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Monday, March 08, 2021

The One Start, One Shutout Wonders

#4. Frank Williams (San Francisco Giants 7-0 St. Louis Cardinals, May 5, 1984)
Fans of the Giants in 1984 must have come out of spring training carrying some hope that the torpor of the previous decade was about to end. San Francisco’s spring slate ended with them owning the best record in the National League.

A surprise member of the Opening Day roster was right-handed reliever Frank Williams. A part of the Giants organization since being drafted out of college in 1979, Williams had only reached Triple-A in 1983, which was also his first year of full time relief. His spring training ERA of 6.08 suggested more minor league work was to come, but manager Frank Robinson was intrigued by Williams’ sidearm delivery.

The rookie’s first appearance out of the bullpen could not have gone worse. Williams entered the Giants’ second game of the season with men on in the fifth inning and failed to retire any of the four batters he faced. A loss in that game proved to be a common outcome for the team from by the bay: San Francisco finished the month with the worst record in the majors, a long fall from the optimism of March.

Williams had been steady the rest of the month, however. On May 5 he had his most impressive outing yet. Rain delayed the start of a Saturday night game in St. Louis by more than a hour and a half, and in a last minute decision (a last eight-minute decision to be precise), Williams was named the starting pitcher.[6]

The Giants hit the Cardinals with a deluge of runs, crossing home plate six times through three innings while Williams held the home team scoreless. Another downpour halted proceedings for 81 minutes, but Williams stayed in the game.[7] Once play resumed he kept St. Louis off the board for a further two innings, before more rain finally put an end to the affair. The Giants were 7-0 winners, and Frank Williams had pitched a five-inning shutout.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 08, 2021 at 02:58 PM | 25 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: frank williams

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   1. Howie Menckel Posted: March 08, 2021 at 07:50 PM (#6007969)
so you can pitch 5 innings and get credit for a shutout - but if you pitch 5 perfect innings, you don't get credit for a perfect game?

damn, Williams was lights-out 1986-88

1.20 ERA in 36 G in 1986
2.30 ERA, 85 G, 106 IP in 1987 for Reds
2.59 ERA in 60 G in 1988
then released by the Reds (wtf)
played one final season with DET

died at age 50
was a native American

"After baseball, Williams suffered various misfortunes including a serious car accident, the breakup of his marriage, and the death of his twin brother, experienced alcoholism, and eventually ended up being homeless. He died in Victoria, British Columbia in January 2009 after suffering a heart attack and complications from pneumonia."

   2. depletion Posted: March 08, 2021 at 08:30 PM (#6007972)
My exact reaction to Cincinnati releasing him after 170 relief innings at 2.30 and 2.59, during the start of the steroid era.
   3. Mayor Blomberg Posted: March 08, 2021 at 08:40 PM (#6007974)
Larry Anderson, a 5.04 ERA in 1975 in 30.1 innings including the 9-inning CG shutout which was his only start.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: March 08, 2021 at 09:42 PM (#6007978)
during the start of the steroid era.

1988-89 isn't considered the "start of the steroid era" (which of course doesn't mean nobody was using them). While obvously good, that 2.59 ERA was just a 140 ERA+, in 1998 that would have been about a 167.

As to his release ... who knows? It was a 4.41 FIP and while nobody looked at FIP yet (wasn't even around in saber-land), the WHIP, walks and HR/9 were not impressive for the time. He'd also given up a lot of UER both that year and the year before. Some of the issues mentioned in #1 might have been coming to the fore. And maybe the Reds thought his likely arb salary was gonna be too high. Anyway, given he had just one mediocre season left in baseball, it's hard to say the Reds made a mistake.
   5. SoSH U at work Posted: March 08, 2021 at 11:15 PM (#6007986)
so you can pitch 5 innings and get credit for a shutout - but if you pitch 5 perfect innings, you don't get credit for a perfect game?

Yes. Devern Hansack was credited with a shutout for his season-ending 2006 start against the O's, but not the no-hitter (he faced the minimum, but walked one and got a DP).

Apparently, Fay's purge was limited to no-hitters and perfectos, not taking the next logical step.
   6. SandyRiver Posted: March 09, 2021 at 07:55 AM (#6007993)
I've always wondered what happened to Karl Spooner, not a one-shutout but a 2-fer late in 1954 (games 151 and 154) for the Dodgers at age 24. Pitched a 3-hitter with 15k then a 4-hitter with 12k. Next season he pitched decently (112 ERA+) but unspectacularly for 98 innnings, then was gone. 1956-57 saw him pitch a few innings, poorly, at several stops in the Brooklyn minors before St. Louis drafted him from the Dodgers' farm system. He never recorded a pitch, minor or major, for the Cards. Wrecked his arm? Lost his control completely? (In 1954 before the call-up he had gone 21-9 in the minors with 271k and 162 BB.)
   7. McCoy Posted: March 09, 2021 at 09:22 AM (#6008003)
It doesn't fit the criteria but it's still pretty impressive. In 1962 Bob Hartman makes his first ever start against former 20 game winner, runner up for the CYA, and all star Toothpick Sam Jones in the second game of a doubleheader. It's also Bob's first game back in the majors since a cup of coffee intro in 1959.

