Tuesday, December 15, 2009

#491 Tracy Stallard

#491 Tracy Stallard
So, any guesses as to Tracy Stallard's favorite song? My money is on Johnny Cash's classic "A Boy Named Sue".

Fun facts about Tracy Stallard:

-A native of Coeburn, VA, Tracy signed with the Red Sox in 1956.

-He reached the majors in 1960, his fifth professional season, and turned in four scoreless relief appearances.

-Famously surrendered Roger Maris' record-breaking 61st home run on October 1, 1961 - the final day of the season. Though Stallard has denied grooving the 2-0 fastball that Maris hit, he has said that he's glad he was the one to give it up: "Otherwise, I would never have been thought of again."

-That fateful home run capped a rocky rookie season (2-7, 4.88 ERA) that was his only full campaign in Boston. After appearing in a single game in 1962, he was traded to the still-new (and still-terrible) Mets.

-Stallard continued to scuffle in his first season in New York, going 9-17 with a 4.71 ERA. It was the farewell year for the Polo Grounds ballpark, and manager Casey Stengel told his young hurler: "At the end of the season they're gonna tear this joint down. The way you're pitching, that right-field section will be gone already."

-Thing started coming together for Tracy in 1964; if only the same could be said for his team. Despite a solid 3.79 ERA in 225.2 innings and 11 complete games, he won only ten games while leading the National League with 20 losses. Seven of his losses came in starts in which he allowed one or two earned runs, and he received no-decisions in three other such games. He was also on the losing end of Jim Bunning's perfect game, but pitched poorly that day anyhow (six earned runs allowed in 5.2 innings).

-Paroled by a December trade to the Cardinals, Stallard was even better in 1965. He set personal bests in won-lost record (11-8), ERA (3.38), and hits per nine innings (8.0).

-He seemed to fall apart in 1966, racking up a 5.68 ERA and losing his spot in the St. Louis rotation. A midseason demotion signalled the end of his major league career; despite pitching effectively at various minor league and Mexican League stops through 1973, no big league club ever took a flier on him. In parts of seven MLB seasons, he was 30-57 with a 4.17 ERA.

-It's a good thing that he had his pitching to fall back on; Tracy is reportedly the only player in major league history to collect at least 200 career plate appearances while failing to draw a single walk! He batted .110 with a .113 on-base percentage (owing to a single hit-by-pitch) in 258 trips to the plate, and his career strikeout-to-walk ratio was 88-0.

-After his playing days ended, Stallard worked in the coal and construction businesses.
#491 Tracy Stallard (back)


  1. He pitched in the first game I saw at Shea. It was either in '64 or '65 against the Dodgers. I remember my friend's dad took us and talked about the Maris home run with the guys behind us. That one I saw on TV.

  2. Makes me think of Jack Fisher, the O's pitcher who gave up Maris's #60. Fisher and Stallard were both on the '64 Mets and each managed to win 10 games.

  3. Bob - I came across something odd in my research. There was a Baseball Digest article from 1992 written by Dan Shaughnessy in which he interviewed Stallard, who seemed very candid about his career and the Maris HR. But there's a NY Times article from 1998 (McGwire/Sosa) that makes it seem as if Stallard has been underground for decades, refusing to talk about the HR and putting his family members under a gag order. Something doesn't add up.

    Doug - Double-digit wins was no small feat on that team! Al Jackson led the full time starters with 11 wins and a .407 win percentage (16 losses). Jackson's another O's link, as he went on to become Frank Robinson's pitching coach in Baltimore.