Monday, August 01, 2011

#335 Mickey Lolich

#335 Mickey Lolich
The last of the recent three-spot of cards from Ed is this gently used Mickey Lolich. I'll probably look to upgrade this one when I can. Lolich is the author of one of my favorite quotes. The overweight hurler once said, "All the fat guys watch me and say to their wives, 'See, there's a fat guy doing okay. Bring me another beer'."

Fun facts about Mickey Lolich:

-A Portland, OR native, Mickey was naturally right-handed but learned to throw lefty after breaking his left arm as a child and performing exercises to strengthen the previously immobilized muscles. He signed with the Tigers in 1958 for a $30,000 bonus.

-He finally got the call to the big leagues at age 22 in 1963, after learning to command his pitches rather than just relying on throwing hard. He earned his first win with a 3-1 decision over the Angels on May 28. He went the distance, scattering eight hits that day.

-Lolich took a great leap forward in 1964, going 18-9 with a 3.26 ERA and leading Detroit with 6 shutouts, 12 complete games, a 1.12 WHIP, and 192 strikeouts.

-After contributing to the Tigers' American League championship in 1968 with a 17-9 mark and a 3.19 ERA, Mickey practically carried them to a World Series win over the Cardinals. He hurled complete game victories in each of his three starts, outdueling Bob Gibson in a 4-1 win in the Game Seven clincher. In all, he allowed 5 earned runs in 27 innings (1.67 ERA), striking out 21 batters and walking only 6 to earn Series MVP honors. He even hit his only career home run in the third inning of Game Two to push his lead to 2-0!

-He had a pair of 16-strikeout games in 1969, baffling the Angels on May 23 and shutting down the Pilots two starts later on June 9.

-The lefty was a three-time All-Star, including a career year in 1971: 25-14, 2.92 ERA. He led the American League in wins and also led with 29 complete games, 376 innings pitched, and 308 strikeouts (the latter a team record). He finished second to Vida Blue in Cy Young voting. Blue was 24-8 with a 1.82 ERA and 301 strikeouts, but pitched 64 fewer innings.

-Mickey was excellent in 1972 as well, going 22-14 with a 2.50 ERA, 23 complete games, and 250 strikeouts in 327.1 innings. He helped the Tigers capture the A.L. East crown, but did not pick up a win in either ALCS start against the Athletics. He pitched into the 11th inning in the opener, but was pulled with a 2-1 lead after allowing a pair of singles. Reliever Chuck Seelbach allowed both runs to score on a Gonzalo Marquez single, and Lolich was saddled with the loss. In Game Four, he helped the Tigers stave off elimination with nine innings of one-run ball (leaving his career postseason ERA at 1.57), but left with the scored tied. Seelbach (that guy AGAIN) surrendered two runs in the top of the tenth, but the Tigers rallied with three of their own in the bottom of the inning. Detroit lost a 2-1 heartbreaker in Game Five to miss out on the World Series.

-Detroit's fortunes plummeted in the mid-1970s, and Lolich was saddled with 39 losses in 1974 and 1975. The Tigers swapped him to the Mets in December 1975 for Rusty Staub, but his fortunes were no better: he went 8-13 in 1976 despite a 3.22 ERA. He butted heads with his trainer and pitching coach, and sat out the second year of his contract in 1977.

-Mickey ended his career with a two-year stint in San Diego, retiring in 1979 with a career record of 217-191 in parts of 16 seasons. He had a 3.44 lifetime ERA, and struck out 2,832 batters, still 18th-most in history.

-He ran a donut shop in the suburbs of Detroit for several years before selling his business and retiring with his wife Joyce. He splits his time between Oregon and Michigan, and his hobbies include biking, archery, shooting, and ham radios. He remained on the Hall of Fame ballot for the full 15 years of eligibility, peaking with 25.5% of the vote in 1988. He has been a Veterans' Committee finalist three times in recent years, but failed to draw enough votes for enshrinement.
#335 Mickey Lolich (back)


  1. After the 1975 season, Lolich was the all-time major league lefthanded strikeout king.

  2. Can you imagine pitching 376 innings? That's a good two years for lots of pitchers today. It's a wonder his arm didn't fall off.

  3. Eric - It's a shame Randy Johnson and Co. had to spoil his fun.

    Marc - Seriously. Justin Verlander throws 240 a year and people think he's a cyborg.

  4. Love the quote. It seems to really go with that smug/goofy look on the card.