Tagged: John Lowenstein

Happy Birthday, Jerry Augustine

Jerry AugustineHappy 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.

The Cleveland Indians, 1975

Cleveland IndiansAt Municipal Stadium before a game in 1975, our team photo: (Left to Right, front row): clubhouse manager Cy Buynak, trainer Jimmy Warfield, coach Harvey Haddix, coach Tom McCraw, president Ted Bonda, manager Frank Robinson, general manager Phil Seghi, traveling secretary Mike Seghi, coach Jeff Torborg, coach Dave Garcia, batboy; (second row) Fred Beene, John Lowenstein, Oscar Gamble, Ken Berry, Jackie Brown, Alan Ashby, Dave LaRoche, John Ellis, Tommy Smith, Fritz Peterson, Rick Manning, Frank Duffy, Duane Kuiper; (third row) Buddy Bell, George Hendrick, Ed Crosby, Dennis Eckersley, Jim Bibby, Boog Powell, Eric Raich, Charlie Spikes, Tom Buskey, Rico Carty, Roric Harrison.

My trade to the Cleveland Indians

Fritz PetersonGeorge Steinbrenner tried to buy the Cleveland Indians in the early 1970’s, before he put together a deal for a little less than what Brett Gardner will make this year alone to buy the New York Yankees. The Boss was an Indians fan who grew to love the Yankees, the same way I developed a deep affection for my adopted team when I was traded to Cleveland in 1974. I was a proud member of the Tribe for nearly two seasons. I went to the Cleveland Indians during an especially tough time in my life and I will always have tremendous affection for the team and its fans, who made me feel welcome and rejuvenated.

When I got to the Indians, I could not wear #19 because that number belonged to the extraordinary Bob Feller, one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball. So I got #30, which Gene Bearden wore during the Indians World Championship year of 1948. Gene went 20-7 that year, part of an amazing pitching staff of Feller and Bob Lemon. I remember being around 11-years-old growing up in Chicago and listening to the radio when Gene was pitching the White Sox. Later I switched to #16, which had been worn by another great pitcher, Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser. I focus on the uniform because that is a big deal to a player, and to me it represented the next chapter of my baseball career. I had been a Yankee since I was 21, and in MLB it was always pinstripes.

It was April 30, 1974, four days after the trade, and the Indians were playing the Minnesota Twins at Metropolitan Stadium. This was my first start for my new team, and I admit I was a little nervous. Maybe it wasn’t being the new kid on the first day of school as it was the fear of pitching against Bert Blyleven, but anyway I was in a new uniform for the first time since trading in the Columbus Clippers jersey for pinstripes.

The first game I played for the Indians was on April 30, 1974, four days after the trade. It was a Tuesday night and we were playing the Minnesota Twins at Metropolitan Stadium. John Lowenstein, the leadoff hitter, made it to first on shortstop Luis Gomez’s error, and moved to second on Jack Brohammer’s single. John stole third, and scored when Jack stole second and moved to third on Randy Hundley’s throwing error. Oscar came up with two outs and singled to center, driving in Jack. So I took the mound as a first-time Indians pitcher with a 2-0 lead. Oscar went 2-for-4 in that game – he also hit a double and was intentionally walked in the fifth when the Yankees scored four more runs. I was pulled in the seventh after Danny Darwin hit his second Home Run of the day against me, and Freddy Beene, who came to Cleveland in the same deal as me, came in and settled everything down. I got my first win on the new team as Cleveland won 8-3.

Happy Birthday, Jack Heidemann

Jack HeidemannHappy Birthday to Jack Heidemann, an infielder for eight seasons in the 1970’s.   We were teammates on the Cleveland Indians briefly in 1974.  The Yankees traded me there on April 26, and Jack was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals on June 1.  While our time was brief, it was an honor to play with him.  He was a smart ballplayer and a genuinely nice guy.  And he was among the large group of players who interrupted their careers to serve in the military, and on his birthday, I thank him for his service to our country.

