In between recording the last two episodes of the podcast, the Dodgers didn’t lose. This week, we look at what’s been working on offense and the pitching staff in what, on Wednesday morning, was an eight-game winning streak.
We also talk about the first game in Houston, which felt like a more cathartic win than usual, especially for Clayton Kershaw in beating the Astros in his first start in Minute Maid Park since the ill-fated 2017 World Series.
All that, plus trivia on grand slams, saves, walks, and plenty of pasta talk. Enjoy!
Former Dodgers relief pitcher Joe Beckwith passed away on Saturday at age 66 after a battle with colon cancer.
Beckwith was drafted by the Dodgers out of Auburn in the second round in 1977, part of a fruitful draft that saw the team select Bob Welch, Beckwith, and Mickey Hatcher in the first five rounds.
In the minors, Beckwith was mostly a starter, but at the behest of Triple-A Albuquerque manager Del Crandall made the switch to relief in 1979.
“Del told me the Dodgers were short in the bullpen, and that I’d probably make it up there quicker if I were to become a reliever,” Beckwith said in the Dodgers 1980 media guide.
Crandall proved prophetic, as Beckwith made the majors in 1979, then posted a 1.96 ERA as a bullpen regular in 1980. But then his career was derailed by an eye condition that gave him double vision. Beckwith required two surgeries and missed all of 1981 and over half of the 1982 season.
After the first of those surgeries, Beckwith told the Montgomery Advertiser, “I’m not overly optimistic ... You never know, though. There’s only so much the doctors can do to correct a problem. If that doesn’t take care of it, well ...” (1)
After the second surgery, Beckwith made it back to pitch for the Dodgers to finish 1982 then for all of 1983. In Beckwith’s second game back, a relief appearance of 5⅔ hitless innings, manager Tommy Lasorda told the Associated Press, “Joe Beckwith has as good an arm as anybody in our organization. This couldn’t have happened at a more opportune time. We needed it.” (2)
Though he wasn’t active for the Dodgers’ World Series run in 1981, he did pitch 2⅓ scoreless innings in two games during the 1983 NLCS. That December, Beckwith was traded to Kansas City, where he pitched for two years, and pitched two scoreless innings in relief in Game 4 of the World Series, which the Royals won.
Beckwith returned to the Dodgers for 15 games in 1986, his final season. He posted a 3.38 ERA and 106 ERA+ in his parts of five seasons with Los Angeles, and ended his seven-year major league career with a 108 ERA+.
The mayor of Auburn declared April 21, 2021 Joe Beckwith Day, and honored him and his family. A few weeks later he was similarly honored at Auburn University.
“Auburn University, Auburn baseball and the Auburn community lost a legend in Joe Beckwith,” Auburn baseball coach Butch Thompson said. “I’m so thankful for his contributions through the years. He has represented us so well.”
- “Despite operation, Beckwith’s eye is still ailing,” by Bob Mayes. The Montgomery Advertiser, September 6, 1981.
- “Beckwith takes Giant step forward,” Associated Press. The Fresno Bee, July 28, 1982.
Episode link (time: 1:00:37)