Friday, July 27, 2012

#406 - Steve Arlin

Here we have the first card of a Padre not joined by one with a “Washington NL” designation. By this point in the set it was clear that new ownership of the team – namely Ray Kroc – would keep it in San Diego so the team designation on all the cards – even the ones already issued – would revert to San Diego. So Topps had to do reissues of all the Padres who had cards before Steve here who looks mildly discomfited even though he didn’t have to go through the process. I can certainly understand why. In ’73 he finally put together a season in which his losses didn’t pretty much completely overwhelm his wins but somehow managed to inflate his ERA by way over a run in the process. If he could only have matched his worse ERA of the prior two years he probably would have more than turned his record around. Tough time to be in San Diego and Steve was probably pining for his days back in Ohio.

Steve Arlin was born in Seattle and by his high school days was living and pitching in Ohio. After graduating in ’63 he went to Ohio State where he would become one of the best college pitchers ever. His sophomore year of ’65 he went 13-2 with a school-record 165 strikeouts including 20 in a 15-inning game during the CWS, which they ultimately lost – the series, not the game – to Arizona State. After that season he was drafted by Detroit but opted to stay in school. In ’66 he went 11-1 with 129 strikeouts while leading Ohio State to its only CWS title and winning MVP of the tournament. Both seasons he was an All-American. After his junior year he was tabbed by the Phillies in the draft and this time opted to go when Philadelphia met his asking price of $106,000. In A ball that summer he did pretty well, going 7-6 with a 3.27 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 110 innings. The next year he didn’t start pitching until late June because a stipulation of his contract was that he be allowed to attend school until he finished. He threw a no-hitter that summer in Double A but other than that it was a bust as his K numbers came way down and his record fell to 2-7 with a 4.46 ERA. That pattern repeated itself in a ’68 split between A and Triple A and ’69 and ’70 spent at the higher levels: late season starts because of school with not great results and strikeout totals that were even with his walks. Prior to the ’69 season he went to San Diego in the expansion draft and got his first MLB action that year and got bombed. But after a shutout late in September of ’70 over the Braves and with his degree finally in hand, he seemed ready to roll.

Arlin was up to stay in ’71 and although he was able to resuscitate his strikeout totals and had a pretty good ERA he led the NL in losses with 19. He turned pretty much the same trick in ’72, this time leading all of baseball with his 21 losses. Than came that weird ’73, but all his past would only be prelude for his ’74: a 1-7 record with a 5.91 ERA and twice as many walks as strikeouts made Steve expendable and that June he went to Cleveland for Brent Strom, another former great college pitcher who couldn’t get it going in the bigs. For the Indians things didn’t get better – that’s how things went for those guys back then – and after going 2-5 with a 6.60 ERA for the Tribe Steve was done. He finished with a record of 34-67 with a 4.33 ERA with 32 complete games and eleven shutouts. That was pretty much on par with his work in the minors: 19-33 with a 4.47 ERA.

After playing Arlin settled immediately into his new profession, the one that demanded all that schooling. He became a dentist, first around Columbus, Ohio, and then back in San Diego. Baseball-wise his number was retired at Ohio State and he was elected to the College Hall of Fame in 2008.

That bonus generally moves around from $100,000 to the one posted in the star bullet. Denny Doyle broke up the no-hitter up top in ’72. His grandpa broadcasted the first radio baseball game ever in Pittsburgh.

These two are certainly on the right coast for a short hook-up:

1. Arlin and Ollie Brown ’69 to ’72 Padres;
2. Brown and Ellie Rodriguez ’72 to ’73 Brewers.He also led the league in walks and with 15 wild pitches.Then came that weird ‘73

1 comment:

  1. I think all the minor-league photos the Phillies had of Arlin back in the day (and maybe even his 1972 Topps card) had Arlin wearing Clark Kent style glassses.