Saturday, January 30, 2021
Roger Nelson had a 9 (essentially 6) year career from 1967-76, mostly with the Kansas City Royals.
Nelson was signed by the White Sox in 1963, and played 5 seasons in their farm system, culminating with a cup of coffee for the Sox in September 1967, where he pitched 7 innings over 5 games.
After the season Roger was included in the deal that sent Don Buford and Bruce Howard to the Orioles in exchange for Luis Aparicio, Russ Snyder, and John Matias.
He and Wally Bunker were not only the 2 youngest pitchers on the 10-man staff, but also made the least amount of appearances as they swung back and forth between 5th starter and occasional reliever. (The O’s had Dave McNally, Jim Hardin, and Tom Phoebus at the front of their rotation, with Gene Brabender and Dave Leonard as the primary swingmen filling the 4th starter’s slot. Eddie Watt, Moe Drabowsky, and Pete Richert were the 3 primary relievers, so there wasn’t much for Nelson or Bunker to do.)
Left unprotected in the October 1968 expansion draft, Nelson was selected by the Royals (as was his O’s teammate Bunker). Together they headed up the starting rotation for the new Royals team. (Nelson made 29 starts, and was the only one of the 16 pitchers used by KC that season who made no relief appearances.)
Injuries limited him to 4 games in 1970 and 13 games in 1971. He returned to full-time duty in 1972, making 19 starts (3rd on the team) and 15 relief appearances while posting a 11-6 record and a 2.08 ERA.
In November 1972 he was traded to the Reds (with outfielder Richie Scheinblum) for pitcher Wayne Simpson and outfielder Hal McRae. Roger pitched for the Reds for 2 seasons, appearing in 14 games each year as a small cog in the Big Red Machine.
Nelson was sold back to the White Sox after the 1974 season, but he was released during spring training the following year. The Athletics took a flyer on him, but after 20 games with their AA team, he was released in early-August.
The Royals picked him up in April 1976, and he played most of ’76 and all of ’77 with their AAA team, making his final 3 MLB appearances with Kansas City in September 1976.
Roger played for the Pirates’ AAA team in 1978, and in Mexico in 1979 before retiring.