Sunday, January 10, 2010

1976 Topps #319 - Larry Gura

  • Larry Gura pitched for three teams from 1970-1985. He pitched for Arizona State University and was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1969. He had pitched two no-hitters in the National Baseball Congress Tournament in 1968. Larry was in the minors in 1969. He split time between the minors and the Cubs in 1970, going 1-3 with 1 save and a 3.79 ERA in 20 games (3 starts) for the Cubs.
  • Gura was in the minors for most of 1971 except for six games (one save and no runs in 3 innings) as a September call-up. In 1972 Larry got rocked in two relief appearances in April and was sent to the minors until September. After he got back to the Cubs he allowed only two earned runs in five appearances to bring his ERA down to 3.65. One reason why Gura wasn't used much in these years was because manager Leo Durocher didn't trust him and preferred veteran pitchers.
  • In 1973 Gura was a spot starter and mop-up man for the Cubs (the Cubs' record during his appearances was 4-17). In 21 appearances (7 starts) Larry was 2-4 with a 4.87 ERA. He also spent a few weeks in the minors in '73. After the 1973 season Gura was traded to the Texas Rangers as the "player to be named later" in an earlier deal. He was assigned to the Rangers' AAA Spokane club and on May 7, 1974 was traded with cash to the New York Yankees for Duke Sims. Gura was assigned to the Yankees' AAA Syracuse club where he was 7-7 with a 2.14 ERA in 16 starts. Larry was brought up to the Yankees in late August and went 5-1 with a 2.41 ERA in eight starts.
  • Gura was 7-8 with a 3.51 ERA in 26 games (20 starts) for the Yankees in 1975. In 1976 Yankee manager Billy Martin didn't care for Gura and didn't use him. Martin thought Larry didn't have enough stuff to consistenly pitch at the major league level and didn't like some of Gura's training regimen. On May 7, 1976 Larry was traded to the Kansas City Royals for Fran Healy. Larry had some injury problems in '76. He hadn't pitched for the Yankees before his trade to the Royals, then Larry pitched in three games for the Royals in late May before going on the shelf again until July 4. Gura ended up going 4-0 with one save and an ERA of 2.30 in 20 games (2 starts). Gura started two games in the ALCS and was 0-1 with a 4.22 ERA.
  • Larry was a reliever and spot starter for the Royals in 1977. In 52 games (6 starts) he was 8-5 with 10 saves and a 3.13 ERA. Gura started game 4 of the ALCS, pitched 2 innings, allowed 4 runs and took the loss. In game 5 he and two other Royal pitchers were unable to shut the door on the Yankees in the 9th inning. Dennis Leonard took the loss. Gura pitched to one batter (Mickey Rivers) who singled in the go-ahead run.
  • In 1978 the Royals made Gura a starter (at least for most of the season). Larry was 16-4 with a 2.72 ERA in 35 games (26 starts). In game 2 of the ALCS Larry shut out the Yankees in the first six innings and then allowed two runs in the 7th inning. The bullpen was able to hold the lead and Larry earned the win. The Royals slumped in 1979. Larry was 13-12 with a 4.47 ERA in 39 games (33 starts).
  • Larry and the Royals bounced back in a big way in 1980. Gura made the AL All Star team (he didn't pitch) and was 18-10 with a 2.95 ERA in 36 starts. He got a complete game victory in game 1 of the ALCS and the Royals finally got past the Yankees and into the World Series. Larry started two games in the World Series and had a 2.19 ERA, but wasn't involved in the decision in either game.
  • Looking back, it's interesting to see just how close the Royals came to beating the Yankees from 1976-1978. In both '76 and '77 the Yankees won in the 9th inning of game 5. In 1978 the Yankees won 3 games to 1, but the last two games were both one-run games.
  • Larry was 11-8 with a 2.72 ERA in 1981. He started and lost game 3 of the ALDS as the Royals were eliminated by the Oakland A's. Gura was 18-12 with a 4.03 ERA in 1982.
  • Gura started to lose his effectiveness in 1983. He led the AL with 18 losses. Larry was 11-18 with a 4.90 ERA in 34 starts. In 1984 Gura was 12-9 with a 5.18 ERA in 31 games (25 starts). In 1985 Larry pitched in three games for the Royals (1 save, 12.46 ERA) before being released on May 18. He was signed by the Cubs on May 28 . He went to the Cubs' AAA club and was 7-3 with a 2.54 ERA in 10 starts. Larry went back up to the Cubs and was 0-3 with an 8.54 ERA in four starts before being released on August 14.
  • Liked to face: Wayne Gross (.045 in 22 AB); Lee May (.063 in 32 AB); Otto Velez (.100 in 30 AB)
  • Hated to face: Jose Morales (.591 in 22 AB); Jim Anderson (.476 in 21 AB); Lou Piniella (.407 in 59 AB); Richie Zisk (.395 in 43 AB)

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