I’m writing this on the eve of the 2014 World Series, and there’s talk about how Kansas City relief pitcher Brandon Finnegan could become the first player ever to appear in both the NCAA College World Series and major league World Series in the same year. (Finnegan pitched for TCU before signing with the Royals after being selected in the first round of the amateur draft.)
But this unusual combination could have been pulled off more than 50 years ago…by a pitcher who never won a game in the majors. And unlike Finnegan, he went directly from campus to the big leagues.
Bob Garibaldi was named most valuable player of the 1962 College World Series, even though he was the losing pitcher in the championship game; in fact, he was the losing pitcher in both games his Santa Clara Broncos lost in the double-elimination tournament. But his performance in the event was remarkable then, unthinkable today.
With a lineup that featured three future major leaguers (first baseman John Boccabella, shortstop Ernie Fazio and third baseman Tim Cullen), Santa Clara entered the eight-team College World Series as the top-ranked team in the country. Garibaldi, a 6’5″ sophomore in his first season of varsity competition (at that time freshmen were ineligible for varsity play under NCAA rules), was the Broncos’ ace pitcher with an 8-1 record,
But Garibaldi and the Broncos lost their opening game of the tournament June 11 to Florida State. Garibaldi struck out the first five hitters he faced and hit a home run (his only one of the season) in the fifth inning to tie the game 1-1, but the Seminoles scored two runs off him in the sixth inning and two more in the seventh to knock him out of the box on the way to a 5-1 win. Garibaldi had two singles to go with his homer (he had all the Broncos’ hits in the game) and struck out nine in 6-2/3 innings.
The loss left Santa Clara in a win-or-go-home position for the rest of the tournament. And coach Paddy Cottrell made it clear the Broncos weren’t going home without giving Garibaldi a chance to save their season.
The next night Santa Clara took a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth against Missouri. But when the Tigers rallied
to tie, Garibaldi was brought in to pitch and got the victory when the Broncos scored three unearned runs in the 12th. Garibaldi pitched 3-1/3 shutout innings, striking out three. [ADDED 10/22/14: I found this very good 1995 story about Garibaldi in the San Francisco Chronicle that says Garbaldi came in with the Broncos ahead 4-3 and the tying run on base, with the run scoring on a wild pitch and passed ball. I hadn't seen any details of that inning in the Omaha newspaper accounts of the time.]
The next night Santa Clara had a relatively easy 12-7 win over Holy Cross, and Garibaldi’s services weren’t needed. But the next night, June 14, in a rematch against Florida State, Cottrell took no chances. When the Seminoles, trailing 11-2, scored four runs in the seventh, Cottrell called on Garibaldi for the third time in four days to put out the fire, and the big righthander struck out three in 2-1/3 scoreless innings.
Garibaldi’s two longest appearances of the tournament were still to come.
The next night, with Santa Clara trailing Texas 2-1 in the bottom of the third, and the Longhorns having the bases loaded with one out, Cottrell called on Garibaldi again. He walked the first batter he faced to force in a run but then shut down the Longhorns the rest of the way, allowing just two hits and striking out 12 over 7-2/3 innings and getting the win when Santa Clara’s Mickey McDermott hit an inside-the-park home run (his only homer of the season) off future major leaguer Chuck Hartenstein in the 10th inning.
Garibaldi had pitched four times in five days, a total of 19-2/3 innings. He told the Omaha World-Herald he didn’t think he had been overworked. “Before I came here [to Omaha for the CWS], I had a 10-day layoff,” he said. “Furthermore, I find that I do better when I throw every day.”
He’d have a chance to prove that the next night.
On June 16 Santa Clara took on Michigan to determine the CWS champion (the Wolverines having lost a game to Texas, so the loser of the game would be eliminated with two losses). Cottrell let Garibaldi start the game in the dugout, as Charlie Marcenaro took a perfect 8-0 record to the mound for the Broncos. Santa Clara staked Marcenaro to a 3-1 lead, but a two-run triple by Michigan pitcher Fritz Fisher in the seventh tied the game, and when the Wolverines’ leadoff hitter in the eighth reached third base, it would be Garibaldi’s game — and championship — to win or lose. (I haven’t been able to find a story that says who led off for Michigan in the eighth or how he got to third. The box score in The Sporting News of June 30, 1962 says Marcenaro pitched to just one batter in the eighth, and the accompanying game story says Garibaldi entered the game with a runner on third and none out.) [ADDED 10/22/14: The San Francisco Chronicle story I alluded to earlier says Marcenaro was hit in the hand by a line drive; I did not find that detail in the contemporaneous accounts of the game I read in the World-Herald, Associated Press or Sporting News.]
Garibaldi got out of the jam, striking out two batters and retiring the runner on third in a rundown. He struck out the side in the ninth…and again in the 12th, as for the third time in six nights Santa Clara played extra innings. At one point he retired 15 batters in a row, even though he later said he didn’t have his breaking stuff because of his earlier work in the tournament.
Garibaldi pitched 7-2/3 innings before giving up a hit. And then, quickly, the season came to an end.
After Garibaldi retired Michigan’s first two batters in the top of the 15th, third baseman Harvey Chapman, the number eight hitter in the lineup, beat out an infield single that bounced over Garibaldi’s glove. That brought up sophomore Jim Bobel, who had entered the game as a relief pitcher in the 10th inning and had exactly one hit all season. Bobel tripled to score Chapman, then scored himself when Garibaldi threw a wild pitch. [ADDED 10/22/14: The 1995 San Francisco Chronicle story describes the triple as a "misplayed fly ball" that "went between two outfielders." An Associated Press account of the game said the Broncos' center fielder and right fielder "converged on the ball" but "it went between them untouched," without offering an opinion on whether it could have been caught. Neither the World-Herald nor The Sporting News included any details about the hit.]
And Bobel’s run would turn out to be the margin of victory; Cullen drove in a run for the Broncos in the bottom of the 15th but Michigan held on for a 5-4 win.
Garibaldi went eight innings in relief in the game, allowing just the two hits and striking out 11. For the tournament he pitched 27-2/3 innings, allowed 15 hits and struck out 38 — all in just six days. He still holds the records for most innings pitched and most strikeouts in a single CWS (along with, alas, the record for most wild pitches). “My arm’s just numb,” he said. “I’m just going to relax for two weeks. I’ll do some water skiing — but I won’t touch a baseball.”
Of course, there were plenty of major league teams lined up to give Garibaldi a lot of money to touch a baseball for them. This was before the rule was implemented that prohibits players at four-year colleges from signing professional contracts until after their junior year, so Garibaldi was fair game to sign as a free agent (the amateur draft wouldn’t start until 1965). And on July 4 the Giants, just up the San Francisco peninsula from Santa Clara, announced they had given Garibaldi the biggest bonus they’d ever paid any player — $150,000 — to sign with them. (That was the amount reported in The Sporting News issue of July 14, 1962. A story in The Sporting News the next spring said the bonus was $130,000.) Garibaldi said 12 of the 20 major league teams had made him an offer and that at least one team offered more money, but he liked the idea of pitching for a team that scored a lot of runs (with the likes of Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda and Willie McCovey) and also played close to his home in nearby Stockton.
Garibaldi went straight to the majors, making his debut on July 15 with a scoreless inning of relief in New York against the Mets. (Under the rules of the time, the Giants had to keep him on their roster or risk losing him for $8,000 in a postseason draft of first-year players.) The next day he came on with two out and the tying run on third in the bottom of the ninth and retired Rod Kanehl on a fly ball to get the save in a 3-2 Giants win. But with the Giants in a pennant race, manager Alvin Dark was reluctant to use the rookie, and his subsequent appearances all came with the Giants trailing. Still he performed well, with a 2.38 ERA in his first eight appearances, before he allowed four runs in an inning of work against Milwaukee on August 29.
And that would be Garibaldi’s last appearance of the season, although he remained on the active roster for the World Series against the Yankees. He did not appear in any of the seven games.
Garibaldi would pitch in only six major league games after that: four in September 1963, one in September 1966, and his only major league start on the next-to-last day of the 1969 season, right after the Giants had been eliminated from the pennant race. He pitched four scoreless innings against the Padres, then given up four runs (three of them unearned) in the fifth to take the loss. He finished his big league career with an 0-2 record and a 3.08 ERA in 26-1/3 innings. Yes, he pitched more innings in six days in the 1962 College World Series than he did in the major leagues.
But Garibaldi did a solid job in the Class AAA Pacific Coast League, winning 96 games in that loop from 1963 through 1971 and reaching double figures in victories in eight of those nine seasons (in the other season, 1964, he pitched only 55 innings because of a bad arm). In 1969 he led the league in wins and complete games and was sixth in the league in ERA; in 1970 he won 15 games and again led the league in complete games, ranking second in the league in ERA.
Okay, I’m running out of time here, and maybe I’ll be able to flesh this out later, but Garibaldi was also a superb basketball player, leading Santa Clara in scoring during his only varsity season as a sophomore in 1961-62. His older brother Dick was at the time Santa Clara’s freshman baseball and basketball coach and would later become the Broncos’ varsity basketball coach. Dick Garibaldi had played on Santa Clara’s team that reached the NCAA basketball Final Four in 1952.