Great Lefties

Today is Steve Carlton's birthday.

Carlton won 27 games for the 1972 Philadelphia Phillies — a team that won a total of only 59 games all year. He had a winning percentage of .730 on a team that finished with a winning percentage of .378.

I was in a bar, in Baltimore, before a game at Camden Yards. When I mentioned I was from Philadelphia, a guy there told me about seeing Carlton pitch in 1972. He cited the above statistics and the bartender repeated them, in reverential tones, like a liturgy.

Carlton was also, unfortunately, crazy as a loon. But those 27 wins for a truly awful team make for one of the most dominating seasons ever. He went 27-10 for a last-place team. Baseball hadn't seen that kind of performance from a lefty since Sandy Koufax's final season, six years earlier. (Koufax went 27-9 for the Dodgers, but they were a first-place team that won 95 games.)

Oh, let's not belabor this overlong and elliptical segue any further. Speaking of Sandy Koufax and great lefties …

The nominating process has begun for the 2005 Koufax Awards!

Dwight Meredith probably didn't know quite what he was getting into when he started this four years ago, but these awards have consistently fulfilled the purpose he describes for them:

… to have fun, help build a sense of community between and among lefty bloggers and readers, and to say a bunch of nice things about the people who provide us with information, entertainment and enlightenment every day.

I'd add one more item to that list: to introduce us all to even more people who provide us with information, entertainment and enlightenment every day.

Spend five minutes browsing the lists of nominees and you'll find at least five new blogs you'd never even heard of — all worth bookmarking and visiting again regularly. I just completed a major overhaul and expansion of the blogroll here. I'll need to do another one after browsing through all the recommendations I find among this year's Koufax nominees.

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  • Rebecca Allen, RN, PhD

    I, too, remember Carlton with reverence. My sister (also a baseball fanatic) and I used to refer to him as “Steve the Franchise Carlton.” And I’m an American League fan!

  • sdf (Stu)

    Oh, growing up in Philly in the 70’s my earliest baseball memories include watching Carlton make lefthanded batters — Dave Parker, for one delicious example — look like drunken golfers going after one of the nastiest sliders you’ve ever seen. And yes, alas, he was (is) crazy as a loon. For a couple years, he even had his own private catcher — Tim McCarver; he refused to pitch to the highly competent Bob Boone, so McCarver, the backup, caught when Carlton pitched …