Bob Welch, the American League’s Cy Young Award winner in 1990 as the last Major League Baseball pitcher to win more than 25 games in a season, has died of a heart attack, the Los Angeles Dodgers said. He was 57.
Welch played his first 10 major league seasons with the Dodgers and his final seven with the Oakland Athletics.
“We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Bob Welch,” Athletics President Michael Crowley said yesterday in a statement. “He was a legendary pitcher who enjoyed many of his best seasons with the Oakland A’s.”
In his 1981 autobiography, “Five O’Clock Comes Early: A Ballplayer’s Battle With Alcoholism,” written with George Vecsey, Welch said he began drinking alcohol as a teenager in suburban Detroit. By the time he joined the Dodgers in 1978, he’d often black out from drinking and once while drunk challenged Terry Whitfield of the San Francisco Giants to a fight on the field. Welch attended a rehabilitation facility in 1980.
He had a 211-146 record with a 3.47 earned run average with the Athletics and Dodgers from 1978 through 1994. He helped the A’s win three straight AL pennants from 1988-90 and was a member of the Oakland team that won the 1989 World Series in a four-game sweep.
In 1990, Welch had a 27-6 record with a 2.95 ERA to win the Cy Young Award as the AL’s best pitcher. No pitcher has won more than 24 games in a season since then.
As a rookie, Welch pitched for the Dodgers in the World Series against the New York Yankees and twice faced Reggie Jackson as a reliever in late-inning situations. He struck Jackson out with two outs in the ninth inning to preserve the Dodgers’ 4-3 win in Game 2 and then allowed a two-run homer to the Yankees’ slugger in Game 6 that helped seal New York’s 7-2 championship-clinching victory.
Welch was pitching coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks when they won the 2001 World Series and was a special instructor for the A’s in recent years, working at the minor-league level and with the major league club during spring training.
To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at firstname.lastname@example.org Dex McLuskey, Jay Beberman