Sunday, October 05, 2008

#184 John Boozer

John Boozer by you.
Wofford College's own John Boozer is the next player to visit our blog. The right-hander signed with the Phillies as an amateur free agent in 1958, and according to Wikipedia, he got some extra seasoning in the Puerto Rican Winter League between 1961 and 1963, teaming with the likes of Nelson Briles and Steve Carlton. The same source indicates that he was a fan favorite due to his frequent jokes, many of them self-deprecating in nature. Apparently he had an especially good rapport with children, and dressed as a clown during the league's All-Star Game. He finally made his debut in a Philadelphia uniform in 1962. That year, he pitched out of the bullpen, struggling in nine games with a 5.75 ERA.

In his sophomore season, Boozer turned in his finest effort as a major leaguer. He worked as both a starter (8 games) and a reliever (18 games), and struck out 69 batters in 83 innings with a 2.93 ERA. He completed 2 of his starts, including his first career win: a three-hit, 5-1 gem against Houston. He had trouble following up on his successes in 1964 (5.07 ERA), and couldn't stick with the Phils in 1965-1966. The tenacious Boozer rebounded to have three decent seasons in the City of Brotherly Love, with ERAs between 3.67 and 4.28 from 1967-1969 and 8 wins plus a dozen saves. Sadly, he died young, succumbing to Hodgkins lymphoma at age forty-seven in 1986.

Fun fact: The most bizarre incident of Boozer's career took place on May 2, 1968, when he took the field to warm up prior to a relief appearance against the Mets. It was the bottom of the seventh inning at Shea Stadium, and he went to his mouth between tosses. Even though play had not resumed, umpire Ed Vargo called a ball on the John, per the rules against throwing spitballs. Manager Gene Mauch went ballistic, arguing with Vargo and ordering Boozer to repeat his actions. The reliever did so - twice - and the ump called two more balls and ejected the skipper and his player. John Boozer became the second pitcher in baseball history to be tossed for throwing a spitball. Dick Hall replaced him, inheriting the 3-0 count and inducing a groundout from batter Bud Harrelson. Nonetheless, the Mets bested the Phils 3-0, with young fireballer Nolan Ryan earning the second of 324 career wins. The following day, National League president Warren Giles clarified the rule, declaring that a pitcher who moistens his fingers while warming up will not be charged with a ball. Instead, he will simply be ordered to dry his fingers before throwing to the batter.

John Boozer (back) by you.

No comments:

Post a Comment