The legend of Billy Rohr

From the Red Sox “Impossible Dream” season, another Yankees vs. Red Sox game I remember vividly was our home opener on April 14, 1967. A 22-year-old pitcher named Billy Rohr was making his major league debut. I played against Billy in the AA Carolina League in 1965, when I was with Greensboro and he was with Winston-Salem, but fifty years later, I can’t say that I recall any came where we pitched against each other. Billy was magical; it was something out of Hollywood, almost like Billy Chapel in For Love of the Game, only in reverse. Billy Rohr entered the bottom of the ninth inning without giving up a hit – in his first big league came. Tommy Tresh led off and flied out to left, and then Joe Pepitone flied out to left. He was one out away from a no-hitter and was facing Elston Howard. Ellie hit a two-strike single to right to break up the no-hitter. This was one amazing baseball game. The Red Sox won 3-0 and Billy got his first win, a one-hitter. Billy had a short career; the Red Sox traded him to Cleveland in 1968, and he spent most of the next few years in the minors. I heard he wound up going to law school. The other thing that resonated with me is how gracious Ellie was – no schadenfreude, just a great ballplayer doing his job. I don’t like losing, ever, but I couldn’t help feeling a little proud of a fellow young pitcher.

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