Saturday, May 21, 2011

#136 Jim O'Toole The Sporting News Rookie Star

Hey, it's back to back Reds pitchers. Jim O'Toole spent only one year in the minors but it was a good one. He won 20 games with the Reds' Nashville AA affiliate in 1958 and earned himself a September 26 start with the big club. He lost a 2-1 decision to the reigning NL champion Braves and allowed only four hits and one earned run in 7 innings. He was relieved by Hal Jeffcoat who was featured yesterday.

After a shaky '59 season O'Toole came into his own with a 12-12 season in 1960. He became an elite starter in 1961 as he helped the Reds to the NL title by winning 19 games. He earned a start in the 1963 All Star game in Cleveland. He lost two games to Whitey Ford and the Yankees in the '61 Series.

O'Toole was among the better pitchers in the NL through the 1964 season when arm problems caught up with him. He struggled for three seasons and left the majors after a 1967 stint with the White Sox.

He tried to come back after spending 1968 with a couple of minor league teams, He attended spring training with the expansion Seattle Pilots cut didn't make the team. I guess he missed out on being a character in Jim Bouton's very entertaining Ball Four

Don't know what it is about these '59 Rookie Stars cards that makes me feel 'meh'. At least my O'Toole card has nice corners. 


  1. Here's the quote from the end of Ball Four:

    “And then I thought of Jim O’Toole and I felt both strange and sad. When I took the cab to the airport in Cincinnati I got into a conversation with the driver and he said he’d played ball that summer against Jim O’Toole. He said O’Toole was pitching for the Ross Eversoles in the Kentucky Industrial League. He said O’Toole is all washed up. He doesn’t have his fastball anymore but his control seems better than when he was with Cincinnati. I had to laugh at that. O’Toole won’t be trying to sneak one over the corner on Willie Mays in the Kentucky Industrial League.

    Jim O’Toole and I started out even in the spring. He wound up on the Ross Eversoles and I with a new lease on life. And as I daydreamed of being the Fireman of the Year in 1970 I wondered what the dreams of Jim O’Toole are like these days. Then I thought, would I do that? When it’s over for me, would I be hanging on with the Ross Eversoles? I went down deep and the answer I came up with was yes. Yes, I would. You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.”

  2. Nice, I'd forgotten that he WAS a character in the Ball Four, even if only in passing. Bouton and his family lived close to me during his Yankee years. I played against his nephew.

    I got the book as a graduation gift from a friend and fellow baseball nut. I read it that summer and at least once since. It's stayed on my shelf through the years, surviving moves and 'used books donated to the library' trips.

    Thanks for posting that quote.