Frustrated by the Royals recent losing streak? Take your mind off the current Royals and take a trip down memory lane and remember the Royals of the 1970s. That was a fearsome bunch, capable of scoring runs, playing defense and shutting down opponents with a great pitching staff. Part of that staff was Marty Pattin , an overlooked but effective reliever in Whitey Herzog's arsenal. A colorful fellow, Pattin is #53 in our countdown.
"I had a long talk with Marty Pattin on the bus. He's had a tough, interesting life. He's from Charleston, Illinois, and his mother and father were separated when he was a baby and he was shipped off to live with his mother's folks. He was still a junior in high school when his grandfather died, so he moved into a rooming house and tried to work his way through the rest of high school. It was there he met a man named Walt Warmouth who helped him get through school - not only high school but college. Warmouth owned a restaurant, and Marty worked there and got his meals there, and every once in a while he'd get a call from the clothing store in town and be told he could pick up a suit and a bunch of other stuff and it was all paid for. they never would tell him who had paid, but Marty knew anyway. "The guy was like a father to me," Marty said. "And not only to me. He must have sent dozens of kids through school just the way he did me." Marty has a masters degree in industrial arts, and when he can he likes to help kids. That's why he signed up for the clinic.
"What a terribly lonely life Marty must have had. Hell, it was a traumatic experience for me just going away to college and living in a dorm with a bunch of other kids. And here's Marty, still in high school, living in a rooming house. Not only that, but he goes on to become an All-American boy, complete with all the good conventional values. Like he was telling the kids at the clinic that sure it was difficult to throw a ball well or be a good basketball player. It was difficult to do a lot of things, but that they were all capable of doing a lot of difficult things if they were willing to work hard and practice. I guess he ought to know."
-"Ball Four" by Jim Bouton
Marty Pattin was a solid swingman for the Royals in their glory days in the 1970s, best known for his "Donald Duck" impressions. He is ninth in Royals franchise history in relief appearances with 181, despite starting 63 games in his Royals career.
Pattin hailed from Charleston, Illinois, and when it came time to choose the school he would attend, he opted not to stray far from home. He attended Eastern Illinois University, based in - Charleston, Illinois.
Marty Pattin, on the other hand, was one of the guys whose "Born" town was the same as his "Home" town on the back of his card, in his case a place called Charleston, Illinois. I always noticed the same-Born-and-Home guys and considered them more solid than me, more rooted. I always imagined the houses they'd lived in their whole lives had white pillars in front and a tire swing hanging from an old oak in back.
He earned both a bachelor's degree and master's degree at EIU, but it was his baseball prowess that got him into the NAIA Hall of Fame and won the hearts of EIU alumni. He is the namesake for "Marty's", the only bar on campus.
Marty was drafted by the California Angels in the 7th round of the 1965 draft. By his first full season of pro ball, he was in AAA, posting a 9-2 record in thirteen starts. He would spend another full season in AAA Seattle, posting a 2.69 ERA and a 12-11 record. After starting another season in Seattle, the Angels finally promoted him in May, and he spent the rest of 1968 in their bullpen, posting a 2.79 ERA in 52 games.
Despite his performance, the Angels left Pattin unprotected in the 1969 Expansion Draft. Although the Royals passed him over, the Seattle Pilots, perhaps impressed by his minor league performance in their home stadium, took Pattin with the 18th pick. The Pilots were a dreadful team playing in a dreadful stadium, and thus Pattin was dreadful. He posted a 5.69 ERA in 27 starts, the worst ERA in baseball for someone with that many inning pitched in five seasons.
"Straight overhand pitcher, good rising fastball, hard overhand curve. He's a little guy but cocky, with lots of guts. When I saw him throwing free and easy like that it really made me want to find my old stuff."
-"Ball Four" by Jim Bouton
The Pilots were so dreadful, they lasted just one season in Seattle before moving to Milwaukee and becoming the Brewers. Pattin seemed to like Wisconsin much better, leading the team in wins with fourteen and ERA at 3.39. He was much the same in 1971 with fourteen wins and a 3.13 ERA as he was named to his only All-Star game. The Brewers decided to package him to the Red Sox in a blockbuster deal with OF Tommy Harper and P Lew Krausse for P Jim Lonborg, P Ken Brett, OF Billy Conigliaro, OF Joe Lahoud and 1B George Scott.
