Tuesday, January 27, 2009

#84 Ron Herbel

HERBEL by you.
There are lots of fun details to this Ron Herbel card. There's the closeup of his Wilson glove, the simple Giants jersey insignia, and the tiny, blurry teammate on the diamond behind him. Of course there's also Ron himself, who looks like the coolest cat on the field. Ohhh yeah.

Fun facts about Ron Herbel:

-Leads University of Northern Colorado alumni in career major league wins (42).

-His first full season in the major leagues was his best. As a swingman with the 1964 Giants, he went 9-9 with seven complete games and a 3.07 ERA.

-Struck out a personal-best 14 Reds batters in a 7-hit, complete game win on June 24, 1964.

-Won a career-high 12 games in 1965.

-In 1970, Ron led the National League with 76 games pitched, all but one in relief. He tossed 124 innings between the Padres and Mets, going 9-7 and finishing 38 games.

-With a career batting average of .029 (6-for-206), Herbel is the worst hitter in major league history with at least 100 at-bats. That's a -70 OPS+. He did hit two doubles, at least. Said Herbel, "I hit 10 homers my senior year in high school. But I didn't have to face Koufax and Drysdale in high school."

-Another amusing quote, this one from Bob Uecker: "I hit a grand slam off Ron Herbel and when his manager Herman Franks came out to get him, he was bringing Herbel's suitcase." To be fair, Herbel actually stayed in after giving up the granny and pitched a scoreless inning and one-third. The damage had been done, and the Giants lost to the Braves, 9-2.

-A not-so-fun fact is that Ron passed away on January 20, 2000 at age 62.

-I should also mention that Ron Herbel is unfortunately one of those players who has sparse biographical information online; even Wikipedia and the Baseball Reference Bullpen are pretty bare. A Yahoo search for his name turned up the checklist page of my blog in the first ten results.
HERBELB by you.

7 comments:

  1. Well, even with little biographical information to work from, the fact that Herbel was the worst hitter in MLB history makes the post worth reading alone.

    Keep up the good research!

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  2. Thanks! Thanks to the awesome SI Vault, I did find a Tim Kurkjian article about lousy-hitting pitchers. That's where I got the quote from Herbel.

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  3. It's funny. My buddy and i are friends with his grandson, Stephen Herbel. He is the one who told us the fun fact about his batting average. In case your wondering he can't hit a lick either.

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  4. Ron and my Dad coached my hollywood ball team for several years from the age of about 9-13 (early 70's). What a great guy. Calm, patient, and with the utmost humility and grace. I have great memories of him and my Dad. Both gone now. Thanks Ron! Thanks Dad!

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  5. I was always a huge SF Giant fan living in NY. As a little boy, my dad took me see them for the first time in 1966. Although I was snubbed by the big name future HOFers on the squad, Ron was the only Giant who came over to sign my scorecard and chat for a moment. Sad that he died so young.

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  6. Yes, I'm not surprised to read that my father, Ron Herbel, was one of those players that always took the time to sign an autograph and chat with a fan. That is simply the kind of man he was. He is greatly missed!

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  7. I grew up in Tacoma watching Ron Herbel pitch for the Tacoma Giants. After I retired and reviewed my collection of autographed baseballs, I see that Ron Herbel's autograph was on each of these baseballs. I remember Ron being very cooperative, standing and signing autographs outside the clubhouse after each game. I was among his young admirers at the time. He was indeed a gentleman, and a pretty talented pitcher.

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