Stan Williams Escapes Baseball Card Purgatory

Not once, but twice, Topps gave Stan Williams its symbolic kiss of death.

The pitcher known as “Big Daddy” was shunned from 1966 and 1967 sets. The cardboard clairvoyants deemed the hurler unworthy of any Major League team. Granted, Williams toiled in the minors again, clouding memories of his earlier Dodgers success. His career faced a crossroads.

Stunningly, Williams reinvented himself as a gritty reliever. How? He explained in a letter:

“Re-invented Self: I injured my arm on one freak pitch. Slipped on rubber. My arm got progressively worse each year for 6-1/2 years. Three of those years home or in the minors. One day, I lifted my arm. Something ‘popped’ (hurt like crazy) — but suddenly my arm was sound again. within a month, I was back in Majors and stayed another seven years.

During that time, I both started and relieved. I loved to pitch and compete.

I pitched some of my better games after returning. One game, for Cleveland, I pitched all 13 innings and won, 2-1. I had 15 K’s including (9 for 9) versus two Hall-O-Famers: Luis Aparicio (5/5); Frank Robinson (4/4) (FB, CV, Slider, Spitter).”

[Yes, readers, Mr. Williams wrote Spitter, even underlining it in his letter! He continues…]

Another game against Baltimore, I won (1-0), 10 innings, 0 B.B., 12 K’s and drove in the only run, last of 10th.  After that game I was taken out of the rotation, as none of the other starters could pitch relief. (I still got in 194 innings, mostly as a reliever.)

Twice — Alvin Dark, mgr., brought me into games bases loaded, 3-0 on the hitters. I got out of it both times. No runs scored.

I am proud of never allowing a run in any post-season play, including one All-Star game; 2  World Series and my playoff games, both leagues.


Jack Faszholz Battled the 1953 Giants

Flash forward 47 years. Will you be able to recall every detail of today?

You might if you were facing the biggest challenge of your life.

I wrote to pitcher Jack Faszholz, asking me for the memory of his first strikeout.
Instead of a shrugged grunt of an answer, he recreated a near play-by-play
depiction of his first major league start. Back in 2000, Faszholz wrote:

My first recorded K: To tell you the truth, I can’t recall the details of that event. I do remember that it was in my first and only major league start, Cardinals against the New York Giants in St. Louis (April ’53).

I walked Davey Williams, the Giants’ 2B and leadoff man; then Giant SS Alvin Dark dribbed a ball down the 3rd base line for a base hit; Henry Thompson (3B) batted third, Whitey Lockman CF; Monte Irvin RF; Bobby Thomson LF, Tookie Gilbert 1B, Sal Yvars C and Dave Koslo P was the rest of the Giant lineup.

I recall that both Williams and Dark scored before I got through the first inning. I pitched through the Giants half of the fifth inning and we were leading at that time, 5-4.

Al Brazle relieved me. We eventually lost that game, 9-6. one thing I do remember about the strikeouts I got that game was that most of them were the result of off-speed (change-up) pitches.

Thanks again for your interest and your letter.

Jack Faszholz

How did the hurler fare in recounting that day? Go to the ever-faithful for the complete account.

Faszholz came from an athletic family. This fun 2008 article documents his family’s other connections to pro sports.

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