Sunday, August 14, 2016

Meet the Brewers #31: Dave Baldwin

When last we visited the 1970 Milwaukee Brewers, General Manager Marvin Milkes had started the chopping and changing of the Opening Day roster -- calling up and trading for a new middle infield. Ten days after Roberto Peña joined the team, the Brewers slipped deeper into their malaise -- running off a streak of 6 straight losses. 

Pitchers John Morris and Bob Meyer both had to be put on the disabled list on May 29. Still, that did not save George Lauzerique, who was sent to Triple-A Portland at the same time. To replace Lauzerique, the Brewers looked to a short reliever there, reliever Dave Baldwin, who was having an excellent first two months -- 27 innings with a 1.33 ERA and 28 strikeouts (with 10 unintentional walks). So, Baldwin got the call and slotted into the bullpen. He didn't stop the losing streak on May 29, but he did pitch right away and held the Tigers scoreless over two innings.

1971 Topps
David George Baldwin grew up in Tucson, Arizona. In the days before professional teams really appreciated college baseball and despite offers to sign a professional contract, Baldwin went to college and pitched in the 1959 College World Series for the University of Arizona. During his time at Arizona and as a sophomore, he suffered an injury that probably was a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. 

Before his injury, he was your typical fireballer. He lost velocity after the injury. Still, he showed enough to get signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1959 at the age of 21. He bounced around the Phillies system, reaching Triple-A in 1962. But his results were bad. It looked like he had topped out as a Double-A/Triple-A pitcher by around 1964 after experiments with high-leg kicks and knuckleballs.

1971 O-Pee-Chee (back)
During the 1964 season, Baldwin found himself getting released from Single-A Durham. His manager there, Billy Goodman, told Baldwin that he should keep playing but that he had to come up with a different approach to pitching. Baldwin did exactly that -- becoming a submarine pitcher in an era where that was viewed negatively. 

WIthin two years, Baldwin found himself in the major leagues as a submariner, making his debut at the age of 28 for the Washington Senators. In 1967, in fact, he finished seventh in the American League in saves with 12 in a season in which he appeared 58 times (68-2/3 innings) with a 1.70 ERA and 52 strikeouts. In other words, being a submariner worked.

Baldwin stayed with Washington until after the 1969 season. The Senators traded Baldwin to the Pilots for thirty-five-year-old George Brunet after Baldwin had put up back-to-back seasons with ERAs of over 4.00.  

1971 Dell Today's Team Stamp
Baldwin pitched pretty well for the Brewers -- though his 2.55 ERA masked a FIP of 4.17 thanks to some luck on BABIP (.228). Baldwin missed some time during the season due to a sprained right ankle suffered against the Boston Red Sox. 

Despite the fine season in the previous year, Baldwin was not assured of a roster spot in 1971. That became clear halfway through spring training when new GM Frank Lane decided that the team did not need Baldwin any more and sold his contract to the San Diego Padres Triple-A affiliate in Hawaii. Baldwin kept plugging away, though. He never made it to the majors with San Diego, but he did get one last call-up to the White Sox in 1973 for a 32-game stint. He stuck it out for one more year in the minors at the age of 36 before retiring from baseball.

1994 Miller Brewing Commemorative Set
In retirement from baseball, Baldwin continued to reinvent himself. He went back to the University of Arizona after retirement and finished his Masters of Science in Systems Engineering and, then, his Ph.D. in genetics. As was once written about Baldwin in the May 2000 issue of Scientific American, he is "surely the only person to publish in the Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington and to pitch for that town's team."

He's an acclaimed poet (under the pen name of DGB Featherkile), and his humorous poems are available in book form from Amazon in a book called Limbic Hurly-Burly: Poems of Humor and Paradox. His memoir about his life is called Snake Jazz and is available directly from the author through his website,  He's also a painter/artist, and his painting "Fugue for the Pepper Players" is in the Baseball Hall of Fame Museum.

"Fugue for the Pepper Players"
These days, Baldwin describes himself as a contented retiree. He still speaks from time to time, and he is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). As all of this shows, Baldwin is a true Renaissance man.

As far as baseball cards of him on the Milwaukee Brewers go, Trading Card Database shows four total cards of him as a Brewer. As you can see above, this appears to be the first time that I can say that I have literally every card of one of the Brewers I'm profiling. I'm pretty sure that that will not happen often.


  1. I remember him (barely) as a player but had no idea he was so accomplished post-baseball. I poked around his website..pretty interesting guy. He's like Mike Marshall....without the surliness.

  2. He might be the most interesting man in the world! Thumbs up for that great pen name as well.