Doug Corbett was one of the best pitchers in baseball as a 27-year-old rookie in 1980, making 73 appearances and earning 23 saves with a 1.98 ERA, 1.056 WHIP, and finishing third in Rookie of the Year balloting. His 7.8 WPA (win probability added) led all major league players (pitchers or otherwise). His 5.7 WAR was fourth-best among American League pitchers.
The Twins acquired the Florida native from the Reds in the December 1979 Rule 5 Draft.
He was the winning pitcher in his major league debut in Oakland on Opening Day 1980. He took over in the top of the eighth and held the A’s to just one hit over five shutout innings before the Twins pulled it out 9-7 in 12 innings.
Corbett made his only All-Star team in 1981, when he led the AL with 54 appearances, and led the majors with 45 games finished during the 109-game strike-shortened season. Unfortunately, those 45 games finished only translated into 17 saves on the 41-68 Twins.
The Twins traded Corbett and Rob Wilfong to the Angels for Tom Brunansky, Mike Walters, and $400,000 of Gene Autry’s cold hard cash on May 12, 1982.
Wilfong’s first-inning single was the only hit Tigers ace Jack Morris allowed at Met Stadium on August 21, 1980.
Corbett pitched into 1987—eight major league seasons altogether—but never matched the success of his rookie season (though he was solid for the Angels in 1984). He appeared in the 1986 ALCS against Boston (who, of course, went on to lose a memorable World Series to the Mets). Corbett spent his final season with Baltimore.
During the 1981 baseball strike, Corbett was working at an auto dealership in Elk River. One day I called up there and asked if I could drive up (I was 17) and get his autograph. I always thought he had the coolest signature because he would hook the G in Doug with the C in Corbett. I actually incorporated it into my own signature.
Very cool! I live in Zimmerman.
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