Sunday, September 11, 2016

Meet the Brewers #33: Ray Peters

Not everyone who plays major league baseball has a long career. Of the nearly 19,000 men who have been catalogued as playing major league baseball by, just over 1,000 players have clocked only one major league game. Now, it's very possible that that number will slip back under one thousand should a few of the 20 players who debuted in the past two years get another at bat, inning in the field, or one-third of an inning on the mound. 

One such player who did not qualify as a single-game wonder but who only got to pitch in two games is Brewers player #33, Ray Peters. Peters was called up to major league club from Triple-A Portland to make his debut start on June 4, 1970. He threw two innings and gave up 6 hits, 4 earned runs, 3 walks, and a strikeout in facing 15 batters before being pulled from the game after giving up a run-scoring single to Ray Fosse.

Four days later, Dave Bristol handed Peters the ball again against the Detroit Tigers. Peters's teammates handed him a 2-run lead in the top of the first inning as well. Peters had a very short leash, however. He gave up a single to Dick McAuliffe followed by walks to Elliott Maddox and Al Kaline. Bristol came out, took the ball and Skip Lockwood came in. Lockwood came in and struck out Norm Cash before giving up a grand slam to Willie Horton -- 1 run to Lockwood's ledger and 3 to Peters's. The walk to Kaline, though, was the last time that Peters would appear in a major-league game.

1994 Miller Commemorative Set
At the time, though, Raymond James Peters probably did not know that walking a Hall of Famer would be his last act as a major leaguer. Or, maybe he did. Peters is a very smart man -- a graduate of Harvard University, in fact -- but I don't think that being smart means one can foretell the future. But, being intelligent like Peters is may have led him to be more willing to give up more quickly on the dream of major league baseball. Of course, like most players whose career ended earlier than anticipated, he blamed injuries a lot for poor performance -- as he asked for being injury free as the one thing he would change about his career when interviewed in 2012 by the Baseball Historian blog.

Thanks to all the various draft phases that were in play in the late 1960s through the 1980s, Peters bears the distinction of having been drafted five times before finally signing a pro baseball contract. The Detroit Tigers drafted him in the 28th round of the 1965 June Draft. 

Then, the Kansas City Athletics picked him in the 5th round of the 1967 June Secondary Draft after his sophomore year at Harvard. The A's liked what they saw and wanted to sign Peters, but Peters wanted his degree and stayed in school. So, the A's picked him again in the 2nd round of the 1968 January Secondary draft. Peters still wasn't interested in signing for whatever money was on offer at that point, so he was available again in the 1968 June Secondary Draft and was selected in the 3rd round by the New York Mets.

Even then, Peters did not sign. Only after the Seattle Pilots selected him in the 1st round of the January Secondary Draft during Peters's senior year did Peters finally sign a professional contract. The Harvard Crimson newspaper lamented the loss of their ace pitcher to pro baseball. His former coach, Norm Shepard, was quoted as saying that Peters's signing was a "tremendous blow to Harvard baseball." 

For his part (from the February 22, 1969 The Sporting News), GM Marvin Milkes was very happy about signing Peters, noting that Peters would complete his senior year of college and get his degree in South American History before reporting. Not coincidentally, the Pilots had hired former A's director of personnel Ray Swallow -- who was responsible for the A's having selected Peters twice before. Peters rose quickly to the majors, yet he faded away just as fast.

After his major league debut, Peters went back to Triple-A Portland and finished out the 1970 season. He stayed in the Milwaukee organization until April of 1971, at which point he was traded along with C/1B Pete Koegel in exchange for a man who became a minor star in a Brewers uniform -- John Briggs.

Peters has embraced his time with the Pilots organization greatly. In 2015, he made a trip from his home in Texas to Cooperstown for his first visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame. For the trip, he was decked out in a Seattle Pilots polo shirt. 

The one thing I don't know is what Peters did with his life after baseball. In hobby circles, though, Peters may be known to you if you read Bobw's blog. Bobw has been friends with Peters for many years, and Peters has helped Bobw to get in touch with Peters's former teammates to get autographs. All Bobw does is make several custom cards for the player, some of which the player can keep and others that the former player will return autographed. Search for Ray Peters on Bobw's website and you'll see what I mean.

The thing about having a two-game career, though, is that you don't have many baseball cards of you issued. That was true for Ray Peters as well -- the 1994 Miller Brewers set featuring everyone ever to wear a Brewers uniform to that date is the only card of Peters that the Trading Card Database has. Bobw has made a number of custom cards, of course, but I don't have any of those of Peters.


  1. One game is better than Moonlight Graham....

  2. Ray seems extremely friendly and enjoys answering fan mail. Good dude. For the price of a stamp I'm sure he'd be happy to fill you in on what he did after baseball, and he'll likely send you one of those sweet custom cards as he tends to do when answering mail!

  3. As his son, I can attest to what AllTimeBrewers said. Ray would love to get in touch with you Tony. He only does email though. Is there an email that I can pass in to him, so that he can touch base with you and say thank you?

    1. Wow -- that would be really cool! My email is off(dot)hiatus(dot)baseball(at)gmail(dot)com.


    2. Thanks Tony! He's got it now and will be sending you a message probably over the weekend!