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Don Drysdale
#53 | Pitcher | Los Angeles Dodgers/Brooklyn Dodgers


Donald Scott Drysdale: "Big D," "Airdale"

     The tall, intimidating right-hander won the Cy Young Award in 1962 with a 25-9 record and formed perhaps the most effective pitching duo, along with Sandy Koufax, in modern memory.  Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine for the Atlanta Braves in the 1990s, and Red Ruffing and Lefty Gómez in the late 1930s are the only righty-lefty combo that could rival them - maybe Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain in the late 1940s were close.

 

     Opposing batters remember Don Drysdale as a hard-throwing, competitive sidearmer.  While Koufax was of such a constitution that he could never intentionally throw at anybody, Drysdale would as readily bean you as look at you - he'd brush his mother back if she were crowding the plate.  He led the NL in hit batsmen 5 times in his career.  Knocking down hitters was a major tool in Drysdale's pitching repertoire. He set the 20th-century NL career record by hitting 154 batters.  His philosophy on the knockdown pitch was simple: "If one of our guys went down, I just doubled it.  No confusion there.  It didn't require a Rhodes scholar."

 

     A workhorse, he never missed a start; he led the NL in games started every year from 1962 to 1965, as well as in innings pitched in 1962 and 1964.  He also led in shutouts in 1959.  He won 209 games and lost 166 over 14 years with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, compiling a 2.95 ERA with 2,486 strikeouts.

 

     One of the best-hitting pitchers of his day, he led NL pitchers in homers four times, twice tying the NL record of 7.  His career total of 29 ranks second to Warren Spahn's in NL history. In 1965 he hit .300 and slugged .508, pinch hit frequently and picked up 130 at-bats, and achieved the rare feat of winning 20 and hitting .300 in the same year.  In 1958 he slugged .591.

 

     A fixture at All-Star time, Drysdale holds All-Star records with eight games pitched, five starts, 19.1 innings, and 19 strikeouts.  He went 2-1, 1.40, allowing only 10 hits.  In World Series play, he was a key member of the 1959, 1963 and 1965 championship Dodgers, going 3-3 with a 2.95 ERA.  In 1963, he tossed a complete-game shutout against the Yankees; in 1959, he won Game 3 on 7 innings, allowing just 1 run despite scattering 11 hits and 4 walks, and gave his team a 2-1 lead (the Dodgers went on to beat the White Sox in six games).  In 1965, he pitched in two games and split them; in 1966 he pitched twice and lost twice.

     But his most incredible achievement came in 1968, the "Year of the Pitcher" - he hurled 58 consecutive scoreless innings (six straight shutouts) in 1968.  (The record has since been broken by another Dodger, Orel Hershiser, in 1988).

 


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