Friday, November 27, 2009

1976 Topps #280 - Burt Hooton

  • Burt Hooton was originally drafted by the New York Mets in 1968 but he didn't sign. Hooton stayed in school for a few years and then was the second player taken in the 1971 draft (secondary phase). Burt started a game for the Cubs on June 17 (a 3.1 inning no-decision) then went to AAA Tacoma. After going 7-4 with a 1.68 ERA in Tacoma, Hooton came back to the Cubs to stay in September 1971 and won two starts. His record for the Cubs in '71 was 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA in three starts.

  • Hooton entered the Cub rotation in 1972 and was 11-14 with an ERA of 2.80 in 31 starts. Burt's ERA rose by almost a full run in 1973. He was 14-17 with a 3.66 ERA. The upward climb of Hooton's ERA continued in 1974 as he was 7-11 with a 4.81 ERA in 48 games (21 starts).

  • Burt started the 1975 season 0-2 with an 8.18 ERA in three starts. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 2 for Eddie Solomon and Geoff Zahn. Hooton pitched much better for the Dodgers and finished the season 18-9 with a 3.07 ERA. Burt's record wasn't as good in 1976 (11-15) but he still had a solid 3.26 ERA.

  • In 1977 the Dodgers made the playoffs for the first time since 1966 and Hooton was a valuable part of the pitching staff. He was 12-7 with a 2.62 ERA in 31 starts. Burt was rocked by the Philadelphia Phillies in game 3 of the NLCS (3 runs in 1.2 innings) but the Dodgers went on to win the game 6-5. In the World Series Hooton was 1-1, winning game 2 and losing game 6.

  • Burt had probably his best year in 1978. He was second in NL Cy Young Award balloting and was 15th in MVP voting. Hooton had a 19-10 record with an ERA of 2.71. In the 1978 playoffs Burt was roughed up again by the Phillies (4 runs in 4.2 innings but no decision). He won game 2 of the World Series and lost game 5.
  • Hooton had another solid season in 1979, one of the few bright spots in an injury-riddled Dodger pitching staff. He was 11-10 with a 2.97 ERA in 29 starts. Burt made his last start of 1979 on September 4 and went only 1/3 of an inning (probably an injury). In 1980 Hooton went 14-8 but saw his ERA climb to 3.66.
  • Burt's last big year was 1981. He was picked for the NL All Star Team (he allowed 3 runs in 1.2 innings) and was 11-6 with a 2.28 ERA for the world champion Dodgers. In the 1981 playoffs Hooton won game 3 of the Divisional Series and won games 1 and 4 of the NLCS. Hooton was named the MVP of the NLCS. This time Burt reversed his previous World Series pattern -- he lost game 2 and won the deciding game 6.
  • Hooton missed two months (mid June-mid August) of the 1982 season. His record slipped to 4-7 with a 4.03 ERA. In 1983 Burt was 9-8 with a 4.22 ERA. He was used mostly as a reliever in 1984 (54 games, 6 starts) and had a record of 3-6 with four saves and an ERA of 3.44. Burt became a free agent after the 1984 season and signed with the Texas Rangers.
  • The 1985 season would be Burt's last year. He was 5-8 with a 5.23 ERA in 29 games (20 starts). Hooton was released during spring training in 1986. According to baseball reference his salary for the '86 season was $690,000. If that was a guaranteed salary, it was an expensive release for the Rangers.
  • Throughout his career Burt was known for his "knuckle curve" pitch. Tom Lasorda gave Burt the nickname "Happy" because he rarely smiled.
  • After his career Burt did some coaching, including a stint as the pitching coach of the Houston Astros from 2000-2004. Hooton is now the pitching coach for the Round Rock Express (Houston's AAA club).

  • Liked to face: Larry Bowa (.174 in 86 AB); Roger Metzger (.156 in 77 AB); Terry Puhl (.169 in 65 AB)
  • Hated to face: Bill Buckner (.383 in 94 AB); Greg Luzinski (.351 with 6 HR in 77 AB); Willie Stargell (.380 in 50 AB)

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