Tuesday, August 23, 2011

#233 - Jim Barr

I've always liked this card of Jim Barr. On the back it says he was a wrestler in high school and here he looks like he's getting ready to get down on the mat. Other than that Candlestick in this shot looks completely sterile.

Jim Barr is yet another Cali kid who played very hard to get. While he attended USC he was drafted by and shot down in order the Angels, Phillies, Yankees, Pirates, and Twins. He was finally drafted and successfully signed by the Giants in the third round upon his graduation in '70. While at USC Jim won two College World Series and was teammates with Dave Kingman and Bill Lee. He won the Series game in '70 with eight innings of shutout relief and was 14-2 for the season. From '67 to '69 he also spent summers playing ball for the Alaska Goldpanners for whom he went a combined 19-3 (here is his Goldpanner page), the team's best all-time record. So Jim was a pretty hot property when he went to the minors. He did well his first two seasons, joining the Double A rotation in '70 and relieving at Triple A in '71. That second year he got called up to SF, threw very well and even got some playoff action. In '72 he had a losing record despite an excellent ERA in a season split between the rotation and the pen. In '73 Jim worked his way into the rotation and despite again having a losing record, put up his first of what would be five consecutive seasons of double-digit wins. Like Fritz Peterson, Jim was a big guy with a decent fastball but whose real specialty was control (he averaged only two walks per nine innings). He also had an excellent move to first. His best season was '76 when he went 15-12 with a 2.89 ERA in 37 games. In '77 Jim began to have injury issues - I believe it was his shoulder or elbow - and his ERA ballooned as his '76 record reversed itself. His ERA returned to earth in '78, his final season as a Giant.

In '79 Barr signed as a free agent with the Angels. That year he went 10-12 as mostly a starter but with some time in the pen as well. His injuries really influenced his time on the mound as he missed the playoffs that year and then most of the '80 season which was otherwise pretty horrible (1-4 with a 5.56 ERA). He was released by the Angels at the end of spring training in '81 and a few months later signed with the White Sox for whom he pitched a couple months in Triple A before he was again released. Prior to the '82 season he returned to the Giants where he put up two pretty decent years, mainly in relief. The Giants cut him loose in early '84 and he hooked up for a bit with the Orioles' Triple A Rochester club. But that didn't go too well and he stepped down after a few weeks. Jim recorded a record of 101-112 with a 3.56 ERA, 64 complete games, and 12 saves. In the post-season he had a 9.00 ERA in one inning. After playing Jim would pitch in the MSBL, a senior league for players 40-plus from '88 to 2005. Since '94 he has been the pitching coach at Sacramento State College. Both his daughters played professional soccer in the States.

Jim's one star bullet takes up a lot of space and it's a good one. It is still the record in the NL - in 2009 Mark Buehrle pulled off 45 innings for the White Sox - and Bernie Carbo hit a double in the second game to break it up. Jim is so far tied with Tim Foli for the shortest name on the blog.

Barr's couple seasons in the AL help here:

1. Barr and Rod Carew '79 to '80 Angels;
2. Carew and Steve Brye '70 to '76 Twins.

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