January 29 – Happy Birthday Bobby Bolin

Before joining the Red Sox in 1970, Bobby Bolin had spent most of the previous decade as a very valuable member of the San Francisco Giants’ pitching staff. The tall, flexible right-hander was used as both a starter and reliever by a progression of Giant managers and had compiled a 73-56 record, with 10 complete game shutouts and 21 saves during his tenure in the Golden Gate city. The Giants traded Bolin to the Brewers after the 1969 season and the Hickory Grove, SC native spent most of the 1970 campaign struggling as a starter with the two-year-old expansion franchise. That September, the Brewers traded Bolin to Boston and Bobby’s starting days were over for good.

When Bolin arrived in Beantown, he joined a crowded Red Sox bullpen anchored by closer Sparky Lyle and a young Bill Lee. During his first full season with the team in 1970, Bolin became one of Eddie Kasko’s workhorses appearing in 52 games, winning five and saving six. When Lyle got traded to New York the following year however, Lee got the closer job, veteran Louie Tiant became the primary long reliever and Bolin was suddenly the forgotten man out there. That all changed in 1973 when both Lee and Tiant joined Boston’s starting rotation. Bolin combined with former Pirate ace, southpaw Bob Veale to form an effective lefty-righty closing platoon for the Red Sox. Bolin saved 15, Veale saved 11 and the Red Sox won 89 games and finished second. Red Sox pundits thought Bolin would continue to close for Boston the following year but Eddie Kasko had been promoted to the front office and replaced by Darrell Johnson. Johnson waited till the last week of Boston’s 1974 spring training season to announce he was cutting 35 year-old DH Orlando Cepeda, 39-year-old shortstop Luis Aparicio and Bolin, who had just turned 35. The new skipper called it a youth movement and it was in the case of both Aparicio, who was replaced by 24-year-old Mario Guerrerro and Cepeda, who lost his DH spot to 23-year-old Cecil Cooper. But Bolin lost his job to 36-year-old Diego Segui, who struggled horribly as Boston’s closer for the next two seasons.

Bobby Bolin ended up retiring from the game after getting cut by Johnson. He finished his thirteen-season big league career with a record of 88-75, a 3.40 ERA and 50 saves.

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