Ray Bare – 1977 Topps
May 23, 2012
12-Man Staffs? Yeah, I Got Your 12-Man Staff Right Here!
I was noodling around a post on one angle about the 1976 Tigers (why, don’t ask) and found a nugget that I thought I should pass along.
Right now, baseball’s conventional wisdom is to use 12-man pitching staffs for whatever reason. Loogys and roogys and ‘proven closers’ and all that nonsense.
It wasn’t that long ago, really, that teams used 12-man staffs. But that was for the entire season!
Case in point, the 1976 Tigers, who used just twelve pitchers all year. One of them (Joe Coleman) was sent packing in early June. Another (Ed Glynn) was a September call-up. Frank MacCormack and Dave Lemanczyk spent time in Evansville (lovely in the summer no doubt), so it was up to guys like Bare and his compadres (Roberts, Fidrych, Ruhle, Laxton, Grilli, Crawford and Hiller) to toe the slab for the Bengals on a daily basis.
This bunch of Tigers were resoundingly mediocre with only Fidrych and Hiller shining on the hill. When guys like Bare went out there, it was always teetering between ‘good enough’ and ‘get someone up pronto’.
You may ask with this wonderful collection of zzzzz on the hill why didn’t they grab guys from Evansville to help. Now, of course, teams use their powers of options and DFAs to keep a revolving cast of 15-20 pitchers in and out of the big league clubhouse.
It was a much different world and explains why the mid-70’s Tigers were rotten. They had juts four farm teams (Evansville, Montgomery, Lakeland and Bristol) so there weren’t that many options. The AAA Triplets (no fooling!) were 55-81 and didn’t entice many from the Pocket City to venture to Bosse Field. Though certainly players like Milt Wilcox and Fernando Arroyo could have helped. But times were tough down there – old-timer (OK, he was 28 but still it seemed like he was around forever by then) Boots Day hurled in 13-games.
Yes, Boots Day, the old Expos CF, pitched in 13 games in Evansville in 1976. Heck, he didn’t do too bad – a 3.94 ERA and a 1.375 WHIP.
Maybe that’s why Ralph Houk had his staff iron man it up in Detroit. Either that, or it was a threat, “Bare! I’ll call up a washed up CF to take your spot in the bullpen if you don’t pitch well today!”