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Al Downing

Pitcher
Born: June 28, 1941 (1941-06-28) (age 68)
Trenton, New Jersey
Batted: Right Threw: Left 
MLB debut
July 19, 1961 for the New York Yankees
Last MLB appearance
July 13, 1977 for the Los Angeles Dodgers
Career statistics
Win-Loss record     123-107
Earned run average     3.22
Strikeouts     1,639
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Alphonso Erwin Downing (born June 28, 1941, in Trenton, New Jersey) is a former Major League Baseball pitcher Downing is best remembered as the man who surrendered Hank Aaron's record breaking 715th home run on April 8, 1974.[1]

Contents

New York Yankees

Downing signed with the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1961, and was already on the major league roster by July of that season. In his first full major league season, 1963, Downing went 13-5 with a 2.56 earned run average for a Yankee team that went 104-57, but were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1963 World Series. In 1964, he went 13-8 with a 3.47 earned run average, and led the league with 217 strikeouts.

Downing was 9-5 with a 2.66 ERA when he made his only All-Star team in 1967. He pitched two innings, giving up no earned runs while striking out two.[2] On August 11, he struck out three batters (Tony Horton, Don Demeter and Duke Sims) on nine pitches in the second inning of a 5-3 win over the Cleveland Indians.[3] Downing became the sixth American League pitcher and the 13th pitcher in Major League history to accomplish this feat.

Injuries limited Downing to only twelve starts in 1968. In 1969, Yankees manager Ralph Houk began using Downing out of the bullpen more, as he made fifteen starts and fifteen relief appearances. He was traded to the Oakland Athletics prior to the 1970 along with catcher Frank Fernández for Danny Cater and Ossie Chavarria.

NL Comeback Player of the Year

Downing's stay in Oakland was short lived, as he was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers on June 11, 1970 with Tito Francona for Steve Hovley. Despite a respectable 3.34 ERA, Downing's record was 2-10 for a Brewers team that narrowly escaped losing 100 games (97). For the season, Downing went 5-13 with a 3.52 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 27 games and 22 starts between his two teams.

Prior to the start of the 1971 season, Downing was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Andy Kosco. Downing turned things around in his first season in the National League, winning twenty games, including a league-leading five shutouts. He earned NL Comeback Player of the Year honors as well as finishing third in NL Cy Young award balloting behind Hall of Famers Ferguson Jenkins and Tom Seaver.

Despite giving up Hank Aaron's famous 715th home run on April 8, 1974, Downing made his third, and final post-season appearance that season. His Dodgers lost four games to one to the Oakland A's. Downing played two more full seasons with the Dodgers, and was released during the 1977 season with a 0-1 record and 6.75 ERA.

Seasons W L PCT ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H ER R HR BB K WP HBP
17 123 107 .535 3.22 405 317 73 24 3 2268.1 1946 811 938 177 933 1639 77 31

Downing was a radio broadcaster for the Dodgers through 2005. As of 2006, he remains on the Dodgers Speaker's Bureau.

See also

References

Preceded by
Camilo Pascual
American League Strikeout Champion
1964
Succeeded by
Sam McDowell
Preceded by
Jim Hickman
NL Comeback Player of the Year
1971
Succeeded by
Bobby Tolan
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