Thursday, July 2, 2009

1976 Topps #130 - Luis Tiant

  • Luis Tiant pitched for several teams from 1964-1982. His career had many ups and downs. He is probably most famous for his two complete game victories for Boston in the 1975 World Series. His herky-jerky motion was fun to watch. His father (Luis Sr.) was a great pitcher in the Negro Leagues and in the Cuban League.
  • Luis was recommended by Bobby Avila to the Mexico City Tigers of the Mexican League. Tiant started pitching in the Mexican League in 1958. He pitched for the Tigers and for the Havana Sugar Kings in the International League for the next three years. The Cleveland Indians purchased Tiant's contract at the end of the 1961 season. Because of the situation between the U.S. and Cuba, Luis didn't see his parents until the 1975 World Series.
  • Tiant moved through the Cleveland minor league system. He didn't have much left to prove when he went 15-1 with a 2.04 ERA in 17 games with AAA Portland in 1964. Tiant made his debut with the Cleveland Indians on July 19, 1964. He pitched a 1-0 shutout against the New York Yankees. Luis went on to a 10-4 record with a 2.83 ERA in 19 games (16 starts).
  • Luis went 11-11 in 1965, then went 12-11 as a swingman in 1966 and 12-9 in 1967. Tiant had his greatest year in 1968. He was 21-9 with an ERA of 1.60 and was named to his first AL All Star team. Luis took a virtual 180 degree turn in 1969. He was 9-20 with a 3.71 ERA and gave up a league-leading 37 home runs. Tiant was traded to the Minnesota Twins after the season.
  • Tiant pitched only one year in Minnesota (1970). He was 7-3 with a 3.40 ERA in 17 starts. He fractured his right scapula during the season and didn't pitch from May 28-August 3. Many thought his career would be over.
  • Luis was released during spring training of 1971. He signed with Atlanta's AAA Richmond. Boston's AAA Louisville team picked him up after a few games and he was a combined 3-5 with a 4.17 ERA for the two teams. Luis came up to the Red Sox and was 1-7 with a 4.85 ERA.
  • Tiant began a run of good seasons in 1972. He was 15-6 and led the AL with a 1.91 ERA. He was the AL Comeback Player of the Year. Luis won 20 games in 1973 and 22 in 1974. He had back problems in 1975 but still went 18-14 and had the great performances in the postseason. Boston manager Darrell Johnson once said, "If a man put a gun to my head and said I'm going to pull the trigger if you lose this game, I'd want Luis Tiant to pitch that game."
  • Tiant was a bright spot in Boston's disappointing 1976 season and had his last 20-win season (he won 21). His win totals dropped in the next two seasons (12 in 1977 and 13 in 1978). Luis left the Red Sox as a free agent after the 1978 season and signed with the New York Yankees.
  • Tiant won 13 games for the Yankees in 1979 but slipped to 8-9 with a 4.89 ERA in 1980. He left the Yankees as a free agent and signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Luis spent most of the 1981 season in AAA Portland. He was brought up to the Pirates after the strike and went 2-5 with a 3.92 ERA in 9 starts. Tiant was released by the Pirates after the season.
  • Luis pitched for Tabasco of the Mexican League in 1982. He was picked up by the California Angels for their stretch run on August 2. Tiant was 2-2 with a 5.76 ERA in 5 starts. He retired after the season.
  • After retirement Luis launched his own line of cigars (El Tiante). He picked the Cuban seeds, wrappers, and the manufacturer.
  • Luis was a scout for the Yankees in Mexico for several years and did some minor league managing and coaching. He and his wife had three children and still live in Boston. Here is a link to his SABR biography.
  • Here is an April 2009 "where are the now" article from the New York Daily News.


  1. I love that card of Tiant. Always have. One of my favorites from the set.

  2. This is a sweet card of Tiant. 75 and 76 are my 2 favorites.