December 9 – Happy Birthday Doc Medich
I remember not being thrilled by the news that the Yankees had traded this big right-hander to Pittsburgh just before Christmas in 1975. I was a Doc Medich fan. He was born George Francis Medich on today’s date in 1948, in Aliquippa, PA. He had gone 14-9 during his first big league season in 1973, including three shutouts and finished third in that year’s AL Rookie of the Year balloting. Then in ’74, he stepped up big when Yankee ace Mel Stottlemyre was injured, winning 19 games, including four more shutouts and helping New York finish second, just two games behind Eastern Division winner, Baltimore. Doc was 6’5″ tall and weighed right around 230 pounds so you expected he’d have a real good fastball but he did not. He was much more of a finesse and control pitcher. He was also one smart cookie, attending medical school during the off season and eventually becoming a practicing physician.
After New York finished so close to the Orioles, George Steinbrenner traded Bobby Murcer for Bobby Bonds and then signed Catfish Hunter. Everyone expected the Yankees to win their Division in 1975. That didn’t happen. Medich went 16-16 that year, still pitching well but not well enough to suit the Yankee brass. The following December, New York traded Medich to Pittsburgh for pitchers Ken Brett, Dock Ellis and a young second baseman named Willie Randolph.
He lasted just one disappointing season with the Pirates and then pitched for three different teams during the 1977 season before ending up with the Rangers. He remained in Texas for almost five years. Doc’s lifetime record was 124 – 105 over eleven big league seasons and 49-40, with a 3.37 ERA in pinstripes. He practiced medicine full time after he retired from the big leagues in 1982. Seventeen years later, he lost his medical license when he was convicted of writing fake prescriptions and illegally possessing painkillers. At that time he admitted he had been battling a drug addiction for years.
Medich shares his birthday with a Yankee franchise Hall-of-Famer nobody remembers.