Sunday, April 12, 2009

1976 Topps #37 - John Hiller

John Hiller was one of those rare relievers who spent his entire career (1965-1980) with the same team. I think the most interesting stat line for Hiller was his 1974 season. He went 17-14 without starting a single game. He pitched 150 innings in relief. That's a lot of decisions for a reliever! He was in the top ten in the AL Cy Young voting in both 1973 and 1974.
John had a heart attack in January 1971 and missed the entire '71 season. He was brought back as a coach and batting practice pitcher in 1972 and was signed as a player in July 1972. He appeared in 24 games and beat the Milwaukee Brewers in a pivotal game in the last weekend of the season to help the Tigers to the AL East title. He was the winning pitcher in game 4 of the ALCS.
John had a great season for a reliever in 1973. His record was 10-5, 1.44, 38 saves. The 38 saves set an AL record that would stand for several years.
He continued to be an effective reliever and spot starter until the end of his career in 1980.

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