Milt Pappas

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Milt Pappas
Pitcher
Born: (1939-05-11) May 11, 1939 (age 74)
Detroit, Michigan
Batted: RightThrew: Right
MLB debut
August 10, 1957 for the Baltimore Orioles
Last MLB appearance
September 18, 1973 for the Chicago Cubs
Career statistics
Win–Loss record209–164
Earned run average3.40
Strikeouts1,728
Teams
Career highlights and awards
 
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Milt Pappas
Pitcher
Born: (1939-05-11) May 11, 1939 (age 74)
Detroit, Michigan
Batted: RightThrew: Right
MLB debut
August 10, 1957 for the Baltimore Orioles
Last MLB appearance
September 18, 1973 for the Chicago Cubs
Career statistics
Win–Loss record209–164
Earned run average3.40
Strikeouts1,728
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Milton Steven "Milt" Pappas (born Miltiades Stergios Papastergios on May 11, 1939 in Detroit, Michigan) is a former professional baseball pitcher. A 17-year veteran, Pappas, nicknamed "Gimpy", pitched for the Baltimore Orioles (19571965), Cincinnati Reds (19661968), Atlanta Braves (19681970) and Chicago Cubs (19701973).

A control specialist, Pappas pitched in 520 games, starting 465, with 209 wins, 164 losses, 43 shutouts, 1,728 strikeouts and a 3.40 ERA in 3,186 innings pitched.[1]

Baltimore Orioles[edit]

In 1957, as a senior at Cooley High School, Pappas was scouted by several teams and signed with the Orioles at the suggestion of Hal Newhouser, a former star pitcher for the Detroit Tigers who lived in the Detroit area. Pappas signed for $4,000 and pitched only three games in the minor leagues before being called up in August. He made his Major League debut on August 10 in relief against the New York Yankees. In 1958 he made the Orioles’ starting rotation and began a streak of 11 consecutive double-digit win seasons with a 10–10 record.

Even as a young pitcher, Pappas exhibited excellent control, never walking more than 83 batters in a season. Pappas soon became the ace of the Orioles' staff, and was named an All-Star in 1962, pitching in both All-Star games (from 1959 to 1962, Major League Baseball had two All-Star games). He was also named starting pitcher in the 1965 All-Star Game. In each year from 1959 through 1965, Pappas never had a losing record, winning between 13 and 16 games.

Giving up Roger Maris' 59th home run in 1961[edit]

In 1998, as Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa surpassed Roger Maris’ single-season home run record, Pappas admitted that he threw nothing but fastballs to Maris in giving up Roger's 59th home run in 1961. Pappas explained that he was upset that commissioner Ford Frick was planning to put an asterisk next to the new home run mark if Maris did not eclipse Babe Ruth's 60 home runs in 1927 on or before the Yankees’ 154th game.[2]

Cincinnati Reds[edit]

In December 1965, Pappas and another pitcher, Jack Baldschun, and outfielder Dick Simpson were traded to the Cincinnati Reds for superstar and future Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson. Reds president Bill DeWitt believed that Robinson was "not a young 30." The outrage from the Cincinnati fans over the deal made it difficult for Pappas to adjust to pitching in Cincinnati. (The trade was referenced in the 1988 movie Bull Durham whenre Susan Sarandon's character said, "Bad trades are a part of baseball, I mean who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for God's sake?") He posted a winning record in 1966 (12–11), but with a 4.29 ERA — more than a run above his career ERA to that point. That same year, Robinson won the American League Triple Crown and Most Valuable Player Award, and led the Orioles to winning the World Series, in which he was named MVP.

In 1967 Pappas won a team- and career-high 16 games, but when he got off to a slow start in 1968, the Reds traded him to the Atlanta Braves in a six-player deal, receiving starting pitcher Tony Cloninger, relief pitcher Clay Carroll and infielder Woody Woodward.

Pappas's inconsistency during his stay in Cincinnati was only part of the reason the Reds traded him. After the 1966 season Pappas and veteran pitcher Joe Nuxhall exchanged harsh words through the media. Nuxhall claimed that Pappas was not giving 100 percent and that he had to start in place of Pappas twice during the season because Pappas was suffering from "migraines." The following season, Pappas complained that the Reds were violating the contracts of their players by not allowing them to fly first-class. He was especially upset that Nuxhall, by now a broadcaster, was himself flying first-class while Milt and the other players had to sit in tourist. In 1968, Pappas criticized the club when they refused to cancel a game the day of Senator Robert F. Kennedy's funeral. These controversies, combined with his performance, prompted the Reds to trade Pappas to Atlanta.

Atlanta Braves[edit]

Pappas adapted well to the new ballpark (Fulton County Stadium), as he went 10–8 for the Braves with a 2.37 ERA. In 1969 injuries sidelined him for much of the first four months of the season, and he won only six games with 10 losses with a 3.62 ERA. Yet Atlanta won the NL West title, and Pappas finally achieved his goal of the post-season. In the playoffs against the New York Mets, Pappas made his only post-season appearance, allowing three runs in three innings in relief.

