Friday, March 15, 2013

#516 - Horacio Pina

Now in a continuation of mini-streaks we get the second of two parenthetically-named post subjects in a row. Horacio Pina bears down on a sunny day in Oakland. He stayed there for only one season as evidenced by the Traded card but did enough good work to earn a full Series share. He’d come to the A’s in a trade for Mike Epstein who’d curried disfavor with owner Charlie Finlay after going o-fer in the ’72 Series. Horacio put up one of his best seasons for Oakland, keeping his walk totals relatively low while getting eight saves. While he had some trouble in the post-season, officially he ended up with five shutout innings of work. And the ring of course. On the Traded card he appears to be out in the Oakland outfield and my bet is that the airbrush job is of one of his Ranger uniforms since on his regular card he looks a bit tanner.

Horacio Pina was a soccer player as a kid who didn’t start playing ball for real until he was about 15 (lots of this color comes from his SABR site). He then played some semi-pro ball in Mexico for a bunch of years before Cleveland signed him early in ’67. He’d gone 4-6 with some wildness and a high ERA in ’65 but modified that a bunch in ’66 when he went 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA and 28 K’s in 24 innings of pro ball. Both years he also pitched in his local semi-pro league as well. In ’67 he went 16-11 with a 3.28 ERA as a starter in Mexico, 1-0 with excellent control in a few games in A ball, and 14-7 back in Mexico in winter ball. In ’68 he didn’t pitch as much but he put up better numbers: 9-6 with a 2.21 ERA in Mexico and 3-1 with a 0.69 ERA in Triple A. That August he made his debut for the Indians and the resulting season was quite good, with a couple saves in his 12 games. In ’69 his record was good but he was back on the wildness kick and his ERA ballooned. After the season he was traded to the Senators with Ron Law and Dave Nelson for Barry Moore and Dennis Higgins.

In DC Pina got in tight with manager Ted Williams which was a pretty unusual thing for a pitcher to do. Horacio threw sidearm against righties and over the top against lefties so he was a bit bi-polar in his delivery. But he did generally as he was told and his time with Ted went pretty swimmingly. By the time he got to Washington he was strictly a reliever and in ’70 he got six saves and in ’71 he added two. While his control was still an issue he was one of the team’s most consistent guys on the mound. In ’72 when the team moved to Texas, Horacio did just fine in the arid air, recording 15 saves. After the season he went to Oakland where he did his bit and then after this trade he moved to Chicago. His time in the NL was a little sloppy – 3-4 with a 3.99 ERA and four saves – and didn’t last the season as in July he was sent to California for catcher Rich Stelmaszek. Back in the AL he fired a 2.31 ERA in his few innings of work. Despite that comeback Horacio got cut during spring training in ’75 and he returned to Mexico where he spent the next four years throwing quite good ball for the Aguascalientes franchise. In ’78 he returned briefly to The States to throw a few shutout innings for the Phillies but outside of that it was all Mexican ball through 1980 when he went down with a torn rotator cuff that finished his career. Horacio went 23-23 with a 3.25 ERA and 38 saves up top in The States. He did those five innings of shutout ball in the post-season and went 100-68 with a 2.34 ERA and 24 shutouts during his time in Mexico.

After playing Pina coached a couple seasons in Mexico and then returned to his hometown where he opened and operated a cantina, fished, and lives off his baseball pension.

That second star bullet occurred during ’67. He also tossed a couple no-hitters during his Mexican ball days. Horacio’s English wasn’t the best and in a video of the ’73 Series he kind of messes up when he gets introduced and then breaks up laughing. When he got to Oakland pitching coach Wes Stock changed his delivery so that he threw the same way to guys on both sides of the plate.

Horacio was traded for Bob Locker who was promised a return deal when he went to Chicago the prior year. Ironically Locker was another sidearm guy. He wouldn’t throw for Oakland at all after this trade.

These guys may have met in winter ball and a little bit in ’74:

1. Pina and Deron Johnson ’73 A’s;
2. Johnson and Willie Montanez ’70 to ’73 Phillies.eHHeHYeHJh

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