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Sunday, February 05, 2023

Park life: Three days with GOAT coach Tom House and his ‘misfits’

In early August 1992, the Rangers were in Seattle. The Mariners had a struggling giant on their staff: the lanky, 6-foot-10, 28-year-old Randy Johnson. Nolan Ryan was Johnson’s idol, and like House, Johnson was a USC product.

Hours before a game in the series, they met Johnson at the Kingdome. The two uniformed Rangers personnel visited with Johnson in the Mariners bullpen, in foul territory on the playing field down the first-base line.

Johnson made a few throws. House made a suggestion. Instead of landing on the heel of his right foot in his delivery, he ought to land on the ball of his foot.

In 125 1/3 innings that season, Johnson posted a 4.52 ERA and walked 97.

After the bullpen session, Johnson posted a 2.65 ERA over 85 innings and struck out 117 while cutting his walks to 47 - a reduction of about two walks per nine innings.

In a one-on-one discussion with Ryan for a magazine piece in 1996, Johnson said: “It’s unheard of, unfortunately, to have other people on another team take the time to help another professional athlete. … You and Tom House didn’t have to help me.”

Much of House’s eye comes from studying video, motion analysis, and staring at biomechanical stick figures for 40 years. He’s almost apologetic for his ability to “see things,” drawing from his mental library.

House was hired by the Rangers in 1985 when the club was looking for an edge to close the gap with rivals who had more resources and talent.

House credits then GM Tom Grieve and manager Bobby Valentine’s openness for allowing his experiments. “They were behind it 100%,” House says.

Even future U.S. President George W. Bush, the managing general partner of the team’s ownership group, gave his approval.

“I got along with Barbara the best,” House said of the Bush family.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 05, 2023 at 03:30 PM | 3 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Walt Davis Posted: February 05, 2023 at 07:41 PM (#6115859)
I assume this means hired in the 85-86 offseason cuz nobody wants to brag about the 85 Rangers (plus BV took over mid-85). Still the question "who was on the 1986 Rangers staff and how did they do?" rarely crosses my mind. Probably not since 1986 if ever.

Charlie Hough was Charlie Hough. Asking 202 innings from 20-yo Ed Correa may not have been the brightest idea -- he managed 70 the next year and that was that. A fairly big load was given to 23-yo Jose Guzman who missed all of 89-90 then broke again at 31 but otherwise regularly managed a full load. But also 22-yo Bobby Witt who survived it all just fine. 21-yo Kevin Brown got a cuppa. Lot of young pitching talent on that team. Also a top relief season from Greg Harris, Mitch Williams was Mitch Williams (maybe he needed to land on the ball of his foot) and a young Jeff Russell had a solid season. All told a 105 ERA+ which by Rangers' standards is practically the 2022 Dodgers.

House was certainly not shy about reliever workload. In 86, Harris threw 111, Williams 98, Russell 82 and Mahorcic 79. The next year it was Williams for 108, Mahorcic for 99 and Russell for 97 (and Harris 140+ but he made 19 starts). But usage was normal after that.
   2. Ron J Posted: February 06, 2023 at 11:35 AM (#6115904)
Interesting. I knew about Ryan's involvement but hadn't heard that House was a part of the sessions that helped Johnson get a consistent landing point.
   3. Zach Posted: February 06, 2023 at 05:37 PM (#6115978)
Really nice article.

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