April 25 – Happy Birthday Ken Tatum

tatumThe only reason long-time Red Sox fans should remember today’s Beantown Baseball Birthday Celebrant is that he was one of the guys Boston got in return when they traded Tony Conigliaro to the then California Angels in October of 1970. At the time, Ken Tatum was a highly regarded young closer who had gone 7-2 during his 1969 rookie season with the Angels and saved 22 games. His ERA that year was a sparkling 1.38 and he finished fourth in the 1969 AL Rookie of the Year balloting. Tatum proved his debut season was no fluke when he followed it up with a 7-4, 17-save, 2.93 ERA year in 1970.

So when they pulled the trigger on the Conigliaro deal, the Red Sox front office figured Tatum would combine with Sparky Lyle to give the club one of the league’s best bullpens for years to come. That didn’t happen. Tatum was pretty much a bust for Boston. During his three seasons with the team he saved a total of just 13 games and ended up as a throw-in in the 1973 trade that sent Reggie Smith to the Cardinals in exchange for Rick Wise and Bernie Carbo. Meanwhile, Doug Griffin turned into a good second baseman for the BoSox and remained with the team for seven years.

Tatum was a native of Louisiana and he played college ball for Mississippi State. A right-hander, the Angels drafted him with their second round pick in the 1966 draft. I can remember when this guy beaned the Oriole center-fielder Paul Blair in the head during the 1970 season. Blair was never again the same hitter after the beaning. Tatum ended his big league career with the White Sox in 1974

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