Saturday, April 25, 2020

Born on the Same Day - 9/21/1942

Another installment in my "Born on the Same Day" series, featuring players who were born on the same day (!) and year. 

This is post #27 in the series: Sam McDowell and Billy Wilson - both born on 9/21/1942.

Wow, has there ever been 2 players in this "Born on the Same Day" series with such different careers?

Sam McDowell was the AL strikeout king from 1965-1970. He pitched 425 games (winning 141) over 15 years, and was a 5-time All-Star.

Billy Wilson was just another Phillies' pitcher not named Steve Carlton back in the early 1970s. He pitched 83 games (all in relief) between 1969 and 1973, posting a career record on 9-15.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Dick Drago (#37)

It's April, and time for some spring cleaning on my blogs. Gone are the sidebar lists of "Oldest Living Players Not Blogged" and "Top 20 Players to be blogged". In their place are extended "On-deck" lists of who's next.

I was also reviewing what I had left to post, and found about 50 for my 1969 blog, 30 for 1970, only 12 for 1968, and only 12 combined for my 1967 (wow, I was caught napping there!), 1966, and 1965 blogs. 

So as I rotate through these blogs, the 1969 blog will take a double shift, while the 1965-68 blogs will alternate in each lap. (Those last 4 blogs have all the remaining planned posts listed in the "Final Countdown" sidebars.) Who knows, when I get to the end I may just free-lance as the spirit moves me.

This is Dick Drago's first solo card. (He appeared on a Royals Rookies car in 1969.)

Drago was signed by the Tigers in September 1964. He got into a few games that year in the Florida Instructional League, then pitched the next 4 seasons in the Tigers' farm system.

Unlike many of the youngsters on the 4 expansion teams in 1969, Drago did not get a look-see by his former team in September 1968 before being exposed to the expansion draft.

He was selected by the Royals in the draft and made his major-league debut on April 11, 1969. Drago played the next 13 seasons for various American League teams: 5 with the Royals, 2 with the Red Sox, 1 ½ with the Angels, a half-season with the Orioles, and back to Boston for 3 more years before finishing up with the Mariners in 1981.

As a rookie in 1969, Dick was the Royals' #2 starter behind the veteran Wally Bunker (actually they were both 24 years old). He started 26 games along with 15 relief appearances.

In 1970 he was the staff ace, pitching 240 innings (26 more than the next guy) although slumping to a 9-15 record. Drago rebounded in 1971 to win 17 games, and maintained his spot atop the rotation through the 1972 season.

With the arrival of Paul Splittorff in '72 and Steve Busby the following year, by 1973 Drago slipped to #3 in the rotation. After the season he was traded to Boston for pitcher Marty Pattin.

His role changed in Boston. A swingman in 1974, he converted to full-time bullpen duty in 1975 (and for the rest of his career), collecting 15 saves in 72 innings over 40 games. He also appeared in 2 ALCS games and 2 World Series games.

Drago was traded to the Angels before the 1976 season and to the Orioles in mid-1977. While with the Angels, in July 1976 he gave up Hank Aaron's 755th and final home run.

After being granted free agency in October 1977, he re-signed with the Red Sox. (Boston also signed Drago's former Royals teammate Tom Burgmeier in that off-season.)
Dick led the staff in saves in 1979, and was a setup man for Bob Stanley ('78) and Burgmeier ('80) in the other years.

Drago was traded to the Mariners the day before the 1981 season for pitcher Manny Sarmiento. After one season there he was released the following April.