Chicago Cubs[edit]

In 1970, the Braves pulled Pappas from their rotation after only three starts after he compiled a 6.06 ERA and allowed six home runs. On June 23, they sold him to the Chicago Cubs, where he got another chance to prove he was still a major league starter. Pappas posted a 7–2 record with a 2.36 ERA at home and a 10–8 record with a 2.68 ERA overall.

In 1971, Pappas went 17–14 (the wins being a career best) with a 3.51 ERA. On September 24 of that year, against the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field, Pappas struck out three batters (two of whom were Greg Luzinski and Don Money) on nine pitches in the fourth inning of a 6–1 loss, becoming the 10th National League pitcher and the 16th pitcher in Major League history to accomplish the nine-strike/three-strikeout half-inning. Five days later, against the Montreal Expos at Jarry Park, Pappas was again part of baseball history, albeit on the other side, as he was responsible for Ron Hunt's 50th hit by pitch of the season, which broke the single-season record of 49 set by Hughie Jennings in 1896. Pappas complained unsuccessfully to home plate umpire Ken Burkhart that the pitch had been over the plate, and that Hunt had made no effort to get out of the way. (Later research would credit Jennings with 51 HBPs, giving him the single-season record once again.)

In 1972, Pappas went 17-7 with a 2.77 earned run average, his best full-season ERA since his 2.60 in 1965, his last year in Baltimore. On September 2 of that year, at Wrigley Field, Pappas no-hit the San Diego Padres 8-0. He retired the first 26 batters and was one strike away from a perfect game with a 2–2 count on pinch-hitter Larry Stahl, but home-plate umpire Bruce Froemming called the next two pitches — both of which were close — balls. Pappas believed he had struck out Stahl, and even decades later in 2008, he continued to begrudge Froemming.[3][4][5][6] Some 25 years later, a Chicago radio personality, during an interview with Pappas, got Froemming on the phone and the two argued on the air. Pappas also said in 2006 that he has seen videotape footage of that game on WGN and can see Froemming smirking immediately after the walk was issued; Froemming denied the charge.

Pappas ended the game by retiring the next batter, ex-Cub Garry Jestadt. Until Carlos Zambrano no-hit the Houston Astros on September 14, 2008, Pappas' had been the last no-hitter the Cubs had been involved in, either pitching it or having it pitched against them. They had gone the longest of all Major League teams since they had last been involved in a no-hitter. Eleven days after his no-hitter, he recorded his 200th career victory, also at Wrigley Field, defeating the Montreal Expos 6–2.

In 1973, he won only 7 games with 12 losses and a 4.28 ERA. However, with one of those wins, on August 22 against the Reds, he surpassed the 207 career victories of Hal Newhouser, the man who scouted and signed him. Prior to the start of the 1974 season he was released by the Cubs. He retired with 209 victories, becoming the first-ever 200-game winner who did not win 20 games in any one season. (Jerry Reuss, Frank Tanana, Charlie Hough, Dennis Martínez, Chuck Finley, Kenny Rogers, and Tim Wakefield have since joined him in this category. Mike Mussina reached 200 victories without winning 20 in any one season, but recorded a 20-win season afterward.)

During his career, Pappas was in the top 10 in ERA eight seasons, in wins six seasons, fewest walks per nine innings nine seasons, complete games seven seasons, shutouts eight seasons, and he was tied for the league lead with a perfect fielding percentage (1.000) four seasons.[7]

Wife's disappearance[edit]

On September 11, 1982, Pappas’ wife, Carole, disappeared after leaving the couple's home in the Farnham subdivision in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton. For five years, no sign was found of her car, her clothing, or her body. In 1987, almost five years to the day she disappeared, workers draining a shallow pond four blocks from the Pappas home discovered the car she had been driving, a white and burgundy 1980 Buick, as well as her body. A DuPage County coroner's jury ruled the cause of death as drowning. Police theorized she mistook a driveway near the pond for a road leading to her subdivision, vaulting 25–30 feet from the bank into the pond. Carole Pappas, a recovering alcoholic, may have been drinking; however, blood alcohol content could not be confirmed.

One theory states that Carole Pappas was killed by a group of four men known as the Ripper Crew, as part of a satanic ritual. In 1984, Tom Kokoraleis, who was convicted for the murder of Lorraine Borowski, led police to a field where Carole Pappas was allegedly buried, but searchers could find no remains.[8]

Life outside of baseball[edit]

Milt and Carole Pappas had two children, Michelle and Steve. Carole had been his childhood sweetheart and they were married 22 years. After baseball he owned a restaurant in Baltimore, Milt Pappas' Scotch & Sirloin, worked for a beer and wine distributor and later sold building supplies.

In 1990, Pappas sold his house in Wheaton and moved with his second wife, Judi (Bloome), a teacher of special needs children, to Beecher, Illinois, with their 5-year-old daughter Alexandria.[9][10] Judi is administrative dean of students at Crete-Monee High School.

He was seriously injured in a February 2013 single-vehicle accident in Kankakee County when he crashed into a utility pole and rolled his Jeep Cherokee, fracturing eight ribs and lacerating an ear. He was hospitalized several days before being released.[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Achievements
Preceded by
Burt Hooton
No-hitter pitcher
September 2, 1972
Succeeded by
Bill Stoneman