Simply Baseball Notebook's Forgotten In Time

Steve Blass

Hilton Smith
Larry Doby
Seattle Pilots
1994 Expos
Ray Chapman
Flashes in the Pan
Steve Blass
St. Louis Browns
Wally Pipp
Rocky Colavito
Dom DiMaggio
Ellis Valentine
Bill Buckner
Jim Bottomley
The Federal League
Stuart 'Slim' Jones
Billy Hamilton
Ed Delahanty
Eddie Waitkus
George Davis
Riggs Stephenson
1920 White Sox
Luke Easter
Herb Washington
Eddie Robinson
Bobby Mathews
Jimmy Ryan
A.G. Spalding
"Dummy" Hoy
Albert Belle
Jack Quinn
Ken Williams
Al Oliver
Jack Taylor
Fred Lindstrom
Jim Thorpe


Pittsburgh Pirates 1964, 66-74
The recent struggles of Cardinals pitcher Rick Ankiel have once again thrust Steve Blass' name into the national conscience.  In fact, anytime a pitcher mysteriously loses control, Blass' name is mentioned.  The inability to find the strike zone has become known as "Steve Blass disease".  It has happened to Ankiel, Mark Wohlers, former Twins prospect Steve Gasser, and still others.  It's true that Steve Blass will never be forgotten, but sadly, the fact that he was once one of baseball best clutch pitchers has been.


During the 1971 World Series, the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles raced out to a 2-0 series lead and looked headed toward a championship.  They had a pitching trio of Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, and Mike Cuellar - the best 1-2-3 punch in baseball.  Not to mention future Hall of Famers Brooks and Frank Robinson.  Sure, the underdog Pirates had Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell, undoubtedly all time greats, but their pitching could simply not measure up to the mighty Orioles.


Enter Steve Blass.  When the Pirates headed home for Game 3, in a must win situation, Steve Blass was the man whom Pittsburgh's hopes rode on.  The emotional hurler was up to the challenge.  All Steve Blass did was shut down the potent Baltimore lineup, giving up just three hits in a 5-1 Pirate win.  The victory propelled the Pirates to three straight wins before Baltimore won Game 6 and forced a deciding Game 7.   In that deciding game, the ball was once again given to Blass.  He silenced the Baltimore bats, as well as their rabid fans, giving up just four hits in a complete game, 3-1 victory.   The Pittsburgh Pirates were world champions and Steve Blass stood on top of the baseball world. 


Blass rode the momentum into the 1972 season, winning a career high 19 games with a 2.49 ERA.  He finished second in the Cy Young Award voting.  The Pirates lost to Cincinnati in the NLCS, but Blass pitched well going 1-0 with a 1.72 ERA.  Soon after, however, the heart and soul of the Pirates, Roberto Clemente, was tragically killed in a plane crash.  The eloquent Blass gave Clemete's eulogy in Puerto Rico.


In 1973, suddenly, Steve Blass completely lost it.  His once pinpoint control vanished.  He would pitch fine in warm-ups, but would turn completely wild once the game started.  His arm felt fine, it was examined several times and nothing was found.  He went just 3-9 with a 9.85 ERA and had 84 walks in 88 innings.  His career was effectively over. 


Blass tried everything in an attempt to regain his form.  He tried psychotherapy, transcendental meditation, optometherapy, and just about anything else that was suggested to him.  Nothing worked.  Even today, what happened to Steve Blass remains a mystery.


Unfortunately, when Blass' name is mentioned today it usually is associate with his control problems and is sometimes the butt of jokes.  It should be remembered, however, that Steve Blass was once one of baseballs best.  He was a true clutch pitcher that brought a championship to the city of Pittsburgh.


-David Zingler, April 2002


Blass @

Simply Baseball Notebook

DISCLAIMER: All pictures are assumed to be in the public domain. No violation of copyright is intended here. If one of the photos above is not in the public domain, please notify us and it will be removed.