Bob gives up a homer in the 1st inning and then throws 9 innings of shutout ball. In the 9 other innings that weren't the first he threw 1 hit ball. Unfortunately for him Sam also threw 1 run ball and did it for 11 innings! Bob was lifted for the 11th inning and Sam would get pulled in the 12th when he let the leadoff batter get on and his relief gave up a 2 run homer.

Bob would get into 7 more games that year and would never pitch in the majors again. He would pitch a handful of innings the next year in the minors and was done with playing professional baseball. For his career he started two games. The Indiana perhaps seeing if magic could strike twice sent him out there in his next appearance following his 10 inning start only to give up 5 runs in 4 innings. It was also the second game if a DH and that was it for him starting.
   8. Ron J Posted: March 09, 2021 at 09:22 AM (#6008004)
#6 Blew out his arm in spring training. Lost the A+ fastball that made him a prospect in the first place despite the terrible control.

I seem to recall him making an extensive appearance in one of the many books or articles on the Dodgers of the 50s. As I recall it, the injury was attributed to some kind of miscommunication. Wasn't told he was going to pitch and didn't warm up properly or something like that.

EDIT: Clem Labine (who was around one or two pitchers with some pretty good stuff) was quoted as saying, "That man had a fastball that was unbelievable, not for sheer speed but for how much the ball moved."

And it doesn't surprise me that a guy with that kind of stuff would have issues with command.
   9. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: March 09, 2021 at 09:52 AM (#6008006)
It doesn't fit the criteria but it's still pretty impressive. ...

My contribution in that category is Wilson Alvarez. Called up for an emergency start at age 19 for the 1989 Rangers, he began his major league career by giving up a single, HR, HR, walk, and walk before being pulled recording no outs and carrying the dreaded era of inf. Five days later, he -- along with Sammy Sosa and Scott Fletcher -- were traded to the White Sox in the deal for Hall of Famer Harold Baines.

Alvarez spent all of 1990 in the minors. When he was called up in August for the White Sox in 1991 for his 2nd major league start, he threw a no-hitter.
   10. Howie Menckel Posted: March 09, 2021 at 09:55 AM (#6008007)
always google player

that is, do a google search for "[player] SABR bio" and you'll mostly do well on that (Frank Tanana is by a mile the biggest star I didn't find one of).

per Spooner:

"When he was five, his sister Geraldine died at the age of six from complications of measles. Spooner would later name his second born daughter after her. Just when young Karl was starting to learn the game of baseball at the age of 11, his 72-year-old father, Maurice G. Spooner, died. The senior Spooner had been a farmer. When Karl was 17, his mother Nellie (née Miller) was found dead in her bedroom from a massive stroke. His cousins Stanley and Bernice Spooner became his legal guardians, and Karl also lived with his half-brother Don Barrows, his brother Maurice, and some family friends until his professional baseball career led him away from his childhood home."

"Nineteen fifty-one was Spooner’s first season of professional baseball. He played for Hornell, New York, where he led the Class D PONY League (Pennsylvania, Ontario, New York) with 200 strikeouts in 170 innings. However, he posted a record of just 10 wins and 12 losses, in large part because he also walked 163 batters. In Hornell, his life also changed as he became part of a new family. Raymond and Lilyan Pratt were season ticket holders and they regularly took their two daughters Carol and Norma to see the Hornell Dodgers. According to Carol, “Karl was the son they never had.” Carol and Karl dated, broke up, got back together, and in the spring of 1954 they married."

"He went 21-9 pitching for Fort Worth in the Texas League [in 1954]. His 262 strikeouts in 238 innings (with 162 walks) were the most strikeouts in that league since Dizzy Dean’s 303 in 1931. He accomplished this feat in spite of missing about a month of the season after he injured his right knee fielding a bunt during practice that June, possibly while playing “pepper.” He would have cartilage removed from that knee in December that same year. But he recovered from this injury well enough to play, and the Dodger brass decided to give the young Central New Yorker a look. On September 22, 1954, Karl Spooner’s meteoric career began with his right knee “strapped up pretty tight.” Indeed, wearing a brace on his knee that summer may have led Spooner to shorten his stride and improve his control.

On Wednesday, September 22, 1954, the day after the New York Giants won the National League pennant, the Oriskany Falls native not only shut out the NL champs – he became the first pitcher to strike out 15 batters in his first major league game."

"Spooner had the world on a string. His home town gave a parade in his honor, and he served as King of the 1955 Winter Carnival in Old Forge, New York, where he allegedly asked if he could keep the beaver skin coat lent to him by a major sponsor to keep him warm in the open air convertible in which he rode for the event’s big parade. Many in his home town suspected the injury that was to lead to the end of his career may have started by his throwing a few too many snowballs too hard at this event."

