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Whatever Happened To The Class Of '81?
Ron Fimrite
September 10, 1984
Three years ago Oakland's five starters seemed to have brilliant futures, but only one of them has pitched in the major leagues this season
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September 10, 1984

Whatever Happened To The Class Of '81?

Three years ago Oakland's five starters seemed to have brilliant futures, but only one of them has pitched in the major leagues this season

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"Billy was obsessed with complete games. I think maybe he wanted that record. I've heard the burnout theory, and maybe there's something to it. The last four pitches of a game are the hardest on the arm. Here you've thrown 120 to 130 pitches and you're fatigued. But the game is on the line and you need to come up with that something extra.

"The injury might not show up right away. It takes two or three years to metabolize, but it's there. I think that was particularly true of Langford.

"Spitters? We were definitely throwing them. I know I tried a few. Gorman Thomas hit one of them 10 rows back. Matt could throw some awesome ones. Cat might have, but his didn't do that much. Norris didn't need one. Art could teach you how to throw one, but he never ordered one. He might make a suggestion, though.

"I'm not really bitter about what happened. Disillusioned, yes, but the bitterness ended a long time ago. In baseball, your stats define you, and I'm a 20-game loser. But 20 losses is almost like a trademark. What's nine and 19? Nothing. I'm at the point now where I'm wondering what I'll do next. I'm wondering what the meaning of it all was. Separation from baseball is like leaving home, graduating from college. The worst is, you're 29 or 30 and you're out of the game looking for something else. Now what do you put on your job application—I play catch?"

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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