Pittsburgh Pirates All-Time Top 100: 48. Bob Veale

Bob Veale was a 6’6” left handed throwing, switch-hitting pitcher from Birmingham, AL. Born on October 28th, 1935, he signed his first pro contract with the Pirates in 1958. Later that year, he reported to the “C” level California League San Jose Pirates/Las Vegas Wranglers for his first look at minor league ball, going 2-6 with a 5.43 ERA over 17 appearances. In 1959, he was promoted to the Wilson Tobs of the “B” level Carolina League, going 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA over 21 rotation starts.

1960 would see Veale open the season with the “AAA” Columbus Jets of the International League, going 10-9, 3.51, collecting four shutouts out of his 29 starts. He stayed with the Jets in 1961, improving to 14-11, 2.55 in 28 starts.

Veale started 1962 on the Pirates roster, going 2-2 with a 3.74 ERA, striking out 42 in 45.2 innings. He appeared in 11 contests, starting six, completing two, and earning one save in the process. On May 25th, he was sent back to the Jets for most of the season. With Columbus, he went 8-5 as a rotational starter. Called back near the end of the season, he made his first real mark on the Pirates in his last two appearances. On September 28th, he pitched a complete game three-hitter, striking out nine and earning an 8-2 win over the Milwaukee Braves. Two days later, he entered in the ninth inning of a 4-3 contest against the Braves, striking out two of the three batters he faced for a perfect inning and his first major league save. The Pirates finished 93-68, normally enough for the pennant, but in 1962 it was only good enough for fourth place, eight games behind the San Francisco Giants.

1963 would open with Veale on the Pirates major league roster for good. He appeared in 34 games, starting seven, completing three (with two shutouts) and earning three saves out of the 10 games he finished in relief. He went 5-2 with a 1.04 ERA over 77.2 innings pitched, striking out 68. He was so dominant over his sporadic appearances during the season that he only allowed nine earned runs, five of them in one game (a 9-4 loss to the Dodgers on September 11th). He didn’t allow his first earned run until near the end of June. On September 16th, he earned a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs by pitching a complete game two hitter, striking out nine and only allowing one walk. Just six days later, he pitched 8.1 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers, again only allowing two hits and striking out five in a 4-0 win. The Pirates went 74-88, 25 games behind the pennant clinching Dodgers.

In 1964, Veale joined the rotation right from the start, going 18-12 with an NL eighth best 2.74 ERA. He completed 14 of his 38 starts. He led the National League with 250 strikeouts (and 124 walks), allowing 222 hits over 279.2 innings pitched (that’s 7.144 hits allowed per nine innings, good for fourth in the league). He struck out nine or more batters on seven occasions, including an incredible 16 strikeout performance in a 1-0, 16 inning victory over the Reds on September 30th (Veale pitched the first 12.1 innnings). The Pirates went 80-82, finishing in sixth place in the NL, 13 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

1965 would see Veale go 17-12 with a 2.84 ERA, earning his first all-star selection. He completed 14 of his 37 starts, including an NL third ranking seven shutouts. He struck out an NL second best 276 batters and allowed 221 hits over 266 innings (again leading the league in walks, with 119). He ranked sixth with a 7.477 H/9, and second in the league with 9.338 K/9. As the Pirates number one starter, he opened the season with a 1-0, 10-inning complete game three-hitter, striking out 10 Giants and only walking one. On June 1st, he struck out 16, allowing five hits in a 4-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. On September 19th, he tossed a one-hitter against the same Phillies, winning the contest 1-0 in ten innings and striking out 12. Pittsburgh finished third in the league with a 90-72 record, seven games back of the Dodgers.

1966 would see Veale continue his winning ways, posting a 16-12 record with a 3.02 ERA and three shutouts. He completed 12 of 37 starts, striking out 229 in 268.1 innings, earning his second consecutive all-star invitation. On September 23rd, he went the distance in a 3-0 win over the Atlanta Braves, allowing zero walks, four hits, and striking out 12. The Pirates improved by two games to 92-70, but it wasn’t quite enough, as they missed the pennant by three games to the Dodgers.

In 1967, Veale went 16-8, 3.64, pitching 33 times and completing six of his 31 starts. He struck out 179 in 203 innings, leading the NL with 119 walks. July 21st would see him earn a 9-1 complete game victory over the Houston Astros, allowing three hits and one unearned run while striking out 10. Later, on September 27th, he struck out 12 and allowed five hits in a 1-0 win over the Dodgers. Pittsburgh finished at 81-81, 20.5 games behind the Cardinals.

In 1968, Veale posted his first ever losing record at the major league level, going 13-14 with an NL third best 2.05 ERA. He completed 13 of 33 starts, including four shutouts. He allowed 187 hits over 245.1 innings for a league third best H/9 of 6.86, striking out 171 batters. On April 11th, he tossed 12 innings of six-hit ball, striking out five and allowing one earned run in a 3-1 win over the Giants. May 16th would see him earn a complete game victory over the Cardinals, 3-0 by allowing eight hits and striking out 13. On July 5th, he threw a two-hitter, striking out five Cubs in a 4-0 win. The Pirates finished in the middle of the pack at 80-82, in sixth place, 17 games behind the Cardinals.

Veale posted an identical 13-14 record in 1969, but his skills had already started to decline. His ERA was 3.23, and for the first time in his career he allowed more hits than he had innings pitched (232 hits, 225.2 innings). Still, he collected an NL eighth best 213 whiffs and completed nine of his 34 starts, and on occasion he was still nearly unhittable. Like on August 20th, when he fanned 10 Astros in a 1-0 four hitter. The Bucs finished at 88-74, 12 games out of the money behind the Miracle version of the New York Mets.

In 1970, Veale went 10-15, 3.92, completing only five of 32 starts. He struck out 178 batters and allowed 189 hits in 202 innings. He tossed his only shutout of the season on May 24th, striking out 10 and allowing three hits in a 3-0 win over the Montreal Expos. Pittsburgh finally got back to the postseason, finishing five games ahead of the Cubs with an 89-73 record. Veale didn’t get a chance to make an impact, as the Pirates were swept in three games by Cincinnati (the starts went to teammates Luke Walker, Bob Moose, and Dock Ellis).

In 1971, Veale was moved to the bullpen, where he made 37 relief appearances and posted a 6-0 record with two saves along with a ridiculous 6.99 ERA. At times, he still had the stuff, as evidenced by his first save of the season, when he allowed two hits and struck out four over three innings in a 10-1 win over the Cardinals on June 2nd. Pittsburgh finished the regular season with an NL East best 97-65 record, seven games in front of St. Louis. In the NLCS, the Pirates finished off the Giants three games to one (Veale did not appear). In the seven game World Series against the Baltimore Orioles, Veale made his only career postseason appearance, allowing a hit and two walks for one earned run in 0.2 innings in game two. The Pirates lost that game, 11-3, but eventually won the World Championship, earning Veale his first ring.

1972 would open with Veale still part of the Pirates, pitching nine innings and allowing 10 hits with six strikeouts over five games. On September 2nd, the Boston Red Sox purchased his contract. Over parts of three seasons with the Sox, Veale went 4-4 with a 3.45 ERA over 56 games.

All-Time Statline: 11 seasons, 116-91, 3.06 ERA, 341 games, 255 starts, 78 CG, 20 shutouts, six saves, 1868.2 innings pitched, 1630 hits allowed, walked 839, struck out 1652, 1.321 WHIP, 19.6 wins above replacement.

Next up: A man they called "Pink."

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