Wednesday, January 11, 2012

#310 - Terry Forster

This is a great card and we've nearly seen it before. Bart Johnson's card photo is taken in front of pretty much the same group of blurry fans. I got curious and did some digging and it looks like this game may be from July 1 in Oakland. If so then I am wrong about the time of Rollie Fingers' card since I had opined that it was a playoff shot. I now believe that it is also from this game and the reason for the fat Oakland crowd is that this was the third game in a series between the teams in which they were tied for first at its outset. Oakland won the game 3-0, with Blue Moon Odom and Fingers shutting down the Sox against Johnson and this guy here. But Terry did pretty well, throwing nearly five innings of shutout ball himself. He looks pretty nimble here which is a stark contrast to how he'd look later in his career. This card is also the first in what will be three straight action shots and I always like those.

Terry Forster was born in South Dakota and moved to Santee California by the time he was in high school. There he attended a school called Santana where in 1970 he was named the state's Mr. Baseball. While researching this post I came upon the list of the guys that won that award. They are amazingly well-represented by future Major Leaguers. Terry was sandwiched between Jeff Burroughs and Keith Hernandez. On another post I will list all the winners. Back to Terry he was drafted by the White Sox in the second round of the '70 draft. That summer he had an excellent record in Single A in his only minor league stint in a long time. In '71 he was elevated all the way to Chicago.

Forster had a good rookie season for the Sox in '71. He then stepped up huge in '72, putting up a then Sox record 29 saves, along with his excellent ERA and over a strikeout an inning. '73 got interesting for him because he was having a very similar first half to the prior year's - at the time of this game (if I am correct) he was 1-1 with 11 saves and a 1.94 ERA - when some Sox pitching issues pretty much forced him into the rotation. While he did OK, his relieving numbers were much better and he finished the year with only 16 saves. But in '74 it was back to all relief and Terry responded by leading the AL with 24 saves and winning Fireman of the Year. In '75 he was off to another nice start when he injured his elbow in late May and was lost for essentially the rest of the season. In '76 staff ace Wilbur Wood got hurt and a couple other starters bombed so Terry and bullpen partner Goose Gossage were put in the rotation. That didn't go too well as they combined for an 11-29 record and the bullpen was decimated. After the season the two went to Pittsburgh for Richie Zisk and Silvio Martinez.

In '77 the two transplants paired up pretty well, Forster as the set-up guy, and Gossage as the closer, and both had comeback seasons, Terry going 6-4 after his 2-12 '76. After the season they each became free agents, Gossage going to the Yankees, and Terry to the Dodgers. In LA Forster continued his comeback, dropping his ERA over two runs as he pitched exclusively in the pen the first season since his big '72. His 1.92 ERA and 22 saves helped LA return to the playoffs and he had an excellent post-season. Early in '79, though, the elbow problems returned and he only put up 27 innings the next two seasons. In '81 he managed a tentative return where his season numbers were only so-so but he performed well in the playoffs and Series and won a ring. After a better '82 - at least until he gave up that Joe Morgan homer - he hit the free agent market again, this time landing in Atlanta.

For the Braves, Forster had his best regular season since '78 - 3-2 with 13 saves and a 2.16 ERA - and despite some injuries and his growing girth put up very good numbers his other two seasons there as well. Regarding that latter qualification, during his career Terry's weight got inflated by about 50 pounds to where during '85 David Letterman referred to him as a "fat tub of goo." In response Terry got a shot on Letterman's show and it was quite funny and showed Terry to be a pretty endearing and understanding guy. I have linked to his appearance on YouTube here. After that season he spent '86 with the Angels, where he again did pretty well, and in '87 signed with the Twins for whom he put up a few innings in the minors before he was done. Terry went 54-65 with a 3.23 ERA, five complete games, and 127 saves for his career. In the post-season he was 1-0 with eight shutout innings and nine strikeouts in his eight games. He was an excellent hitter, batting .397 with only nine K's in 78 career at bats. He has the highest lifetime average of any player with over 50 at bats.

Despite his winning personality, Forster sort of went low key after his playing career. His last few seasons playing he met and married a woman from Montreal and relocated to Quebec. I am unsure as to what he did professionally but for a bunch of years he has coached the little league team from a town called Val d'Or. I have linked to another site here in which a happy Terry poses with his team about two-thirds of the way down (since it is a site from Quebec, it is in French, so anyone wishing to view it may have to have it translated).

I covered a whole bunch of this stuff above but those star bullets are pretty good. Terry got a big card in '74 with a "10" designation. But his '73, despite being pretty good, certainly didn't eclipse a bunch of other guys' seasons who didn't get that honor. I think he got this number because of his '72 work and given his '74 season, this card could be regarded as being prescient.

For the hook-up we get help from an infielder who probably wished he could hit like our boy here:

1. Forster and Derrell Thomas '79 to '82 Dodgers;
2. Thomas and Dave Roberts '72 to '78 Padres.


  1. I definitely enjoy cards 100% more when there's a likely date to the picture. Also, I love cards of players I knew when I was a kid and first getting into the game ('82), but seeing them years before I got familiar with them.

  2. I always love seeing the old Sox uniforms of the early 70's!

  3. Does anybody know what Terry Forster is doing now and where?