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Bill Kirkpatrick

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William James Kirkpatrick

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Pitcher Bill Kirkpatrick spent eight years in the minors, all but one of them at AAA. He twice led his league in wins, won 10 or more games six times and was 85-56 overall, but never made it to the majors. He was probably helped and hindered by the strength of the Baltimore Orioles of the 1970s - they had lots of good young prospects to provide support but such a strong major league rotation that few openings arose. Additionally, Kirkpatrick was a precision pitcher, not putting up the strikeout rates that flamethrowing types use to impress scouts.

Kirkpatrick was drafted in the 7th round of the 1967 amateur draft by the Cincinnati Reds but did not sign. He was then picked by the Baltimore Orioles in the fifth round of the January draft and continued his college education before signing.

Bill debuted in 1969 with the Stockton Ports in dominating form. He went 16-6 with a 1.96 ERA. He led the California League in wins, innings (211), ERA, complete games (14) and shutouts (7). He allowed only 48 walks and 165 hits while striking out 178. On June 7, he threw a 7-inning no-hitter against the Lodi Crushers. He made the Cal League All-Star team.

In 1970, Kirkpatrick made his AAA debut with the Rochester Red Wings, going 10-5 with a 4.57 ERA. He improved to 11-10, 3.28 in 1971, walking only 43 in 170. He finished fourth in the International League in ERA. In 1972, Bill had a 11-9, 3.51 record with even sharper control, walking 47 in 200 innings.

During his fourth year in Rochester, Kirkpatrick was just 2-2 with a 6.00 ERA. He spent most of the year with the Salt Lake City Angels (7-8, 4.31). Back in Rochester in 1974, Bill had his best year there, going 15-7 with a 2.83 ERA. He led the IL in wins and was 7th in ERA. His control was its best yet - only 32 walks, one wild pitch and two hit batters in 162 innings. He joined Scott McGregor as the pitchers on the IL All-Star team.

He was acquired by the Montreal Expos with Dave McNally and Rich Coggins for Ken Singleton and Mike Torrez on December 4, 1974, in what would turn out to be the worst trade in Expos history, as both McNally and Coggins were gone from the Expos by the end of June, 1975, while Torrez and Singleton - who were already solid major leaguers - became stars in the American League.

Bill had a 11-8, 3.31 record for the Memphis Blues in 1975 and saved one game. He led the IL in hits allowed (183). Still, he failed to be called up to help a weak Montreal team. In 1976, Kirkpatrick was just 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA for the Denver Bears, was released by the Expos without ever getting a shot at the majors, and returned for a sixth and final year in Rochester, going 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA.

Primary Sources: 1970-1977 Baseball Guides

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