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Rollie Fingers
#34 | Pitcher | Oakland Athletics


Roland Glen Fingers

Rollie Fingers

 

    Rollie Fingers emerged as the game's first modern-day relief ace, achieving legendary status with consistent excellence coming out of the bullpen.  He relied upon a sinking fastball to notch 341 saves, becoming the all-time major league leader in that category.  Fingers also appeared in 16 World Series games for the Oakland A's, winning 2 games and saving 6 in 7 chances.  In 1972, Fingers appeared in 6 of the 7 games, compiled 10 1/3 IP, allowing just 4 hits and 2 ER; he also gained 2 saves in 2 chances.  In the decisive seventh game against the Reds, Fingers worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the eighth inning to preserve the 3-2 victory and the championship.

     In 1973, he appeared in 6 of the 7 games again, gathering 13 2/3 innings and allowing just one earned run.  Again he was the Game 7 hero, shutting down the Mets in the decider with 3 2/3 innings and preserving a 4-1 lead.  In 1974, the Athletics won the Series in five games against the Dodgers; Fingers won Game 1, blew a save in Game 3, then saved Games 4 and 5 to clinch the title.

     Also in 1974, during the regular season, Fingers pitched the final two innings of the only four-pitcher no-hitter in baseball history as he, Vida Blue, Glenn Abbott, and Paul Lindblad combined to blank the California Angels 5-0.

     Like many Oakland players, Fingers fled Charlie Finley, and signed on with San Diego as a free agent in 1977. He promptly led his new league in appearances with 78, and also led the league for the first time in saves with 35. He followed with 37 saves in 1978 to tie the then-ML record, even though he also lost 13 games in relief.

   He was the American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1981, when he allowed just 68 base runners (55 hits and 13 walks, 5 of them intentional) in 78 innings, compiled a 6-3 record with 28 saves, and posted a 1.04 ERA.  Fingers figured in 55 percent of his team's victories that season, and pitched them into the post season.

 

     Like many relievers, Fingers began his career as a starter.  He began the 1969, 1970, and 1971 seasons as a starter, but finished all three seasons in the bullpen.  In 1972 he finally became a full-time reliever, winning 11 games in relief and saving 21 to lead Oakland to its first-ever World Series appearance.

 

Picture from National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc.

 


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