Friday, November 13, 2015

Drabowsky's disastrous AL debut

Uncommon commons: In more than 30 years in sportscards publishing I have thrown hundreds of notes into files about the players – usually non-star players – who made up the majority of the baseball and football cards I collected as a kid. Today, I keep adding to those files as I peruse microfilms of The Sporting News from the 1880s through the 1960s. I found these tidbits brought some life to the player pictures on those cards. I figure that if I enjoyed them, you might too.

After pitching for six and a half years in the National League, Moe Drabowsky came to the American League on Aug. 13, 1962, purchased by the Kansas City Athletics from the Cincinnati Reds.

Drabowsky (born Miroslav Drabowski in Poland in 1935), had been a bonus baby, signed by the Chicago Cubs in July, 1956, for a sum variously reported as $40,000-80,000.

With Chicago for five seasons he pitched with only moderate success, with a 32-41 record, before being traded to the Braves prior to the opening of the 1961 season. Milwaukee used him as a reliever and he was 0-2 after the first week of June, when he was sent down to AAA.

In the off-season, Cincinnati selected Drabowsky in the Rule 5 minor league draft. When he was 2-6 as a combination starter and reliever the Reds accepted a cash offer from the A's for Drabowsky.

American League teams teed off on Drabowsky from the get-go. I don't know if it's any kind of record, but in 28 innings over the rest of the season, Drabowsky was touched for eight home runs.

His AL debut on Aug. 18 in K.C. wasn't all that bad. He pitched in both games of a doubleheader against the Yankees. In the first game he held New York hitless in the 7th and 8th innings to help preserve a 5-4 win.  Called upon in the 5th inning of Game 2, with the A;s ahead 6-5, he gave up a home run to Clete Boyer to tie the score, being charged with a blown save in the 11-7 loss.

On Aug. 22, Drabowsky was the winning pitcher against the Boston Red Sox, 4-2, though in 7.1 innings he have up a pair of solo home runs, to Ed Bressoud and Gary Geiger.

The wheels really came off in his next appearance on Aug. 28 when he started against the L.A. Angels. With a 4-1 lead, he opened the top of the 4th inning by giving up back-to-back-to-back jacks to Lee Thomas, Leon Wagner and Buck Rodgers. Wags went deep on him again in the 6th. Drabowsky was pulled from the game and tagged with the 10-5 loss.

In his final six games for the A's in September, Drabowsky gave up just one home run, a three-run shot to Frank Malzone in a 12-4 loss at Boston.

Not surprisingly, the A's sent Drabowsky down to AAA Portland to start the 1963 season. When he was 5-1 with a 2.13 ERA, he was called back up to Kansas City in mid-June. By then, however, he had missed various Topps deadlines and he didn't have a baseball card in 1963.

Taking advantage of the new shoulder-to-knee strike zone, Drabowsky was able to hang around the major leagues for another 10 years, with the A's (through 1965), the Orioles (1966-68, 1970), the Royals (1969-70), the Cardinals (1971-72) and the White Sox (1972).

When the 1962 season closed, Drabowsky had given up a home run for every 3.5 innings pitched in the AL. For the season combined, his home run ratio was one per 5.29 IP. Overall, in his 17-season major league career, Drabowsky's averaged a home run surrendered every 9.02 innings.

Drabowky's lifetime big-league record was 88-105 with a 3.71 ERA. The highlight of his career came when he started Game 1 of the 1966 World Series, striking out 11 Dodgers in a 5-2 win to start the Orioles' four-game sweep of Los Angeles. 

1 comment:

  1. Bob, Moe actually relieved Dave McNally in Game One of the '66 Series. He did get the win though with a terrific long relief performance.


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