As Halloween is but a week away, who better to help us count down than "Lurch"? Gene Brabender was an imposing dude, which you might not guess from a simple head shot. The righty from Wisconsin towered over most of his peers at 6'6", 225 pounds. Gene's notoriety comes from his status as a member of the 1969 Seattle Pilots, the legendarily inept team immortalized by Jim Bouton in his controversial book Ball Four. 'Bender won a team-high 13 games for the doomed expansion team after three years as an effective swingman for the O's. Of course that's not what most people remember about him. Per Bouton:
"We were talking about what we ought to call Brabender when he gets here. He looks rather like Lurch of the 'Addams Family', so we thought we might call him that, or Monster, or Animal, which is what they called him in Baltimore last year. Then Larry Haney told us how Brabender used to take those thick metal spikes that are used to hold the bases down and bend them in his bare hands. 'In that case,' said Gary Bell, 'we better call him Sir.'
Elsewhere comes the following anecdote:
"Pagliaroni says that one of the great things about Gene Brabender as a pitcher is that he's big enough to intimidate hitters with his size. 'He looks like if you got a hit off him,' Pag said, 'he'd crush your spleen.'"
Quotes like this make me wonder if Gene, who passed away in 1996, ever had trick-or-treaters stop by his home in Madison. If he gave out candy, I wonder whether he dressed up in costume. Even if he didn't, I bet those kids thought twice about knocking on his door.