Thinking about Jack, the game I remember most was one I watched from the bench.  It was August 3, 1971, a night game in Cleveland.  Jack was playing Shortstop.  Bobby Murcer was on first, Thurman Munson on third, and Roy White came to the plate with one out.  Heeba hits a ground ball to Eddie Leon, the Indians Second Baseman.  Eddie made a horrible throw to Jack, which put him directly in front of Bobby Murcer, who was sliding into second.  Jack suffered serious injuries to his knee and was out for the rest of the season.  It was awful.  And let me say this – we are all extremely competitive on the field for each play of every game, but none of us like it when a fellow ballplayer gets hurt the way Jack did.

Even though we were on the same team for about 35 days, Jack and I were on the field at the same time only once: May 24, 1974 at Cleveland Stadium.  He came in as an eighth inning defensive replacement for John Lowenstein at Third Base, but had no opportunity to make a play.  Still, as a pitcher, it was reassuring to know Jack had my back.  He was an excellent infielder.

A good player with big hair

I never pitched to Oscar Gamble.  He was in the National League for five years before being traded to Cleveland, and I joined him on the Indians in 1974.  We were both traded in 1976 – Oscar to the Yankees and me to the Rangers.  I didn’t pitch much against Cleveland in 1973, and when I did, Oscar wasn’t in the lineup.  He didn’t play in the game I threw against Cleveland in 1974, just before the trade.  And my career in Texas was over before the first series against the Yankees.  I liked Oscar immediately, probably because of how he helped me in my first game as an Indians pitcher.  It was April 30, 1974, four days after the trade, and the Indians were playing the Minnesota Twins at Metropolitan Stadium.  This was my first start for my new team, and I admit I was a little nervous.  Maybe it wasn’t being the new kid on the first day of school as it was the fear of pitching against Bert Blyleven, but anyway I was in a new uniform for the first time since trading in the Columbus Clippers jersey for pinstripes.

John Lowenstein, the leadoff hitter, made it to first on shortstop Luis Gomez’s error, and moved to second on Jack Brohammer’s single.  John stole third, and scored when Jack stole second and moved to third on Randy Hundley’s throwing error.  Oscar came up with two outs and singled to center, driving in Jack.  So I took the mound as a first-time Indians pitcher with a 2-0 lead.  Oscar went 2-for-4 in that game – he also hit a double and was intentionally walked in the fifth when the Yankees scored four more runs.  I was pulled in the seventh after Danny Darwin hit his second Home Run of the day against me, and Freddy Beene, who came to Cleveland in the same deal as me, came in and settled everything down.  I got my first win on the new team as Cleveland won 8-3.

I can’t write about Oscar without mentioning his hair.  The massive afro that stuck out from beneath the Topps “Traded” card with the artist-enhanced Yankee cap in 1976 sort of defined Oscar Gamble to a generation of baseball fans.  A good player with big hair.

Happy Birthday, Dave Goltz

DaveGoltz
Happy Birthday to Dave Goltz, who had a 12-year career as a pitcher for the Twins, Dodgers and Angels. In the five seasons that our careers overlapped, I only pitched against Dave once. It was June 16, 1974, the second game of a doubleheader at Cleveland Stadium. The Indians scored one run in the first off a pair of doubles by Ed Crosby and Otto Velez, and another in the third off singles by Crosby and John Lowenstein (who proceeded to steal second and third). We scored a third run in the fifth when Lowenstein got another RBI single. I went into the ninth with a three-run lead, having given up five hits and no runs. Rod Carew led off with a double to left, and moved to third after Harmon Killebrew flied out to George Hendrick in center. With two outs, Craig Kusick singled to left, and Carew scored. Dave pitched well; he gave up seven hits (same as me), and he struck out seven (I only struck out two that game) – his team just didn’t hit. And I have to mention that Carew and Killebrew each got two hits off me that game – no surprise since they were among the best hitters I ever faced. They each had a lifetime .300+ lifetime batting average against me.