May 14th, 2012
It sort of gets lost in Yankee history, but the April 1974 trade that put Chris Chambliss in pinstripes was one of the best deals a George Steinbrenner-run front-office ever made. Not only did the Yankees obtain the clutch-hitting first baseman in the seven player transaction with the Cleveland Indians, they also got a pitcher named Dick “Dirt” Tidrow. Tidrow was a big, mean-looking right-handed native of San Francisco, who had managed to win 40 games during his first three seasons in the big leagues, pitching for some very mediocre Cleveland teams.
He made an immediate contribution to the Bill Virdon-managed Yankee team of 1974 by going 11-9 as a starter and helping New York finish a surprising second in that year’s AL East Division race. During the next three seasons he evolved into one of the most versatile hurlers in New York’s arsenal, pitching mostly in relief but also starting when necessary. The Yankees would not have won the 1977 East Division pennant without Tidrow. That season he finished with an 11-4 record, with five saves and a 3.16 ERA. The guy was fearless on the mound and he became one of Billy Martin’s favorite go-to choices in crunch time of close games.
In ’78, Tidrow was used mostly as a starter, when both Catfish Hunter and Don Gullett went on the DL. When he won just seven of his eighteen decisions it seemed he fell out of favor with the ungrateful Yankee brass. I remember screaming when they traded Tidrow to the Cubs for reliever Ray Burris. I was certain Tidrow was the much better pitcher of the two and he proved it by giving the Cubbies four solid seasons of versatile and effective mound work before getting traded to the cross-town White Sox and finally slowing down in 1983 at the age of 36. He retired the following year. with 100 career victories (and 94 losses) plus 55 saves.
|NYY (6 yrs)||41||33||.554||3.61||211||59||88||9||0||23||711.1||722||319||285||62||206||366||1.305|
|CHC (4 yrs)||28||23||.549||3.36||263||0||120||0||0||25||397.0||362||169||148||27||154||266||1.300|
|CLE (3 yrs)||29||34||.460||3.78||85||78||4||23||5||0||531.0||510||250||223||56||178||269||1.296|
|NYM (1 yr)||0||0||9.19||11||0||5||0||0||0||15.2||25||19||16||5||7||8||2.043|
|CHW (1 yr)||2||4||.333||4.22||50||1||27||0||0||7||91.2||86||50||43||13||34||66||1.309|