Paul Foytack

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Paul Eugene Foytack

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Biographical Information[edit]

A blazing fastball and erratic control were Paul Foytack's calling cards during his early major league career - a career in which he would pitch 10 years for the Detroit Tigers. A workhorse from 1956 to 1959, he won 58 games for the Tigers and pitched over 200 innings each of those years and leading the league in walks (142) in 1956. In 6 of 8 full seasons with Detroit, he won 10 or more games. Along with Frank Lary, Billy Hoeft and Jim Bunning, he was part of a formidable and youthful Tiger starting rotation in the mid to late 1950s.

Before the 1949 season the Tigers signed Foytack as an amateur free agent and the 19-year-old righthander spent that season with the class D Thomasville Tigers of the Georgia-Florida League, going 14-10 with a 3.29 ERA. Paul spent the next three seasons in the minors (1950-1953) before the Tigers gave him a short look at the start the 1953 season. He got into six games, pitched 9 innings with no decisions and went back to the minors for the remainder of the year and all of 1954 season as well.

Foytack spent a split season with the Louisville Colonels and the Buffalo Bisons in 1954 and was back with the Tigers club in the 1955 season, remaining a Bengal for nine consecutive years. He became a mainstay in the Detroit rotation in 1956, lasting until 1962 and winning 58 games for his team from 1956 to 1959. In 1959, Foytack led the American League in games started with 37. On July 28, 1956, he struck out 15 Washington Senators in a game in which he set a Tigers team record; it was tied and then broken by Mickey Lolich with 16 in 1969 and 1972, and then 17 in a 1973 game.

Foytack is still remembered as the pitcher who served up the first of the 61 home runs hit by Roger Maris on his record-breaking run in 1961. The right-hander finished his major league career with two years spent with the Los Angeles Angels in 1963 and 1964. On July 31, 1963, he set a dubious record while pitching against the Cleveland Indians when he allowed four consecutive home runs, the only pitcher to do so in the 20th Century; the long balls were hit by Woodie Held, Pedro Ramos, Tito Francona and Larry Brown. 44 years later, Chase Wright accomplished the same dubious distinction, against a Boston Red Sox team managed by Francona's son, Terry Francona. Overall, Foytack spent 11 years in the majors, winning 86 and losing 87 in 312 appearances for a 4.14 ERA.

Foytack ended his 16-year pro baseball career, finishing out 1964 with the International League's Syracuse Chiefs with a 10-10 record and a 4.53 ERA. Paul had spent part or all of six seasons in the minors, building a creditable record of 78-67 in 218 appearances and a minor league career 4.07 ERA. He wasn't completely done, though, as he spent 1965 pitching for the Chunichi Dragons of Japan's Central League.

This former Detroit right-hander once put New York Yankees relief ace Ryne Duren in the hospital. As told to Ross Forman in an article for Sports Collectors Digest, he said: "I was sitting on the bench in a game against the Yankees. Ryne Duren came in and proceeded to hit second baseman Frank Bolling in the elbow, then threw one behind Al Kaline's head. Our manager asked, 'Who can pitch an inning?' I volunteered." Foytack ran to the bullpen to warm up. When he came into the game the second batter he faced was Duren. "I wanted to hit him hard, like in the arm or somewhere like that, because he's done it too many times to our team," Foytack finally admitted. "Unfortunately, I got it high and the pitch cracked his helmet and cracked his cheekbone. My father was in town and wanted to go with me to see how Duren was doing after the game." Paul didn't want to go but he eventually relented and visited his rival. "I walked into the room and Duren said, "Don't worry about it - I had it coming," Foytack recalled. "That shocked me."

Foytack, who had been in sales for an industrial rubber plastics company lives in Keego Harbor, Michigan, near Detroit.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 15 Wins Seasons: 2 (1956 & 1958)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 4 (1956-1959)

Baseball Players of the 1950s
SABR MILB Database:page

Related Sites[edit]