Earl Francis

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Earl Coleman Francis

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Biographical Information[edit]

Earl Francis was a right-handed pitcher, primarily for the Pittsburgh Pirates. During the 1960 season, the Pirates were seeking a right-handed bullpen complement to Roy Face. Paul Giel, Bennie Daniels and Jim Umbricht had all struggled in that role, and Francis was recalled from the minors on June 27th. He made his major league debut on June 30th, pitching five innings of relief. In a total of seven relief appearances, Francis pitched 18 innings giving up only 14 hits and four walks with an outstanding ERA of 2.00. It appeared the Pirates had found the bullpen help they were looking for, but Francis left a game on July 27th after pitching three innings of relief and experiencing arm and shoulder pain. He did not pitch again for the Pirates that year and was optioned to AAA Columbus on August 16th when the Pirates acquired veteran reliever Clem Labine. Francis rejoined the Pirates in September but did not appear in a game and did not pitch in the World Series.

Francis began the 1961 season at Columbus but was recalled to the Pirates in June. He started 15 games, relieved in 8 others and totaled 102 2/3 innings with a 4.21 ERA and a record of 2-8. He spent the entire 1962 and 1963 seasons on the Pirates' roster. Francis made 23 starts in 1962 with a 9-8 record and a 3.07 ERA, including five complete games and a shutout. He gave up only 153 hits in 176 innings. His 9-8 record could have been considerably better with more run support. His 8 losses included scores of 2-1, 3-2, 3-2, 2-1 and 3-2.

Francis was the Opening Day starter for the Pirates in 1963, against the Cincinnati Reds on April 8th; as a result, he was the first major league pitcher to face Pete Rose, who drew a walk in his first plate appearance. He settled into a relief role as the season progressed, making only 13 starts and relieving in 20 other games. He compiled a 4-6 record with a 4.53 ERA. Francis spent 1964 back at AAA Columbus other than 2 games with the Pirates after a September call-up. In December 1964, the Pirates traded Francis to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Francis spent the 1965 season with the Cardinals' AAA Jacksonville affiliate and was called up to St. Louis for two games in September. He spent the entire 1966 season at AAA and then retired.

Notable Achievements[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Gregory H. Wolf: "Earl Francis", in Clifton Blue Parker and Bill Nowlin, ed.: Sweet '60: The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2013, pp. 68-72. ISBN 978-1-93359-948-9

Related Sites[edit]