Thursday, December 6, 2012

#465 - Dick Bosman

Back in the AL we get Dick Bosman and his huge black mitt at Yankee Stadium. Dick manages something approaching a smile even though he’s in the midst of his worst season. Given that he went to Cleveland in May it may help narrow down the date of this photo, as well as those of about half the other Cleveland players. The Tribe played two series in NY Following Dick’s acquisition: June 29 to July 1; and September 10-11. There are no action shots to help pinpoint things but since Dick and just about every other Indian photographed at the Stadium has a long-sleeve shirt on under his uniform I am opting for the later games. Cleveland won both, each a complete game (one by Dick Tidrow and one by Gaylord Perry), so Dick didn’t see any action that series. ’73 was sort of a hot mess for him as he started off pretty poorly for the Rangers, leading to the May trade that took him away from the only team he’d pitched for up top. And things only got worse in Cleveland as his ERA skyrocketed. Dick gets an honor card with one that ends in a 5 in this set. Nothing personal, but he may be the least-deserving player for that status so far. But things would settle down the next year which included a big game and he would end his career finally on a winner.

Dick Bosman grew up in Wisconsin on Lake Michigan and pitched in his state championship game in high school in ’62. He then went to the University of Wisconsin for a year – he didn’t play ball there – before being signed by the Pirates who’d scouted him in a semi-pro league the prior summer. After a 3-3 season with a 3.52 ERA as a reliever in Rookie ball he was selected by San Francisco in the first year draft. In A ball for them in ’64 he became a swing guy, posting an 8-5 record with a 3.21 ERA while putting up over a strikeout an inning. He then got plucked by the Senators in the Rule 5 draft and spent the next couple seasons in Double A where he went a combined 14-13 with a 3.55 ERA as he morphed into a starter and refined his two out pitches: a sinker and a slurve. He debuted in DC the summer of ’66 where he had a pretty good first game but then things got sloppy. In ’67 he moved up to Triple A where he went 12-11 with a 2.76 ERA for an awful team and got promoted for good – pretty much – to turn in some nice late-season starts.

Bosman stayed in DC in ’68 but his first full season, spent mostly in middle relief, pretty much reflected that of his whole team. In ’69 Ted Williams came on board as manager of the Nats and though he usually considered pitchers sort of negligible, prompted Dick to have his biggest season. Starting the year as a swing guy he put up good enough numbers that Ted moved him to the rotation and Dick got enough innings to win the AL ERA crown. In ’70, though the Nats turned into a one-year wonder, Dick won 16 with another excellent ERA as the only double-figure winner on the team. In ’71 his record reversed itself and his ERA popped a bit but he remained the best pitcher in the rotation. When the team moved to Texas in ’72 Dick lost some time to injury and saw his decisions drop by about a third but his stats generally picked up a bit. After his weak opening in ’73 he went to the Tribe with outfielder Ted Ford for pitcher Steve Dunning.

In ’74 Bosman took on a swing role again as he quietly improved his record to 7-5 and his ERA to 4.10. At least it was quiet until July 19th, when he no-hit Oakland, allowing just one guy to reach base, and he on Dick’s own error. The A’s took notice and early in ‘75 Dick and Jim Perry went to Oakland for Blue Moon Odom who we saw just a couple posts ago. Dick, who’d started the year 0-2, immediately benefited in his new surroundings, going 11-4 the rest of the way as he helped his new team to its fifth consecutive post-season appearance. He pitched briefly in the playoff loss to Boston and then in ’76 went 4-2 as he returned to his swing role. After his release late in ’77 spring training he retired with a record of 82-85 with a 3.67 ERA, 29 complete games, and ten shutouts. In the post-season he threw shutout ball for a third of an inning.

After playing Bosman relocated to Virginia where he worked as a car dealer for a few years, coached Little League, and then did the same at Georgetown as a volunteer. That last experience got him itching to return to the pros and in ’86 he hooked up with the White Sox, beginning the season as a minor league coach. When Dave Duncan was released later that year Dick was promoted to Chicago where he coached from ’86 to ’87. In ’88 he moved to the Baltimore chain where he coached in the minors through ’91 and then moved up top from ’92 to ’94. He then moved with manager Johnny Oates to Texas from ’95 to 2000. He has since then been affiliated with Tampa Bay where he has coached at various minor league levels.

Topps makes that first star-bullet a little over-dramatic as Dick was only in Triple A for a game to check his mechanics after getting dinged late in spring training. They also certainly love the capitals in that second bullet, don’t they? Dick famously told his Nats teammates he’d “kick their ass” if any of them made an error behind him. I bet he and Gaylord Perry got along well.

Cleveland’s submission to the ’76 baseball centennial was Frank Robinson’s first game as baseball’s first black manager. That happened on opening day in ’75, a game at which our boy here was in attendance. A home game against the Yankees on April 8, it was 36 degrees when the game started. There was tons of press and the stadium was packed to capacity: over 56,000 fans. Cleveland started the scoring with a solo homer by – who else – Frank Robinson and went on to win the game 5-3 with Frank’s buddy – not! – Gaylord Perry throwing a complete game. I am enclosing a photo from “Whatever Happened to...” of a bundled John Lowenstein congratulating Robinson after he crossed the plate. It was cold!

So Bosman and Jose Cruz never played against each other, let alone together.

1. Bosman and Ken McMullen ’66 to ’70 Senators;
2. McMullen and Nolan Ryan ’72 Angels;
3. Ryan and Jose Cruz ’80 to  ’87 Astros.

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