Baseball Digest Birthdays: Charlie Hough

As the National Baseball Hall of Fame announces its Class of 2011 today, there will be many discussions of past, present, and future Hall of Famers. There will be talk of the great careers and the long careers. It’s fitting that today is also the birthday of a man who had flashes of greatness and played baseball for longer than all but a handful of ballplayers throughout history. The player featured today played alongside many Hall of Famers, and even served his first career home run up to one, Hall of Famer Billy Williams.

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii on January 5th 1948, and taken from Hialeah High School in Florida in the 8th round of the 1966 Amateur Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Charlie Hough’s professional career changed greatly through the minor league ranks. He had a 2.97 Earned Run Average in four seasons at the AAA level, which can be attributed to adding the knuckleball pitch to his repertoire. Brought through the system as a relief pitcher, he debuted in 1970 and was in the Dodgers bullpen for good by the 1973 season.

Hough made an immediate impact as a reliever with the Dodgers, helping the team to three World Series appearances in the first five full seasons of his career. His best season with the Dodgers came in 1976 when he had 18 saves and a 2.21 ERA to go along with 12 victories in 142.2 innings.

By 1979, Charlie Hough’s numbers as a relief pitcher began to slip and after a failed conversion to starting, opted to sell the knuckleballer to the Texas Rangers. The move to the rotation proved to be the right move, but the results were not evident until the then 34 year old again made the switch to starting in Texas.

In an October issue of Baseball Digest in 1986, Ross Newhan recaps how Charlie Hough threw a near No Hitter in June that year. Click Here to read about it!

Beginning in 1982, Hough made at least 30 starts for nine straight seasons, including leading the American League with 40 starts in 1987. He also led the league in starts in 1985 with 36. During the nine seasons starting with Texas, he won 133 games and averaged a 3.70 ERA. Though occasionally he led the league in statistical categories such a home runs allowed and hit batsmen, he also occasionally led the league in categories such as innings pitched and batters faced. In short. Hough was a reliable part of the Texas rotation in his second career as a starting pitcher. He was named to his only All-Star team in 1986.

After two seasons with an ERA above 4.00 in Texas, Charlie Hough found himself a free agent and signed with the Chicago White Sox prior to the 1991 season. In two seasons with the White Sox, he had a 16-22 record and a 3.98 ERA and was part of one of the oldest baseball battery with Carlton Fisk behind the plate.

Prior to the 1993 season, Charlie Hough signed with the expansion Florida Marlins, which he made 55 starts for over the ensuing two years. He threw the first pitch in franchise history when he took the mound as the starting pitcher on April 5, 1994. It’s worth noting that this start came against Jose Offerman of Hough’s former team, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hough also earned his final career victory in a 2-1 win over the Dodgers in early September of that year.

Hough retired with a 216-216 record, 2,365 strikeouts, and is the franchise leader in wins for the Texas Rangers, among other categories. He currently works as an advisor with the Los Angeles Dodgers front office.

Also celebrating a birthday today:

Jeff Fassero, born on January 5th, 1963, logged 16 seasons in the big leagues, spending six seasons with the Montreal Expos before becoming a traveling arm that had postseason appearances with the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals. Fassero has been working as a pitching coach in the Chicago Cubs organization since retirement.

Danny Jackson, born in 1962, was a key member of the 1985 Kansas City Royals World Championship team, helping overcome an elimination game in the ALCS against the Blue Jays. He was also a member of the 1990 Cincinnati Reds and 1993 Philadelphia Phillies, two teams that reached the World Series.

Luke Sewell, a 20 year veteran, was born in 1901 and was the middle brother of three that had major league careers. His brother Joe had a Hall of Fame career. Luke Sewell may be best remembered for low career numner of strikeouts, 307 in 5383 at bats. He also managed the St. Louis Browns and Cincinnati Reds.

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