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Thread: YOUR 1966 BRAVES: #36 Wade Blasingame

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    Director of Minor League Reports rico43's Avatar
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    YOUR 1966 BRAVES: #36 Wade Blasingame

    Left-handed Pitcher

    What came before:
    Among the many what-ifs that plagued the 1966 Braves is the What If Wade Blasingame had remained the healthy 1965 16-game winner? At times, Blasingame, still only 21 in 1965, flirted with greatness, especially with his one-hitter of the Mets in May against former Brave great Warren Spahn – whom he had been tabbed to replace and had been compared to.

    At the ripe age of 17, still five months shy of his 18thh birthday, he signed for a breathtaking bonus of $125,000. That kid was dropped in the Pioneer League and still went 6-3.
    At 18, he was 10-14 in the tough Texas League and earned a repeat visit in 1963. But he moved on after a 7-2 start to that season and eventually got a two-game taste of the majors. He spent part of '64 still in Triple-A, but moved up to stay a posted a 9-5 rookie record. That followed with his big 1965.

    That 1966 season: What went wrong? The freakiest of freak injuries – a car door slammed on the pinky of his pitching hand in spring training, causing him to miss three weeks of preparation. His subsequent slow start was magnified by other problems within the club and soon he complained of shoulder pain. It was called “tendinitis,” but he was only able to make three appearances after June 24 and never got over the pain. His season was a disastrous 3-7, 5.32.

    What came next: The chemistry was horrible the following season, as the Braves posted their lowest win total since Boston. Blasingame was moved to the bullpen and seldom used due to his shoulder concerns. The next turn of events is described in Blasingame's SABR bio:
    On June 13, future Hall of Famer Phil Niekro made his second major league career start (and first in nearly two years); his two-hit shutout convinced the Braves to move him into the starting rotation. Two days later (the date of the trading deadline), while the team was playing in Houston, they saw an opportunity to fill the bullpen vacancy created by Niekro by acquiring Astros’ relief specialist Claude Raymond – a one-time Braves’ prospect. The price paid was Wade Blasingame.
    He was of little use to the Astros the remainder of the '67 season: 4-7, 5.96, and was one of a cast of thousands who tried to make the Houston rotation in 1968. He made only 2 starts out of 22 appearances, going 1-2, with a save, and his shoulder problems were supplemented by a line drive to the groin in a June game that required surgery and a two-week hospital stay. His one win, however, was unforgettable – a 1-0, 24-inning marathon against the New York Mets.
    He didn't return to the starting rotation until he climbed out of the minors midway though 1970 and kept his job in the rotation through the '71 season. But early in 1972, he was dealt to the Yankees, for whom he would fail to win a game in what would be his final major league season. In 1973-74, he struggled to keep his career alive with minor league stops for the Cardinals, Padres and Cubs without a big league callback.
    BUT his Texas connections helped him land a job helping build the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and was able to turn that into a comfy executive job with AES. In recent years, he spend his winters in Atlanta and his summers in Anchorage.

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  3. #2
    Hessmania Forever
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    Wade Blasingame lives on as the name of a character played by Will Ferrell in a Saturday Night Live skit.

    On a personal note, I watched Wade pitch in Milwaukee in 1965.

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