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Milt Pappas

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Milton Stephen Pappas Jr.
(Gimpy)
born Miltiades Pappastediodis

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[edit] Biographical Information

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Milt Pappas is one of only 16 liveball pitchers to win 150 games before turning 30. Like 15 of them, he fell short of 300 wins (only Greg Maddux made it). See the Hal Newhouser page for the complete list. He was the first pitcher to make it to 200 wins without a single 20-win season.

He is remembered for being involved in a very lopsided trade, on December 9, 1965 when he was traded by the Baltimore Orioles to the Cincinnati Reds, alongside pitcher Jack Baldschun and outfielder Dick Simpson, for future Hall of Famer Frank Robinson. Robinson won the Triple Crown for the Orioles in 1966, won the AL MVP award, and led them to a World Series sweep over the Los Angeles Dodgers; the Robinson-led Orioles would return to the World Series three more times from 1969 to 1971. Pappas could not possibly match such a performance, but was still a decent pitcher in the National league, as his 99 wins over 8 seasons attest. It's unfair to him that his performance is denigrated because the Reds' front office though Robinson was entering the decline of his career when it was not at all the case.

Milt Pappas came one batter short of throwing a perfect game for the Chicago Cubs on September 2, 1972. He had 2 balls and 2 strikes on hitter #27, Larry Stahl, and his last two pitches were ruled balls. He settled for the no-hitter, but he never forgave the umpire. In his frequent tirades against the umpire (Bruce Froemming) he usually tacitly implies that the pitch was in fact outside the strike zone. He's argued that the last pitch in Don Larsen's perfect game was a foot outside the strike zone but the ump gave Larsen the call, so this guy should've done it as well. His own catcher, Randy Hundley, has also made statements indicating that the pitch was outside. He screamed at the ump after the walk that he blew his chance to make history for himself. The reporters after the game asked Froemming if he realized he blew his chance to be remembered. "What are the names of the other umpires who called perfect games?" he replied. After a silent response Froemming finished with "That's how famous I'd be." Ironically, he's more well-known for that call that any of the perfect game umps. And he got the call right.

Pappas was also a solid hitter, slugging 20 home runs over the course of his career. He is credited with a game played at second base on September 11, 1958 against the Kansas City Athletics (Boxscore), but this was in fact a ploy by Orioles manager Paul Richards to avoid batting a couple of weak hitters, Jim Busby and Billy Gardner, in the first inning. Fellow pitcher Jack Harshman, hitting fifth, gave way to pinch hitter Gene Woodling when his time to bat came up, and Pappas was replaced by Gardner when the Orioles took the field in the bottom of the first, the top of the first having ended before he had to bat. Under today's rules, Pappas would not be credited with a game played in the field if such a strategy were used.

Pappas' wife disappeared nine years after he retired from baseball, and was never seen again until five years later when her body was found. She'd been out for a drive, and did something wrong and ended up in some water. There was no evidence of foul play.

He won 99 games in the National League and 110 in the American League. Several pitchers have won 100 or more games in each league: Cy Young, Nolan Ryan, Gaylord Perry, Ferguson Jenkins, Jim Bunning, Al Orth and Dennis Martinez.

In 1979-1980, he was head coach of North Central College.

His brother Perry Pappas pitched in the New York Yankees organization.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 2-time AL All-Star (1962 & 1965)
  • NL Shutouts Leader (1971)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 7 (1959, 1960, 1963, 1964, 1967, 1971 & 1972)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 9 (1959, 1960, 1962-1967 & 1971)

[edit] Further Reading

  • Milt Pappas (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, February 1977, pp. 62-64. [1]

[edit] Related Sites

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