|His brash pitching performances certainly gave baseball a much needed shot-in-the arm during the 1970s. By email@example.com - Archives/Database |
Al Hrabosky captured the attention of both young and old baseball fans with his threatening Fu Manchu mustache. Before facing each batter, the mean-looking, stone-faced relief pitcher would stand at the back of the mound, with his back to the hitter and meditate for a few seconds. He would then pound his glove, turn around, ascend the mound and more-often-than not simply blow fastballs past the would-be hitters.
The left-handed Hrabosky pitched in the majors for 13 years, and caulked up a compelling 64-35 win-loss record, while collecting 97 saves.
Although, Hrabosky made his big-league debut with the St. Louis Cardinal in 1970, it wasn't until 1974 that he took on the role of "the Mad Hungarian." He explained later, "When I was in a jam, I'd walk off the mound and I'd say to myself, strictly to myself, something like, 'One, two, three, let's get this next guy,' and very often that would generate enough energy to get the ball past the hitter."
In response to Habosky's meditations, Cardinals' public Relations director Jerry Lovelace dubbed him "the Mad Hungarian."
"That new approach did wonders for me," Hrabosky stated. "I ended up 8-1 with an ERA of 2.95 and I had a stretch where I gave up only one run in 47 innings."
A "Road Warrior". Habosky always love pitching on the road. "When I'm on the road, my greatest ambition is to get a standing boo," Hrabosky said. In 1975, he posted a phenomenal 13-3 record, with a National League leading 1.66 ERA, a also a league leading 21 pitching runs, and was voted the NL Fireman of the Year.
In 1977, Hrabosky balked when Cardinal manager banned facial hair. "How can I intimidate batters if I look like a damn golf pro?" he asked. After the season, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals for Mark Littell and Buck Martinez. In '78 his 20 saves helped the Royals win the American League's East Crown.
A free-agent, Hrabosky inked a 35-year, $1,700,000 with Ted Turner, owner of the Atlanta Braves. After pitching three seasons, Hrabosky became the clean-shaven broadcaster for the Cardinals.
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