Friday, July 31, 2009

1976 Topps #161 - Bruce Kison

  • Bruce Kison pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1971-1979), California Angels (1980-1984) and Boston Red Sox (1985). He started in the Pirates' organization in 1968 and progressed through the system. He showed he was ready for the majors when he started the 1971 season 10-1 with a 2.86 ERA in 12 starts for AAA Charleston. Bruce made his major league debut on July 4, 1971 and finished the season 6-5 with a 3.40 ERA. Kison won games in relief appearances in both the National League Championship and the World Series. Here is a Sports Illustrated article about Bruce from April 1972.
  • During winter ball in 1971 (according to his Wikipedia entry) Bruce injured his rotator cuff. He changed his throwing motion and was able to pitch for 14 more years. **note: this may have happened in the 1972 off-season since the aforementioned article doesn't mention an injury and Bruce spent a large portion of the 1973 season in the minors ** Kison went 9-7 with an ERA of 3.26 in 32 games (18 starts) for the Pirates in 1972 and won one game in the NLCS. In 1973 Bruce pitched for Charleston and was brought back to the Pirates in September. He went 3-0 in seven starts to finish the '73 season.
  • In 1974 Kison was 9-8 with a 3.49 in 40 games (16 starts) and won another NLCS game. Bruce moved into the Pittsburgh rotation in 1975 and was 12-11 with a 3.23 ERA. Here is a 1975 article about Kison from the Pittsburgh Post-GazetteHe had a better year in 1976 (14-9, 3.08) but had one of his poorest seasons in 1977 (9-10, 4.90).
  • In 1978 Bruce was 6-6 with a 3.19 ERA in 28 games (11 starts). He improved to 13-7 with a 3.19 ERA in 1979. Kison didn't pitch in the NLCS. He was given the start in game 1 of the World Series and only retired one batter, allowing five runs as he absorbed his only career postseason loss.
  • After the 1979 season Kison was granted free agency and signed with the Angels. An injury shortened his 1980 season (he pitched in only one game after June 11) and he went 3-6 with a 4.91 ERA. He pitched a one-hitter against the Minnesota Twins on April 23 (the no-hitter was broken up by a Ken Landreaux single in the 9th inning).
  • Kison didn't pitch until after the strike in 1981. He appeared in only 11 games and was 1-1 with a 3.48 ERA. Bruce came back with a 10-5, 3.17 ERA season in 1982 and had a complete game win in game 2 of the American League Championship Series. He left the deciding game 5 in the 6th inning with the score tied 2-2 but the Angels eventually lost the game.
  • Bruce was 11-5 with a 4.05 ERA in 1983 and then slipped to 4-5, 5.37 in 20 games in 1984. After the 1984 season he was granted free agency and signed with the Red Sox. Kison was 5-3 with a 4.11 ERA in his final season. During one game George Bell charged the mound and attempted to karate kick Kison. Bruce calmly stepped aside and then flattened Bell with a punch.
  • After his playing career Kison was a pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals and the Baltimore Orioles. He is currently a scout and a pro baseball instructor.


  1. Nice post. I love this card. Kison also has a few choice quotes in the Dock Ellis bio, Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball. Good stuff.

  2. I just added this card last week!


  3. I just realized Kison is pictured with a batting helmet. I didn't imagine him as an offensive player, but he has two career stolen bases and three home runs. His best offensive years were 1976 (.203) and 1977 (.261).