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Mike Caldwell

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Ralph Michael Caldwell

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[edit] Biographical Information

Mike Caldwell's father, Ralph Franklin Caldwell, was a minor league catcher from 1946 to 1953. Mike was drafted in the 12th round of the 1971 amateur draft out of North Carolina State University, and by September of that year was in the majors with the San Diego Padres, giving up no runs in 6 2/3 innings. He had pitched 19 minor league games, none above Class A, going 2-0, 1.64 for the Tri-City Padres and 4-1, 3.66 for the Lodi Padres. He would never pitch in the minor leagues again in a 14-season professional career. He spent 1972 and 1973 in the majors as a swingman for the Padres, going 7-11, 4.01 the first year and 5-14, 3.74 but with 10 saves the second. After that season, he was traded to the San Francisco Giants in the deal that brought future Hall of Famer Willie McCovey to San Diego. He had his first great season for the Giants in 1974, with a record of 14-5 and a 2.95 ERA as a starter. But he regressed over the next two years, going 7-13, 4.79 in 1975 and 1-7, 4.86, in 1976, while gradually losing his spot in the starting rotation. After the 1976 season, he was sent to the St. Louis Cardinals as part of a 6-player trade which also included John Curtis, Dave Rader, John D'Acquisto, Willie Crawford and Vic Harris - solid major leaguers all. However, before the end of spring training in 1977, he was dealt again, this time to the Cincinnati Reds for Pat Darcy.

Caldwell started the 1977 season with Cincinnati with no decisions in 14 games. He was then traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for two minor leaguers, where he underwent a career renaissance. After an unremarkable 5-8, 4.78 second half in 1977, he was brilliant in 1978, going 22-9, 2.36 as the Brewers began their emergence as a power in the AL East. He was one of only three pitchers to beat the New York Yankees' Ron Guidry, who went 24-3 that season; all three were lefthanders named "Mike": Mike Flanagan, Mike Willis and him. He finished second behind Guidry in the voting for the 1978 American League Cy Young Award. He also recorded a remarkable 23 complete games that season. He then pitched at a level only slightly below that for the next four years. He was 16-6, 3.29 in 1979, 13-11, 4.03 in 1980, 11-9, 3.93 in the strike-shortened 1981 season, and 17-13, 3.91 in 1982. He was by no means dominant, but used his pitches efficiently, ate a lot of innings, and kept his team in games long enough for the Brewers' powerful offense to put a lot of runs on the scoreboard. He lost a game to the Yankees in the 1981 ALDS, then was hit hard by the California Angels in losing Game 2 of the 1982 ALCS, but he recovered by pitching a shutout over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the 1982 World Series and then won Game 5, 6-4. However, the Brewers lost the World Series in 7 games.

Caldwell played for a couple more season for the Brewers before retiring. In 1983, he was 12-11 with a 4.53 ERA, then in 1984, with the Brewers' offense no longer clicking, he fell to 6-13, 4.64. By then he was hardly striking anyone out, picking up only 34 Ks in 126 innings in his final season. After his playing career, he became a college coach and then a minor league pitching coach.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 1978 AL Comeback Player of the Year Award
  • AL Complete Games Leader (1978)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 3 (1978, 1979 & 1982)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 1 (1978)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 5 (1978-1980, 1982 & 1983)

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