Sunday, March 29, 2009

#84 -- Vince Colbert

Vince Colbert

Nice Spring Training shot of Vince with the Arizona mountains in the background. Vince was not related to Nate Colbert of the Padres. He'd cracked the rotation in 1971 as a spot starter at least and did reasonably well, even though he had a high walk rate. Vince was with the Indians part of 1972, but when he was 1-7 by the end of July, the Indians handed him a ticket to Portland, where he went 1-6. Ouch. He got 3 games in September and that was it for his big league career.

As the late Paul Harvey would say, there's a rest of the story that might explain why he plummeted so fast. Ken Aspromonte took over as the manager in 1972. According to an exceprt about Vince in the book "More Tales From the Tribe Dugout," Aspromonte wanted Vince to pitch at 190 pounds. He'd been around 215 to 220. He had to crash diet to lose 30 pounds, but he also lost the steam on his fastball, which was no longer in the low 90's. He looked so good at 190, he got tested for anemia. He was just never the same and the Indians gave up on him.

After the season the Indians sent him to the Rangers and in Spring Training of 1973 the Rangers sent him back (for Alex Johnson). He pitched at AA in San Antonio most of 1973, doing well with an 8-1 record and 3 saves. But when you're 27, spent most of the last 3 years in the big leagues and you can't crack the AA rotation on a regular basis, some guys decide to pack it in. Vince made it up to the AAA team for a time, but wasn't pitching regularly or terribly well, and that was a career.

I'd like to know more about Vince's basketball career. The cardback says he scored 29 in a half once. OK. What were the circumstances? Was this a state championship game or was it against weaker competition. I did see that Vince, a Washington DC native, was inducted into the College of Eastern Utah Hall of Fame in 1995. He was first team all-conference in baseball and basketball and won trophies in track. He was also the first black player recruited to East Carolina and is 2nd to former Pittsburgh Pirate reliever Bob Patterson in major league wins by ECU Pirate alums.

Vince did well against Hall of Famers. Brooks Robinson was 1/12 and Hall of Fame position players as a whole only hit .200 against Vince. The best batting average by a Hall of Famer was Jim Palmer going 2/3. Although he isn't a Hall of Famer, Frank Howard was an imposing figure at that time, but he went 0/16 against Vince.

Check out this link to his high school yearbook picture. It shows he's married with a son and 2 grandchildren and is a detective in security at Cleveland State. I did find a photo where he was recognized as a baseball/basketball letter winner at ECU and a recent photo from his Hall of Fame induction in Eastern Utah. He still looks like he's got a competitive edge, doesn't he?

I didn't know much about Vince when I started researching this post (at 2:30 AM), but I've learned a lot and glad I did. So, in honor of Vince's favorite song, according to his high school yearbook, this goes to Mrs. Colbert for her big leaguer: