Former lefty reliever Gary Lavelle turns 63 today.
Gary played for the San Francisco Giants for 11 years, bouncing between closer and lefty setup guy. He had 127 saves for them in 647 games. He and Greg Minton gave the Giants a great lefty-righty duo at the back of the pen.
In the off-season before the 1987 season the Jays traded Jim Got and 2 minor leaguers who never made it to the majors to get Lavelle. Gott was young and went on to have an up and down major league career. He had 34 saves in 1988, with the Pirates, and 25 in 1993, with the Dodgers.
Lavelle was 36, when we got him, but he had a terrific 1985 seasons. He had a 3.10 ERA in 69 games, with 8 saves. He gave up just 54 hits in 72.2 innings. He didn't have much for splits, he held LHB to a .660 OPS but did even better against RHB, .584 OPS. He was a important part of our bullpen and a player I liked a lot.
The Jays made it to the playoffs that year, but Gary only pitched to one batter. He came into the top of the 8th of a tied game 2 against the Royals and walked George Brett, then was replaced with Tom Henke, who got out of the inning without allowing a run. The Jays won the game in the 10th on a walk off Al Oliver single. Henke pitched 3 innings for the win. That was Lavelle's only playoff appearance in a 13 year career.
Unfortunately, Gary missed the entire 1986 season with an elbow injury. When he came back in 1987 he was the same pitcher. He had a 5.91 ERA, after 23 appearances, when the Jays released him. Oakland picked him up and he got into 6 more games but retired at the end of the year.
Anyway, Happy Birthday Gary. Hope it is a good one.