Gerald Eugene Pirtle
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 185 lb.
- School Bacone College
- High School Nathan Hale High School (Tulsa)
- Debut July 2, 1978
- Final Game September 7, 1978
- Born December 3, 1947 in Tulsa, OK USA
He went to Hale High School in Tulsa. In June 1966, he was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 7th round of the amateur draft. He didn’t sign and then attended Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma. He played only one year with Bacone but one he would remember as the Warriors won the Junior College World Series. Pirtle was named the final tournament MVP. After only one year at Bacone, he was picked by the New York Yankees in the seventh round of the secondary phase of the 1967 amateur draft.
Pirtle didn't wait long before signing and began his pro career shortly after the draft. He spent his first season with the Johnson City Yankees in the Appalachian League. Pirtle was brilliant with the best WHIP on the team (0,879). In 8 starts, he had a 2.95 ERA with 5 complete games, including 2 shutouts.
In 1968, he was with the Fort Lauderdale Yankees in the Florida State League where he was his team’s best pitcher. His 14 wins and 13 complete games were second in the league. In 172 innings, his ERA was 2.09 and he struck out 141 batters against only 35 walks.
Pirtle remained in A ball in 1969, this time in the Carolina League with the Kinston Eagles. He had another good season with a 2.72 ERA in 182 innings. He had 13 complete games in 27 starts. He also had 144 strikeouts and only 44 walks.
It was up to AA ball in the Eastern League with the Manchester Yankees for Pirtle in 1970. He led the league with 15 complete games and 4 shutouts. Overall, his record was 10-14 with a 4.02 ERA in 27 games (26 starts).
The righthanded pitcher went through a hard time in 1971. He split his season between Manchester and the Syracuse Chiefs, the Yankees' AAA affiliate. Overall, his ERA was 4.81 ERA in 118 innings. For the first time, he was used from the bullpen with Syracuse, where he made 17 starts in 32 games. He also began to have control issues, with 60 walks and only 74 strikeouts. He played with Escogido in the Dominican Republic that winter. In 82 innings, his ERA was a solid 2.97, barely better than teammate Joaquin Andujar.
The 1972 season was his first complete campaign in AAA ball. He was a swingman with 15 starts and 21 relief outings. He had 6 complete games and also 3 saves. His ERA was at 3.33 in 127 innings, better than the team’s 3.88. He was again active after the season, this time with Magallanes, in Venezuela.
It was back to Syracuse in 1973, the year he was converted to relief duties for good. He made only 3 starts in 43 games and got 6 saves with a 7-5 record. In 95 innings, his ERA was 4.83.
In 1974, Pirtle was sent back to spend the season in the Eastern League with the West Haven Yankees. He was by far the team’s busiest relief pitcher with 58 games and he led the team with 7 saves. He had a 6-10 record with a 2.68 ERA and led the team with an impressive 131 strikeouts in 114 innings.
1975 might have been Pirtle's best season in pro ball. He led the team with 61 games and his ERA was a solid 2.70 in 100 innings. He earned 8 saves, second on the team to Ron Guidry. It was Pirtle's last season in the Yankees organization. In January, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Rick Stelmaszek.
The Cubs were looking for an upgrade in the pitching department. But Pirtle again spent the season in AAA, with the Wichita Aeros in the American Association. Pirtle was the workhorse out of the bullpen with a team-leading 50 games and 9 saves. His record was 8-7 with a 3.71 ERA, better than the team’s 4.32. Pirtle was back to Wichita in 1977 but was less effective, with a 4.22 ERA in 98 innings in 53 games.
Pirtle began the 1978 season with Wichita, but the Cubs needed to make room for Mike Krukow who had just been sent down and he was merely released in May. Pirtle thought his career was over but thanks to his former manager with West Haven, Doc Edwards, he got a call from the Montreal Expos. Pirtle decided to give it a chance and he was sent to the Denver Bears, where Edwards was the manager. Pirtle did very well with the Bears, allowing only 1 run in 14 appearances for an ERA under 1.00. The Expos had issues in the bullpen and in July, Pirtle got the call he was waiting for for so many years. At age 30, he made his Major League debut in the second game of a doubleheader against the St. Louis Cardinals, throwing two scoreless innings. In the early going, he was very good. In his first five outings, he didn't allow a single run in 9 1/3 innings. Manager Dick Williams began using him in meaningful situations. On July 14th, in the first game of a doubleheader against the Houston Astros, he threw two scoreless innings in extra innings. He suffered the loss in the second game as he was throwing his third inning of the game, his fifth of the night in the doubleheader. After such a good start, things began to unravel on July 21st against the Atlanta Braves, as he allowed three runs in two innings. Two days later against the Cincinnati Reds, he allowed four runs in a third of an inning. In his next two games, he blew a lead and suffered a loss. From then on, he was never used in close games. In the last two months of the season, he was used only seven times, including only twice in September. His season was epitomized by a game against the San Francisco Giants in which he allowed seven unearned runs in a single inning, all stemming from an error he himself had committed. After the season, he was let go by Montreal. He pitched one last season in the minors in 1979 with the Rochester Red Wings, the Baltimore Orioles' AAA farm team, reuniting him with Doc Edwards. It was the fourth time Pirtle played under Edwards first with West Haven, then with Wichita, Denver and finally with Rochester. Pirtle struggled that last season with a 4.89 ERA in 105 innings.