pitches, the frustrated and tired pitcher would finally throw one out of the strike zone, and Yost would trot to first base. He did that over 1600 times in his 17 year career. He later went on to coach and manage in the big leagues for many years.




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