Friday, October 16, 2009

1976 Topps #238 - Larry Biittner

  • Larry Biittner was a career backup OF/1B who played in 14 seasons from 1970-1983. He was drafted by the Washington Senators in 1968. He played in the minors from 1968-1971. Larry made his debut with two at bats late in the 1970 season. He came up to the Senators in mid-May of 1971 after batting .356 in 25 games for AAA Denver. Larry got into 66 games and batted .257, but he only had a .292 slugging percentage. He was a good singles hitter but wasn't blessed with a whole lot of power.

  • Larry played in 137 games in 1972 and batted .259 in 382 at bats. In 1973 he batted .252 but experienced a reduction in playing time (83 games). After the season Biittner was traded to the Montreal Expos for Pat Jarvis.

  • Biittner was in the minors for most of the 1974 season. He was called up to the Expos on August 1 but he didn't play very much. Most of his 18 appearances (.269 in 26 AB) were as a pinch hitter. Larry had his best season in 1975, batting .315 in 346 at bats as a fourth outfielder. Larry started 1976 with Montreal (.188 in 32 AB) and on May 17 he was traded with Steve Renko to the Chicago Cubs for Andre Thornton. He batted .237 all together for the two teams.

  • Larry's best season was 1977. He played in 138 games and had 493 at bats. Larry batted .298 and hit a career-high 12 home runs. It was the only season in which he would hit more than four home runs. He had an opening day walk-off home run. Biittner even pitched in the second game of a July 4 doubleheader.He had an ERA of 40.50 as he allowed five runs in 1.1 innings and was warned by the umpires when they thought he was throwing at Del Unser when something resembling a curveball went behind Unser's head.

  • Biittner spent the next three seasons as a backup 1B/OF for the Cubs, batting about 250-300 times a season and posting averages of .257 (1978), .290 (1979), and .249 (1980). On September 26, 1979, playing right field, a ball hit by the Mets' Bruce Boisclair went over Larry's head, his cap flying off as he chased it. The ball went under his cap -- searching frantically, Biittner heard us behind him yelling, "Hat! Hat!" Finally locating the ball, he picked it up and threw Boisclair out at third.
  • Larry became a free agent after the 1980 season and signed with the Cincinnati Reds. In 1981 Biittner was used mostly as a pinch hitter and batted .213 in 61 at bats. He bounced back in 1982 and batted .310 in 184 at bats, but he was released after the season. Larry signed with the Texas Rangers and batted .276 in 116 AB in 1983. He was released by the Rangers after the season.
  • Larry is now retired and living in his hometown of Pocahantas, Iowa.
  • Liked to face: Don Sutton (.356 in 45 AB); Phil Niekro (.471 in 34 AB); Bert Blyleven (.375 in 32 AB); John Montefusco (.379 in 29 AB)
  • Hated to face: Larry Christenson (.211 in 38 AB); Nolan Ryan (.200 in 30 AB); John Denny (.179 in 28 AB); J.R. Richard (.167 in 30 AB)
Here is a clip from a home movie taken on May 16, 1977. At 0:30 Larry singles, scoring Ivan DeJesus.

1 comment:

  1. The first time I saw a Larry Biittner baseball card (81 Topps?), I thought for sure his name had been misspelled.