Blog #35 (Dick Radatz)

By Richard J. Decker on September 19, 2012 7:00 AM

This week there is no legal section of the blog.

Now for the Opening Day memory:

From 1962-1966, Dick Radatz was the most dominating relief pitcher in baseball. The Boston Red Sox right hander, in his 1962 rookie season, led the league in saves (24), games (62) and rookie relief wins (9). He was awarded the Fireman of the Year by the Sporting News. He was a one pitch pitcher--simply put, he threw gas. His 1963 season was even better. He went 15-6 with 25 saves and a 1.97 ERA. He was the first pitcher in baseball history with consecutive 20 save seasons. In the 1962 All-Star Game, Dick struck out 5 National leaguers in just 2 innings including Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Duke Snider. He arguably had his best year in 1964 with 16 wins, 29 saves and 181 strikeouts in 157 innings--to date the most strikeouts in a season ever by a relief pitcher, and he won the Fireman of the Year award again.

Strangely enough, despite these three dominant seasons, the Red Sox became concerned that he was solely dependent on his fastball and made him develop another pitch. He did but, thereafter, developed arm trouble which required surgery after the 1965 season, never was the same and ultimately was traded to the Cleveland Indians in 1966. He then moved on to the Chicago Cubs and Detroit Tigers before ending his career with the expansion Montreal Expos in 1969.

Dick was nicknamed the "Monster"--supposedly by Mickey Mantle--because of his dominance during his prime. He was inducted to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1997, eight years before he tragically died from a fall down the stairs in his house. I was lucky enough to interview him by telephone before he died. Here is his Opening Day memory.

Radatz.jpg"My first game in the majors was Opening Day in 1962 against the Indians. The Red Sox lost 4-3. Don Schwall started and I relieved him in the ninth. I faced a guy by the name of Ty Cline, an outfielder, and I struck him out. Ironically, eight years later, the last pitch I threw in the majors was with the Montreal Expos against Willie Davis. I threw a fastball to Willie, who flew out to left field, and it was caught by the very same Ty Cline! How's that for coming full circle?!"

See you in a couple. Richie