In Boston, Pattin feared pitching in front of the Green Monster. In games, he would get the sign from his catcher, turn and look back at the Green Monster, then shake off his catcher. Nonetheless, he won thirty-two games for the Red Sox in two seasons. His 4.31 ERA was a bit high in 1973 however, so the Red Sox shopped him around, nearly dealing him to Cleveland only to have the trade fall through. The Royals had been looking to add pitching, and were looking for a big name like Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry or Fergie Jenkins. They instead settled for Pattin, acquiring him for disgruntled right-handed starter Dick Drago.
"I wouldn't be surprised if Pattin wins as many games for us as Jenkins would have."
-Royals General Manager Cedric Tallis.
Cedric was a brilliant man, but he was just as capable of puffing up his own transactions as any other GM. Although Pattin was an adequate pitcher for the Royals, Jenkins won 25 games for the Rangers that year as he built up his Hall of Fame career.
Pattin began the year in the rotation, but after a horrendous start, was demoted to the pen in late May. The Royals used him as a long reliever, and when I say "long", I mean loooooooooong. Eight times the Royals had him go four innings or more in relief, and four times he went 6 2/3 innings in relief. Starting pitchers don't even go that long anymore. His role was mainly as a mop up man however, and he ended the year with a 3.99 ERA in 117 1/3 inning pitched.
In 1975 Pattin got off to a terrible start once again, but by June he had righted the ship and had his ERA under 4.00. This got him a spot back in the rotation when Nellie Briles went down with an injury. He worked into the ninth inning in four of his first five starts, with three complete games and a shutout. Twice he was named "American League Pitcher of the Month", once as a starter, and once as a reliever. He pitched in the bullpen down the stretch, and finished with ten wins and a 3.25 ERA as the Royals enjoyed their first ninety-win season.
1976 was Pattin's best season in a Royals uniform. He pitched out of the pen until late June when Steve Busby's season was cut short due to injury. Pattin gave the Royals 7 2/3 innings of shutout ball in a win over the Angels. With the Royals hanging onto a lead in September, Pattin came through with a five hit shutout of the Angels. The Royals went on to win the division, and Pattin enjoyed a career best ERA of 2.49, including a clutch 1.58 ERA in 40 1/3 innings pitched down the stretch. He fared much better as a starter than as a reliever, posting a 2.24 ERA in fifteen starts.
Pattin would barely play in the ALCS that fall, appearing in Game Three to intentionally walk Carlos May, and retiring just one batter in Game Five.
Despite his stellar performance in the rotation in 1976, the Royals had Pattin relieve to begin the 1977 season. He got off to a putrid start, with his ERA hovering above 8.00 as late as June. He slowly began to find his groove, posting a 1.12 ERA in July, and rejoining the rotation down the stretch, where he enjoyed a 2.92 ERA in ten starts, with four complete games. In the playoffs, he pitched six innings of Game Four, giving up just one run.
Pattin made just thirty-two appearances in 1978, with five starts. He still posted a very solid ERA of 3.32. But with a solid rotation of Dennis Leonard, Paul Splittorff, Larry Gura and Rich Gale, the Royals just didn't need to call on Pattin very often. He was part of a very solid bullpen manager Whitey Herzog nicknamed "Mungo, Hungo, Duck and Bird", with Pattin playing the part of "Duck" for his Donald Duck impressions.
Pattin's ERA would skyrocket in 1979 to 4.58 as the Royals missed the post-season for the first time in three years. He would bounce back with a 3.64 ERA in 37 relief appearances in 1980. His services were not needed in the quick sweep of the Yankees in the ALCS, but he was called on to make his only World Series appearance in Game 6 against the Phillies, striking out Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski. Unfortunately, the Royals would fall short of winning the title that year.
''We didn't lose. With great fans like you, we'll always be winners.''
Pattin was let go by the Royals after the season, and when he received only minor league offers from other clubs, he decided to retire. That fall, he hooked on as a coach for the Kansas Jayhawks, and was their head coach from 1982-1987. Pattin has also served in the big leagues as a coach, and is now retired in the Kansas City area, making appearances for the Royals, and serving as an instructor at The Old Ballgame Academy in Kansas City.
Marty had a tough childhood, and stayed close to his roots in Charleston, Illinois. His travels took him to Seattle, Anaheim, Milwaukee and Boston. Fate brought him to Kansas City, and he has taken root in our fine city. Nice to have you home Marty.