This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
Of the fifty five players in baseball history born on December 3rd, none have won as many games as the man who turns 40 years old today with 109 victories and it’s the same man that has reached the postseason with four different teams.
Paul Byrd was born on December 3rd, 1970 in Louisville Kentucky. Though Louisville is home to the famous Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, it was the pitching rubber that propelled Byrd to greater heights.
Taken in the fourth round of the 1991 MLB Amateur June Draft by the Cleveland Indians, Paul Byrd began his journey to the big leagues. The right handed pitcher took a few turns through the minors over five years which included a multi-player trade to the New York Mets. With a fresh start in a new city, Byrd was promoted to the Mets and made his debut on July 28th, 1995.
Sharing a birthday with Paul Byrd is the late Joe Collins. A 5 time World Series champion with the New York Yankees, he was featured in a Baseball Digest article in the October 1952 issue. Click here to check it out!
After two seasons with the Mets, he was traded to the Atlanta Braves during the off-season prior to the 1997 season. After a debut season with the Braves that featured an Earned Run Average soaring above 5.00, he spent much of the 1998 season starting for the Triple A affiliate Richmond Braves. The transition to starter was complete when the Braves waived Byrd and the Philadelphia Phillies picked him up in August of 1998. He responded with a 5-2 record and a 2.29 ERA in 8 starts. In his first full season as a starting pitcher, Byrd won 15 games as a member of the 1999 Phillies.
Byrd’s talent hit a bump in the road over the next two seasons, as he compiled an 8-16 record with an ERA above 5.00 once again. A mid-season trade in 2001 to the Kansas City Royals proved to be the kind of change the pitcher needed. In 2002, Byrd rebounded with a 17 win season despite playing for a team that lost 100 games. He missed all of the 2003 season due to Tommy John surgery, but he returned in 2004 and solidified himself as a hired gun. He winning 57 games over the next five seasons with four different clubs. Each of these teams reached the postseason with Byrd shoring up the back end of their rotations. Though his 5.40 career postseason ERA suggests otherwise, Byrd proved on more than one occasion he could pitch on the big stage of the playoffs.
Despite being linked to the Human Growth Hormone controversy and having his name in the infamous Mitchell Report, Byrd was considered one of the friendliest players in the game. Though technically a free agent, he has not played since his 1-3 finish with a 5.82 ERA as a member of the Boston Red Sox in 2009.
Also Celebrating A Birthday Today:
Andrew Oliver, the 23 year old rookie made his major league debut with the Detroit Tigers on June 25th!
Brian Moehler, the 39 year old veteran has spent 14 years in the big leagues with the Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds, Florida Marlins and Houston Astros!
Gene Nelson, Dennis Eckersley’s set up man during the Oakland Athletics 1980’s dynasty turns 50 day!