Saturday, September 19, 2009

1976 Topps #211 - Clay Carroll

  • Clay Carroll had a 15-year career with five teams, mostly as a relief pitcher. He made two NL All Star teams and is a member of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. Carroll was 4-2 with two saves and a 1.39 ERA in 22 post season appearances.

  • Carroll was signed by the Milwaukee Braves as an amateur free agent in 1961. He was mostly a starting pitcher in the minors from 1961-1965. Clay made his major league debut in 1964 and was 2-0 with a 1.77 ERA in 11 games (1 start). He started the 1965 season with the Braves but was sent down on June 1 and returned in early August. Clay was 0-1 with a 4.41 ERA in 19 games (1 start) in 1965.

  • In 1966 Carroll led the NL with 73 appearances. He was 8-7 with 11 saves and a 2.37 ERA. Clay didn't fare as well in 1967 (6-12. 5.52 ERA) and had a one-month stint in AAA. Carroll started the 1968 season with the Braves and was traded to the Cincinnati Reds on June 11 as part of a deal that sent Milt Pappas to the Braves. For the two teams Clay was 7-8 with a 2.69 ERA in 68 appearances.

  • In the next four seasons (1969-1972) Clay would make 60 or more appearances each year and develop into one of the better relievers in the National League. He made the NL All Star team in 1971 and 1972 and led the league in saves with 37 in 1972. He was 5th in NL Cy Young Award voting and 13th in NL MVP voting in 1972. Here is a Baseball Digest "Game I'll Never Forget" article about game 4 of the 1970 World Series.

  • From 1973-1975 Carroll wasn't used as often as the closer, but he posted good seasons. From 1968-1975 he had only two seasons ('69 and '73) in which his ERA was over 2.62. Clay was the winner in game 7 of the 1975 World Series. After the 1975 season the Reds had some young relievers (Rawly Eastwick and Will McEnaney), which made Carroll expendable. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox for a minor leaguer and Rich Hinton.

  • Clay pitched in only 29 games for the White Sox in 1976. He was 4-4 with six saves and a 2.56 ERA. Before the 1977 season Carroll was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Lerrin LaGrow. He pitched well for the Cardinals (4-2, 2.50 ERA in 51 games) but was traded back to the White Sox for the stretch drive on August 31 for three players. He didn't pitch as well down the stretch for the White Sox (1-3, 4.76 ERA in eight games). Carroll was released by the White Sox during spring training in 1978.

  • Carroll was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates and spent most of the season with AAA Columbus. He made two appearances late in the season for the Pirates. Clay was released after the 1978 season and signed with the Milwaukee Brewers. He made 12 appearances for Milwaukee's AAA Vancouver club (0-2, 9.00 ERA) and then retired.

  • In one of those little "funny story" blurbs in a 1974 Baseball Digest is the following: "In a brawl between the Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds last August, it was believed at first that no players were injured. That is, until relief pitcher Clay Carroll spoke up. Carroll said he suffered a bruised left collarbone. 'We were trying to get the bullpen gate open,' Carroll said. 'We couldn't get it open, then it flew back and hit me.' 'I got punched out by a gate.'"
  • Clay hated to face Billy Williams (.356 with 2 homers in 45 AB) and Willie McCovey (.394 in 33 AB). He liked to face Ron Hunt (.098 in 41 AB) and Doug Rader (.163 in 43 AB).

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