|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.
- 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.
- 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
- Led Eastern Michigan to the College World Series in '76, losing the title game to Arizona.
- The Dodgers took Welch in the first round (20th overall) in the '77 draft.
- Made 13 starts in '78, winning seven games and saving three.
- 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.
- Wrote the '81 book Five O'Clock Comes Early about his dependency.