Friday, August 31, 2012

#425 - Pete Broberg

Now this guy sort of had a career path that was an opposite arc of the last post subject’s. Pete Broberg went straight to the bigs from Dartmouth. It seems the Senators/Rangers of the early Seventies were fond back then of having their number one picks – at least the ones that pitched – debut with the big guys and bypass the minors. So Pete was ‘71’s version of David Clyde and while he was more prepared and had a sort of similar career path, he was a bit more successful than Dave. ’73 was certainly not Pete’s season in the sun as his nasty numbers up top got him sent down for the first time. But Topps still loved him since they gave him an honorary card number. Nothing against Pete, whose done just fine since baseball, but he’s about the least deserving of that designation so far in the set.

Pete Broberg came from an athletic heritage. His dad, Gustav, was an All-American hoops player at Dartmouth in the early Forties who then lost an arm at Okinawa during WW II before settling down in Florida as an attorney and respected judge. Pete was a big kid and excelled in basketball and baseball – both in hitting and pitching – in high school and American Legion ball in West Palm Beach. By the time he was a senior just about every one of his outings was a no-hitter and he was drafted in ’68 by Oakland and promised a hefty bonus – reports were anywhere between $150,000 and $175,000 – by Charlie O. But Pete opted for Dartmouth as well as his family didn’t need the bucks and he wanted something to fall back on in case athletics weren’t in his future. Smart boy. He actually intended to play hoops as well but dropped that sport and concentrated on pitching. His freshman stat line was pretty amazing: in six starts covering 45 innings he went 6-0 with only eleven hits, 32 walks, 99 strikeouts, and a 1.60 ERA. That summer he played in Alaska for the Goldpanners. In ’70 he went “about” 6-2 to lead Dartmouth to the CWS where they won a few rounds but then lost to the eventual two finalists – USC and Florida State – and were eliminated. He then spent the ’70 summer in Alaska as well and would finish up north a combined 12-7 with a 2.91 ERA and 182 strikeouts in 155 innings. In ’71 it was back to Dartmouth for his junior year in which he was 5-1 by the regional playoffs and then got nabbed in the first round by the Senators.

Broberg threw heat and only heat when he began his pro career and his June debut for the Nats in ’71 was pretty similar to Clyde’s a couple years later. He put a few guys on base and struck out a bunch. He would shortly later go on a four game win streak and was 5-3 and looking good to kick off his career, but then came six straight losses to finish 5-9 but with a pretty good ERA. In ’72 Pete continued his education returning to Dartmouth to finish his degree and then in the off-season and the spring learning a curve ball to match his heater. The results were mixed as the team moved to Texas and he recorded a bunch more strikeouts but also more losses and a higher ERA. He also led the AL in HBP but he was a big guy so probably didn’t mind or maybe didn’t even receive the wrath that could incur. Then in ’73 he got derailed a bit as he posted very similar numbers to his rookie year except that his walks overmatched his strikeouts and his ERA was over two runs higher. That got him a ticket to Triple A where his numbers were generally pretty good but his walk totals remained pretty high. In ’74 Pete got his K/BB totals more aligned in Triple A but his few games at Texas were pretty disastrous. After that season Texas finally gave up and sent him to Milwaukee for Clyde Wright.

In ’75 the Brewers were pretty terrible but it wasn’t Broberg’s fault. That year he was the team’s top winner as he went 14-16 with a 4.15 ERA in what was arguably his best season. He also grew a pretty awesome mustache that he showcased on his ’76 card but he continued to have issues with his strikeout to walk ratio which again fell on the wrong side of 1.00. That really tumbled in ’76 along with the rest of his stats as he went 1-7 with a 4.97 ERA with 72 walks and only 28 strikeouts in 92 innings. That November he was selected by the Mariners in the expansion draft but before pitching for them was sent to the Cubs the following April for Jim Todd. For Chicago he went to Triple A where his ERA was awfully high but he did get his K and BB totals back in line. He also hit very well at that level. Up top that year it was all relief as a middle guy which again wasn’t too hot and after the season he moved to Oakland for Rodney Scott. For the A’s he re-joined the rotation and went 10-12 with a 4.62 ERA and his best K/BB ratio in years. He then became a free agent and signed with the Dodgers. They offered him a Triple A gig but Pete said he’d had enough of that and walked away. His final record was 41-71 with a 4.56 ERA, 26 complete games, and a save.

Broberg took his LA money and enrolled in Nova University from which he got a law degree and then joined his dad’s practice down in Florida. In ’89 he did a hitch in the Senior League and put up nice numbers. He is and has been a partner at his firm where he specializes in real estate law and as a hobby grows exotic palm trees. His back-up plan seems to have worked pretty well.

Topps lets the big numbers fly in the star bullets. They got all the numbers right except that senior year record in the first bullet. He actually went either 5-1 or 6-1 that season which would make much more sense given that ERA. Regarding that last bullet, estimates at the time were anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000. And, yeah, Pete is and was a surfer dude. Sounds like a pretty nice life down in FLA. Pete gets a few mentions in the "Seasons in Hell" book, the best one being the assessment of him by manager Whitey Herzog at the top of '73 spring training. But I'm not quoting it here so you gotta get the book to see it.

Music news: On this date in ’74 a new Number One is reached in the UK, “Love Me For A Reason” by The Osmonds. In response to the title, I can’t really think of one. Sorry, guys.

These guys were both hot prospects in their young days:

1. Broberg and Robin Yount ’75 to ’76 Brewers;
2. Yount and Ted Simmons ’81 to ’85 Brewers;
3. Simmons and Jim Beauchamp ’70 to ’71 Cardinals.

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