Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ken Clay

Here is Ken Clay's 1981 Topps card. Career Stats: 253 IP, 8 W, 17 L, 97 K,4.70 ERA. Born 4/6/54 in Lynchburg, VA.

A teammate of Jim Kern's, Ken was drafted by the New York Yankees in June of 1972. It wasn't until 1977 that Ken made it to the majors. It was a mad time for the young Virginian to be living in the Bronx zoo. The Son of Sam was lurking and the Bronx was burning. Ken, probably shaken by the strange ways of city folk, could only muster a 4.34 ERA out of the bullpen. Even with David Berkowitz behind bars, the following year was no better for Ken. Once again out of the bullpen he gave the Yankee faithful a 4.26 ERA for their troubles. An ERA, which I'm positive gave Billy Martin, the manager of the Yankees, an ulcer. Despite Ken's performance during the year contributing to Martin's drinking problem, he didn't give up on the young reliever. So on October 3, 1978 in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against those pesky Kansas City Royals, Kenny ran out to the mound in the 6th inning and threw a no-hitter through 3 2/3 innings, earning himself only the second save of his career and the Yankees a lead in the series. The Yankees went on to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series that year and Ken got to show what a World Series ring looks like to all his buddies back in Lynchburg. Unfortunately, Ken got cocky and when he came back to New York in 1979 he pitched a horrendous 5.42 ERA. This performance earned him a one way ticket to Arlington, Texas to play for the Rangers in a trade for Gaylord Perry. Whether it be the decrease in smog, the absence of that burning building smell or the lack of a hostile fan base, Ken got a win in his debut for the Rangers against the Detroit Tigers. However, that didn't prevent him from throwing another season of over 4.00 ERA ball. 1980 saw him pitch a 4.60 ERA for the season. One thing about Ken is no one could accuse him of being inconsistent. Texas, sensing that they might have gotten hoodwinked in that deal with the Yankees, sent Ken north to a new Seattle club where he was to finish his major league career.

On the back of Ken's card it notes that he worked as a basketball referee in the off-season. Also it says the he lists Carl Yastrzemski as his toughest individual opponent. Really Ken. You don't say.

And finally, as a cautionary note, see below what a career 4.70 ERA can do to a man.


Anonymous said...

Is that John Rocker's son?

j. andersen said...

could be his dad.

susan said...

awesome post. as a side note, a recommended read is "ladies and gentlemen the bronx is burning" which was the basis of the miniseries.

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