Retired major league pitcher Bobby Castillo died today in a Los Angeles hospital after being treated for cancer, the Dodgers just announced. Castillo was 59 and played for the Dodgers from 1977-81 and again in 1985. Nicknamed Babo, the right-handed Castillo is credited with teaching the screwball pitch to a young Dodgers lefthander from Mexico named Fernando Valenzuela.
“I was very saddened to hear about Bobby’s passing this morning,” said Valenzuela through the Dodgers. “He was a great teammate and friend. I’ll always be grateful for his influence on my pitching. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”
Castillo attended Lincoln High School on the Los Angeles Eastside. He was drafted in the sixth-round by the Kansas City Royals in 1974 and sold to the Dodgers in 1977. Castillo made his big league debut for Los Angeles on Sept. 19 and retired Hall of Famer Johnny Bench for his first big league out, the Dodgers said.
Castillo finished his career with a record of 38-40 and a 3.94 ERA in 250 games, including 59 starts. He pitched for the Dodgers in the 1981 National League Championship Series, the ’81 World Series and the 1985 NLCS. He also pitched for the Minnesota Twins.
Castillo is survived by his mother, Nellie, his daughter, Mellanie, his daughter, Sara, and her husband, Andrew Sanchez, his son Robert III, and his sister, Lorraine, and her husband, Peter Gonzalez. Castillo had three nieces and nephews, nine grand nieces and nephews and two grandchildren, Jackson and Lila.
Another Dodgers pitcher of that era, Bob Welch, also died this month. Welch was 57 when he died.
A tweet from the Dodgers:
* Added: The origin story of how Castillo taught Fernando the screwball, from Dodgers team historian Mark Langill. Dodger Insider