Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Vintage Fridays: Jesse Jefferson, 1974 Topps #509

This was a big week for major league debuts by pitchers in the Baltimore-D.C. Metro area. On Tuesday, Stephen Strasburg took to the mound at Nationals Park amid hype that made the Matt Wieters craze look like Bingo Night at the old folks' home. The young righthander rose to the occasion, though, striking out an eye-popping 14 Pirates batters in seven innings to earn the win. Two days later, Jake Arrieta made his long-awaited first start for the Orioles. The third member of the "Big Three" (say it with me: Tillmanmatuszarrieta!) had the unenviable task of facing the powerful Yankees, but he acquitted himself well with a quality start (3 ER on 4 H, 6 IP, 6K), punctuated by a bases-loaded strikeout of Marcus Thames to end the sixth inning. But as auspicious as the introductions of Strasburg and Arrieta were to the big leagues, neither one managed to match the feat acheived by Jesse Jefferson nearly four decades ago.
It was June 23, 1973, and the Orioles had just promoted the 24-year-old Virginia native from AAA Rochester. He was tabbed to start the back end of a doubleheader at Fenway Park, which meant facing a Red Sox team that featured a 3-4-5 of Carlton Fisk, Carl Yastrzemski, and Reggie Smith in their lineup. Jesse walked a tightrope early, relying on three double plays to keep Boston off of the scoreboard. He settled down as the game went along, and he and opposing starter Marty Pattin traded zeroes until the top of the seventh inning, when the O's broke through with a two-out single by Larry Brown to score Don Baylor. With no margin for error, Jefferson took a five-hit shutout into the ninth inning. The first two batters grounded out before Rico Petrocelli resuscitated the Fenway fans with a game-tying home run. Danny Cater flew out to center, and the game headed to extra innings tied at one apiece.

In a circumstance that would be unheard of today, both starters stayed in for the tenth inning. Pattin didn't last long, however; Paul Blair led off with a double and Earl Williams singled him home to restore Baltimore's one-run lead. Reliver Don Newhauser came on to retire the side, and Jefferson tried once more to secure the win in his first major league game. He had an easier go of it the second time around, pitching around a Luis Aparicio single to earn a 10-inning complete game. In total, he yielded seven hits, walked three, and struck out only one batter.

As you might imagine, it's a very rare occurrence for a starting pitcher to last past the ninth inning in his major league debut; Minnesota's Allan Anderson was the last such example back in 1986. It's even rarer to earn a complete game victory in extra frames in your initial game - Jefferson is the last pitcher to do it, and is in fact the only one to do so in the past sixty years.

Of course, Strasburg and Arrieta must hope for more sustained success than Jesse Jefferson enjoyed. Though his career lasted for nine seasons, he had a losing record by a wide margin (39-81, a .325 win percentage) and a lofty 4.81 ERA. But Jesse did manage to top his amazing debut not once, but twice. In 1978, he went all 12 innings for the Blue Jays in a 2-1 win over (who else?) the Red Sox, allowing seven hits and a walk. Two years later, he tossed an 11-inning shutout over Oakland, winning by a score of 1-0 while permitting four hits and four walks and whiffing 10 batters! If only he had been allowed to pitch more than nine innings each time out, he might never have lost.


metal storage boxes said...

im looking for this card anyone know willing to sel me one?


Kevin said...

Tim - Try checkoutmycards.com: http://www.checkoutmycards.com/Cards/Baseball/1974/Topps/509/Jesse_Jefferson