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Bruce Gardner

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Bruce Clark Gardner

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" . . . He was ahead of his time. He was eating health foods way before the fad. . . Once he removed all the hair on his left arm, as an experiment, to cut down wind resistance." - Johnny Werhas

Bruce Gardner was a huge college and minor league star who suffered an injury that shortened his career. He later committed a famous suicide on the University of Southern California baseball diamond, and was found with his USC diploma and All-American plaque.

Gardner went to Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, CA and was reportedly offered $50,000 by the Chicago White Sox after graduation. Instead, he went to USC, at the urging of his mother, where he set the record (at the time) for the most victories (50). He was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers and went straight to AAA ball, going 0-1 with a 3.97 ERA in 16 games as a reliever with the Montreal Royals. In 1961 he went 20-4 with a 2.82 ERA for the Reno Silver Sox, leading the California League in wins, ERA, and and complete games (18).

Gardner went into the Army in 1962 and suffered an injury to his pitching arm when he fell out of a moving truck. Afterwards, he was at Spokane, Salem, and Great Falls. He broke an ankle in spring training in 1964 and after the season was released.

His minor league record was 34-18.

Gardner later became a professional pianist, and sometimes played with two high school friends, Herb Alpert and Phil Spector. He also worked for a time as a broker and a high school teacher and coach.

Main source: 1961 Reno

The tale is also told in "An American Tragedy" by Ira Kerkow and Murray Olderman, Inside Sports, August 31, 1980. That article is also found in the book "The Complete Armchair Book of Baseball".

"Pro ball isn't the glamorous life everyone thinks it is." - Bruce Gardner, writing to his former baseball coach Rod Dedeaux

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