Thursday, August 13, 2009

1976 Topps #174 - Charlie Hough

  • Charlie Hough pitched forever. The knuckleballer pitched from 1970-1994. He spent more time with the Texas Rangers, but I'll always think of him as a Dodger. It looks like this picture was taken at Vero Beach during spring training. For some reason I don't think the Dodgers' new facility in Glendale, AZ will ever have the same charm or personality as Dodgertown. It's a nice facility, but the newness and the fact that it's shared with another team dimishes the luster.
  • Back to Charlie Hough. He was drafted out of high school by the Dodgers in 1966. He kicked around in the minors from 1966-1969 with limited success. Hough learned the knuckleball during spring training in 1970 and things changed. He strove to perfect his knuckler as a reliever in AAA for the next three seasons before joining the Dodgers full time in 1973. Charlie had cups of coffee in 1970, 1971, and 1972 and pitched a total of 14 games for the Dodgers in those three years.
  • From 1973-1978 Charlie was a valued member of the bullpen for the Dodgers. His best season for Los Angeles was probably 1976 when he was 12-8 with 18 saves and a 2.21 ERA in 142.2 innings. He averaged almost two innings per relief appearance in those years.
  • Hough was pressed into service as a starter for part of the 1979 season due to a rash of injuries to Dodger starters. He had his worst full season for the Dodgers, going 7-5 with a 4.76 ERA in 42 games (14 starts).
  • In 1980 Charlie started poorly (1-3, 5.57 in 19 games) and was sold to the Texas Rangers on July 11. Charlie went 2-2 with a 3.96 ERA in 16 games for the Rangers to finish the 1980 season. Hough improved in 1981. He pitched in 21 games (5 starts) and was 4-1 with a 2.96 ERA.
  • The Rangers converted Hough to a starter in 1982. Charlie would start 30 or more games in each of the next nine seasons. He was in double figures in both wins in losses in those seasons and his ERA was almost always under 3.80. There is some amount of black ink in Charlie's stat lines during those years. They aren't always positive stats--he led the AL twice in hit batsmen, once in home runs allowed, once in bases on balls, and once in hits allowed. He also led the AL in starts twice, complete games once, and innings pitched once. He was a valued starter for the Rangers in the 1980s. Charlie made his only All Star team in 1986.
  • After a 1990 season in which he was "only" 12-12 with a 4.07 ERA as a 42-year-old starter, Charlie was granted free agency and signed with the Chicago White Sox. When Hough left the Rangers, he was the team leader in strikeouts, games pitched, wins, losses, innings pitched, and walks.
  • He pitched for the White Sox in 1991 and 1992 but was under .500 both seasons. After the 1992 season he was granted free agency again and signed with the expansion Florida Marlins. Charlie finished his career as a starting pitcher for the Marlins in 1993 and 1994. His stats weren't all that great (14-25 in the two years combined), but he was a great resource for the younger pitchers on the club. He retired at the age of 46 with a lifetime 216-216 record.
  • After his career Hough coached for various minor league teams as well as the Dodgers and the New York Mets. Charlie is currently the pitching coach for the single-A Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino in the Dodgers' organization.
  • If you are a Charlie Hough collector, here is a checklist of his cards.

1 comment:

  1. It's hard to believe that the great knuckleballer was ever that young.