Saturday, December 26, 2015

#165 Jack Sanford

Jack Sanford  San Francisco Giants

Career: I cribbed most of this from my post of his 1959 Topps card:

If the term 'bad ass' had been popular back when pitcher Jack Sanford was active, he'd have been called one. He threw hard, didn't always know (or care) where the ball was going, and once was suspended for 10 games for refusing to give up the baseball when his manager came out to take him out of a game. That's bad ass.

Sanford tried out at a Red Sox camp in 1948 after high school but they thought he was too small and he wasn't signed. A Phillies scout had seen his performance and offered him a contract and he pitched until 1954 in their chain. His minor league career was marked by his inability to control either his fastball or his temper. He spent a year in the military and in 1957, his first full season in the bigs, he won 19, lost only 8 and posted a 3.08 ERA to earn NL Rookie of the Year honors. At this point he was 27 years old, not exactly a kid making his major league debut.

He was hit with the sophomore jinx in 1958 and his numbers slipped. The Phils traded him to the Giants for Valmy Thomas and Ruben Gomez in a move they regretted soon enough. Sanford rebounded and pitched very well in San Francisco for five seasons. His best year was 1962 when he won 24 games and finished second in the Cy Young voting. 16 of those 24 wins came consecutively. In 1963 the workhorse started a league high 42 games. (It's a different game today, Phil Niekro was the last pitcher to start that many, taking the mound 44 times in 1979.)

Sanford started three games in the 1962 Series for the Giants. He went 1-2 against the potent Yankee squad. He pitched very well in the series and in Game 7 he started and allowed only one run. Sadly for the Giants his club was shutout by Ralph Terry in the deciding game. Each of his Series starts, in fact, came against Terry.

He remained in the majors with the Giants, Angels and A's before retiring after the 1967 season and left with 137 career wins. Following that he coached for a couple of seasons in Cleveland and worked as a country club director.

Sanford died in 2000 of brain cancer. A well written blog post reminisces about his career.

In 1960: His ERA was up half a run from 1959 and he went 12-14 with a 1.3 WHIP. Just as it seemed that he was overcoming his control problems he lead the league with 15 wild pitches. He never again even approached that number. On the plus side he gave up the fewest homers per nine innings in the league.

WikiFacts: From his NY Times obit..."In 1962, Sanford won 16 straight starts from mid-June to mid-September en route to a 24-7 record for a Giants team that won the pennant in a three-game playoff against the Dodgers.

Only Rube Marquard, who won 19 straight for the New York Giants in 1912, and Roy Face, who won 17 straight for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1959, have won more consecutive games in a single year during the modern era. Six pitchers have matched Sanford's 16-game streak."

From his SABR bio...."His fierce temper had not quieted. On the days he was scheduled to pitch, even his wife and four children knew better than to speak to him. After he arrived at the ballpark, he paced the clubhouse, scowling and silent, until it was time to warm up. When he disagreed with an umpire, he stomped around the mound, waving his arms and talking to himself. Catcher Hobie Landrith said, “I don’t think he saw the catcher, batter and umpire. I don’t think he saw anything. When he was out there he was one bundle of nerves that couldn’t wait to get the ball and throw it again. He never wanted the catcher even approaching him. ‘Give me the ball. Give me the ball! GIVE ME THE BALL!'"

The Card: Flat out one of the best in the set. Great color combo and Sanford even looks like a tough guy. I love the old 'windbreaker under the jersey' look. You never see that these days. My best guess is that the pic was taken in the L.A.Coliseum.

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