The 75th Greatest Royal of All-Time is Bruce Dal Canton
Your high school history teacher could become a Royals reliever!
Bruce Dal Canton was known as a nice quiet guy who was overlooked out of college but persevered to an eleven year Major League career. Bruce grew up in the city of California, Pennsylvania and attended the college of the same name where he excelled in baseball and was later inducted into the school's Hall of Fame (Go Vulcans!). He was from a small school and did not attract much attention from Major League ball clubs, so after graduation he became a high school teacher and coach.
In 1965 the Pittsburgh Pirates were desperate for pitching, so they signed several mature semi-professionals who had been bypassed by scouts when younger. One was future All-Star pitcher Woody Fryman another was a 24 year old Bruce Dal Canton.
In his first ever professional season in 1966, Dal Canton posted a 3.66 ERA in 67 innings between AA and AAA. After posting a 3.10 ERA in 93 innings in AA the next season, the Pirates called him up in September. Dal Canton pitched 8.1 shutout inning in relief before pitching well in two starts and ending the month with a 1.88 ERA.
Dal Canton again began 1968 in the minors, dominating AA with a 1.01 ERA before being promoted to AAA where he was rocked. Despite his 8.25 ERA he was promoted to the Pirates for another cup of coffee.
In 1969, Dal Canton was in the majors for good, posting a 3.34 ERA in 86 relief innings for a Pirates team that was building the foundation of a 1970s dynasty. Dal Canton's performance fell quite a bit in 1970, with his ERA skyrocketing to 4.54 as control issues caught up with him. That December, the Pirates shipped Dal Canton, backup catcher Jerry May, and a light hitting diminutive infielder named Fred Patek to Kansas City for pitcher Bob Johnson, light hitting shortstop Jackie Hernandez, and backup catcher Jim Campanis.
Dal Canton spent four productive seasons in Kansas City as a swingman, but it was Patek who made this a lopsided trade for the Royals.
Win Shares with Kansas City
Fred Patek 122
Bruce Dal Canton 29
Jerry May 9
Total - 151
Win Shares with Pittsburgh
Bob Johnson 18
Jackie Hernandez 8
Jim Campanis 0
Total - 26
Dal Canton alone was more valuable than the players Kansas City sent. Patek went on to become a three time All-Star and an integral part of three division title winners. It would be just one of many great trades Royals General Manager Cedric Tallis would make in the early years of the franchise, building the foundation for later championship level teams.
Dal Canton spent 1971 as a starter in the Royals rotation and responded with eight wins and a 3.44 ERA in 141 innings, despite shoulder problems late in the year. In 1972 he shuttled in between the rotation and the bullpen, but still managed a 3.40 ERA in 132 innings. All the while, Dal Canton still spent his off-seasons teaching high school in Pennsylvania.
Dal Canton's career took a step back in 1973 when he had a 4.81 ERA and an awful strikeout-to-walk ratio of 38-46. He bounced back in 1974 with perhaps his finest season, going 8-10 with a 3.13 ERA in 175 innings with nine complete games.
Bruce got off to an awful start in 1975, and by May had a 15.88 ERA. The Royals shipped Dal Canton to Atlanta in an odd trade in which Dal Canton was sent with two players to be named later, in exchange for another player to be named later. In September, the Royals sent pitcher Norm Angelini and Al Autry to Atlanta in exchange for veteran pitcher Ray Sadecki to complete the deal.
Dal Canton spent another year in a half pitching in the big leagues for the Braves and the White Sox before finally hanging it up in 1977 at the age of 35. For the last twenty-five years, Dal Canton has served as a pitching coach in the Atlanta Braves organization, spending some time at the Major League level from 1987-1990. For the last nine year he has been the pitching coach at Myrtle Beach still teaching, just like he was when those scouts found him in 1965.
"I've found a second home...I'm very happy here, and Atlanta's been nice enough to leave me here for eight years now."
"This is not work for me. I've got the best job in the world. I can't believe they pay me to do this. It's not work. I'd go crazy if I wasn't doing something like this."