"Calamity struck early during 1955 spring training, probably on March 9. As Spooner later told author Peter Golenbock, “Johnny Podres was supposed to go the first three innings, and I was supposed to go the second three, but Podres got in trouble and only pitched two innings. I tried to warm up real fast. I don’t think I was really good and loose, and I guess I just tried to throw too hard, too soon…I threw a real good curveball to Jim Rivera, struck him out, and I felt a kind of a pull in my shoulder, but it didn’t hurt that much, and so I finished the inning and the next inning. After I took a shower and was dressing, jiminy crickets, it started hurting real bad, and I could hardly even put my damn shirt on. And that’s when I told the trainer.”

"In 1981, Spooner was hospitalized with jaundice and went into a coma for eleven days. The diagnosis was Hepatitis-C. After a partial recovery, his friend Jerry Haffield told Spooner that he was welcome to return to work at any time, but Spooner was just not up to it. The hepatitis progressed to become liver cancer. He and Carol celebrated their thirtieth wedding anniversary in February 1984. On April 10, 1984, Karl Spooner died at the age of 52."
   11. Howie Menckel Posted: March 09, 2021 at 10:01 AM (#6008008)
in the deal for "Hall of Famer" Harold Baines.

   12. Itchy Row Posted: March 09, 2021 at 01:07 PM (#6008026)
No, Baines is literally a Hall of Famer. Deal with it.
   13. Lassus Posted: March 09, 2021 at 01:52 PM (#6008029)
in the deal for undeserving Hall of Famer Harold Baines.
There, fixed that for both of you?

In other news, thanks for the local boy bio, Howie.
   14. Howie Menckel Posted: March 09, 2021 at 07:04 PM (#6008051)
Johan Santana allowed a batter to hit the ball down the 3B/LF line that landed in fair territory, allowing him to cross first base.

but yes. Santana literally has a "no-hitter" ("as do the Mets") - and the quotes of shame will remain. in the words of a fabled poet laureate, "deal with it."

   15. JJ1986 Posted: March 09, 2021 at 07:53 PM (#6008054)
Johan Santana allowed a batter to hit the ball down the 3B/LF line that landed in fair territory, allowing him to cross first base.
"Cross" is doing a lot of work in that sentence.
   16. Howie Menckel Posted: March 09, 2021 at 09:02 PM (#6008059)
he didn't cross first base?

I mean, a Three Blind Mice ump negated the hit - but I don't recall him tackling the runner before he got to the first base bag. seems like that would have gone viral, even BITD.
   17. JJ1986 Posted: March 09, 2021 at 09:05 PM (#6008060)
Batters cross first base on outs all the time.
   18. Howie Menckel Posted: March 09, 2021 at 11:21 PM (#6008064)
and yet... post 15
   19. SoSH U at work Posted: March 09, 2021 at 11:31 PM (#6008065)

Do you feel all hits/outs that follow umpires' mistakes are illegitimate, or it just the one you obsess over?

   20. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: March 10, 2021 at 09:27 AM (#6008076)

Some speculation about what happened to Frank Williams in Cincinnati in this thread from 2007. The article is no longer available online but the excerpt alludes to some potential conflict with Reds manager Pete Rose at the time. He also says he blew out his arm in the ‘89 season and was in a serious car accident that year.
   21. Jayne Harris Posted: March 10, 2021 at 09:50 AM (#6008077)
Email is a private way to contact your audience. And because it's a private message, relationships and interests have already been built up. The conversion rate could be higher compared to mainstream media due to low overhead and operating costs. In addition, email is easier to identify and analyze compared to written materials. The first step in buying business email lists for promotion is to select the right email list provider. You would need to buy lead lists to get useful advice from your prospective customers for your own brand. In this way, it will be easier for you to search for businesses, find contact persons and decision-makers, and negotiate your products and services.
   22. McCoy Posted: March 10, 2021 at 10:42 AM (#6008085)
   23. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: March 10, 2021 at 12:41 PM (#6008096)
Williams was a part of some excellent Reds bullpens which Rose rode hard. They were not as dominant or memorable as the 1990 Nasty Boys, but Franco, Williams and Rob Murphy were all excellent in 1987. They threw close to 300 innings and the Reds easily led the league in reliever WAA. They were still good in 1988, but as mentioned Williams was released after the season (possibly because of off field issues) and the Reds traded Rob Murphy to Boston. Franco was gone a year later.
   24. McCoy Posted: March 10, 2021 at 03:44 PM (#6008137)
Besides being a wild one off the field he gave testimony against Rose as well. I'm sure that didn't help
   25. Dave da Busher Posted: March 11, 2021 at 10:14 PM (#6008358)
First time I'd heard that Spooner's 15-K start against the Giants was the day after NY clinched. Checking the boxscore, there are regulars in the lineup, but Lockman, Dark, Mueller and Mays were all taken out before the 4th inning. Dark and Mays had two of the 3 hits. By the end of the game, the top hitter by average was Monte Irvin (.269). Still, fifteen strikeouts is still fancy pitching, no matter who the other guys are.

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