Skip to comments.Discover one of baseball's forgotten streaks (Rick Langford)
Posted on 05/19/2013 5:29:49 PM PDT by Third Person
On May, 23, 1980, Oakland As pitcher Rick Langford threw a complete game against the Texas Rangers.
The As lost that day, 3-1, as Langford gave up three unearned runs in a 1-hour, 56-minute duel with Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins.
Five days later, Langford went the distance again, beating the Royals.
Six days after that, on June 3 he pitched a third straight complete game, this time going 10 innings vs. the Indians.
He then pitched another complete game. And another. And another.
By the end of June, Langfords complete-game streak was eight.
Through July, it was 14 -- including a 14-inning victory.
After five more complete games in August, he was up to 19.
Over the first 12 days of September, Langford went the distance against the Yankees, Orioles and Royals. Langford, who wore No. 22, had thrown 22 consecutive complete games.
Finally, on Sept. 17, in a game at Arlington, Texas, As manager Billy Martin marched to the mound after Langford had pitched 8⅔ innings and signaled for lefty reliever Bob Lacey to come on. Lacey induced a groundout from Buddy Bell to save Langfords 17th victory.
I remember him standing there like it was yesterday, and he came to get me, says Langford, 61, now the rehab pitching coach for the Toronto Blue Jays. He didnt ask me this time, How are you? or You can do it or whatever. His comment was, God bless him, I think its time now. Those were his words. I said, Yes it is.
I handed him the ball and walked off.
Langford's streak was done, but he wasnt.
Langford pitched complete games in his next three starts. Then, with 19 victories and a chance for No. 20...
(Excerpt) Read more at espn.go.com ...
Martin also thought his relievers sucked on that team.
Bob Lacey Saves = 6
Jeff Jones Saves = 5
Lifetime baseball fan here, never heard this story. Thanks for posting.
CG has been dropped as a stat for some time now, I don’t know how long. America has gone the way of the complete game as I see it.
6 innings is now considered a quality start.
I recall when it was shameful to have a team ERA above 4.0.
Bingo. A different time, a different mindset.
Had never heard of this. Pretty damn amazing!!
They had an old-school manager in Martin, a young and talented five-man rotation with pitchers who wanted to finish what they started and a bullpen without a star closer. Those three factors created a staff that threw 94 complete games, the highest total since 1946.
Langford led with 28, but Mike Norris (a 22-game winner) had 24, Matt Keough 20, Steve McCatty 11 and Kingman 10. (In an odd twist, even Lacey -- who led the team with six saves -- threw a complete game in his only start.)
The Finley-Martin era. Never a dull moment.
Matt Keough - what a shame. Hope he has recovered, but he is known in my neighborhood for a string of drunken events, including two driving offenses. They found him hiding in the bushes near my house, after he rear ended someone at a red light, causing the impacted vehicle to hit a pedestrian. Was married to an OC Housewife, FWIW.
Before that it was pretty much expected that a pitcher go the distance.
I can certainly understand why they did go the relief pitcher route, but why did it take so long to think of this?
I know that it was a big deal to get the Rolaids "relief" firehat trophy.
But again, I think 1970s.
Heck now we have one inning specialists. Some guy who comes in, throws 101mph fastballs, then gets yanked the next inning. Still makes a couple of million per year for his efforts, though.
yep, in the 70s. Al Hrabosky, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage were some of them.
If I remember right most of the starting staff never pitched that well again - too many pitches thrown when tired is what kills arms and shoulders. It’s why there are so few CG’s today. Doctors can fix ligament and muscle tears, but they can’t fix a worn out arm.
Ron Washington is doing the same with Yu Darvish.....threw 130 pitches the other night.....he was pitching in the 8th with a 5-run lead.
If he breaks down come September, Wash has some ‘splainin’ to do.
Never understood why he didn't like it.
