For a long time in the 70's I misspelled Larry's last name. I'm sure I wasn't the only person that didn't put in the second "i". On Google, there are about 5,640 results for "Larry Biittner" and about 1,100 results for "Larry Bittner". I don't know if there are very many other ballplayers with such a large percentage of hits for the wrong spelling.
Larry, or "Butch" as he's supposedly known (story to follow), was a solid contact and average hitter that didn't have a lot of pop. He had 2-3 years when he played full time, but was usually a part-time player and pinch-hitter. Believe it or not, but at 3, 31 .259, he was one of the Rangers' best hitters in 1972. He hit .315 in 1975 for the Expos and .298 for the Cubs in 1977, but never hit more than 12 homers and never had an OPS+ over 117.
Biittner had his only 2-homer game in a Cubs 23-6 win over the Padres in May 1977. On July 4 of 1977, in the 1st game of a doubleheader in Chicago against his former teammates, the Expos, he took to the mound in a game the Cubs were trailing 11-2. He promptly gave up a 3-run homer to Larry Parrish. He also got taken deep by Ellis Valentine and Andre Dawson, none of which would be an embarrassment. I don't know what he was throwing, but of the 4 outs he got, 3 of them were strikeouts. He struck out pitcher Jackie Brown after Parrish homered. OK, he's a pitcher, big deal. Well, he also struck out Del Unser and Larry Parrish to end the game.
I don't know how to run the report (Andy.....), but I can't believe there are very many non-pitchers who have struck out more than 3 in a game in the last 40 years. For all Biittner did with the Cubs and Reds, this has to be one of his most unusual accomplishments. However, this is a guy that really loved playing ball. In doing my Google search, I found this article about a softball player that marvelled at the "old" guy playing 3rd base next to him and homering often...finding out it was Larry "Butch" Biittner.
Friday, June 23, 1972 was a big day on the schedule. Steve Arlin followed up his June 18 2-hitter by throwing a 1-hitter at the Giants, beating them 4-1. The only hit came on Garry Maddox' 1-out triple in the 2nd and he scored on a sacrifice fly.
Nolan Ryan threw a 2-hitter at the A's, beating them 2-1. The A's only hits were a 1st inning solo homer by Reggie Jackson and Dave Duncan's 7th inning single. However it took an 8th inning Bob Oliver homer to win the game for the Angels. This win set Ryan on a 5 game winning streak where he didn't allow more than 3 runs or 6 hits in any of those games. None of those were the no-hitters, but I have a feeling we may see him again in this section.....
This date also became a big day in the Watergate saga. It was on June 23, 1972 when President Nixon and H.R. Haldeman were taped formulating a plan to cover up the break-in. The tape didn't come out until August 1974, but it was enough to put the final shovel of dirt on the Nixon Administration. I'm sure they didn't know it at the time, but it's a good lesson. If there's something going on bad, you might as well fess up, because someone will find you out.
Baseball card stories from Pete Zoccolillo
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