Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dave Boswell, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #44

Dave Boswell passed away on Monday at age 67; the cause of death was a heart attack. He was born in Baltimore and still lived here, and he's the only graduate of Calvert Hall College High School to play in the major leagues. He's best-known for three things that happened during his career, and unfortunately two of them have a negative slant. First, the good: he was a dependable starter for the Twins from ages 21-24, posting a 56-42 record with a 3.24 ERA(108 ERA+) in the 1966-1969 seasons. In 1969, he tied Jim Perry for the team lead with 20 wins, and Minnesota topped the American League West with 97 wins total. And the bad...

His manager in that 1969 season was Billy Martin, who was hazardous to the health of young pitchers. Dave threw 256.1 innings in the regular season, 34 more than his previous career high and 66 more than he'd racked up in 1968. Martin himself acknowledged that the pitcher worked through painful bone chips in his elbow that year, and even tried to shift blame to Boswell for an infamous barfight between manager and player. He claimed that Dave was mixing alcohol and pain medication and became belligerent. Whether that's the truth or not, it rang hollow coming from a notorious drinker and fighter like Billy. Supposedly the dustup, which ended with the diminutive skipper punching out his right-handed workhorse, was the catalyst for Martin's firing at season's end.

As it turned out, Dave's last hurrah was a bittersweet gem that he pitched against his hometown team in the second game of the 1969 ALCS. On Sunday, October 5 in Memorial Stadium, he and Orioles starter Dave McNally matched zeroes for ten and a half innings before Boswell cracked in the bottom of the eleventh. He walked Boog Powell, then gave an intentional pass to Davey Johnson after a Brooks Robinson sac bunt. Mark Belanger popped up for the second out, at which point Billy Martin brought in his relief ace Ron Perranoski. Curt Motton, pinch-hitting for Elrod Hendricks, lashed a single to right field to score Boog, give the Birds a 2-0 series lead, and saddle Boswell with a crushing loss. He had scattered 7 hits and 7 walks in 10.2 innings, striking out 4. The O's completed the sweep the next day and went on to the World Series.

Boswell had a miserable, truncated season in 1970. He went 3-7 with a 6.42 ERA in only 68.2 innings with the Twins, and did not appear in their second straight ALCS loss to the Orioles. Minnesota cut him loose the following spring, and he caught on with the Tigers. His tenure in Detroit lasted less than two months, during which time he threw just 4.1 innings. The O's brought him home to Charm City, where he worked primarily in relief and racked up the final 24.2 innings of his career, allowing 16 runs (12 earned). The Birds released him in early 1972, and he was finished as a big league player at age 27. In parts of 8 seasons, Dave was 68-56 with a 3.52 ERA. If you'd like to read a detailed obituary, click here. May he rest in peace.

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