Tuesday, September 10, 2013

LONG TIME NO SEE: 1976 RICK AUSTIN

Today I'd like to profile a guy who went five years between baseball cards: pitcher Rick Austin.
I've always been interested in players that had long gaps between cards, and I'd always pay special attention to those with five years or more between cardboard appearances.
Austin had just that gap, as he appeared in Topps 1971 set on card #41 as a Cleveland Indian, then in the 1976 set on card #269 as a Milwaukee Brewer.
The two cards represent pretty much the total of Austin's career. In 1970 he broke into the big leagues, appearing in 31 games for Cleveland in 67.2 innings as a reliever and spot starter.
He finished his rookie year with a record of 2-5 with a 4.79 E.R.A., which included a complete game shutout and three saves.
After a sub-par 1971 season which saw him post an E.R.A. of 5.09 in 23 games, Austin was out of the Majors until 1975. He bounced around the Minors for the Indians, White Sox and Brewers before finally getting called back up in 1975, getting into 32 games for Milwaukee strictly as a reliever.
Those 32 games were enough for Topps to give him the 1976 card you see below, as he posted a line of 2-3 with a 4.05 E.R.A. in 40 innings.
However that was pretty much it for his career as he only appeared in three games for Milwaukee in 1976 totaling 5.1 innings before heading back to the Minors before hanging them up at the end of the season.
One last interesting note on Austin: he was selected by the Indians as the sixth pick in the secondary phase of the 1968 June draft, seven picks ahead of a first baseman named Steve Garvey, who as we all know was selected by the Dodgers.

As a 24-year-old hopeful with the Tribe.
 
Five years later, ragged in Milwaukee.

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