Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 76

In 1973 Dick Ruthven was drafted first overall in MLB's secondary amateur draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. The secondary draft would only feature players who were previously drafted, but did not sign. Ruthven had previously been picked by the Orioles and Twins.

After being selected by the Phillies out of Fresno State, Ruthven signed with Philadelphia and skipped the minor leagues all together. He made his Major League debut on April 17th, 1973. In his second big league start, Ruthven was matched up against eventual Hall of Famer Bob Gibson and held St. Louis to just 1 run in 7-plus innings, helping the Phils win, 2-1. His next time out, Ruthven faced the defending league champs, the Cincinnati Reds and held them to just one hit over 7 innings, leading the Phillies to a 1-0 victory. In July, when Ruthven faced Gibson and the Cardinals again. he shined, beating the Cardinals with a 2-hit complete game shut out.

In 25 games as a rookie, Ruthven posted a 6-9 record and a 4.21 ERA.

Ruthven would go on to pitch better in his second season, but did not boast the record (9-13) to show it. The Phillies were often unable to score runs behind Ruthven as the club was shut out in 6 of Ruthven's 13 losses. Ruthven even lost two different 1-0 games that season in which he allowed only 3 hits.

Following a disappointing 1975 season, Ruthven was traded to the Chicago White Sox in a deal that brought veteran pitcher and 3-time All-star Jim Kaat to Philadelphia. The White Sox quickly flipped Ruthven to Atlanta. Ruthven became an All-star in his first season with the Braves. He went 14-17 for Atlanta with a 4.19 ERA and 4 shut outs.

In June 1978, the Phillies reacquired Ruthven in a trade for reliever Gene Garber. The move paid off as Ruthven posted a 13-5 record with a 2.99 ERA in 20 starts over the remainder of the season, helping the Phillies lock down their third straight division title.

The following season, Ruthven began with a 6-0 record, but an elbow injury held him back going forward, as he won just one more game the rest of the year.

Ruthven bounced back to win 17 games in 1980 for the Phillies, en route to the club's first ever World Series championship. In the League Championship Series against Houston, Ruthven appeared in 2 games, 1 of which was a start. He allowed 3 earned runs with 7 strike outs and 0 walks over 9 innings in that series and was on the mound for the final out, locking down a World Series berth and earning the win in game 5. In game 3 of the World Series against Kansas City, Ruthven pitched 9 innings, before the Royals won in extra innings against Tug McGraw.

Ruthven became an All-star for the second time in 1981, when he represented the Phillies in the Mid-Summer Classic. He continued pitching with the Phillies until May 1983, when he was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Willie Hernandez. Ruthven played with Chicago for nearly 3 years, going 22-26 with a 4.55 ERA over that time, before retiring.

Dick's son Tyler is a professional soccer player with the Harrisburg City Islanders. Ruthven's twin sister married former Phillie Tom Hutton.
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