Roger Craig, Teacher of an Era-Defining Pitch, Is Dead at 93

“Everyone threw the pitch,” Mike Scioscia, who chased the Dodgers in the 1980s and later managed the Angels, told The Associated Press in 2011. “It was an 80s pitch like a 60s pitch. a slider.”

Roger Lee Craig was born on February 17, 1930, in Durham, NC, one of 10 children to John and Mamie Craig. His father was a shoe seller. He was spotted by a part-time spotter for the Dodgers while pitching in high school, then was signed by the team from North Carolina State University in 1950. After pitching in the Dodgers’ minor league system and serving in the Army, Craig made his debut with Brooklyn in July 1955.

He had a 5-3 record over 21 games, 10 of them starts, then beat the Yankees in Game 5 to become the only World Series that a Brooklyn team would ever win. He pitched for the Dodgers again in the 1956 World Series, taking the loss in Game 3 of a seven-game series win for the Yankees.

A fastball pitcher early in his career, Craig developed an arm problem that he associated with pitching in the cold and damp as a starter on September 29, 1957, at the Philadelphia Phillies’ Connie Mack Stadium, in the Dodgers’ last game before moving to Los Angeles.

Craig returned to being a minor for most of 1958 and part of the 1959 season while rehabilitating from his injury. He never regained speed on his fastball but when he returned to the Dodgers for good in 1959 he concentrated on getting ahead in the count. That year, he revived his career as a control pitcher and had his best major league season, hitting a record An 11-5 record while leading the NL in shutouts, by four, as the Dodgers won their first pennant in Los Angeles. He started twice in the World Series against the Chicago White Sox, with one loss and one undecided in a game won by the Dodgers, who captured the Series in six games.

Craig mostly bowled in relief before he was selected by the Mets as the No. 1 pick. Their 3rd in the October 1961 expansion draft, after catcher Hobie Landrith and infielder Elio Chacon. He is the sixth choice overall since the Mets switched with Houston, another new team, in draft order.

The Mets traded Craig to the Cardinals prior to the 1964 season, and he won Game 4 of the World Series in relief at St. Louis. Louis beat the Yankees in seven games. He then played for the Cincinnati Reds and Phillies and finished his career with a 74-98 record.

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