Jim Umbricht

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James Umbricht

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Biographical Information[edit]

The career of pitcher Jim Umbricht was cut tragically short. He played five years in the major leagues, posting an ERA of 3.06 and a record of 9-5, primarily as a reliever.

Umbricht played both baseball and basketball at the University of Georgia, and was an All-Conference shortstop in 1951.

Umbricht made his major league debut on September 26, 1959 after pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates' AAA Salt Lake City Bees team most of that season. The right-hander was a 29-year-old rookie when he made the Pirate team out of spring training in 1960. He helped his chances of making the team on March 16, when he and Bennie Daniels combined to no-hit the Detroit Tigers in an exhibition game. The Sporting News made Umbright their pre-season pick to be the top rookie pitcher of 1960. But Umbricht struggled that year and was optioned back to AAA on June 27th. He was recalled in September but was not on the World Series roster for the Pirates. He finished the season with a record of 1-2, 1 save and a 5.09 ERA.

He spent 1961 in AAA other than one relief appearance with the Pirates. After the 1961 season, Umbricht was selected by the Houston Colt 45s in the expansion draft. He split 1962 between AAA and Houston. Umbright appeared in 34 games in relief for Houston that year. In 67 innings, he gave up only 51 hits and 17 walks with 55 strikeouts and had an impressive ERA of 2.01.

But while with Houston, Umbricht was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his leg in early 1963. In March of that year, he underwent surgery to remove the tumor. He made his first appearance for Houston on May 9th and went on to appear in 35 games and post an ERA of 2.61 with only 52 hits and 21 walks in 76 innings with 48 Ks. But Umbricht was diagnosed with lymphoma and died prior to the start of the 1964 season. He was 33 years old. His number 32 was retired immediately by Houston, and their MVP award was named in his honor.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Thomas Ayers: "Jim Umbricht", in Clifton Blue Parker and Bill Nowlin, ed.: Sweet '60: The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2013, pp. 198-203. ISBN 978-1-93359-948-9

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