Tuesday, October 21, 2008

#23 Bob Tiefenauer

Bob Tiefenauer by you.
The next stop on the 1965 Topps Express involves a trade with Max, who previously sent me Zoilo, Chico, and Len. I was pretty slow in getting to the post office after Max's first mailing, so I tried to sweeten the package I eventually did send. He must have been pleased, because he sent me another cache of 1965's that will be featured in the not-too-distant future! For now, we begin batch two of three from Max with Milwaukee moundsman Bob Tiefenauer. For what it's worth, Baseball Reference refers to him, while Topps can't make up their mind from one year to the next - or even from front to back, as you'll see below! "Bobby Tiefenauer" has a jaunty ring to it, so I'll go with Bobby for the duration of this entry.

Bobby joined the Cardinals organization out of high school, and debuted with the big club in 1952 as a 22-year-old. He struggled with his control and was knocked around (7.88 ERA in 8 innings), and returned to the bus leagues until 1955. He was improved (4.41 ERA, 1.25 WHIP), but St. Louis dealt the righty to Detroit, kicking off his career as a journeyman's journeyman. It would be another five years before he made it back to the majors, thanks to a detour to Toronto of the International League. He would have cameos with the Indians in 1960 and the Cardinals (again) in 1961 before getting a legitimate shot with the brand-new Houston Colt .45s in 1962. He pitched a career-high 85 relief innings that year (he never started a game in his career), with a run-of-the-mill 4.34 ERA. The following year, he was dealt to the Cards once more, and they sent him to the Braves in the blink of an eye.

In Milwaukee, Bobby attained the closest thing to permanence in his life as a player. He developed a knuckleball and lasted parts of three seasons with the club, peaking in 1964 with 4 wins, 13 saves, and a 3.21 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. He was not as effective in 1965, and dinged from one team to the next (Braves to Yankees to Indians). His final two seasons in the bigs (1967 and 1968), he threw only 24 and 2/3 innings for the Tribe and the Cubs. He never had a winning season (9-25), but did post a 3.84 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, not bad for a day's work. Post-retirement, the ex-pitcher finally had a chance to stay put somewhere, spending about twenty years in the Phillies organization as a coach.

Fun fact: Tiefenauer was a less than skilled hitter, with just one hit in 39 career at-bats (.026). His lone safety was a double off Jack Sanford of the Giants on September 29, 1962.
Bob Tiefenauer (back) by you.

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