Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 66

Ray Culp was a right-handed pitcher with the Phillies from 1963-1966. Culp was signed right out of high school in Austin, TX for $100,000. He struggled somewhat with his command through two seasons in the minors, but won 13 games for the Phillies A-Level team in Williamsport. The very next Spring, Culp landed in the Phillies' starting rotation when several other pitchers became sidelined with injuries.

In his second Major League start, Culp shut out Houston 7-0, allowing just 3 hits. In 6 June starts, Culp went 4-2. The wins included two shut outs, one each against the Metropolitans and the Cardinals. Culp had 10 wins by mid-season and he was honored as a National League all-star in his rookie season. Culp finished the year with a 2.97 ERA. He was also honored as The Sporting News Rookie of the Year, which is the same award J.A. Happ won in 2009.

In 1964, Culp posted a record of 8-7 in 30 games and his ERA shot up to 4.13 for the season. In June of that season, he threw a one-hitter against the Cubs. A heavy reliance on his breaking pitches strained Culp's elbow and he developed a sore arm. This contributed in Gene Mauch demoting Culp to the bullpen. In the midst of the notorious 1964 collapse, when the Phillies blew a 6 1/2 game lead with 12 games left in the season, Culp was part of the team's relief corp.

Culp rebounded in 1965 to rejoin the Phillies' rotation, won 14 games and improved his ERA to 3.22, throwing 11 complete games in the process. Unfortunately for Culp, in 1966, the sore arm returned and Culp's struggles were back with it. For the season, his ERA shot up to 5.04 and he was assigned to the bullpen for most of the year.

The Phillies grew frustrated with Culp's inconsistency and traded him to the Cubs, with cash, for Dick Ellsworth, who pitched with the Phillies for just one season.

Culp finished his 1967 season in Chicago with an 8-11 record and a 3.89 ERA. For the second straight off-season, Culp was traded, when Chicago sent him to the Red Sox, where, backed by a better team, he would excel. In his first season with Boston, Culp won a career high 16 games, including 6 shut outs- 4 of which occurred in succession. In each of the two seasons that followed, he won 17 games.


Culp retired from baseball following the 1973 season.

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