Rick Reuschel, also known as "Big Daddy," was born in Quincy, Illinois on May 15, 1949. He was a 6’3" right handed pitcher when selected out of Western Illinois University by the Chicago Cubs, in the third round of the 1970 amateur draft. He received his first callup in June, 1972 after posting a combined 26-8 record at three minor league levels over his first three professional seasons.
Reuschel immediately found a spot in the Cubbies rotation, earning a 10-8 record with five complete games (four shutouts) in his first partial major league season. His best season in Chicago was 1977, when he totalled a 20-10 record, made his first all-star team and finished third in the season ending NL Cy Young Award vote. Aside from spending half of the 1981 season with the New York Yankees (4-4, 2.67 ERA) and missing the 1982 and most of the 1983 season with an injury, Reuschel racked up a 135-127 record for the Cubs. He pitched 17 shutouts and earned a 3.50 earned run average while striking out 1,367 batters. The Cubs actually made the 1984 season interesting by earning a spot in the NLCS, but the 35-year old Reuschel was left off the roster. He clocks in at #26 on the similar series of posts over at the Cubs SB Nation blog, Bleed Cubbie Blue.
Considered washed up by many, Reuschel signed a free agent contract to join the Pittsburgh Pirates for the 1985 season. He would earn a 14-8 record and win the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award with a 2.27 ERA. He posted career bests with a 1.097 WHIP and only 7.1 hits allowed per nine innings pitched. He also won his first Gold Glove. Maybe most impressive was his September, when he won three complete games including: a 2-0 win over the Atlanta Braves on the fourth (allowed three hits and one walk, struck out nine), a 2-1 win over the Cubs on the 10th (allowed eight hits and a walk, one unearned run, struck out 12), and an 8-2 victory over the Montreal Expos on the 25th (allowed five hits and two earned runs, struck out seven). The Pirates finished with an NL worst 57-104 record, 43 and a half games out of first.
Even though the Pirates were marginally better in 1986, at 64-98, it wasn’t good enough to get the team out of the National League cellar. Reuschel went 9-16 with a 3.96 ERA, second best on the team among starters. On May 17th, he pitched a five hit, complete game shutout, striking out six Reds in a 4-0 win over Cincinnati. Just two turns later, he allowed two runs on nine hits, striking out eight over 11 innings (he earned a no-decision, as Bob Walk allowed four runs in the top of the 12th for a 6-2 loss) on May 27th.
Reuschel spent the first three quarters of the season in Pittsburgh, compiling an 8-6 record with a 2.75 ERA. He registered three shutouts, including a two walk, four hit game on June 27th, as the Bucs blanked the Cubs 7-0. He struck out six Cubs batters. For his second "resurgence", he was invited to his second career all-star game. The Pirates traded him to the San Francisco Giants on August 21st for Scott Medvin and Jeff Robinson. After the season, he finished third in the Cy Young Award voting and won his second career Gold Glove.
Reuschel finished out his career as a Giant. Over parts of five seasons, he went 44-30, earning his third all-star invitation at the age of 40. He retired following the 1991 season, owner of a 214-191 career win/loss record.
All-Time Statline: 31-30, 3.04 ERA, 91 games, 85 starts, 22 CG, six shutouts, 586.2 innings pitched, 548 hits allowed, walked 144, struck out 343, 1.180 WHIP, 11.3 wins above replacement.