A young Bob Welch. (via EMU baseball media guide)
MACwood Squares is our summer reading series on the best athletes in Mid-American Conference sports history. This week features Eastern Michigan. Looking for your MAC school? Consult our schedule for other teams and please submit your nominees as well.
History lesson time: Eastern Michigan was a dominant baseball school in the mid 1970s. So much that they advanced to the College World Series in consecutive years, 1975 and 1976. The common thread on both of those teams was strong pitching. And the team was all about Bobs. They had a man named Bob Owchinko who was perhaps their best lefthanded pitcher ever. And alongside him (although not in the same game) was Detroit-born Bob Welch. In two seasons he had 17 wins before turning pro.
Around this time there was also a guy named Bob Welch who played in Fleetwood Mac. It was just a good time to be a Bob Welch.
1976 was the special year for EMU baseball, who Butler'd their way into the national championship game against Arizona. They lost 7-1, with Welch starting the game (and Owchinko in relief), but his career was far from done.
Welch was taken by the Dodgers with their first round pick in the 1977 amateur draft. A couple dozen starts later, he was wearing Dodger blue. He would play in four World Series for the A's and Dodgers, winning one, but he never actually won a World Series game himself, although he started three of them. I'm not entirely sure, but it's possible that in 1985, when Welch was teammates with Orel Hershiser (a sneak peek of BGSU things to come!), the two combined for 33 wins, which might be a MAC-tandem-in-the-majors record. Not gonna look it up, though.
In the end Welch finished with a 211-146 record, 3.47 ERA, and won the Cy Young in 1990. He lasted just one year on the Hall of Fame ballot, because one vote is not enough. Judging by his career numbers and those fancy Hall of Fame Monitor metrics, Welch was still not a Hall of Famer but better than a one-and-done balloteer.
A year later he was the pitching coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who won the World Series that year. Although I'm not sure how much "coaching" was needed to tell Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling to own the league that year.
Who are your nominees for Kent State's MACwood Squares? Comment below, tweet us at @HustleBelt or submit a FanPost making your case. The final nine will be revealed Friday.