- December 2, 1948
- 6' 3"
- 220 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 4-09-1970 with CIN
When Wayne Simpson made his major league debut at the beginning of the 1970 season, the Cincinnati Reds were in the midst of building a dynasty that would win six division titles in the 1970s, going to four World Series and winning two of them. By 1970, the Reds, long recognized as a good offensive team in the 1960s, were building a stable of good young pitchers like Don Gullett, Gary Nolan and Simpson.
Simpson was a tall, broad-shouldered athlete who also excelled as a quarterback in high school. He was drafted by the Reds in 1967 out of high school with the No. 8 pick in the amateur draft. By 1970, after harnessing his control in the Puerto Rican Winter League, Simpson had reached the majors. And his major league debut against his hometown Los Angeles Dodgers on April 9 couldn't have been much better. Simpson allowed just two hits as he faced only one batter above the minimum of 27 in hurling a two-hit shutout. Simpson was a key member of a staff that helped the Reds start the season 70-30 on their way to the pennant. He made the National League All-Star squad in a game hosted at the new Riverfront Stadium.
But arm problems plagued Simpson thereafter. He tore his rotator cuff and because he was extremely competitive, he made two attempts to get back on the mound before his season ended. He finished 1970 with a 14-3 record and a fine 3.02 ERA in an offense-heavy year in baseball. Simpson was unable to pitch in the postseason.
Even though he recovered enough to pitch again, Simpson was never the same pitcher. In an era before pitch counts and reconstructive shoulder surgery, he was unable to recapture the velocity, the electric stuff that made him one of the game's rising stars as a 21-year-old rookie. By 1977, he was out of the majors for good. He hung on in the minors and in Mexico through early 1979 before damage to the blood vessels in his pitching arm seriously threatened not only his limb but also his life. All three young Red pitchers, Nolan, Gullett and Simpson, would suffer arm problems throughout their careers and be out of baseball before the end of the decade.
- Wayne Simpson