Sunday, October 5, 2014

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #151 BOB WELCH

STARED DOWN ALCOHOLISM.


MIGHT HAVE HAD THE TOP SERIES MOMENT FOR A ROOKIE.



DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • Bob Welch had some spectacular highs during a 17-year career in which he won 211 games. There was the classic showdown with Reggie in Game 2 of the 1978 World Series, a 27-batter 1-hitter in '80 and a 27-win Cy Young Award season in '90. Even his low point led to another accomplishment: becoming one of the first athletes to admit to and seek treatment for alcoholism. Tragically, Welch died on June 9, 2014, after a fall in his bathroom at age 57.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • A rookie in '78 who pitched a little over 100 innings coming into the postseason, Welch was on center stage in Game 2 of the World Series on Oct. 11. He took the ball from Terry Forster with runners on first and second and one out in the ninth, the Dodgers leading the Yankees 4-3. He got Thurman Munson on a fly to right for the second out, bringing up Mr. October, Reggie Jackson. The tension-filled at-bat lasted nearly five minutes and nine pitches, with Welch firing fastballs exclusively, a couple high and tight, and Jackson swinging from his heels. Welch finally got one by the frustrated Jackson on a full count to lock down the save and the game.




DEFINING SEASON

  • In '90, Welch became the first pitcher to win 27 games since Steve Carlton in '72. He compiled a 2.95 ERA, pitched 238 innings and had an ERA+ of 125 for the AL champion Athletics. He easily won the Cy Young over #104 Roger Clemens, who won 21 games but whose WAR (10.6) was superior to Welch's (3.0). As Al Davis would say, "Just win, baby!''

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. Led Eastern Michigan to the College World Series in '76, losing the title game to Arizona.
  2. The Dodgers took Welch in the first round (20th overall) in the '77 draft.
  3. Made 13 starts in '78, winning seven games and saving three.
  4. His drinking started to get out of control in '79, forcing him to admit he was an alcoholic and seek treatment that lasted 36 days.
  5. Wrote the '81 book Five O'Clock Comes Early about his dependency.

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