Happy Birthday to Jerry Augustine, who was a pitcher for the Brewers from 1975 to 1984. Jerry and I were in just one game together. It was May 23, 1976 at Cleveland Stadium and it was Jerry’s rookie season. It would also be my last. I was traded to the Rangers four days later, and a few weeks after that, an injury ended my playing career. I was the starting pitcher and got pulled in the fourth inning after giving up an RBI double to Gorman Thomas, cutting The Tribe’s lead to 5-4. The Tribe eventually added three more runs, enough to win 8-5. Jerry came in to pitch in the sixth inning and pitched great. He replaced Ed Sprague with two outs, John Lowenstein on second and Charlie Spikes on first. With Alan Ashby at bat, John tried to steal third and got called out on a close tag by Don Money. Jerry had 1-2-3 seventh and eighth innings.
Among the guys I really enjoyed playing with was Dave LaRoche, who was traded to the Cleveland Indians during the 1975 Off-Season for another good pitcher, Milt Wilcox. The first time I saw him pitch was in his Yankee Stadium debut on July 19, 1970 when he was a rookie for the California Angels. He entered the game in relief in the eighth, taking over for Rudy May with a 5-2 lead. The first batter he faced was Horace Clarke, who grounded out. Then he struck out Bobby Murcer. In the ninth, he got Thurman Munson out. To me, getting Lemon and Tugboat out in your Yankee Stadium debut is a big deal. And that was Dave’s first major league save.
His Tribe debut was on April 12, 1975 in Milwaukee. It was the same day Dennis Eckersley made his major league debut. I was the starting pitcher that day, and I had nothing. Sometimes pitchers have days like that. I gave up a one-out walk to John Briggs, who reached third on Hank Aaron’s double. I intentionally walked the sometimes scary George Scott, and then Don Money hit an RBI single, scoring John. It could have been worse; I got the relay from Charlie Spikes in right and threw it to Johnny Ellis, the catcher, who tagged Hank out at home. Then it did get worse. Sixto Lezcano doubled, scoring George and moving Don to third. Charlie Moore, whom I wrote about on his birthday last month as being nearly impossible for me to get out, hit a two-run double. The Brewers led, 4-0. Frank Robinson pulled me in the bottom of the second after giving up a leadoff Home Run to Robin Yount and walking Bob Coluccio. Dave came in to pitch in the seventh – one of four pitchers the Tribe used that day – and he gave up no runs. But we lost, 6-5.
Happy Birthday to Hal McRae, who was an amazing hitter for the Kansas City Royals during the 1970’s and 1980’s. He had 2,091 career hits and a lifetime .290 batting average – the kind of solid player that often gets overlooked by visiting team fans. But take it from me, as a pitcher, I was always a little nervous when Hal came up to bat. I remember one game on August 27, 1974, when I was with the Cleveland Indians, Hal was especially tough on me. We were playing in Kansas City, and in the bottom of the second he hit an RBI double down the left field line. The last time I pitched to Hal was about two weeks before the Indians traded me to Texas. In the bottom of the sixth, I gave up a leadoff single to George Brett. Big John Mayberry hit a shot to right field that Charlie Spikes was able to catch. One away. Then Hal came up to bat. I struck him out, and then Alan Ashby was able to catch George stealing second. Inning over. It was nice to see Hal become a MLB manager, and to see Hal’s son, Brian, play major league baseball.