Al Hrabosky
AlHrabowsky1995.jpg
Hrabosky in 1995
Pitcher
Born: (1949-07-21) July 21, 1949 (age 73)
Oakland, California
Batted: Right
Threw: Left
MLB debut
June 16, 1970, for the St. Louis Cardinals
Last MLB appearance
August 18, 1982, for the Atlanta Braves
MLB statistics
Win–loss record64–35
Earned run average3.10
Strikeouts548
Saves97
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Alan Thomas Hrabosky (/rəˈbɒski/; born July 21, 1949) is a former Major League Baseball player who played from 1970–1982 for the St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, and Atlanta Braves. As of 2022, he is the color commentator on Cardinals regular-season broadcasts on Bally Sports Midwest.

Hrabosky's nickname is "The Mad Hungarian" because of his unusual last name and colorful character.[1]

Playing career

Hrabosky played baseball and football at Savanna High School[2] in Anaheim, California. He was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the eleventh round of the 1967 amateur draft, but did not sign with the club.

St. Louis Cardinals

Two years later, the Cardinals made him their first round choice. At the age of twenty, he made his Major League debut with a scoreless inning against the San Diego Padres on June 16, 1970.[3]

Hrabosky became a Cardinals fan favorite for his antics on the mound. When entering a game, he would turn his back to the batter, walk towards second base, vigorously rub the ball between his palms several times, take a deep breath, and pound the ball into his mitt. He then stormed back to the mound and stared down the batter; although the home crowd would roar in delight, most batters were not fond of the routine.

Hrabosky led the National League in saves in 1975 with 22 (a career best) en route to winning The Sporting News "NL Fireman of the Year" award. He had a career high in wins, posting a 13–3 record with an ERA of 1.67.

Early in his career with the Cardinals, Hrabosky enhanced his menacing appearance with long hair and a horseshoe moustache. When Vern Rapp became Cardinals manager in 1977, he imposed a grooming code on the players; Hrabosky cut his hair and shaved the moustache despite his vehement opposition. He explained, "Relief pitching is 75 per cent mental. How am I going to scare hell out of the hitters with my new image? How am I going to convince them I'm a dangerous madman if I look like a golf-pro? I've never been blessed with great ability. My mystique was what made me successful."[4] The enmity between Hrabosky and Rapp persisted throughout the season and included the former being suspended on May 21 for what Cardinals management stated as "rank insubordination."[5][6]

Perhaps Hrabosky's most memorable performance came in 1977 during an ABC Monday Night Baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds on May 9. In the top of the ninth with the game tied at 5–5, Hrabosky allowed the first three hitters (all left-handed: Ken Griffey, Joe Morgan, and Dan Driessen) to reach base and load the bases. As the Redbirds home crowd roared, Hrabosky went into his "Mad Hungarian" routine and proceeded to strike out right-handed power hitters George Foster, Johnny Bench, and Bob Bailey. The Cardinals went on to win 6–5 on a Ted Simmons home run in the tenth inning.[7][8]

Kansas City Royals

Hrabosky was traded from the Cardinals to the Kansas City Royals for Mark Littell and Buck Martinez during the Winter Meetings on December 8, 1977.[9] In 1978, he went 8–7 for the Royals, posted a 2.88 ERA with twenty saves in 75 innings of work in 58 appearances. Hrabosky had sixty strikeouts and 35 walks while allowing fewer hits and runs than the year before. He appeared in three games of the ALCS that year, his first and only time pitching in the postseason. He pitched in the eighth inning of the first three games, allowing a combined total of three hits and one run, but the Royals lost to the New York Yankees for a third straight year, this time in four games.[10]

The following year, Hrabosky went 9–4 with a 3.74 ERA and eleven saves in 65 innings. He allowed more hits and runs (67 and 31, respectively) while having 39 strikeouts and ten walks. He was granted free agency after the season, and signed with the Atlanta Braves.

Atlanta Braves

During his time with the Braves, Hrabosky saw diminished playing time and recorded just seven saves over three seasons. Hrabosky's last appearance in the majors was in 1982, at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium against the Montreal Expos on August 18. He pitched the final two innings of a blowout, allowing four runs on four hits with a strikeout and two home runs (by Andre Dawson and Tim Wallach) allowed in a 12–2 loss.[11]

Twelve days later, he was released by the Braves. Hrabosky signed with the Chicago White Sox during spring training in 1983, but retired before the season began.

In 13 seasons, Hrabosky recorded 64 wins, 35 losses, and 97 saves with an ERA of 3.10.

Broadcasting career

Hrabosky in 2007
Hrabosky in 2007

Hrabosky has provided color commentary for Cardinals games since 1985 and has been with Bally Sports Midwest since 1997. He also hosted his own radio show on KFNS 590AM in St. Louis. Hrabosky also serves as an occasional fill-in analyst on the Cardinals Radio Network.

Personal life

Hrabosky and his wife June reside in St. Louis.[12]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Al Hrabosky Stats". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  2. ^ "MLB draft: A look at Orange County's alumni dream team". Retrieved August 17, 2009.
  3. ^ "Sports scoreboard". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). June 17, 1970. p. 2D.
  4. ^ Boswell, Thomas. "Opposing Batters Stop Needling Mad Hungarian," The Washington Post, Wednesday, March 23, 1977. Retrieved September 8, 2020
  5. ^ "Are Cards revolting?". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). wire reports. May 22, 1977. p. 4B.
  6. ^ "Hrabosky is suspended". New York Times. Associated Press. May 21, 1977. Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  7. ^ "Simmons, Hrabosky in big roles". Southeast Missourian. (Cape Girardeau). Associated Press. May 10, 1977. p. 11.
  8. ^ "Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals Box Score, May 9, 1977". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  9. ^ "Cards Trade Hrabosky to Royals for Littell," The Associated Press (AP), Saturday, December 10, 1977. Retrieved September 8, 2022.
  10. ^ "Al Hrabosky Postseason Pitching Game Logs". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  11. ^ "Montreal Expos at Atlanta Braves Box Score, August 18, 1982". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  12. ^ "Broadcasters | St. Louis Cardinals". MLB.com.