Prospects are strange things in baseball. Sometimes there are players that are simply coveted and drooled over because of their promise. And many times they never become that stars they were projected to be and it makes you wonder what all the fuss was about.
Case in point is Pete Broberg.
The West Palm Beach native was a huge prospect in high school. He caught the eye of the Oakland A’s who wanted him to be their number one pick (second overall) in the 1968 draft. He would join the likes of Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers and Reggie Jackson on a team that would develop into one of the great World Series winners of all time.
But he turned them down, heading off to Dartmouth instead.
In 1971, the Washington Senators had the number one all all pick. Expos star Steve Rogers and future Dodgers post season hero Burt Hooton were available, but Washington picked Broberg.
He signed with the Senators but his contract called for him to go straight to the majors, do not stop in the minor leagues.
The 21 year old Broberg pitched to a 3.47 ERA, which is respectable to be sure. The next year, the Senators moved to Texas and became the Rangers. In the second game of the 1972 season, he threw 8 strong innings, allowing only 1 run and earned the 5-1 decision over the Angels. It was the first win in Texas Rangers history.
His next game, he threw a complete game 4 hit shutout. Two games after that, he let up no earned runs in 7 innings. The next game, he tossed a hard luck 1-0 complete game loss to the Orioles.
Some nights he looked like the great pitcher everyone was expecting. Then other nights he would get torched. But at age 22, it could be attributed to butterflies.
By age 23, he was stinking up the place. Broberg went 5 and 9 and his ERA soared to 5.61. By 1974, injuries and ineffectiveness caught up with him.
Broberg did not win a decision in 1974 as he tossed a 8.07 ERA in his 12 games. With his welcome in Texas worn out, Broberg was swapped to the Brewers for Clyde Wright.
With the 1975 Brewers, he played with Hank Aaron, passed 200 innings for the first time and won a career high 14 games. But he still frustrated his pitching coaches with his inconsistencies as yet another group tried to unlock his promised greatness.
The Mariners drafted him in the expansion draft, resulting in an awful airbrushing on his cap for his 1977 Topps Card. They should have kept their brushes in the drawer because he never pitched an inning for Seattle.
The Cubs picked him up for 1977 from Seattle but he was a non factor. The Cubs flipped him to Oakland, the team that first wanted him.
One uninspired season in Oakland and an attempt to make the cut with the Dodgers wrapped up his big league career at age 29.
He used his Dodger contact to pay his way through law school.
Perhaps that in the end was the problem: scouts saw him as a great star and Broberg saw baseball as a way of avoiding student loans.
Pete Broberg may not have become a star, but he was no dummy.
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