"In 1983, analyst Bill James wrote that Martins "Billy Ball" era in Oakland was actually Billy Burnout, and that his methods led to the downfall of all five As starters."
I read an article a couple of years ago in which the author suggested that the “closer” in modern baseball is used entirely incorrectly. This guy’s point was that bringing in your best short reliever to pitch the last inning of a game where your team has a lead is a waste of his talent. That pitcher would be better suited to close out a late (7th or 8th) inning with runners on base in scoring position, rather than coming in to start an inning with nobody on base.
Nowadays, a "two-inning save" is a rarity in baseball -- and closers rarely get a victory unless they're brought into a tie game in extra innings.
The Cardinals of the 80’s with I believe Tony LaRussa and the manager went to a bullpen by committee.
“Sparky” was the main man, or closer, in 1977, for The Yankees. He was so good, he won the Cy Young Award, a rare feat for a bullpen pitcher, in those days.
During the off season, The Yanks signed “Goose” Gossage, and Sparky was relegated to the role of second fiddle. in ‘78.
Graig Nettles (3b NYY) is supposed to have commented “Sparky, Cy Young, to syonara”.
That may explain his feelings ;) Thanks.
I remember those Rollie Fingers ads.
Early 80s, when Bruce Sutter and Lee Smith started getting those 30 saves a year is when things really started changing.
With the 5 man rotation and setup men and a closer, we’ll never see another 300 game winner.
Ever notice no one ever mentions beating Cy Young’s wins record? That is the one achievement that no one will ever come close to breaking.
Louis Arroyo was saving a bunch of games for the Yankees back in ‘61. I remember hearing a sportscaster back then announcing that Louis had signed for the ‘62 season and that the “sigh” heard from the Yankee clubhouse was really from Whitey Ford.
That’s a great story!
As soon as I saw it was about complete games, I immediately thought of the Phillies Hall of Famer, Robin Roberts. He threw a total of 305 complete games during the ‘50s and ‘60s, including 45 shutouts. Things were different in the olden days.
One of my favorite Robin Roberts stories occurred on May 13, 1954, when Roberts gave up a lead-off home run to Reds player Bobby Adams and then retired 27 consecutive batters to win the game 81.
By the way, Robin Roberts was the first Phillies baseball card I ever got out of a pack of Topps cards. That was in 1960.
Pretty amazing. Here’s a shout out for another workhorse: Wilbur Wood, lefty knuckler.
1971, 334 IP, 1.91 ERA
1972, 376 IP, 2.52 ERA
1973, 359 IP, 3.46 ERA
1974, 320 IP, 3.60 ERA
That would make the game incredibly pure.
What I'm saying is that the starting pitcher would pitch just the one inning and in inning 2, he'd trade places with the catcher while the catcher pitched. Then in inning 3, the starting pitcher will move to 1st base while the 1st baseman pitches. And so on.
Each positional player would have to pitch the one inning every game with the "starting pitcher" rotating through all 8 other positions as the game progresses. No relief pitchers allowed.
That would make the game very entertaining, that is for sure.
I didn't know much about Lyle besides his autobiography and those Levi Garrett chewing tobacco ads.
GREAT book BTW. (The Bronx Zoo?)
Joe Page had a couple of good years for the Bombers in the late 1940’s also. If I remember right he was high up in the MVP voting those years also. He threw pure heat and liked his belts after the game.
Yes, The Bronx Zoo, 1979. I liked it, as well.
I have to be impressed with Langford’s record. It will never, EVER, be beaten, not with baseball today.
But I have to mention. My dad, “Lefty” Joe Hatten, pitched in both games of a double header. Let’s see somebody today do that! He was also the Dodger’s pitcher when Jackie Robinson played his first major league game.
Thanks for the Ping, Roccus! Always nice to remember my dad.
I just KNEW you could add something worthwhile to this thread. ;)
Whenever I see a thread about air racing or mid-century baseball, I think of you.
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