Friday, June 13, 2014

Jerry Koosman (#90)

Jerry Koosman was selected as the lefthanded pitcher on Topps' 1968 All-Rookie team. (My card is slightly out of register, making his name a little fuzzy.)

He played for 19 seasons, and is most-remembered for his first 12 seasons with the Mets. He came up around the same time as his Amazin’ Mets teammates Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan, and although very successful early-on, fell short of Hall of Fame status.

Koosman was discovered while pitching in the Army, signed by the Mets in 1964, and pitched in the minors for 3 seasons (1965-67). In 1966, he recorded a 12-7 record while in class-A ball. In 1967, major-league teams began the season with 27 players, and didn’t need to cut down to 25 until early May. Jerry began the season with the Mets, but was sent down to triple-A in May, where he compiled an 11-10 record and 183 strikeouts in 25 games.

He made the Mets team permanently at the start of the 1968 season, and on the heels of Seaver’s Rookie of the Year performance in 1967, Koosman led the staff with 19 wins (for the 9th-place Mets, mind you) and missed out on the 1968 Rookie of the Year award by one vote (to Johnny Bench). Jerry also had a 2.08 ERA and made his first all-star team that season.

Kooz continued his excellence in 1969, going 17-9 with a 2.28 ERA and his 2nd (and final) all-star appearance. Although ineffective in the ’69 NLCS (11.75 ERA), he was 2-0 in the World Series against the Orioles.

Jerry continued with the Mets through the 1978 season (a year and a half past Seaver’s trade), winning in double figures 6 more times (including 21 wins in 1976).

In December ’78 he was traded to the Twins for pitcher Jesse Orosco. In 1979, and at age 36, Koosman was the Twins’ top pitcher, leading the team with 20 wins. The following season he was their top starter again, at 16-13.

In 1981, Koosman slumped to 3-8 during the (pre-strike) first half of the season. When the season resumed in mid-August, he was 0-1 in 7 games, and was traded to the White Sox on August 30th for 2 minor-leaguers and a guy named Randy Johnson (I thought it would be the Big Unit too, but it wasn't).

After a few appearances for Chicago in 1981, Koosman logged identical 11-7 seasons in ’82 and ’83, and in both seasons was a swingman for the only time in his long career.

The Sox traded him to the Phillies for pitcher Ron Reed in February 1984. In April he gave up Pete Rose’s 4000th hit, but posted a 14-15 record in his first season with Philly. Koosman’s final season not so good: only 6-4 in 19 games, with his last game on August 21st. He was released after the season.

1 comment:

Mark Hoyle said...

Love the old rookie trophy cards