Todays Dead Ball Player – Art Fowler

“We got fired at Minnesota, we got fired at Detroit, we got fired at Texas.”

Art Fowler

Earlier this week the baseball lost a character who was in the game for 30 plus years, and unbeknown to most Reds fans he had a link to the Reds.

When Art Fowler finally got into the Reds sights he was 31 years old and had been toiling in their system for a few years. Art was a WW2 vet, so the minors to him were nothing more than a walk in the park. The youngest of ten, his older brother pitched a year for the Cardinals in 1924. Thirty years later Art made his debut for the Reds and his presence on the staff is a constant to this day, the league average right-hander with more grit than stuff.

Art started 87 games for the Reds and vanished to the west coast and later gained
notoriety as Billy Martins drinking buddy and pitching coach.

JESSE FOWLER
BORN: 10/30/1898
MLB DEBUT: 7/29/1924

ART FOWLER
BORN: 7/3/1922
MLB DEBUT: 4/17/1954

Art and his brother Jesse together represent the longest stretch of time siblings have had separating their initial appearances as major league players. Quite the feat to have two brothers make the bigs, even more of feat considering the difference of age as well as how different the game was by the time the brothers took the mound in a big league park.

Art’s real legacy in the game is always going to be his pitching coach experience and his involvement with Billy Martin. Together they must have decided over cocktails one night to see what kind of abuse a pitchers arm could take, and they both followed through with their plan.

Art got it started himself when he coached the 1964 Angels.

AL Innings Pitched 1964

INNINGS PITCHED                 IP       AGE      CG
1    Dean Chance               278         23        7
2    Gary Peters               274         27        3
3    Jim Bouton                271         25        3
4    Camilo Pascual            267         30        6
5    Claude Osteen             257         24        5
6    Dave Wickersham           254         28        3
7    Milt Pappas               252         25        5
8    Whitey Ford               245         35        4
9    Al Downing                244         23        3
10   Jim Kaat                  243         25        6

Dean Chance was 23 and led the league in Innings Pitched; he later topped that total as a Twin in 67 and 68, but he would never have as good a year as he had in 1964.

Next Art landed in Minnesota as Martins first pitching coach.

1969 IP leaders

INNINGS PITCHED                 IP       AGE      CG
1    Denny McLain              325         25       13
2    Mel Stottlemyre           303         27       15
3    Mike Cuellar              291         32        9
4    Sam McDowell              285         26        9
5    Mickey Lolich             281         28        7
6    Fritz Peterson            272         27        7
7    Dave McNally              269         26        2
8    Jim Perry                 262         33        4
9    Dave Boswell              256         24        1
10   Andy Messersmith          250         23        2

Slotted in 39 is Dave Boswell, most famous for duking it out with Martin, Boswell also was the ace of the division winning Twins. He also never topped the amount of work he logged in 1969, and threw only 69 innings the next year, and never topped that again.

On to Detroit in 1971, an event that I was lucky enough to watch first hand.

True, this was the era that starters threw a deadball amount of innings; Fowler and Martin were in the midst of it and often were the ones that led the way.

1971
INNINGS PITCHED                 IP       AGE      CG
1    Mickey Lolich             376         30       16
2    Wilbur Wood               334         29       10
3    Vida Blue                 312         21       13
4    Mike Cuellar              292         34       10
T5   Tom Bradley               286         24       -4
T5   Joe Coleman               286         24        5
T7   Pat Dobson                282         29        8
T7   Jim Palmer                282         25       10
9    Bert Blyleven             278.1       20        6
T10  Clyde Wright              277         30        0
T10  Andy Messersmith          277         25        3

1972
INNINGS PITCHED                 IP       AGE      CG
1    Wilbur Wood               376         30        7
2    Gaylord Perry             342.2       33       18
3    Mickey Lolich             327         31       12
4    Catfish Hunter            295         26        6
5    Bert Blyleven             287.1       21        1
6    Nolan Ryan                284         25        9
7    Joe Coleman               280         25       -2
8    Jim Palmer                274.1       26        8
9    Pat Dobson                268         30        3
10   Ken Holtzman              265         26        6

1973
INNINGS PITCHED                 IP       AGE      CG
1    Wilbur Wood               359         31        6
2    Gaylord Perry             344         34       16
3    Nolan Ryan                326         26       14
4    Bert Blyleven             325         22       12
5    Bill Singer               316         29        6
6    Jim Colborn               314         27       11
7    Mickey Lolich             309         32        4
8    Ken Holtzman              297         27        3
9    Jim Palmer                296.1       27        7
10   Joe Coleman               288         26        0

Three straight 300-inning seasons for Lolich and three straight 280 seasons for Coleman, just to keep the things straight they did it again after Art left, likely because old habits are hard to avoid, by 1975 both starters were on the fast track to retirement, Lolich 34 and Coleman only 28.

