Monday, February 3, 2014

#636 - Dave Goltz

It’s February 3 and the subject of this post looks very unhappy so maybe Dave Goltz was a Denver fan. He is in Oakland, though, the home of the team against which he threw his first complete game – a win – but I guess that wasn’t doing anything for him then. ’73 was a tough season for Dave though it was his first one of all MLB work. He began it in the pen and after a particularly impressive game against Chicago – six no-hit innings of relief with six K’s – he had his ERA down to its ’72 levels and he seemed primed to re-join the rotation. But that didn’t happen and after a flip-side outing against Cleveland – 13 hits and eight earned runs in just three innings (ouch) – his ERA got a bit stratospheric and it never really came down. He did have some encouraging moments, though. He finally got a start in mid-June and went seven innings on three hits and finally did get a regular spot in mid-August that he more-or-less held onto the rest of the way. In the end he had a winning record and a save to add to his stats though that ERA stayed pretty fat. He’d fix that though and for the next few seasons would be one of Minnesota’s most consistent starters so maybe during that time he found cause to smile.

Dave Goltz played every sport he could while growing up in some tiny rural towns in Minnesota. In high school he played the big three sports plus track and he was a star in both hoops and baseball. Some interest had developed at some local colleges for him to play football but instead he signed a $10,000 contract to play baseball for the Twins as one of the franchise’s first home-grown guys. That was in ’67 when he was taken in the first round and then went off to Rookie ball where he threw excellent ball and then continued to do so the next season in A ball. In ’69 he joined the military, missing pretty much the whole season to do stateside work as a helicopter mechanic. When he got back to baseball in ’70 he injured his arm during spring training and again missed just about the whole season. He then split ’71 between two A teams, going a combined 14-3 with three shutouts in the rotation. Dave was by then mastering a knuckle curve, which would become his out pitch from then on. In ’72 he was throwing decent ball in Triple A when an injury to Jim Kaat got Dave called up to the Twins.

After a couple early relief outings Goltz joined the rotation and in a spot start role he put together a pretty good rookie year, keeping his ERA low and looking like a solid rotation guy. After his uneven ’73 Dave did a bit more Triple A work in ’74 during which he was 3-1 with a 3.30 ERA in four starts. Those numbers helped get him back to Minnesota where he spent most of the season in the rotation and went 10-10 with a 3.25 ERA. It was a herald season for the next couple years as Dave became the first pitcher to throw exactly .500 ball for three years running in that many games. In both ’75 and ’76 he went 14-14 with slightly premium ERA’s each season. Then in ’77 he had a breakout season, going 20-11 to share as the AL victory leader while posting a 3.36 ERA. He followed that up with another nice year in ’78 when he recorded his best ERA of 2.49 while going 15-10, despite missing some time to a burned hand. In ’79 an initial bout of rotation cuff issues raised his ERA a bunch but he still posted a 14-13 record in his final season with the Twins.

With the end of the Seventies came the end of Goltz’s time with the Twins and he became a free agent, signing with the Dodgers. While Dave got his first post-season appearance with the team, nothing else about his stay in LA was terribly great. Speculation was that he was hurt much of that time and given his future issues he may have been, but after signing a relatively big contract – six years for $3 million – Dave was pretty much a flop. Over two-plus seasons in LA he went a combined 9-19 with an ERA of 4.25 and early in ’82 he was released. He was picked up shortly there after by California, now coached by Gene Mauch, who’d been Dave’s manager in Minnesota. With the Angels Dave went 8-5 for the division winners in a spot role the rest of the way while getting his ERA down to league levels. After some not great post-season work he returned to that role in ’83 but by then his rotator cuff was a serious impediment and Dave was 0-6 with a 6.22 ERA by his early July release. With his arm being pretty much toast he retired with a record of 113-109 with a 3.69 ERA, 83 complete games, 13 shutouts, and eight saves. In the post-season he put up a 6.43 ERA in his three games, all in relief.

After playing, Goltz returned full-time to his spot in rural Minnesota, becoming a real estate agent and then an insurance agent, specializing in farms. He has coached some local ball and done some work with the Twins as well but for the most part has stayed away from professional ball since then.  

Dave’s career got off to a slamming start. He was an 800 relay guy in track as well as a field guy (shot put and discus). When he was with LA so was Burt Hooton which had to be the first time two guys with knuckle curves as their out pitches were on the same team. He has a SABR bio which was very helpful for this post.

Most of the milestones in Watergate from this point on are legal ones:

3/1/74 – Shortly after the Watergate break-in became public knowledge, the main group of know conspirators – the five burglars, G Gordon Liddy, and E Howard Hunt – were nicknamed “The Watergate Seven.” Since then a new group had earned that distinction and on this date they were indicted by a grand jury for their roles in the scandal. The big news was that the grand jury also identified President Nixon as an unindicted conspirator which was the first time that ever happened to a president. Named in the indictment were the following:

John Mitchell, former Attorney General and then head of CREEP, faced 30 years and fines of $42,000. Found guilty in early ’75 of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury, he would be sentenced to 2 ½ to 8 years and end up serving 19 months.

John HR Haldeman, former Chief of Staff, faced 25 years in prison and $16,000 in fines. On the same date as Mitchell he was found guilty of conspiracy and obstruction of justice and received an 18-month sentence which he served.

John Erlichman, former Assistant fro Domestic Affairs, faced 25 years in prison and $40,000 in fines. Convicted of the same charges as Mitchell, as well as others, he served 18 months.

Chuck Colson, former White House Counsel for Political Affairs, pleaded guilty later in ’74 to obstruction of justice and was sentenced to one to three years in prison and $5,000 in fines. He served seven months.

Gordon C Strachan, Haldeman’s assistant, faced 15 years and $20,000 in fines but charges against him were dropped prior to the trial.

Robert Mardian, Mitchell’s assistant as Attorney General and later counsel to CREEP, faced five years and $5,000 in fines. Initially convicted, his sentence and conviction were overturned on appeal.

Kenneth Parkinson, another counsel to CREEP and a Nixon attorney, faced ten years in prison and $10,000 in fines. He was acquitted during the trial.

Back to baseball, these two guys probably never even saw each other:

1. Goltz and Jerry Reuss ’80 to ’82 Dodgers;
2. Reuss and Johnny Edwards ’72 to ’73 Astros.

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