Friday, July 29, 2011

#297 Dave DeBusschere

#297 Dave DeBusschere
Here's another card from Ed, and it's one I'd wanted for a long time. Either it's just random chance that it took so long for me to obtain it, or there are a lot of Knicks fans out there who are hoarding Dave DeBusschere. He joins a list of two-sport athletes in my collection that includes Dick Groat, Steve Hamilton, Ron Reed, Danny Ainge, Bo Jackson, Brian Jordan, Mark Hendrickson, and Deion Sanders. In addition to the preceding list of MLB players with either NBA or NFL experience, I can't forget former Harlem Globetrotter Bob Gibson!

Fun facts about Dave DeBusschere:

-Dave was born in Detroit, MI, and attended the University of Detroit Mercy before signing with the White Sox in 1962 for a $75,000 bonus. He had also been drafted by the NBA's Detroit Pistons, and chose the Sox over the hometown Tigers because they permitted him to pursue a career in pro basketball in addition to pitching.

-At age 21, he spent a portion of his first pro season in the major leagues. Despite walking 23 batters in 18 innings, he allowed only 7 runs (4 earned) for a 2.00 ERA.

-The 6'6" righthander had a much easier time of things in the minors, going 10-1 with a 2.49 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 94 innings at Class A Savannah/Lynchburg in 1962.

-Dave had an impressive rookie campaign for the Pistons in 1962-63, averaging 12.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game and making the All-Rookie Team.

-DeBusschere was up in the majors for the duration in 1963, working as both a starter and reliever. In 24 games (10 starts), he had a 3-4 record with a 3.09 ERA. He also improved his control significantly, dropping from 11.5 walks per 9 innings to 3.6.

-He tossed his first and only career shutout on August 13, 1963, holding the Indians to six hits (all singles) and a walk. He did not allow a hit after the fifth inning, and retired the final ten Cleveland batters in order.

-Dave spent the 1964 and 1965 baseball seasons at AAA Indianapolis, winning 15 games in each year. However, both the White Sox and the Pistons pressured him to limit himself to one sport or the other, figuring that he would not reach his full potential otherwise.

-When the Pistons named him as player-coach in 1964, it hastened his exit from baseball. He hung up his spikes for good in 1965, leaving with a 3-4 record and a 2.90 ERA in parts of two big league seasons.

-DeBusschere lasted only three seasons as Detroit's coach (with a .356 win percentage), but remained a star player for a decade. He was an eight-time All-Star at forward and guard for the Pistons and Knicks, and had six first-team All-Defensive player honors. He was a key contributor for the championship Knicks teams in 1970 and 1973, and retired with career averages of 16 points and 11 rebounds per game. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983.

-He joined the front office of the ABA's New York (later New Jersey) Nets after retiring, and for a brief period served as the commissioner of the NBA's rival league. Later he rejoined the Knicks as an assistant coach and director of basketball operations. During his tenure in New York, he drafted Patrick Ewing. DeBusschere suffered a fatal heart attack at age 62, collapsing on a Manhattan street on May 14, 2003.
#297 Dave DeBusschere (back)


  1. Every time I see a card of his I think about ol' Red Barber and how he pronounced DeBusschere's name in a proper french manner.

    I miss Red Barber.

  2. You need to add the excruciatingly mediocre DJ Dozier to that collection.

  3. DeBusschere was only 24 when he became the Pistons coach, the youngest NBA coach ever. I think the coaching gig was an attempt by the Pistons to get him to drop his committment to baseball.

    I can think of two other basketbal\baseball players. Milwaukee Brave Gene Connelly and 1970 Twins prospect Cotton Nash (not a great player but a really great name)

  4. Bob - Red misses you too. Or not. But it's not out of the question.

    Max - Yeah, I think I've got his 1993 Donruss or some such treasure.

    Douglas - Cotton Nash is a great name. Current Orioles pitcher Mark Hendrickson played a few years for the Nets and 76ers. 6'9".