Bruce Hurst, SP, #47 (1980-1988)
W-L 88-73, 237 G, 217 GS, 54 CG, 13 SHO, 4.23 ERA
"It hurts a lot more to lose than it feels good to win." - Bruce Hurst
Looking back through the numbers, nothing about Bruce Hurst stands out in particular. His 4.23 ERA over the course of his Sox career certainly seems pedestrian. He was, however, outstanding backup to ace Roger Clemens in the mid-80s, along with Oil Can and Al "Cheez" Nipper. Hurst was a crafty left-hander whose career in Boston was solid, and whose 1986 WS performance should have been legend.
Hurst spent 1980-81 mostly in Pawtucket, riding the Merloni express in 1980 and starting five games at the tail-end of 1981. While in Pawtucket, he pitched in the longest game in professional baseball history. Hurst was the 7th pitcher for the Paw Sox, and did his part to extend the game, throwing 5 scoreless innings.
He finally got a chance to stick with the big club in 1982, starting 19 games out of his total of 28. He had a poor ERA, probably somewhat due to his 1.718 WHIP. The Sox FO must have seen something, because he was allowed to continue after such a performance. (It would seem rash to judge such a pitcher at age 24.)
In 1983, Hurst would begin to show his consistent ability to be a league-average or better workhorse. 1983-85 were all seasons closely resembling the others. His ERA+ would hover right around 100, and a WHIP around 1.4. He would throw 200+ innings each season, while steadily increasing his Ks.
1986 would be the best season of Hurst's career, though he spent six weeks on the DL. He would post his lowest regular-season WHIP in a relevant league, win 13 games, while completing 11 of his 25 starts. He saved the best for the postseason. In the World Series, he won 2 of his 3 starts, and put the Sox in position to win the 3rd in game 7. Hurst would have been named WS MVP had the Sox been the victor. It was not to be. However, no less than Mets slugger and clean-image poster boy Darryl Strawberry would praise Hurst's performance in the Series:
"Clemens is tough, but he's no Hurst." Indeed, Hurst would rise out of Clemens' shadow only to be foiled by an inability to replace Bill Buckner with Dave Stapleton. The champagne was on ice, the media was ready to cover Hurst in a suffocating manner, and the Sox brass was ready to receive their rings and kudos. Unfortunately for Hurst and the Sox, one ground ball and a giant heap of blame on one player would prevent the win.
1987 and 1988 were both successful seasons for Hurst. He would gain All-Star recognition in 1987, winning 9 games and pitching 139 innings before the break. In 1988, he would reach his career high win total of 18, and finish 5th in the Cy Young balloting. Such a win total and his 5th place non-award made him a hot commodity on the FA market. His Sox career would come to a close when he chose less money to pitch closer to his probably not polygamist roots in Utah.
Hurst would pitch five seasons in the fledgling semi-pro NL West before he retired as a Texas Ranger in 1994. He, however, was not done with baseball. He is now the pitching coach of the Chinese national team under manager Jim Lefebvre. He seems to relish the challenge and looks forward to competing in the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing.
Allen once ate a live snake, spine and all. Just kidding. Snakes don't have spines. Find out more at Over The Monster.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Bruce Hurst, SP, #47 (1980-1988)