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.