Pedro Borbon Rodriguez

He was a licensed barber who once claimed that his grandfather was still alive at age 136.  He was well-schooled in the sport of cock fighting, illegal in the United States but a thriving industry in his native Dominican Republic.  He once bit an opposing player in the heat of an on-field fight.  He was Pedro Borbon, one of the most durable and effective relief pitchers of the 1970s and the pitcher who holds the Reds career record for most games pitched.

The stories and myths that surround Borbon are almost enough to cause one to look past an amazing pitching career, one in which he anchored the best bullpen on baseball’s best team for almost a decade.  Born in Mao, Valverde in the Dominican on December 2, 1946, Borbon insisted that he knew nothing about baseball until he was coerced into a pick-up game at age 16.  Initially positioned at catcher, Borbon was promptly struck on the side of the head when he leaned too far forward to catch a pitch the hitter was swinging at.  This incident was enough to convince Pedro that it was much better to be the one throwing the ball than to be the one catching it and so he began to pitch and pitch very well.  He was signed by the Cardinals two years later and in 1968 was drafted out of the St. Louis system by the Angels with whom he made his Major League debut the following year.

Legendary Reds scout Ray Shore took a long look at Pedro and strongly recommended him to Reds General Manager Bob Howsam.  Considered by most to be something of an afterthought in the five player deal that found  the Reds trading outfielder Alex Johnson and infielder Chico Ruiz to the Angels for pitchers Jim McGlothlin, Vern Geishert and Borbon, Pedro turned out to be the most important player in the deal.  After brief an ineffective appearances with the Reds in 1970 and 1971, Borbon blossomed into a dependable reliever during the Reds’ pennant winning season in 1972 and became one of the game’s top relievers in 1973 when he appeared in 80 games (2nd most in the league) and posted an 11-4 record with a 2.16 ERA.   read more

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