Terry Leach – 1990 Score

December 29, 2010

Sidewinder, Side-armer, Submariner…

It seems that lately there are some pitchers that throw sidearm or submarine and also throw hard.

That wasn’t always the case.

It used be guys like Leach and Todd Frowirth and Mark Eichhorn – guys who threw that way as the last chance to make it. It was one step away from knuckleball-dom.

Leach was an unlikely story to begin with – a non-drafted non-foreign free agent that made it to the bigs and had a sustained career.

What’s even more amazing is that he actually started in the ill-fated Gulf States League, and gave up 43 hits and 12 home runs in 19 innings. Somehow, he got a tryout with the Braves and was signed in 1977. He moved up in the chain, but I guess they weren’t impressed by a 1.95 ERA in AA and AAA because he was released in mid-1980. The Mets immediately signed him and he was in the bigs in 1981. In 1982, he spent more time in New York.

But the Mets didn’t trust him. He didn’t get back to the big club in 1983 and didn’t pitch well in AAA and was traded to the Cubs after the season. The Cubs moved him to the Braves, who released him in May of 1984. But the Mets snagged him right away and sent him back to AAA. At age 30, he was stuck in Tidewater.

He did get back to the bigs in 1985 and 1986, briefly, but somehow stuck it out and made an opening day roster for a first time in 1987 at age 33. His patience was rewarded (and the Mets’ patience as well) by going 11-1 with a 3.22 ERA as a swingman.

Though never a closer, nor a full-time member of the rotation, he was quite a valuable pitcher for the Mets, Royals, Twins and White Sox until 1993.

And if you were one of the few fans in Baton Rouge in 1976, you’d never ever have thought that Leach would have made a Class A team the next season.

Baseball is just one of those games…

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