The Yankees had one dynamic and athletic pitching staff in 1987. Tim Stoddard started on the North Carolina State team, which, in 1974, beat Marquette and effectively ended UCLA’s run of seven consecutive NCAA basketball titles.
Not to be outdone, Dennis Rasmussen played ball (basket variety) at Creighton. While he was there he played against the immortal Larry Bird (who played for Indiana State) and with Kevin McKenna. McKenna would log 243 NBA games and score 1,320 points. Definitely no slouch.
So how did the pitching staff with the best basketball acumen do? They’d throw 1,446.1 innings, give up 1,475 hits, 542 walks, and 179 HRs. They would also strike-out an even 900 batters, and post a 4.36 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. That’d be good enough for 89 wins and the sixth best ERA. Unfortunately the Tigers and their 4.02 ERA would take the division that year.
Stoddard would be a decent help to the cause in 1987, logging 92.2 innings out of the bull-pen and posting a 3.50 ERA and 7.6 K/9 rate – both better than his career average. Apparently, not too long ago, relievers were men who pitched nearly 100 innings a season. In addition, Stoddard is the only man in history to win an NCAA basketball title and a World Series (he did so with the Orioles in 1983).
Before being traded, Rasmussen started 25 games, pitched 146 innings and would post an unfriendly 4.75 ERA. A tall guy at 6’7, Rasmussen would go on to have a fine 1988 campaign (200+ IPs, 3.43 ERA) for the Reds and Padres. However, that’d be his last relatively useful season in the majors.
Still, before he got traded, I hope he had a chance to post up the 6’7 Stoddard.
For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.