Tuesday, August 18, 2009

#116 Cardinals Rookie Stars: Dave Dowling and Bob Tolan

#116 Cardinals Rookie Stars: Dave Dowling and Bob Tolan
Before we jump into the fun facts, here's an extra fun fact that relates to me. Several years ago, I unearthed a child's baseball glove with Bobby Tolan's facsimile signature on it from our basement. I believe it belonged to one of my aunts, but by the time I found it the thing was much too small for my long monkey fingers. Such is life.

Fun facts about Dave Dowling:

-A product of the University of California, native Louisianan Dowling was an All-Star with the Alaskan Goldpanners, a summer collegiate team. In 1963, he went 11-3 with team-records in ERA (0.85), complete games (seven) and strikeouts (217). He would be the first Goldpanner to reach the majors.

-Signed with the Cardinals in 1964.

-21-year-old Dave earned a late promotion to St. Louis in his first pro season after winning 10 games between AA and AAA with a 3.53 ERA.

-In his major league debut, he pitched a scoreless inning of mop-up relief in a 15-5 Redbirds loss.

-The Cubs picked up the southpaw off of waivers in early 1965, and he went 24-15 at AA and AAA combined over the next two seasons.

-Dave pitched his second - and final - major league game on September 22, 1966, scattering ten hits in a 7-2 complete-game victory over the Reds. He was one of only eight pitchers since WWII to go the distance in his only major league start. The most recent was Frank Williams, who tossed a whitewash in his sole start in 1984 and went on to pitch 332 games as a reliever.

-After two more years in the minors, Dowling hung up his spikes at the age of 25.

-Post-baseball, he became a dentist in the state of Washington. He now lives in Glendale, AZ.

Fun facts about Bob Tolan:

-Born in Los Angeles, Bobby signed with the Pirates as a teenager in 1963, but was drafted into the Cardinals organization the following year.

-He debuted with St. Louis in 1965 at age 19 but never did play full-time in his four seasons there. He did appear in two World Series (1967-1968), though.

-The day after the 1968 Fall Classic, the Redbirds dealt Tolan to Cincinnati for fellow outfielder Vada Pinson. Bobby had a breakout year in the Queen's City, batting .305 with 104 runs, 26 steals, and career highs in triples (10), home runs (21) and RBI (93).

-He was even better in 1970, with a .316 average, 112 runs, 34 doubles, and a league-leading 57 steals. He interrupted Lou Brock's string of N.L. stolen base titles (1966-1969, 1971-1974). He carried his success into the postseason, hitting .417 in the NLCS sweep over the Pirates before running into the Orioles in the World Series.

-After missing all of 1971 with a ruptured Achilles tendon, Bobby was the N.L. Comeback Player of the Year the following season (.283, 42 SB, 82 RBI). He drove in six runs and swiped five bags in the Reds' World Series loss to Oakland.

-1973 saw Tolan struggle both on and off the field. He hit only .206 and feuded with team management. After disappearing for a couple games and bucking the rules by growing a beard, he was finally suspended in late September and subsequently traded to the Padres for pitcher Clay Kirby.

-He played the entire 1974 season without a contract, serving as a test case against the reserve clause. The players' union filed a greivance, but the Padres eventually reached an agreement with the outfielder on a two-year deal covering 1974-1975.

-After coming off of the bench for the Phillies, Pirates, and Padres, with a year spent in Japan as a Nankai Hawk in between, Tolan called it a career following the 1979 season. In parts of 13 major league seasons, he hit .265 with 86 homers, 497 RBI and 193 steals.

-Bobby coached for the Padres (1980-1983) and managed in their minor league system (1984-1985), as well as in the Orioles (1988-1989) and White Sox (2006) organizations. He also managed and played for the St. Petersburg Pelicans of the short-lived Senior Professional Baseball Association, batting .320 and leading them to the league's only championship in 1989.

-His son Robbie played in the Nationals organization in 2007, but was shot in the liver late the following year by a police officer in Bellaire, TX. There is an ongoing investigation as to whether the incident was racially motivated.
#116 Cardinals Rookie Stars: Dave Dowling and Bob Tolan (back)


  1. I grew up in Glendale, AZ. I wonder what part of Glendale Dr. Dowling lives in.

  2. "shot in the liver" ouch! and to a drunk like me, double ouch!

  3. Max - Oh yeah, no fun under any circumstances. Looking at his stats online, he probably wouldn't have had much of a future in baseball, but it's still not a cool thing to have happen.

  4. Tolan ruptured his tendon playing hoops for the off-season Reds basketball team (all the teams had them back then). Pretty much wrecked his career.