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Roger Craig

Roger Craig

Position(s):
P
Born:
March 17, 1930
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
6' 4"
Weight:
185 lbs
Major League Debut:
7-17-1955 with BRO

In 1986 Sports Illustrated called Roger Craig "the acknowledged maestro of the split-fingered fastball." In 1985 he taught the split-finger to the Astros' Mike Scott, who won the 1986 Cy Young award. Craig had previously managed the 1978-79 Padres and served as a scout and pitching coach, notably in Detroit, where he taught Jack Morris the split-finger. As a manager, Craig is noted for one-run tactics and for calling lots of pitchouts. He won the NL West title in 1987 and the NL pennant in 1989.

With the fledgling Mets in 1962-63, Craig became the first pitcher to lead the NL in losses two straight years (24 in 1962, 22 in 1963). He tied a league record in 1963 by dropping 18 straight decisions. Conversely, he tied for the NL lead with four shutouts for Los Angeles in 1959, and won two World Series games, one each with Brooklyn and St. Louis.

Playing career

During an 11-year playing career, Craig won 10 or more games in 1956,1957, and 1962. A master at the split-finger fastball, Craig started his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and closed out his career with the Philadelphia Phillies. Craig was the starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game One of the 1959 World Series, a series in which he also started Game Four. Craig was also the starting pitcher for one game apiece in the 1955 and 1956 World Series with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and he also pitched in relief in two World Series games for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964, winning one game. Craig's overall World Series record was two wins and two losses, and his teams won three of the four series.

Craig was perhaps best known after that as a player for being an original 1962 New York Met (actually, a 1962 - 63 Met). It is interesting to note that Roger Craig gave up the first run in New York Mets history on a balk. He was a stalwart of the legendarily bad team's pitching staff, finishing 10 - 24 and 5 - 22 games in those first two murderous seasons. (The Mets lost 120 games in 1962.) In 1963, Craig suffered through a personal 18-game losing streak as a pitcher. Remarkably, during those two seasons, he pitched complete games in 27 games, while winning a total of only 15, demonstrating that he was one of the best pitchers on the staff.

During the 1962 and 1963 seasons, when Roger Craig lost 24 and 22 games respectively, the New York Mets played all of their home games at the antiquated Polo Grounds stadium, the former home of the New York Giants baseball team.

Managerial career

From 1986 to 1992, Craig was the manager of the San Francisco Giants. In Craig's first five full seasons with the Giants 1986–1990, they never finished with a losing record. Prior to coming to San Francisco, Craig served as a pitching coach for the 1984 World Champion Detroit Tigers and as manager of the San Diego Padres (the Tigers' 1984 San Diego Padres season|opponent in the 1984 World Series) from 1978–1979. From 1969–1984, he had become one of the better-known pitching coaches in Major League Baseball, working for the Padres , Houston Astros and Tigers, with a knack for teaching the split-finger fastball to his charges.

Under Craig (who along the way, instilled the unique motto and rallying cry "Humm Baby", the Giants won the National League Western Division title in 1987. The original term of "Humm Baby" was given to the roster's third catcher for the 1986 season, Brad Gulden, who was on his way out of baseball but he managed to squeeze onto the roster for the 1986 season. Craig felt that Gulden didn't really have the talent but he had the heart so he called him the "Humm Baby". The Giants' divisional title in 1987 came just two years after they lost 100 games; Roger Craig replaced Jim Davenport as manager for the remaining 18 games of the 1985 season (posting a 6–12 record). The Giants came within one game of going to the World Series that year, losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.

In 1989 though, the Giants won their first National League pennant since 1962 by defeating the Chicago Cubs in five games in the National League Championship Series|NLCS. Unfortunately, Craig's Giants were swept by the Oakland Athletics in the World Series, which was interrupted by an earthquake, in a four game series.

Roger Craig stepped down from the San Francisco Giants in 1992 after posting a 72–90 record. His successor, Dusty Baker, went on to win 103 games the following year and eventually won the National League Manager of the Year Award.

  • [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2006/04/09/SPGT9I698E1.DTL The original Humm-baby] Article on the 20th Anniversary of the phrase "Humm Baby"

 

As retrieved from Wikipedia and Baseball Library

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Tagged:
1956 World Series, 1957 World Series, 1964 World Series, 1984 World Series, 1989 World Series, Brooklyn Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Oakland Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies, Polo Grounds, Roger Craig, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, split finger fast ball

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