Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fergie Jenkins: The Years In Exile

1973 was not Fergie Jenkins' finest year. For the first time since 1966 he failed to win 20 games. And in August, he had a melt down that really soured Cubs fans. After the season, the Cubs of '69 were no more. Glenn Beckert was traded to the Padres, Randy Hundley to the Twins, Ron Santo went across town to the White Sox, and Fergie was heading to Texas.

Of the four trades, the Jenkins trade worked out the best for the Cubs. They got third baseman Bill Madlock and second baseman Vic Harris in exchange. Madlock was the key to the deal and proved his worth immediately. He spent three seasons with the Cubs and led the NL in batting twice.

Fergie's first season with the Rangers was his best as he won an AL best 25 games while losing only 12. He also had 29 complete games. At age 31, he proved that he still had it. Unfortunately, he didn't keep it. The next season he fell to 17-18 and his ERA was up over a run.

After the 1975 season, Fergie was packing his bags again, this time headed to Boston.

For the next two seasons, he became a .500 pitcher and an innings eater for the Red Sox. The BoSox brass was so unimpressed that they traded Fergie back to the Rangers in exchange for pitcher John Poloni (who???). A seven-time 20 game winner was traded for a player who ended up with a major league career of two whole games.

The return to Texas re-energized Fergie and he had one more good season, going 18-8 in 1978. The next year he was 16-14 and that was followed by a 12-12 record. But by 1981 he was 38 years old and injuries started taking a toll as he started only 16 games, going 5-8. After the season he was a free agent and the Rangers weren't interested in re-signing him.

It looked like this could be the end of the line for Fergie Jenkins.

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