Ralph Michael Caldwell
- Bats Right, Throws Left
- Height 6' 0", Weight 185 lb.
- School North Carolina State University
- High School Tarboro High School
- Debut September 4, 1971
- Final Game September 25, 1984
- Born January 22, 1949 in Tarboro, NC USA
Mike Caldwell was a lefty pitcher over 14 big league seasons. In 1978, he won 22 games with the Milwaukee Brewers while comprising one-third of the "Three Lefties Named Mike" to deal "Louisiana Lightning" Ron Guidry a loss in his 25-3 Cy Young Award season.
Mike's father, Ralph Franklin Caldwell, was a minor league catcher from 1946 to 1953. Like father, Mike took up baseball, pitching for Team USA in the 1970 Amateur World Series when they won the Silver Medal; he had a 0.60 ERA, the 7th-best ERA in the event. He was drafted in the 12th round of the 1971 amateur draft out of NC State, 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 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.
Caldwell spent 1972 and 1973 in the majors as a swingman for the Friars, going 7-11, 4.01 the first year and 5-14, 3.74 but with 10 saves in the second. After the '73 season, he was traded to the San Francisco Giants in the deal that brought future Hall of Famer Willie McCovey to San Diego. Mike had his first great season upon arrival in 1974, with a record of 14-5 and a 2.95 ERA in 31 games (27 starts). He regressed over the next two seasons, going 7-13, 4.79 in 38 games (only 21 starts) 1975 and 1-7, 4.86, in 1976, making 50 appearances but only 9 starts as he had lost his rotation spot. 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. Just 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 no decisions in 14 relief outings for Cincy. 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, Mike 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 25-3 that season; all three were left-handers named "Mike": Mike Flanagan, Mike Willis and Caldwell. It was Caldwell who finished second behind Guidry in voting for the 1978 American League Cy Young Award, having recorded a league leading (and truly remarkable) 23 complete games that season.
He 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 board. 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 won Game 5, 6-4. However, the Brewers lost the World Series in 7 games. Caldwell played a couple more seasons 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 strikeouts in 126 innings in his final season.
After his playing career, he became a college coach and then a minor league pitching coach:
- 1987-1991 Coach Campbell University
- 1992-1994 Pitching coach Helena Brewers
- 1995 Pitching coach Beloit Snappers
- 1996-1997 Pitching coach El Paso Diablos
- 1998 Pitching coach Louisville Redbirds
- 1999 Roving pitching instructor Milwaukee Brewers
- 2000-2001 Pitching coach Huntsville Stars
- 2002 Manager High Desert Mavericks
- 2003 Pitching coach Indianapolis Indians
- 2004-2006 Pitching coach Erie SeaWolves
- 2007-2008 Pitching coach Fresno Grizzlies
- 2009-2011 Pitching coach AZL Giants
- 2012 Pitching coach Augusta GreenJackets
- 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)
Year-by-Year Managerial Record
|2002||High Desert Mavericks||California League||60-80||9th|