Bob Purkey won 129 MLB games, including a sterling 23-5 record in 1962. A native of Pittsburgh, as a rookie with the Pirates in 1954 Bob Purkey worked as a starter and reliever, posting a 3-8 record, a high 5.07 ERA in 131 1/3 innings, 36 games, 11 starts. The next two seasons were spent going back and forth to the minors and the Pirates. In 1957 at age 28, the 6 ft 2 inches, 195 pound Bob Purkey showed signs of success, compiling a solid 11-14 record for a Pittsburgh team that finished with the worst record in the NL, 62-92. He had a 3.86 earned run average, completed 6 of 21 starts, 179 2/3 innings in 48 games. And, then was traded in the winter months to the Cincinnati Reds for pitcher Don Gross. There, in Cincinnati, Bob Purkey learned how to pitch the knuckleball and his career reached new heights.
A workhorse with the Reds, he fashioned a fine 17-11 record, with a 3.60 ERA, tossed a career-high 3 shutouts, working 250 innings, and walked just 49 batters. From 1959 thru 1961 Bob Purkey posted records of 13-18, 17-11 and 16-12, while working 218, 152.6, 146.3 innings. Highlights include when the Cincinnati Reds won the 1961 pennant, and he was 16-12, issuing the 3rd lowest walks per 9 innings, 1.86, in the NL. World Series Baseball History Bob Purkey started Game 3 in the 1961 World Series versus the New York Yankees with Maris and Mantle. Purkey was holding the powerhouse Yankees in check, with the Reds leading 2-1 into the 8th inning when Yanks catcher Johnny Blanchard hit a solo home run, tying the game. In the 9th Roger Maris slammed a homer and Cincinnati and Purkey lost 3-2. Note: this was the season Maris hit 61 homers and broke Ruth’s record of 60.
In 1962 Bob Purkey had a ‘dream season.’ He led the majors with a resounding .821 winning percentage, a 23-5 record with a fine 2.81 ERA, had 2 shutouts, worked a career-high 288 innings, while allowing less than a hit an inning, 260. He struck out a career-high 141 batters and walked just 64. Bob Purkey stats: 129-115 record, .529 pct, 3.79 ERA, 386 Games, 276 GS, 92 GC, 13 Shutouts, 2,114 2/3 innings, 2,170 hits, 739 Ks, 510 Walks, 9 saves. Batting 71 hits in 387 games, and 6 homers. baseballhistorian.com