Monday, March 16, 2009

#72 -- Bruce Kison

Bruce Kison

Kison was brought along by the Pirates in 1971 and was in and out of the rotation. That was the story of his career. He was the epitome of the swingman/5th starter in the 70's when most teams went with a 4 man rotation. He had a nice long career, mostly as a starter, but never pitched 200 innings in a year. That's not unsual now, but in the 70's, 300 innings was what 200 innings is now.

It seemed like I had a lot of this card when I was growing up. Either that or I had it out a lot because it's very familiar. I like the foul line running through the photo in this shot. I also like the fans along the rail down the left field line, hoping to get an autograph of Clemente or Stargell, but likely getting stuck with Gene Alley, Bob Johnson or Milt May.

Bruce also became well known for throwing inside. He plunked 11 in only 129 innings in 1974. Wow. Supposedly in his final year as a Red Sox in 1985 he threw at Jorge Bell. Bell came to the mound to fight and tried to throw a karate kick, missed because Kison stepped aside and laid him out. At least that's according to an internet report and we know those are always right.

Kison's probably most known for being the winning pitcher in the first night World Series game in 1971. He wasn't the starter, but relieved Luke Walker who had a rough first inning. Kison kept the Orioles off balance most of the rest of the way. That might be due in part to the fact that he hit three of them (a World Series record tied by Jose Contreras of the White Sox in 2005) so nobody wanted to dig in too deeply.
One of the most curious stats about Bruce was his hitting performance in 1978. He was a reasonably good hitter, but in 1978 he only had 4 hits: a single (10th inning of a tie game off Terry Forster), a double (September 1 off Mickey Mahler), a triple (September 7 off Pete Falcone) and a homer (September 29, last at bat of the year, off Steve Carlton). He had a "season cycle." I suppose, since they were in order, you could call this a natural season cycle. This doesn't happen often because it means you can't get more than 4 hits in a season. One other pitcher (Ray Poat in 1947) and three position players (Fred Manrique, 1985; Curtis Pride, 1993 and Matt Diaz, 2004) have "accomplished" this feat. Most players -- even pitchers -- prefer to have more than 4 hits in a season.

Bruce was also late for his wedding on October 17, 1971. It took a police escort, a Lear jet and a helicopter to get him and his best man, Bob Moose, there close to time. It almost seems a cliche from a teen movie, but Bruce and Bob showed up reeking of alcohol. However, this was one time that I don't think the bride or future in-laws were upset. You see, Bruce and Bob had to cut short their celebration of a Game 7 World Series win over the Orioles to get there. This story from Sports Illustrated is pretty cool.

1 comment:

  1. 70s Pirates are another of my favorite teams. I never pass on a card of one, even if it's a minor player.