Throwback Thursday: Jim Kaat


Why we like him: Jim Kaat pitched for 25 seasons and until he was 44. Obviously, the guy managed to stack up some impressive numbers over the course of his career. He was a 3-time All Star and a reliable workhorse for the Minnesota Twins in the '60s and '70s. He won 20+ ballgames three times during his career and finished with a 283-237 career record.

Many might even know Kaat better for his work on the microphone instead of on the mound. He's been in broadcasting since his retirement in 1983. He's called games for YES and NESN, and he's currently working for MLB Network calling games at the ripe old age of 74.

Ladies and gentlemen, Jim Kaat, ballplayer.

Best Specs of the '80s

Chris Sabo: When you're talking about players from the '80s who played with a windshield, the conversation probably starts with the guy would probably should have been the MVP of the 1990 World Series. He batted .563 and posted an OPS of 1.611 for the Series, no doubt reaping the benefits of the flawless eyesight. We all love Spuds.

Tom Henke: I've expressed my admiration for this underrated juggernaut relief pitcher before, but I'll say it again. Henke was one of the best relievers in the game during an era when relief pitching was still evolving. He was also one of the nerdiest-looking guys ever to grace the mound.

John Franco: He didn't always wear the specs, but he did in this photo, which was apparently snapped during Franco's 26th year of Little League, judging by the chain-link fencing and the park in the background. Nothing scarier than a closer that you believe can't see things very well.

Darrell Porter: Yes, that face windshield is real. And yes, that nose is too. This Oklahoman was a four-time All Star who enjoyed a decent 17-year career with stops in Milwaukee, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Texas, making him somewhat of a Midwestern lifer. He never led the league an anything except for--you guessed it--walks. He used his microscopic analysis of the strike zone to rack up 121 free passes in 1979.

Mike Davis: If you're down one run in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the World Series and your MVP slugger is going to hit a legendary walk-off home run, somebody has got to get on base in front of him to make it happen. Davis used his excellently augmented eyesight to earn a walk against Dennis Eckersley that night in 1988, and Kirk Gibson did the rest.

Throwback Thursday: Eppa Rixey

He was actually real and not just drawn.

Why we like him: If you say his name really fast, he sounds more like a crippling disease rather than a Hall of Fame ballplayer. But, nevertheless, ol' Epp's enshrined in Cooperstown for some reason. Rixey finished his 21-year career in 1933 at age 42 with a record of 266-251. He led the league in wins once (with 25 in 1922) and losses twice (with 21 in 1917 and 22 in 1920). I have no idea why this guy has a bust in the Hall. Well, he did get to 517 career decisions, so I guess longevity is the only thing the voters were looking at here.

Ladies and gentlemen, Eppa Rixey, ballplayer.

Pete Vuckovich

This guy won the 1982 AL Cy Young Award.

Why we like him: With that pristine mullet/mustache combo, what's not to like? And yes, seriously, this man won the '82 AL Cy Young with the Brewers after going 18-6 with a 3.34 ERA (His teammate, Robin Yount won the AL MVP that season as well). He was a pretty good pitcher at the height of his powers too, but after trying to pitch through pain for a while in 1983, it was determined that Vuckovich had a torn rotator cuff. He tried to comeback in 1985 and 1986, but it was clear he was no longer near the pitcher he was before his injury. Either way, nice 'stache.

Ladies and gentlemen, Pete Vuckovich, ballplayer.

Milt Cuyler

That's not gonna work, Milt.

Why we like him: Milt Cuyler played 8 years in the majors and finished his career with a .237 average, which is exactly why he apparently tried to use two bats in this photo above. He only had every-day duties one season, in 1991, and he batted .257 with 12 sacrifices. If nothing else, the guy could lay down a bunt. His 1998 season proved to be his last. He also finished that year by batting .500 in 7 games. He was just getting started when he quit at 29.

Ladies and gentlemen, Milt Cuyler, ballplayer.

Kirk Gibson

Legendary, but never an All Star.

Why we like him: Kirk Gibson was the 1988 National League MVP. He also hit one of the most legendary home runs in World Series history that season which propelled his Dodgers to victory over the Oakland A's. He played the game with such tenacious competitiveness and intensity that he was often described as a football player on the diamond. Yet this man was never an All Star. He was one of my absolute favorite players to watch play the game.

Ladies and gentlemen, Kirk Gibson, ballplayer.

Tim Leary

Derp, it's a splitter, derp.

Why we like him: Tim Leary was a pretty bad major league pitcher and definitely not an avid support of LSD and other psychedelic drugs (that was the other Tim Leary). His career record over his 13-year career was 78-105. He also posted a 4.36 career ERA. He posted a winning record only twice, first going 17-11 with the World Series Champion Dodgers in 1988 (with a tidy 2.91 ERA) and then going 11-9 for the Mariners in 1993 despite a 5.05 ERA. Back in 1990 when the Yankees were garbage, and it seems forever ago, he lost 19 games for the Bronx Bumblers en route to their worst season since Babe Ruth was with the Red Sox.

One of the most randomly interesting things I remember about Leary was that during a Yankees-Orioles game back in 1992 that was televised on ESPN, the camera caught Leary covering his face with his glove and putting something in his mouth between batters. The O's accused him of scuffing the baseball with sandpaper. The O's manager Johnny Oates (Remember him?) even claimed to have gathered six balls that Leary scuffed up. Leary was traded to the Mariners two months later and never posted an ERA better than 5.52 again in his career after that season. Who knows what he was doing to baseballs in 1988?

Ladies and gentlemen, Tim Leary, ballplayer.

Tim Teufel

1993 Leaf #10 Tim Teufel Front
Says it all.

Why we like him: Tim Teufel is the true essence of a random ballplayer. Do you remember him? I don't remember a single thing about him other than he wound up in packs of baseball cards occasionally. For all I know, he could be Manti Te'o's girlfriend's uncle, a figment of my baseball-filled imagination.

He did have a career though. He batted .254 over 11 years with 3 different teams. He even hit .308 in 1987 in limited action. In 1984, he finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting. Then again, Kirby Puckett finished third that year, and Alvin Davis won, so that whole election process that season is probably best left unmentioned ever again.

Ladies and gentlemen, Tim Teufel, ballplayer.