Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 18, 2005
BASEBALL: Fenway's Other Monster

Dick Radatz has died, in a fall down stairs at his home. "The Monster," a Fenway legend in the early 60s and more recently a radio personality on WEEI, was 67. Radatz wasn't a man given to restraint, either on the mound, in his personal life (as the obit notes, he weighed around 400 pounds at times and was a heavy smoker), or on the air.

There are many candidates for "first modern reliever," depending how you draw the line, but other than Ryne Duren, who was less durable and whose success was shorter-lived, Radatz, a tremendous workhorse, was the first reliever to put up modern-day strikeout numbers over a period of years - he struck out 627 batters in 557.1 IP in just over four years in Boston, with a high of 181 in 1964 - and one of the first star-quality flamethrowers to make a career in the bullpen. R.I.P.

UPDATE: Rich Lederer has more. Also, check the comments here re: Radatz vs. Mickey Mantle.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:18 AM | Baseball 2005 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

This from the AP article you linked to on Radatz:

"He was a setup man, closer, finisher all in one," said Bill Lee, a former Red Sox pitcher and good friend of Radatz. "He was the best reliever of all time, for a short period of time."

Radatz, who was godfather to Lee's daughter, has a picture of himself in his basement signed by Mickey Mantle. The Yankees legend signed it "The greatest I ever faced," said Lee, noting that Radatz struck out Mantle 44 times in 67 attempts.

What is Bill Lee smoking these days? I looked up Radatz on Retrosheet and, albeit that 1962 and 1964 are missing, for the remaining years of Radatz's career he only struck Mantle out 3 (three) times, twice in 65 and once in 66 pitching for Cleveland. It would be hard to believe that Radatz even faced Mantle 67 times in his career, but the 44/67 is an urban myth or something like that.

Posted by: howard at March 18, 2005 11:26 AM

The story about Radatz striking out Mantle 44 times is indeed a hoax / legend / tall tale / whatever you want to call it, but it didn't start with Bill Lee. In an interview with Maury Allen, Radatz made up that 44/67 claim, and Allen just parroted it without due diligence. I have seen it repeated in other places too.

Well, as Howard notes, the 67 number doesn't pass the smell test -- Radatz faced 2906 batters in his career, and 67 is more than 2% of that number; plus of course Mantle was hurt a lot in the years when Radatz was racking up big numbers.

What are the real numbers? According to David Smith of Retrosheet, Mantle went 3-for-16 in his career against Radatz with three walks (although Radatz did K him 12 times.)

Posted by: Chris at March 21, 2005 9:56 AM
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