Bob Welch, Pitching Ace and Prototype for Today’s Power Arms, Dies at 57
Bob Welch, a flame-throwing right-hander for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland A’s who overcame alcoholism to win 211 games, including 27 in 1990, a single-season total no other pitcher has reached in the past 40 years, died on Monday in Seal Beach, Calif. He was 57.
Welch played 17 seasons in the big leagues, from 1978 to 1994, was named to two All-Star teams, one in each league, and won the American League Cy Young Award in 1990. He was among the hardest throwers of his era, a rangy and athletic prototype of the so-called power arms who now flood the rotations and bullpens of major league teams, challenging opposing lineups with their 95-mile-per-hour fastballs.
His blistering fastball, and his poise, received an early showcase at the end of his rookie season with the Dodgers, when he was called in from the bullpen to protect a one-run lead with one out in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the 1978 World Series against the Yankees.
Two men were on base, and after getting Thurman Munson to fly out he faced Reggie Jackson, the Hall of Fame slugger who the year before had clinched the Series for the Yankees, also against the Dodgers, with three homers in Game 6.
In an at-bat that lasted more than five minutes and became one of baseball’s most famous showdowns, Welch, who was just 21, threw nine pitches, all fastballs, and with a 3-2 count blazed one on — or maybe just off — the inside corner. Jackson swung violently and missed, ending the game.