Steve Renko 1979 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for May 8, 2017


2017-04-11 07.50.02

Steve Renko had a nice long career in baseball. He had no great highlight, never was an All Star, never played in the postseason, never contended for a Cy Young.

But he pitched for 15 seasons, mainly with Montreal, and constantly found work.

Oh yeah, he was a fantastic all around athlete with an eye popping resume.

Bet you didn’t know that. And I have to give an SBNation writer named dnoll5 credit for teaching me this in an article he wrote.

The Kansas native went to the University of Kansas and played three different sports.

He played for the Kansas basketball team under coach Dick Harp in 1964. On the football team, he was quarterback and was teammates with Gale Sayers. Then he focused on baseball, posted a 0.99 ERA and batted .344.

Renko was the classic all around athlete that we do not see much anymore as almost all of youth athletics has become specialized. Renko was the Chip Hilton star of many teams.

The 1965 Mets drafted him in the 24th round and eventually found himself in the big leagues as a member of the original 1969 Expos squad.

He struggled initially but then put together a string of quality starts including 4 straight wins between August 31 and September 19th, three of them were complete game victories.

The best overall season of his career was in 1973. In an insanely weak NL East, the Expos contended despite finishing with a sub .500 record. Renko got 4 wins in June, July and September , posting sub 3 ERAs in each month. He would finish with 15 wins and a 2.81 ERA but the Mets, his original organization, would win the Division and eventually the pennant.

In 1976, he was dealt to the Cubs and basically bounced around from organization to organization. In 1977 he was with the Cubs and White Sox. As this card shows, he played in Oakland in 1978 but was with the Red Sox in 1979. A few years in California and a year in Kansas City wrapped up his career in 1983.

Along the way, he pitched an eye popping 5 one hitters. A fluke here or there, he would be a multiple no hitter pitcher.

On July 13, 1979, Renko pitched a game against the lowly Oakland A’s, his former team. He took a new hitter into the 9th inning, when with one out, he allowed a double and was ultimately relieved by Bill Campbell, who saved the win.

The batter who broke up the no hitter? That would be Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson.

Consider that he played with Gale Sayers in the 1960’s and Hall of Famers like Carl Yastremzski, Jim Rice, Dennis Eckersley, Carlton Fisk, Rod Carew, Reggie Jackson and George Brett in the 1980’s, he stretched an impressive career over several eras, decades, locations and sports.

 

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