Bob Porterfield

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Erwin Coolidge Porterfield

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Biographical Information[edit]

Bob Porterfield was originally signed by the New York Yankees in 1946. It didn't take him long to reach the majors. He made his debut on August 8, 1948 at the age of 24. He showed some promise in his rookie season, going 5 and 3 with a 4.50 ERA in 78 innings of work. Although he walked 34 and struck out only 30 batters, he threw only one wild pitch in that time so his control must not have been too much of a concern. While in the minors in 1948, he led the International League in ERA.

He spent the next couple of years with the Yankees, never playing a full season with them. In his time with them, he wore the number 18, except in 1951, he wore 23.

On June 15, 1951, he was sent with Tom Ferrick and Fred Sanford to the Washington Senators for Bob Kuzava. The Senators would end up getting the better of the deal: in less than three seasons with the Yankees, Kuzava went 15 and 19 as a starter/reliever. In contrast, Ferrick went 6 and 3 with a 2.73 ERA in 49 relief appearances with the Senators. Although Stanford did not amount to much, Bob Porterfield was the gem of the trade. In 1952, he posted a mediocre 13 and 14 record, but he did post solid 2.72 ERA, which was good for seventh in the American League.

In 1953, he led the league with 22 wins and was 10th in the league with a 3.35 ERA. He was seventh in the MVP voting and was named the Sporting News Pitcher of the Year. He led the league with 24 complete games and 9 shutouts and was also involved in a triple play on May 22nd. He threw two one-hitters that season. Oddly, he was not chosen to play in the All-Star Game.

In fact, 1954 was the year he got to the All-Star Game. He posted a mediocre 13 and 15 record, leading the league in hits allowed with 249. He did lead the league in complete games with 21, but obviously 1953 was far more All-Star worthy than 1954. In his appearance in the All-Star Game, he allowed a home run to Ted Kluszewski.

After his three successful seasons in which he averaged a record of 15 and 13, and posted a cumulative 3.14 ERA, his career quickly spiraled downward. His 10 and 17 record and 4.45 ERA in 1955 prompted the Senators to trade him (along with Johnny Schmitz, Tom Umphlett, and Mickey Vernon) to the Boston Red Sox for Karl Olson, Dick Brodowski, Tex Clevenger, Neil Chrisley, and Al Curtis (a minor leaguer) on November 8th of that year. While with the Senators, he wore the number 19, except in 1951, where he wore 29.

His statistics did not improve while with the Red Sox. In fact, in just over two years with them, he posted a 7 and 16 record with an ERA on 4.65. After pitching only two games with the Red Sox in the 1958 season, the Pittsburgh Pirates purchased him. In his time with the Red Sox, he wore number 19, except in 1956, where he wore 16 and 20.

He actually did fairly well with the Pirates in 1958: in 37 appearances (only six starts), he posted a less-than-stellar 4 and 6 record, but his ERA was a solid 3.29. He also surrendered only 78 hits in 87+ innings with the Bucs. He won quite a pitching duel with Curt Simmons, earning the victory in a 1-0, 11-inning bout with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was involved in another interesting game in 1958 as well - on July 23rd, the Los Angeles Dodgers' Norm Larker hit a ball just inside the 1B line, which the Pirates believed to be foul. When umpire Vic Delmore signalled it fair, Porterfield picked up the ball from where it had rolled into the bullpen. Though not playing, Porterfield was ejected for intentional interference with a ball in play. Larker was safe on second base. The Dodgers still lost 11-3 in the doubleheader opener and were in last place at that point.

1959 was an interesting year for Porterfield. He started off the season with the Pirates, pitching six games with them, posting a small ERA of 1.69. Nevertheless, the Pirates released him, and the Chicago Cubs picked him up. With them, he pitched four games, posting an 11.37 in that time. He was then selected off waivers from the Cubs by the Pirates, the team he started the season with. This go-around with the Bucs wasn't so successful. In 30 relief appearances, he posted a 4.75 ERA. He played his final game on September 9th. The final batter he faced was Lee Maye. He was released two days after the 1959 season ended. In his time with the Pirates, he wore 16 again. With the Cubs, he wore 43.

Overall, he posted an 87 and 97 career record with a 3.79 ERA in 1,567+ innings of work. He was obviously not a strikeout pitcher: he posted just 572 Ks in his career (that's only about 3.3 per nine innings of work). He had a .184 career batting average, although he did have two very successful seasons. In 98 at-bats in 1953, for example, he posted a .255 average with three home runs and 16 RBI. His first career home run was a grand slam, which he hit on May 5th of that year. In 1956, he hit .326 in 43 at-bats. Overall, he hit six home runs in his career, driving in 43 runs. He stole one base in one attempt. In the field, he committed 15 errors for a .960 fielding percentage. He was also involved in 15 double plays in his career. According to Baseball-Reference, his career pitching statistics are most similar to those of Tex Carleton. He spent seven seasons with teammates Mickey Vernon, Spec Shea and Jackie Jensen - longer than any other teammates.

After his career ended, he became a welder for the Westinghouse Corporation. In 1966, he received one vote for induction into the baseball Hall of Fame - obviously not enough to get him in. He died in 1980 from lymphoma, at the age of 56. He is buried in Sharon Memorial Park in Charlotte, NC.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • AL All-Star (1954)
  • AL Wins Leader (1953)
  • 2-time AL Complete Games Leader (1953 & 1954)
  • AL Shutouts Leader (1953)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 1 (1953)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 1 (1953)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 3 (1952-1954)

Related Sites[edit]