Countdown To Pitchers And Catchers: #46 Dick Radatz
Mike B. | On 05, Jan 2012
Today continues our countdown to the start of Indians pitchers and catchers reporting to Goodyear, Arizona on February 20. We’ll count down the days, profiling a former Indian who wore the corresponding number. Some players will be memorable, others just our favorites and some, the only one we could find who wore that number. Today, we chronicle the short career of relief pitcher, Dick Radatz.
By Mike Brandyberry
Some players are remembered as just “a flash in the pan,” because the dominance of their career was just that quick. For Dick Radatz, his career and fastball were just as quick.
Radatz burst onto the scene in 1962 with the Boston Red Sox, pitching from the bullpen. His dominant fastball gave him an advantage against hitters, but the burst was good for only a couple innings. He was one of the first pitchers that lead to the modern day closer. With his fastball Radatz dominated, leading the American League in saves in 1962 and 1963. He was the first pitcher to save 20 games or more in back to back seasons. He did it four years in a row.
He was at his best in 1963, compiling a 15-6 record, with 1.97 ERA and pitching 132.1 innings in 66 games. He struck out far more than a hitter an inning, striking out 162 for the season. He was an All-Star for the Red Sox in 1963 and 1964, but in 1965 Ted Williams encouraged him to develop a slider to give him more of a repertoire.
The change in mechanics and delivery affected his arm, giving him injuries and losing the potent zip his fastball once had. His ERA soared and his dominance was lost. After struggling early in the 1966 season, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians. He was only able to save 10 games for the Tribe that season and his ERA ballooned to 4.64, regarded as far higher in an era that was dominated by pitching.
After a slow start in 1967, the Indians gave up on Radatz and traded him to the Chicago Cubs where he continued to struggle. He had chances with the Detroit Tigers and Montreal Expos, but was never able to regain the dominance he once demonstrated in Boston. He was released and out of baseball after the 1969 season.