Sunday, October 16, 2011

#14 Frank LaCorte

Card: This is LaCorte's fifth Topps card.  His rookie card was in the '76 set with three other young pitching prospects.  LaCorte did not appear in another card until the 1980 set.

Pic: Pitchers should never be pictured on a baseball card in a helmet...ever. I do like the action shot as the ball leaves his hand.

Player: Frank LaCorte was signed as a 20 year old undrafted free agent by the Braves in 1972.  LaCorte spent two full years in the minors before making his MLB debut as a September call up in '75. From '76 through '78 LaCorte bounced around from AAA Richmond and Atlanta mainly as a starter.  At this point to say LaCorte's major league career was not successful would be an understatement.  Through his first four seasons, LaCorte was 4-24 with a 6.17 ERA. The 1979 season would bring change however as LaCorte would pitch out of the pen for the Braves.  In May he was traded to Houston and although he started three games for Houston the hard throwing righty was now entrenched as a reliever.
Everything was working for LaCorte in 1980.  Through June 2, LaCorte had given up just one run in 23.1 innings (0.39 ERA) with 4 saves and a 3-0 record out of the pen. Sharing closer duties with Joe Sambito and Dave Smith, LaCorte was an important part of the NL West champions Astros.  LaCorte finished the year with 11 saves and a 2.82 ERA in 83 innings of work.
LaCorte had a decent year in the strike shortened '81 season with five saves and a 3.64 ERA in 42 innings.
Wildness always seemed to haunt LaCorte and it seems to have caught with him in '82 as his ERA inflated to 4.48 in 76.1 innings. 1983 was even worse with a 5.06 ERA in 53.1 innings.
LaCorte left Houston via free agency signing a three year deal with the California Angels. Frank appeared in only 13 games as a torn rotator cuff put him on the shelf.  He came back in '85 but was hit hard at AAA Edmonton.  LaCorte was released by the Angels in spring training of '86 as the injury had been too much to overcome.

Stuff: Fastball (up to 96 mph), Curveball

Flipside: As you can see LaCorte was very wild walking more than a batter every other inning. LaCorte's lone major league complete game was a win on 9/16/76 when he gave up just one run over nine innings, striking out five and walking three Dodgers.  Amazingly LaCorte came back three days later and pitched ten shutout innings again versus the Dodgers.  Frank did not get credit for a complete game however as Adrian Devine relieved in the 11th.  The Braves finally won in twelve innings but LaCorte was probably worn out as he gave up twelve runs in 17 innings in his last three starts of the year.

Oddball: LaCorte once burned his uniform in a fit of rage after walking the bases loaded and blowing a lead late in the game.  When asked about it later LaCorte responded that he thought his number 31 was the source of all his 3-1 counts.

History: LaCorte is remembered as a key part of the '80 and '81 playoff Astros pen. LaCorte is now owner of Marx Towing in his hometown of Gilroy, CA.

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