Bob Welch, ex-Dodgers pitcher was 57

BobWelch_1981_TBB1_624_Black.jpgBob Welch was a hard-throwing right-hander who pitched in the 1978 World Series for the Dodgers as a 21-year-old rookie (famously striking out Reggie Jackson of the Yankees), stayed with the team until he was 30, then went to Oakland and became the last pitcher to win 27 games in a season. He won the Cy Young award that year, 1990, though Roger Clemens was probably the better pitcher that season. In his career, Welch won 211 games but was possibly as well known for having trouble with alcohol and writing a mid-career memoir about it, "Five O'Clock Comes Early: A Young Man's Battle With Alcoholism."

Welch died Monday at home in Seal Beach, possibly of a heart attack. He had worked as a spring training instructor for Oakland this year. The Dodgers said in a release:

Welch, who pitched 17 years in the Major Leagues, is survived by three children—Dylan, Riley and Kelly.

“The Los Angeles Dodgers are saddened to learn of the passing of Bob Welch,” said Dodger President and CEO Stan Kasten. “He was one of the greatest competitors to wear the Dodger uniform. Dodger fans will always remember his confrontation with Yankee great Reggie Jackson in Game 2 of the 1978 World Series, when the 21-year-old rookie struck out Jackson to end the game.“

Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire, a teammate with the A's, said of Welch, "I wish there were more teammates like him throughout the game today. He was a fierce competitor...I don't think there was a player who knew him who didn't care for him."

On Facebook, former record producer Richard Dashut — who worked with Fleetwood Mac and thus knew that band's Bob Welch, plus the Dodger pitcher — said his friend was "an extraordinary being."

I first met Bob in the late seventies, early eighties, through our association with the Dodgers and Judy Wong, the band's secretary and close friend. Bob was good friends with Judy and would invite both Judy and I to watch him pitch at Dodger Stadium. Sitting right above the Dodger dugout in most cases, Bob and even one time Fernando Valenzuela, would pop up and throw us signed balls and yell words to us I could never here above the noise of the crowd. Words that were never heard but felt, always made me feel like I belonged.

Soon after the game was over, win or lose, we would pick Bob up at the back of the stadium in my Ford conversion van. He would jump right in and lay down with his back against the thick carpet of the van which he would find relaxing after a grueling game. Then he would ask for a joint which I would flip back to him and through the fog of smoke, in trying to see the windshield up ahead I would find our way to his favorite restaurant in Chinatown, Golden Dragon. Within a few short years he would go on to win (with the Oakland As) the Cy Young award and 27 games in a season, a feat yet to be equaled.

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