Tuesday, April 19, 2011
#143 - Dick Woodson
Dick Woodson was a California kid who went to college somewhere in the state. He was 6'5" and went to school on a hoops scholarship. While there he was asked to try out for the baseball team which he did and made. A terrible hitter, he became a pitcher. While I am in the dark on the school at which he played, I do know that he pitched against Westmont College, another Cali school. It was during that game that a Twins scout saw him strike out the guy he was there to see - Jerry DaVanon - three times and signed Dick on the spot. That was in '65 and he was soon playing Rookie ball. His first couple years were rough. Both starting and relieving he couldn't get his ERA below 5.00. In '67 he was able to have a nice season around his military hitch and was seen by Billy Martin, at the time a Twins coach, who liked what he saw. That was a benefit to Dick because after a not great start at Double A Twins owner Calvin Griffith wanted to cut him. Instead Martin pushed him up to Triple A Denver where he went 2-0 in two starts with a 0.50 ERA. In '69 Billy was the manager and Dick was in the Twins bullpen where he had a pretty good rookie year. He got thumped by Reggie when he threw at him after Reggie hit a couple out off other pitchers. He also got into the playoffs that season although he had a poor series. In '70 Billy was gone and new manager Bill Rigney was not as big a fan. Dick shuttled between Minnesota and Evansville, another Triple A team, and his numbers went a little south. He would spend all of '71 in the minors, and as a starter for Portland, win 16 games.
In '72 Frank Quilici was named Twins manager. He was another Woodson fan and he kept Dick on the Twins roster. It would be his best season as he won 14 while posting a 2.71 ERA. Then came the bi-polar '73 season. It turned out that Dick's rotator cuff was torn, but that wasn't picked up for a season. In '74 Dick was the first player to go to salary arbitration. He had made $15,000 in '73 and wanted $30,000 for '74. The Twins offered $23,000 and Marvin Miller, who had just argued arbitration into being, wanted Dick to be his beta test. Dick won, but Griffith said he would never pay him that much and that May he made good on his word and traded Dick to the Yankees for Mike Pazik and some cash. Dick went 1-2 for NY and spent some time at Syracuse, their top minor team. Dick and his dad were big Dodger fans also and while he played for the Yankees, his dad wouldn't talk to him. In '75 Dick split time between the Rangers and Braves systems but his arm was toast as rotator cuff tears back then were career-killers. He finished 34-32 with a 3.47 ERA, 15 complete games, five shutouts, and a couple saves in the majors. In the post-season he put up an ERA over 10.00 in a few innings work and in the minors he went 40-42 with a 4.20 ERA.
Following baseball, Woodson became a sales rep for various companies. In the early '90s he was a purchasing manager for First American Credco. Shortly thereafter he helped develop, implement, and sell an AUTOCAD design system. That morphed into designing and implementing bar-coding software. He's been retired since 2007 and resides back in California. There is a pretty comprehensive interview of him here. I wish I'd seen this site before I did a bunch of digging. A lot of my info was verified here. The interview has tons of typos but it is entertaining and Dick shares some well-thought perspectives on playing in the '70s.
Yeah, this card's a mess. I've done some serious cropping and the card still looks like crap. Upgrade! The cartoon is a point of reference for a discussion on pitching. Dick's out pitch was his curve and he pitched from the stretch - what they call "no-windup" now - pretty much all the time. The stretch shortens the process of pitching and gives the catcher more time to deal with the base runners. Dick's arbitration filing was really a big deal historically and a few legal papers have been written regarding it, a couple of them viewable online.
This is the third AL guy in a row (so much for my argument about the A's and the Mets having cards close to each other), but these short careers are tough:
1. Woodson and Steve Braun '72 to '74 Twins;
2. Braun and Johnny Briggs '75 Twins;
3. Briggs and Pedro Garcia '73 to '75 Brewers.