The news broke today that veteran Cardinals starting pitcher Bob Forsch died yesterday of an aneurysm in his upper chest. Given the regard I hold that generation of ballplayers this news came as an unpleasant shock to me. I am far to young to be willing to say goodbye to any players of that era, my childhood.
Forsch was a solid player, when you picture the likes of great Cardinal pitchers, his name is not the one that comes to mind. You think of Hall of Famers Dizzy Dean, or teammates Bob Gibson and Bruce Sutter. And yet Forsch is another pitcher whose accomplishments were note worthy. He is the only Cardinal pitcher, and one of just 28 in MLB history, to throw two regulation no-hitters, the first on April 16, 1978 vs the Philadelphia Phillies and the second occured on September 26, 1983 vs the Montreal Expos. In all he threw 67 complete games and 19 shutouts. Not noteworthy numbers in baseball history but consider that among active players in 2011 only Roy Halladay has more shutouts with 20 currently and Roy is one of only two players to even record HALF that many complete games. Halladay has completed 66 games in his career and is near certain to surpass Forsch. Livan Hernandez has 50 complete games but at 36 is unlikely to add 17 more in his career. Cardinals hurler Chris Carpenter, known as a grinder, has just 33 complete games as does Yankees newly inked pitcher C.C. Sabathia.
How much would a pitcher of Forsch’s endurance benefit the Cincinnati Reds? That is a question we may soon have an answer to, and in the end that is the legacy that Bob Forsch leaves baseball and Cincinnati in particular. You see the last 3 years of Bob Forsch’s life he spent as pitching coach for the Reds Rookie League affiliate in Billings, Montana, the Billings Mustangs. He has laid the foundation on which the pitching careers of a number of promising hurlers in the Reds organization is built. Lets consider who has benefited from his experience and wisdom:
- Daniel Corcino – 2011 Dayton Dragons Class A starting pitcher. Spent parts of 2009 and 2010 with Billings and Forsch.
- Drew Hayes – 2011 Dayton Dragons Class A MidWest League Reliever of the Year. Immediately reported to Billings after signing out of college in 2010.
- Josh Smith – 2011 Dayton Dragons Class A MidWest League Strikeout and Wins leader. Struck out 28 batters in 21 innings during his short stay with Billing in 2010.
- Tony Cingrani – 2011 Billings Mustangs. Selected as the Rookie League Pitcher of the Year by MiLB.
Each of these pitchers and all of the others who came under his tutelage in Billings will form Forsch’s lasting legacy within the Reds organization. I for one, hope that it is one we recall fondly throughout the next decade.
Follow me on Twitter @JohnHeitz