After the Tigers tired of Martin’s act he and Fowler moved on to Texas

The 328 innings pitched by Jenkins in 1974 was a career high, also logging a career high for the Texas club that season was Jim Bibby, who logged 260 plus innings and didn’t top 200 again until 1980.

INNINGS PITCHED                 IP       AGE      CG
1    Nolan Ryan                332.2       27       12
2    Ferguson Jenkins          328.1       30       15
3    Gaylord Perry             322.1       35       16
4    Wilbur Wood               320         32        8
5    Catfish Hunter            318         28        9
6    Luis Tiant                311.1       33       12
7    Mickey Lolich             308         33       13
8    Ross Grimsley             295.2       24        4
9    Steve Busby               292.1       24        7
10   Joe Coleman               286         27       -3

1975
INNINGS PITCHED                 IP       AGE      CG
1    Catfish Hunter            328         29       17
2    Jim Palmer                323         29       13
3    Gaylord Perry             305.2       36       13
4    Jim Kaat                  303.2       36       -1
5    Wilbur Wood               291         33        0
6    Vida Blue                 278         25        1
7    Bert Blyleven             275.2       24        9
8    Doc Medich                272.1       26        3
9    Mike Torrez               270.2       28        4
10   Ferguson Jenkins          270         31       10

After the Rangers tired of Martin, they both headed to New York. There they had less of an impact in pushing their starters to the top of the innings pitched list, except in 1979 when they gave the ball to Tommy John for 276 innings… the same Tommy John whose arm had been reattached just a few seasons earlier.

All in all the Yankees in that span had three starters who achieved their lifetime high in innings pitched, Ed Figueroa, Tommy John and Ron Guidry.

After that the duo was on to Oakland, where they would break arms as well as records.

Oakland Athletics from 1980 to 1982

INNINGS PITCHED                 IP       AGE      CG
1    Rick Langford             290         28       20
2    Mike Norris               284.1       25       16
3    Larry Gura                283.1       32        7
4    Dennis Leonard            280.1       29        0
5    Tommy John                265.1       37        7
6    Moose Haas                252.1       24        6
7    Scott McGregor            252         26        3
8    Mike Flanagan             251.1       28        3
T9   Steve Stone               250.2       32        0
T9   Jim Clancy                250.2       24        7

INNINGS PITCHED                 IP       AGE      CG
1    Dennis Leonard            201.2       30        3
2    Jack Morris               198         26        9
3    Rick Langford             195.1       29       13
4    Steve McCatty             185.2       27       11
5    Dave Stieb                183.2       23        5
6    Dennis Martinez           179         26        4
7    Mike Norris               172.2       26        7
8    Larry Gura                172.1       33        7
9    Milt Wilcox               166.1       31        3
10   Geoff Zahn                161.1       35        3

INNINGS PITCHED                 IP       AGE      CG
1    Dave Stieb                288.1       24       12
2    Jim Clancy                266.2       26        3
3    Jack Morris               266.1       27       10
4    Mike Caldwell             258         33        5
5    Dennis Martinez           252         27        2
6    Luis Leal                 249.2       25        3
7    Larry Gura                248         34        1
8    Floyd Bannister           247         27       -2
9    Dan Petry                 246         23        1
10   Len Barker                244.2       26        4

36 complete games by the 1980 innings leaders and all in all 5 Oakland starters with over 210 innings pitched. Also of note NINTY FOUR complete games by A’s pitchers in 1980, that’s good for first place since World War Two. The five starters (Brian Kingman, Mike Norris, Rick Langford, Matt Keough and Steve McCatty) never exceeded their performance innings wise again, and all five were out of the game by the late 80’s.

Once those arms were used up it was back to New York for two brief appearances in 1983 and 1988.

Again a Yankee shows up in the top ten

INNINGS PITCHED                 IP       AGE      CG
1    Jack Morris               293.2       28       12
2    Dave Stieb                278         25        7
3    Dan Petry                 266.1       24        1
4    LaMarr Hoyt               260.2       28        4
5    Scott McGregor            260         29        5
6    Charlie Hough             252         35        4
7    Ron Guidry                250.1       32       15
8    Rick Sutcliffe            243.1       27        3
9    John Tudor                242         29        0
10   Rich Dotson               240         24        1

Plus Shane Rawley hit his career high in innings pitched, this feat helped keep Fowlers and Martin’s record intact.

Back again in 1988 Fowler coached a staff that for he first time in his career had not one starter with at least 200 innings pitched (Rick Rhoden led the team with 197)

After that season Fowler went the way that Martin went and moved away from the diamond. Behind him he left a legacy as a crafty hurler who loved to chase down a cold drink with guys like Joe Nuxhall and Billy Martin, he also left a wide path of success as well as destruction that has helped the folks in the game learn more about the hopes and the limitations of the pitchers arm.

One Response to “Todays Dead Ball Player – Art Fowler”

  1. Pud Galvin/Brian Kingman says:

    Art’s favortie saying at a meeting on the mound was ‘Babe Ruth is dead. Throw the Fuc&ing ball over the plate before Billy gets mad’