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Milt Pappas

Milt Pappas

Milt Pappas

Position(s):
P, 2B
Nicknames:
Gimpy
Born:
May 11, 1939
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
6' 3"
Weight:
190 lbs
Major League Debut:
8-10-1957 with BAL

Intro

A control specialist, Milt Pappas won 209 games for four teams, started the All-Star Game, and threw a no-hitter in his 17-year career. He never won more than 17 games in any one season, but he recorded 12-17 victories 13 times, including ten years in a row. After the 1965 season, just 26 years old, Pappas and two prospects were dealt to the Cincinnati Reds for Frank Robinson. The trade turned out to be one of the best in history...for the Orioles. Pappas struggled to fit in with the Reds, and spent his remaining years embroiled in several controversies while trying in vain to reach the World Series.

Unform Number

#23 (1957), #32 (1958-1965, 1968-1973), #34 (1966-1967)

Replaced By

Bill Bonham, in the Cubs' 1974 rotation.

Best Season

Pappas was a consistent pitcher, so it's hard to choose his very best season. In 1972, at the age of 33, he won 17 games (matching his career high), and had a fine 2.77 ERA, while pitching half of his games in cozy Wrigley Field (where he had a remarkable 2.25 ERA). On September 2, he pitched a no-hitter against the Padres, and later that month he achieved his 200th career win, in the midst of a personal 11-game winning streak. As usual, he displayed superb control, walking just 29 batters in 195 innings.

Factoid 1

Milt Pappas retired the first 26 batters he faced on September 2, 1972. With a 2-2 count on pinch-hitter Larry Stahl of the Padres, Pappas resorted to his slider, but threw two of them low and away to walk Stahl and lose his perfect game. He retired the next batter to get the no-hitter. No Cub has ever thrown a perfect game.

Factoid 2

Milt Pappas was the first pitcher to win 200 games without having enjoyed a 20-win season.

Transition

Before 1957 Season: Signed by the Baltimore Orioles as an amateur free agent; December 9, 1965: Traded by the Baltimore Orioles with Jack Baldschun and Dick Simpson to the Cincinnati Reds for Frank Robinson; June 11, 1968: Traded by the Cincinnati Reds with Ted Davidson and Bob Johnson to the Atlanta Braves for Woody Woodward, Clay Carroll, and Tony Cloninger; June 23, 1970: Purchased by the Chicago Cubs from the Atlanta Braves; April 1, 1974: Released by the Chicago Cubs

Strengths

Control

Weaknesses

No glaring weaknesses.

Feats

Pappas twirled a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres on September 2, 1972... On September 20, 1972, in Wrigley Field, Pappas twirled a seven-hitter to notch his 200th career victory, defeating the Expos, 6-2. It was his ninth straight win.

Passing Prince Hal

Hal Newhouser, the Hall of Fame southpaw for the Detroit Tigers and other teams in the 1940s and 1950s, scouted Pappas in the Detroit sandlots. It was at Newhouser's suggestion that the Orioles signed Pappas as a teenager. When Pappas won his first major league game, in 1958, Newhouser sent a telegram, telling the youngster, "Congratulations! Now you've got 206 more to go." Newhosuer had won 207 games in the big leagues. On June 28, 1973, Pappas won his 207th game, tying Newhouser. Struggling in his final season, Pappas won just two more games, but he ended up with 209 wins, two more than the man who signed him.

61*

In 1998, as Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa breezed past Roger Maris's single-season homer record, Pappas admitted that he had grovved a pitch to Maris for the slugger's 59th home run in 1961. On September 20, 1961, according to Pappas, he threw nothing but fastballs to Maris, after telling the Yankee slugger that's what he would do. "I would do it all over again," Pappas said, explaining that he was upset that commissioner Ford Frick was planning to place an asterisk next to the new homer mark should Maris eclipse Babe Ruth's mark of 60.

His Own September 11th Tragedy

On September 11, 1982, Milt Pappas's wife went to run errands near their home in Wheaton, Illinois, and disappeared. After a few hours, Pappas, who had been retired from playing for nearly a decade, became worried. After a few days passed, authorities became involved in a search for Mrs. Pappas. At first, there was speculation that she may have been kidnapped, and even Pappas himself was a suspect briefly, until he voluntarily passed a lie detector test. As the days turned to weeks and then months and years, little hope was left. Strangely, there were no signs of her car, clothes, identification or her body. For the first eight months after his wife's disappearance, Milt left everything in their bedroom just as it was when she left. He consulted psychics, searched sanitariums and shelters, and turned to the media for help. Then, in 1987, almost exactly five years after her disappearance, the car Mrs. Pappas was driving was found in a shallow pond in Wheaton, just four blocks from their home. The pond was hidden from view, about 30 yards from the road, behind the Wheaton Fire Department building. The car was located when workers drained the pond to work on the shoreline

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