Jim Gott

Jim Gott

August 3, 1959
6' 4"
215 lbs
Major League Debut:
4-09-1982 with TOR

"My earned run average is so high it looks like an AM radio station." - Jim Gott.

James William Gott (born August 3, 1959 in Hollywood, California), is a former professional baseball player who pitched in the major leagues from 1982-1995.

A fourth round pick in the 1977 amateur draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, Gott was signed by Angel Figueroa. Following the 1981 season, he was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the Rule V Draft.

He earned his first major league win vs. HOF Jim Palmer on May 30th, 1982, defeating the Baltimore Orioles in a combined one-hitter with Roy Lee Jackson on the first day of Cal Ripken's famous streak. About two months later, on July 31st, he threw his first shutout versus the Detroit Tigers. Exactly two years after his first shutout, he recorded his first save against the Detroit Tigers. About two months later, on July 31st, he threw his first shutout versus the Detroit Tigers. Exactly two years after his first shutout, he recorded his first save against the Detroit Tigers.

Prior to the 1985 season, Gott was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Gary Lavelle. He started 26 games for the club that year and on May 12th, he hit a pair of home runs in a contest against the St. Louis Cardinals. He was moved to the bullpen the following year, and midway through the 1987 season, he was acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He saved 34 games for the team in 1988 but committed a record-tying 3 balks in one inning against the New York Mets on August 6th. After severely injuring his elbow, he only appeared in 1 game for the Pirates in 1989.

It was a transaction of little note on August 3rd, 1987.  The Pirates had just picked up pitcher Jim Gott from the San Francisco Giants and not even Nostradamus could have predicted that it would turn out to be one of the most important moves of the next few seasons.

Gott had been a starter with the Blue Jays and Giants until he was sidelined first with Tendonitis in his Bicep, and then shelved for the season after surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in 1986.  He came back in ‘87 and was sent to the Bullpen, where he met with nominal success going 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA. 

The Pirates picked him up late in the season, where manager Jim Leyland put the Hollywood native, who had saved only 3 games in his previous 5-½ seasons, in the closer roll.

Leyland’s move proved to be one of the greatest in his long managerial career as Gott was superb, saving 13 of 16 games the final two months of the season, including a club record seven in a row.  As the season went on, Gott became more unhittable as he turned in a 13 2/3 inning scoreless streak between 9/2 and 9/20.  As helpful as his pitching was, his enthusiastic attitude was also a major factor in the surprising Bucco’s uprising.

What the minor transaction eventually gave them was the spark plug that saw the team win 27 of its final 38 games in a month and a half span that proved to be the beginning of the run of three consecutive Eastern Division championships.  It gave them the confidence to go to the next level.  Without Gott, they may have not made the run and perhaps not have been as successful in the future.

In the surprise Pirate 1988-second place campaign, Gott took his act one step further, by saving a Pirate record 34 games. It was the beginning of the end for the classy reliever as he hurt his elbow in 1989 and pitched in only 1 game.

The next season, Jim went to Los Angeles as a free agent where after three successful seasons as a middle reliever he made it back to one of the premiere closers in the league saving 25 games in 1993 with a 2.32 ERA.

After one more season with his hometown team, Gott returned to the Steel City for one final season in 1995, where he could not recapture the magic finishing with a 2-4 record and 6.03 ERA.  ’95 would prove to be Gott’s last season in the majors, but his legacy in Pittsburgh as the man who helped lift the franchise from the cellar to the penthouse, will always be secure.

Gott taught Dennis Quaid to pitch during the filming of The Rookie.


    * Toronto Blue Jays (1982-1984)
    * San Francisco Giants (1985-1987)
    * Pittsburgh Pirates (1987-1989, 1995)
    * Los Angeles Dodgers (1990-1994)

Pittsburgh Pirates Encyclopedia
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