TRIVIA WINNER: Congrats to Mickey Bauchan of Flint, MI, who revealed Zoilo Versalles led the AL three times in errors committed at shortstop. The Prize: Starbucks Gift Card.
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ANSWER to the Trivia question in the previous column: Zoilo Versalles led the AL three times in errors committed at shortstop.
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NEW TRIVIA QUESTION: While Phil Regan led the 1966 Dodgers with 21 Saves, which pitcher had the second most on the club that season?
Sometimes a player is just out of position but someone realizes there is potential and lets him hang around until another someone realizes it too. Such is the case of Phil Regan. A starting pitcher when he arrived in the big leagues in 1960, he would split his time between starting and the bullpen. It was a common occurrence in that era. His first game in the Bigs was in relief but his second appearance was as a starter. He pitched well in a 4-3 loss to Baltimore, going eight innings and allowing eight hits and only three earned runs. He would not win a game that season.
In 1962 however, manager Bob Scheffing decided he would pretty much be a starter. While he did occasionally pitch out of the bullpen, he'd be considered a starter. In fact, he started 71 games in three years. He just wasn't very good at it. He did win 41 games from 1961-1964 but only once was his ERA under 4.0. That season, 1963, he was 15-9 but gave up 33 homers in 189 innings. The other years his ERA was massive, with three of those five years higher than 5.00.
Then in 1966 the Tigers sent him to the Dodgers where manager Walter Alston put him in the bullpen. Regan quickly became L-A's closer. The "Vulture" as he was called baffled NL hitters and ended up 14-1 with a 1.62 ERA in 116 innings. He led the league in games finished with 48 and Saves with 21. He allowed just 6 home runs. It was a steal for Los Angeles who picked him up for journeyman Dick Tracewski. Sandy Koufax hung the nickname on him after leaving games tied 1-1 and seeing Regan come in to pitch the ninth when the Dodgers scored - the Vulture picking up the win.
Of course he was closing for pitchers Koufax and Don Drysdale at their pinnacle. The next year he still pitched well but it was a different Dodger club and his record didn't come anywhere near to his 1966 numbers. During the 1968 season he wasn't pitching well and the Cubs needed relief help. The club shipped him to Chicago where he regained his stride and led the league in Saves with 25 and Games finished. He tossed 134 innings with a 10-5 combined record and a 2.20 ERA.
That was pretty much the end of the good years. He still pitched a lot of innings for Chicago over the next few seasons but never returned to the form of those two magnificent years. He finished 96-81 with 92 career Saves and a lifetime 3.84 ERA after 13 seasons. He retired after a year with the White Sox at age 35.