Sunday, January 25, 2015

Random Ex-Brave: Steve Bedrosian

I almost never talk about the 1980's on this blog. I don't have much reason to. I try to keep most of my information relevant to the time I have followed the Braves, rarely travelling into the era of cocaine and Reagan if I can help it. But sometime, the random Ex-Brave generator throws me a curveball. Or in today's case, an unhittable slider.

Steve Bedrosian was born on December 6th, 1957 in the small Massachusetts town of Methuen. Know how many players went to Methuen High School and made it to the major leagues? One. Undrafted out of high school, Bedrocks spent time with both Northern Essex Community College and the University of New Haven, neither of which are particularly well known for their baseball, but Bedrosian was special. Very few pitchers at the time could match his heat and the Braves took him with their third round selection in the 1978 draft. Cal Ripken had just been selected five picks before Bedrosian. Gotta wonder where those two were on the Braves big board. The 1978 draft only produced a half-dozen major league players for the Braves, but between Bedrosian and first rounder Bob Horner, I'd say it was a pretty decent draft.

Bedrosian was a starter in the minors, throwing 23 complete games in four years with five shutouts. He was understandably wild as he attempted to harnass the filthy stuff that would make him such a superb major league pitcher. After a cup of coffee to finish 1981, Bedrosian won a spot in the Braves pen to open 1982. He pitched 137.2 ING and K'd 123 while picking up 11 saves and a couple of votes for the Rookie of the Year. He would remain a very good pitcher for the Braves for two more years as a reliever, but new Braves manager Eddie Haas wanted Bedrocks to start. Well, in Haas's only year as a manager, 1985, he got his wish and Bedrosian starter 37 games. He also set a record that year for most starts without a complete game. He would never start another game and the inept Braves traded Bedrosian and Milt Thompson for Ozzie Virgil and, coincidentally enough, last week's Random Ex-Brave, Pete Smith. It was an awful trade for the Braves. Thompson stole 46 bases for the Phils while hitting .302 in 1987. And Bedrocks...well, under management that knew better than tinker with a good thing, Bedrosian flourished. He saved 29 in 1986 before saving 40 the following year on his way to a Cy Young award. I've argued before that Bedrosian won it over more deserving players, but hey, that doesn't change the fact that he has the award at home. The 40 saves was only six off the pace for the then-record.

After another year with Philly, he was traded in the 1989 season to the Giants and would play in the World Series that year, also known as the Earthquake Series. He would get a ring the following year pitching for the Twins, but was not nearly the pitcher he had been in his heyday. He was dealing with numbness in his fingers and the uncertainty of what was causing it. Doctors speculated it was his chewing tobacco habit or too much strain throwing split-finger pitches. Whatever the case, it looked as if his career might be over and what a way to go out with a World Series win against the team that misused you and traded you all those years ago.

Bedrosian returned to his adopted home in Newnan, Georgia and began to enjoy his early retirement with his four sons, including Cody who was battling leukemia. However, not only the itch to play return, but the numbness disappeared and Bedrocks came to camp in 1993 looking to make the Braves roster. He did that and more, posting a 1.63 ERA in 49.2 ING as one of Atlanta's most trusted set-up men while posting a 0.97 WHIP. Strangely, he did not pitch in the 1993 NLCS against the Phillies. Bedrosian would pitch well, though not as dominant, in 1994 before the strike. However, 1995 was not his year. He struggled to have clean outings and with the Braves likely to move him out in favor of a better option, Bedrosian announced that he would retire not at the end of the season, but after the Braves' August 9th game against the Reds. With the team wearing their socks up to honor Bedrocks, the Braves played like crap. Greg Maddux surrendered five runs and brought in with the game 5-3 in the ninth, Bedrosian himself turned it into a laugher in his final game giving up four runs (three earned) and not forcing the Braves to bring in Pedro Borbon to finish things.

Though his best years came with the Phillies, Bedrosian still logged over half of his career innings with the Braves. He only saved 41 games with the Braves, or just one more than he had in his Cy Young season with the Phils, and fulfilled many roles with Atlanta. Now, you can often see him at Alumni events. His son, Cam, made it to the majors last year and even faced the Braves in back-to-back games last June with former Brave Jason Heyward connecting on a homer against him.

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