Thursday, May 5, 2011

#156 - Randy Moffitt

Sticking to the west coast we cross the bay to Candlestick and Randy Moffitt during year two of his generally efficient major league career. While at San Francisco, Randy essentially was half of a tandem of closers, first Elias Sosa and then Gary Lavelle. Randy had a nice sophomore season in '73, leveling out his record while dropping over a run from his ERA and posting 14 saves. While things were going pretty well for him on the mound, it would also be a memorable year for something having nothing to do with baseball.

Randy Moffitt was drafted by the Giants in 1970 out of the University of California, Long Beach. He grew up in Long Beach and while at school set records in innings and strikeouts. He had an excellent start to his career at Single A Fresno and jumped to Triple A in '71. After a tough time in the rotation he was moved to the pen where he remained for all of '72. He came up the latter part of that season, unfortunately during the annual Giants swoon and had a decent, but not spectacular, rookie season, garnering four saves. '73 would be one of the better seasons and was also a good year for his sister - Billie Jean King - who beat Bobby Riggs in the "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match. His ERA bloated a couple runs in '74 but he topped out in saves that season with 15. After a prosaic '75 he had his best year in '76, topping out in innings while posting 14 saves and a 2.27 ERA. He had two more good seasons in '77 and '78; overall from '73 through '78 he did good work, averaging 61 games, five wins, and 13 saves over that period.

In '79 Randy's numbers tanked as he developed a stomach ailment that restricted his pitching to 28 games, many of them in extreme pain. It turned out the ailment was an intestinal parasite called cryptosporidia enteritis that took nearly two years to diagnose. The parasite is common in horses but in the few cases to that time it had been recorded in humans, it was almost always fatal. For the next two seasons '80 and '81, Randy pitched only 27 innings while dealing with his ailment. The Giants cut him in August of '81, leaving him to deal with the rest of his recovery on his own. For the '82 season he hooked up with Houston and threw pretty well, going 2-4 with three saves and a 3.02 ERA in 30 games. In '83 he signed with the Blue Jays and had a rocking beginning to his season, going 3-0 with six saves and a 1.59 ERA in his first 18 games, usurping the role of team closer. He cooled off significantly, though still posting the best numbers of any Blue Jay reliever that season, finishing 6-2 with a 3.77 ERA and ten saves. But Toronto didn't pick up his contract and after a one-game shot with the Brewers' Triple A club, he was through. Randy finished with a record of 43-52, 96 saves, and a 3.65 ERA He did some nice work at the plate, too, recording a .313 average in '75 and a .214 the following year, and didn't strike out terribly much. In the minors he was 16-17 with a 3.22 ERA. 

Moffitt has gone radio silent since playing. I can find the odd photo and he is an advisor for the Gay and Lesbian Athletic Foundation but I have no idea what he has done for any of the past 37 years. He was very interested in horses and had a grooming license at one point but I cannot find out if he pursued that path. But his sister is still pretty high-profile.

The card back is pretty unassuming. I guess Randy was also, since the fishing angle was a dead end as well.The guy who won that ERA title in '70 was a Bakerfield Dodger by the name of Al Dawson who went 17-6 that year but flamed out quickly after that and never made The Show.

These two get connected by a big trade:

1. Moffitt and Vida Blue '78 to '81 Giants;
2. Blue and Bert Campaneris '69 to '76 A's.

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