Player From The Past: Bobby Thigpen
Robert Thomas Thigpen
Born July 17, 1963 in Tallahassee, Florida
Major League Debut: August 6, 1986
Final Game: April 27, 1994
Bobby Thigpen played on a Mississippi State team that played in the 1985 College World Series. Three of his teammates would become major leaguers including Rafael Palmeiro, Will Clark and Jeff Brantley.
He was drafted in the fourth round of the 1985 amateur player draft by the Chicago White Sox. He made his major league debut in 1986 when he was 2-0 with a 1.77 ERA and notched his first seven major league saves.
Thigpen would add 16 more saves in 1987 and then post 34 saves in both 1988 and 1989.
1990 would be the career year for Thigpen as he became the first reliefer to post 50 saves in a season. He would finish the season with 57 saves a mark that would stand till Franicisco Rodriguez saved 62 games in 2008. Thigpen was 4-6 and had an ERA of 1.83 in 1990
Despite his record breaking season in 1990 the White Sox would have the second best record in the AL with a 94-68 record but still finished nine games behind the Oakland Athletics who posted a 103-59 record that season.
Thigpen would hurt his arm during a player junket to Japan after the 1990 season and would save only 30 games in 1991. He saved 22 games in 1992 which for all practical purposes ended his effectiveness as a reliever as he would save only one more game for the White Sox in 1993 before being traded to the Phillies for Jose DeLeon.
He would pitch seven innings for the Mariners in 1994 ending his major league career at the age of 30. He allowed nine runs, 12 hits including three homers and walked five in the seven innings pitched for the Mariners.
After his 1.83 ERA in 1990 his ERA’s tumbled to 3.49 in 1991, 4.75 in 1992, 5.83 in 1993 and 9.39 in 1994.
Thigpen’s career ended prematurely but for 18 years he had the record for the most saves in a season.
He would later play in Japan for the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks.
Some of the best hitters of his era could not hit well against Thigpen. The following Hall of Famers struggled against Thigpen:
Cal Ripken Jr….4 for 19 .211
Robin Yount….4 for 19 .211
George Brett….1 for 15 .067
Kirby Puckett….2 for 13 .154
Eddie Murray….1 for 9 .111
The five Hall of Famers mentioned were 12 for 75 against Thigpen during their careers for a .160 batting average.
Thigpen celebrates his 46th birthday today the same age as Jamie Moyer making me wonder how much longer he could have pitched if not for the arm injury.