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Pitchers Who Played Other Positions, Part 5

Pitchers who played in the field for other reasons:

1. Rick Rhoden, New York Yankees, June 11, 1988.

Rhoden, a .238 career batter, started at DH and batted 7th. Yankee manager Billy Martin thought that the right-handed Rhoden was his best available option against Oriole lefty Jeff Ballard; righties Willie Randolph and Rickey Henderson were hurt, and Jose Cruz and Claudell Washington were left-handed.

Rhoden grounded out leading off the 3rd and drove in the tying run with a sacrifice fly in the 4th. In the 5th inning, with Ballard knocked out of the game, Rhoden was pinch-hit for by Cruz.

2. Ron Guidry, New York Yankees, August 18, 1983.

The Pine Tar game of July 24 resumed 24 days later, and several Yankees who had played in that game were no longer available. Catcher Rick Cerone and 2B Bert Campaneris were hurt, and CF Jerry Mumphrey had been traded to Houston on August 10.

The Yankees were down 5-4 with two outs in the top of the 9th. Billy Martin had Oscar Gamble and Omar Moreno available to play CF, but chose Guidry, putting him in Cerone’s slot in the order, due up 3rd in the 9th. Most likely, he did this to leave his pinch-running and hitting options open. Moreno had good speed, stealing 37 bases on the year, but was not much of a hitter; Gamble was a power hitter in decline. The Yankee defense of the top of the 9th was irrelevant, as Hal McRae struck out to end the inning.

Whatever strategy Martin had in using Guidry was for naught. 2B Don Mattingly, leading off the bottom of the 9th, flew out to center, and Gamble, pinch-hitting for Guidry with 2 outs, grounded to 2nd base to end the game.

3. Jim Rooker, Kansas City Royals, May 2, 1970.

Rooker pinch-ran for catcher Jim Campanis at 3rd base with 0 outs and a 3-3 score in the bottom of the 15th. The Royals didn’t score, and Rooker stayed in the game in LF, with LF Lou Pinella moving to 1B and 1B Ed Kirkpatrick moving to C. (Oddly, the Royals chose not to use backup catcher Ellie Rodriguez in the 16th; he would come in at C for the 17th, replacing Pinella, who had been ejected in the bottom of the 16th, with Kirkpatrick moving back to 1B.) Rooker did not field a ball in his 2 innings in LF, and would score the winning run in the bottom of the 17th.

4. Steve Blass, Pittsburgh Pirates, August 31, 1968.

Blass, the starting pitcher, moved to LF after retiring the first batter so that Elroy Face could tie Walter Johnson’s major league record for most games by a pitcher in one league (802). Face retired Felix Millan, and Blass returned to the mound, pitching the rest of the way in an 8-0 Pirate win. After the game, Face was sold to the Detroit Tigers for an undisclosed sum.

5. Tom Burgmeier, California Angels, September 3, 1968, and Kansas City Royals, May 25, 1969.

In the 1968 game, Burgmeier played LF in the 9th inning, as starting LF Rick Reichardt had been pinch-run for by pitcher Clyde Wright in the bottom of the 8th down 4-2. Burgmeier fielded one ball, a leadoff double to left, as the Indians scored 3 runs to increase their lead to 7-2.

In the 1969 game, Burgmeier pinch-ran for RF Hawk Taylor in the top of the 12th up 3-2 and stayed on in RF in the bottom of that inning. He did not field a ball, as the Royals held on to win.

6. John Upham, Chicago Cubs, August 7, 1968 and August 18, 1968 (Game 1 of doubleheader).

Upham actually pinch-hit more than he played any other position in his two-year career (PH: 9; P: 7; PR: 3; CF: 1; LF: 1). In 1968, his last year, he appeared in the field in 4 games, the first and the third as a pitcher, and the second and fourth in the outfield.

In the August 7 game, Upham came in to play LF down 10-1 in the bottom of the 8th. He did not field a ball.

Upham started the August 18 in CF, batting 7th. He fielded 3 singles, but did not catch a ball, and went 0-3 at the plate, as the Cubs lost 2-1.

7. Don Larsen, Kansas City Athletics, May 23, 1961.

Larsen started the game in LF, batting 4th. Larsen was known as a good athlete and a decent hitter (he was used 12 times to pinch-hit in 1961 and batted .242 for his career). He was not good on this day, however, striking out twice while going 0-4. In LF, he caught three fly balls and fielded a single, as the Kansas City lost 7-3.

8. Mickey McDermott, Kansas City Athletics, August 2, 1957 (Game 1 and Game 2 of doubleheader).

McDermott, a lefty, was a .256 lifetime hitter. With rookie righty Jerry Walker starting Game 1 for the Orioles, McDermott started at 1B and batted 2nd. In the top of the 1st, McDermott singled and later scored; with 2 outs and the bases loaded, Walker was pulled for lefty Billy O’Dell. With the lefty now pitching, McDermott was replaced by righty Vic Power in the bottom of the 1st, not playing 1B for a single batter. (O’Dell would pitch a remarkable 11-2/3 innings in relief.)

In Game 2, righty Connie Johnson started for the Orioles, and McDermott again started at 1B and batted 2nd. Unlike Walker, Johnson stayed in the game past the 1st inning, and McDermott stayed in as well. McDermott would make an error in the 1st, leading to an unearned run, and was replaced by Power in the bottom of the 6th with the score 2-2. In the game, McDermott went 1-3 and had 5 putouts.

9. Dick Hall, Pittsburgh Pirates, August 2, 1956.

Hall started his career as a utility player, but was moved to pitcher during the 1955 season. This was the last game he’d play in the field, though his career would last until 1972.

Hall started the game at 1B. This seems to be an attempt by the Pirates to get as many righties in the lineup against lefty pitcher Vinegar Bend Mizell. The Pirates normally had a platoon at first base, with righty Jack Shepard and lefty Dale Long, but Shepard was starting at catcher. The Pirates’ regular catcher, Hank Foiles was likely injured – Shepard played every inning of the next 10 games at catcher, including both halves of a doubleheader on August 5.

The strategy worked, as Hall singled off Mizell to lead off the second inning.

Mizell left the game one batter later due to a pulled muscle in his back and was replaced by righty Herm Wehmeier (who, oddly, is referred to as “St. Louis’ starting pitcher” in the Associated Press recap). Hall was pinch-hit for by Long in the 3rd inning.

10. Ruben Gomez, New York Giants, June 19, 1956.

The Giants were missing starting second baseman Red Schoendist, right fielder Don Mueller, and third baseman/outfielder Henry Thompson, leaving them with a short bench and the defensively-challenged George Wilson playing right field.

In the bottom of the 7th, leading 1-0, the Giants pinch-ran for left fielder Dusty Rhodes with their only remaining OF, rookie Jackie Brandt. (It worked – Brandt moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a short single to left.)

Up 2-0 after 7 innings, Gomez, supposedly “a part-time outfielder in Puerto Rico,” came in to replace Wilson for what the New York Times termed “obvious reasons.” (Two balls had been hit to Wilson during the game, one “subdued” and one played into a triple. And for the next two months, the Giants used Wilson as a pinch-hitter only before waiving him in mid-August.)

Gomez did not field a ball in RF, but did hit into a 4-6-3 double play in the bottom of the 8th to end a bases-loaded, one-out rally.

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