Tuesday, June 3, 2014

#226 Willie Banks

About the Front: Such a mean mug on Willie Banks! The shadow falling over his face adds to the intimidation factor.

About the Back: There's a smile. This portrait is the Dr. Jekyll to the front photo's Mr. Hyde.

Triple Play:

1. Willie had an up-and-down season in 1994 following a trade to the Cubs. He four-hit the Dodgers on May 24 for his only MLB shutout. On June 27, he retired 20 straight batters en route to a 2-1 win over the Pirates. But he allowed five or more earned runs in nine of his 23 starts and finished 8-12 with a 5.40 ERA.

2. Banks idolized Dwight Gooden growing up, and he bailed the former Mets phenom out with 2.1 scoreless relief innings after the Red Sox had knocked "Doc" out in the fourth inning on September 9, 1997. The Yankees rallied to win, and Willie was credited with the victory in his debut in pinstripes.

3. Though his last major league game was with the Red Sox in 2002, he last pitched professionally in the independent Atlantic League with the Newark Bears in 2010. The 41-year-old's results were...not great: 9.21 ERA, 2.26 WHIP in 28.1 innings.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: For some time, I labored under the illusion that Banks was a better pitcher than he actually was. I'm sure that it was his name that fooled me. Willie Banks just sounds like a star athlete.

Bill James Said: "Ten percent chance of becoming Bob Gibson." And a 90% chance of not.

On This Date in 1993: June 3. Reliever Bill Landrum's final major league game is one he'd rather forget. The eight-year veteran and onetime Pirates closer allows four runs in an inning of mop-up work in Cincinnati's 9-2 loss to the Cardinals. Todd Zeile and Hector Villanueva each hit a two-run double off of Landrum.

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