Wednesday, February 26, 2014

#501 Bobby Tiefenauer

Oh, the irony! Knuckleball specialist Bobby Tiefenauer (and I'm NOT typing that again) spent from 1948 through 1969 playing pro baseball across North America and another 20 coaching but in 1959, the year this card was issued.... he was 'voluntarily retired'.

Signed by the Cardinals in 1948 he pitched in their minor league system for the better part of eight seasons getting a six game look in 1952 and a more extended 18 game stint in 1955. Those shots totaled 40 innings. In September of '56 the Cards dealt him to the Tigers in the first of a dizzying array of transactions for Tief that saw him pitch for six major league teams and in the system of a seventh in addition to being the property of several independent AAA clubs.

Rather than try to reproduce a 'map' of his career I'll let Baseball Reference lay it all out.

Teams Played For

 Glossary  · SHARE  · Embed  · CSV  · PRE  · LINK  · ?
194818Tallassee IndiansGeorgia-Alabama LeagueDSTL
194919Tallassee CardinalsGeorgia-Alabama LeagueDSTL
195020Winston-Salem CardinalsCarolina LeagueBSTL
195121Rochester Red WingsInternational LeagueAAASTL
195222Rochester Red WingsInternational LeagueAAASTL
195222Columbus Red BirdsAmerican AssociationAAASTL
195222St. Louis CardinalsNational LeagueMLBSTL11952-07-141952-08-08
195323Rochester Red WingsInternational LeagueAAASTL
195424Houston BuffaloesTexas LeagueAASTL
195525Omaha CardinalsAmerican AssociationAAASTL
195525St. Louis CardinalsNational LeagueMLBSTL11955-04-161955-06-22
195626Charleston SenatorsAmerican AssociationAAADET
195727Toronto Maple LeafsInternational LeagueAAA
195828Toronto Maple LeafsInternational LeagueAAA
195929Voluntarily Retired
196030Rochester Red WingsInternational LeagueAAASTL
196030Cleveland IndiansAmerican LeagueMLBCLE11960-04-191960-05-31
196131San Juan/Charleston MarlinsInternational LeagueAAASTL
196131St. Louis CardinalsNational LeagueMLBSTL11961-04-141961-05-02
196232Houston Colt .45'sNational LeagueMLBHOU11962-04-131962-09-29
196333Atlanta CrackersInternational LeagueAAASTL1
196333Milwaukee BravesNational LeagueMLBMLN11963-08-151963-09-27
196333Toronto Maple LeafsInternational LeagueAAAMLN2
196434Milwaukee BravesNational LeagueMLBMLN11964-04-151964-10-01
196535Atlanta CrackersInternational LeagueAAAMLN1
196535Milwaukee BravesNational LeagueMLBMLN11965-04-211965-05-23
196535Toledo Mud HensInternational LeagueAAANYY2
196535New York YankeesAmerican LeagueMLBNYY21965-06-181965-07-06
196535Cleveland IndiansAmerican LeagueMLBCLE31965-08-131965-09-18
196636Portland BeaversPacific Coast LeagueAAACLE
196737Portland BeaversPacific Coast LeagueAAACLE
196737Cleveland IndiansAmerican LeagueMLBCLE11967-09-101967-09-24
196838Tacoma CubsPacific Coast LeagueAAACHC
196838Chicago CubsNational LeagueMLBCHC11968-04-101968-09-21
196939Tacoma CubsPacific Coast LeagueAAACHC

One odd detail in all this is that Tief looked to be ready to establish himself  in the majors in '59 as he was coming off some very good seasons in Toronto. I can't find anything that hints at why he sat out that season after being traded to Cleveland. Since SABR doesn't have a Tief bio it remains a mystery. Perhaps he had gotten comfortable in Toronto and would have preferred to stay there.

But he did report to the Indians in 1960 and that began a 10 season odyssey of trades, sales, demotions, and promotions among several organizations. His busiest major league seasons came in 1962 when he pitched in 43 games for Houston and 1964/'65 when he had 46 and 31 appearances for the Braves (and Yankees in the second half of '65). He had 13 saves for Milwaukee in '64 which is more than half his career total.

In all he won nine games with a 3.84 ERA in 179 big league innings. In almost 850 minor league games over 19 seasons he was 162-96 with an ERA of just 2.66. He is enshrined in the International League Hall of Fame.

He last pitched in 1969 with the Cubs' AAA club and then spent nearly two decades in the Philadelphia Phillies' organization, working as a bullpen coach and a minor league pitching coach. He passed away at the age of 70 in 2000.


  1. Tiefenauer is the only card from that set I actually have. He was outstanding in Toronto in '57 and '58. I couldn't figure out the year off either.

    1. I dug waaaaay deep into Google and didn't find any pages with any background on him, which is unusual.

    2. I got a great book that was published in 1977 just as the Jays were about to go live. It was a full history of baseball in Toronto, particularly dealing with the old Leafs. I'll have to see if there's any mention of that.

  2. One thing that might have been interesting was that the winter of 1958 saw the birth (sort of) of the Continental League, of which Toronto was a charter member. I wonder if the chance to join a major league - even a new one - meant anything to the 1958 Leafs.

    1. Recently I read a reference to the Continental League in conjunction with one of these cards but I'm fairly certain it wasn't Tiefenauer. I need to see if I can find it and dig some more.