Monday, April 15, 2013

Unknown Heroes Before My Time Pt. 2: Bruce Hurst

Bruce Hurst made a terrific number two starter behind Roger Clemens for several years.  The left-hander was an innings eater and a big part of Red Sox rotations from 1982 through 1988.  He made small contributions in 1980 and 1981 before becoming a full-time member of the rotation part of the way through the 1982 season.

Hurst pitched for some less than impressive Red Sox teams for a few years, otherwise his record would have been much better.  As it is, Hurst was one of winningest southpaws in Red Sox history with an 88-73 record with the Red Sox.

Hurst was a decent pitcher up until 1986 when he took the next step.  In 1986 he went 13-8 with a 2.99 ERA and 167 strikeouts as the second ace in the AL Champions' rotation.  But he saved his best for the postseason.  Hurst pitched in two games in the ALCS and won one with a 2.40 ERA in 15 innings.  Then, in the World Series, he pitched in three games, winning two with a 1.96 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 23 innings.  Hurst was actually prematurely named the World Series MVP when Boston was on the verge of winning the World Series, before the Bill Buckner error.

Hurst was named to the All Star team in 1987 by Red Sox manager John McNamara, but he did not pitch.  He ended the season 15-13 with a 4.41 ERA and a career high 190 strikeouts in 238.2 innings and 15 complete games.  Then in 1988 he had the best season of his career going 18-6 with a 3.66 ERA and 166 strikeouts.  He was fifth in the Cy Young vote and 14th in the MVP vote.  He was 0-2 but had a 2.77 ERA in two games against the Athletics in the ALCS.

After the 1988 season Hurst signed as a free agent with the San Diego Padres where he excelled in a pitcher's park for the first time in his career.  He then pitched one season each for the Rockies and Rangers.

Hurst is kind of forgotten about these years but he was one of the best pitchers the Red Sox had in the 1980's, often forming an impressive one-two punch with Roger Clemens.  Hurst has not had a lot of cards since his retirement, only showing up in 2004 Upper Deck Timeless Teams and having the occasional buyback cards.  I hoped that Fan Favorites would get him in at some time, but the brand did not last long enough.  Hurst was also due to have a Starting Lineup figure in 1989 but that was halted when he left for the Padres.  So the vast majority of my Bruce Hurst cards come from his playing days.

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