Thursday, December 15, 2016

#338 Bob Owchinko Oakland A's

Bob Owchinko shows up here in the '83 set on his sixth Topps card.  I do not particularly remember this card but I do remember some of his earlier cards with the Padres.  Until this post I thought his name was Ochawinko or Owachinko.  Anyway he is the only player in MLB history with the letters O-W-C in succession anywhere in his name.

Player: Owchinko was the 5th overall pick in the '76 draft and made two poor starts for the Padres in September.  The lefty started the 1977 season in the majors but was called up in May and made 28 starts for San Diego with a mediocre 4.45 ERA.  Underscoring how differently young pitchers were used back in those days, Owchinko twice made starts on two days rest and came in relief in the second game of a double header after starting game one. 

Owchinko would have his best pro season in 1978 with a 3.56 ERA across 202 innings.  The following season Owchinko got blasted in his first start and didn't get another starting assignment until April was nearly over.  Although juggled in and out of the rotation he got better as the year went on and had a 2.73 ERA in the second half.

The Padres traded Owchinko to the Indians and he was their #5 starter and mop up man for the 1980 season but won just two of his fourteen starts with a 5.27 ERA.  Traded again, this time to the A's, Owchinko would pitch exclusively out of the pen for skipper Billy Martin.  Owchinko's curve was an asset against lefties and he did alright as a short reliever.  The next season he was said to have gotten in Martin's doghouse and was used in a mop up role.  Although he pitched in 54 games only 11 were A's victories. Owchinko was released the following spring and spent almost the entire '83 season in AAA Hawaii.

The Reds picked him up and Owchinko appeared in 49 games with a handful of spot starts and posted a 4.12 ERA.  He spent all of 1985 in the minors, resurfaced for three starts with Montreal in 1986, and called it a career.

Flipside:  Born in Detroit and playing at Eastern Michigan, I am surprised Owchinko never landed in Tigers organization.  They seemed prone to giving local guys a chance during the 80's.

Oddball:  Owchinko wore number 44 with the Padres but after he landed in Cleveland he wore seven different numbers over his next six seasons.

History:  Owchinko was a highly thought of lefty when he was drafted in '76 and, although things at times looked promising in San Diego, he never quite found the success on the field that was forecast for him.  Owchinko finished with a 37-60 record with a 4.28 record.

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