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Les Cain

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Leslie Cain

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Biographical Information[edit]

In 1976, Les Cain won a workman's compensation suit against the Detroit Tigers. He argued successfully that manager Billy Martin forced him to pitch with a sore arm in 1972, aggravating an injury and ending his career. The Michigan Bureau of Workman's Compensation ordered the Tigers to pay him $111 a year for life; the two sides later settled on a lump sum payment.

Before the injury, Cain was a hard-throwing lefty who found some initial success in the bigs. He was a 4th round pick out of high school in 1966; he was signed by scout Bernie DeViveiros. He had a brief stint with the Tigers at the beginning of 1968, when he made the team as a 20-year-old rookie after attending his first big league spring training. He went 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 8 games before being sent down to the minors on June 15th. He finished the season pitching for the Toledo Mud Hens and thus missed the Tigers' World Series title. He did get married during his brief stay in Detroit, wedding his high school sweetheart in mid-May. He had a difficult season with Toledo in 1969, going 4-12, 5.71 with a K/BB ratio of 79/71.

He started 1970 again with Toledo but this time pitched very well, giving up only 4 runs over his first 25 innings. He got the call back to Detroit and had a very good rookie season. He went 12-7 with a 3.84 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 180 2/3 innings. In fact, he had had an excellent first half, going 9-2, 3.62, then started dealing with the shoulder pain that would end his career early, missing the season's last two weeks; he also walked nearly a hundred batters as he struggled to control his explosive fastball. In 1971, he was 10-9, 4.35 in 26 starts, missing the first two months of the season. He gave up Carlton Fisk's first major league hit - a home run - late that year. He struck out 118 in 144 1/3 innings, but walked 91. In 1972, he only made five starts before being shut down, losing three of them, with a 3.80 ERA (which was well below average in a low-scoring environment). His last start lasted only one batter: he walked leadoff hitter Horace Clarke of the New York Yankees on May 28th, then had to leave because of the pain in his shoulder. He pitched a few times for the Phoenix Giants, after being sold by Detroit to the San Francisco Giants in July, but his career was over at age 24.

After his career, Cain went to work for the Bank of America in Oakland and later moved to Richmond, CA.

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