This card confuses me beyond all recognition. It is a monkey wrench thrown into everything I understand about reality.
Growing up in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, I learned there were two Forsch brothers pitching.
Bob pitched for the Cardinals.
Ken pitched for the Astros.
It was very easy to remember which was which by remembering those two teams. So I reach into my shoebox, pull out a card and it is a Forsch brother. It is the one who pitches for the Astros. So it is Ken, right? NO! It is Bob!
Do you understand how that upsets my equilibrium?
It is like Righty Tighty Lefty Loosey suddenly became Righty Loosey.
The Brothers Forsch were from Sacramento. Ken was 4 years older and was drafted by the Angels and Cubs before finally being drafted and signed out of Oregon State University by the Astros in 1968.
Bob also went to Corvallis and was drafted in 1968 by the Cardinals in the 26th round. Ken arrived in the majors first in 1970. Bob made his big league debut as a 24 year old with the 1974 St. Louis Cardinals.
Bob pitched well his first game, throwing into the 7th allowing only 2 runs against a star studded Cincinnati Reds team. In his second start, he threw a 4 hit complete game shutout against Atlanta. 2 of his next three starts were also complete game victories. Not a bad Rookie start.
By 1975, his second year, he was a 15 game winner with a 2.86 ERA over 230 innings pitched. He also batted .308 for the season as well. At that time, his brother Ken had made the transition to being a successful reliever in Houston.
Ken made the All Star team in 1976 as one of the National League’s best reliever. By 1977, Bob was a 20 game winner and won the Silver Slugger.
By 1978, just as I was starting to learn players names and team names and was confused by all the Forsches out there, Bob threw a no hitter against the defending NL East Champion Phillies. Bob had become a reliable arm in St. Louis, giving over 200 innings a year and winning in the double digits, back when people cared about that.
In 1979, Ken made the transition to the rotation and threw a no hitter of his own, making the Forsches the first set of brothers to throw MLB no hitters. Ken led the league with a WHIP of 1.069. Ken would be a starter in the 1980 NLCS for the Astros.
In 1979, Ken had the lowest walks per innings pitched in the National League. In 1980, Bob had the lowest walks per innings pitched in the National League. The Brothers Forsch had good control.
The Bob Cardinals and Ken Astros formula was kaput in 1981 when Ken went to the Angels. Bob stayed with the Cardinals and in 1982, got his first taste of the post season.
Bob threw game 1 of the NLCS against Atlanta and tossed a complete game 3 hit shutout to spark St. Louis to a 3 game sweep. He did not fare as well in the World Series, losing the Game 1 blow out to Milwaukee and Game 5 as well, which put the Brewers on the cusp of the title. The Cardinals would win Games 6 and 7 and Bob would have his ring.
Forsch became one of the familiar names of St. Louis, throwing a second no hitter in 1983 and pitching both the 1985 and 1987 post season. He started Game 5 of the 1985 World Series and won games in the 1987 NLCS and World Series out of the bullpen. He also won over Cardinal fans by plunking Giants slugger Jeffrey Leonard, who taunted the redbirds with his one arm down homerun trot.
Ken’s career ended with the ill fated 1986 Angels as Bob continued on in St. Louis.
Then it happened. The bizarre Brudlefly like combining of the Forsch brothers occurred less than a year after the 1987 World Series. On August 31, 1988, with the Astros making a run at the Dodgers, Bob Forsch was dealt to Houston for infielder Denny Walling.
Up was down. Black was white. Bob Forsch was an Astro.
He did not fare well, going 1-4 with a 6.51 ERA to finish the 1988 season and the Dodgers went on to win the Division and the World Series. Bob spent one more unproductive season in Houston before calling it a wonderful 16 year big league career.
Bob became a coach and remained one in the minor leagues until his death shortly after the Cardinals won the 2011 World Series.
He had thrown out the first pitch in the World Series at St. Louis in the weeks before his death, confirming his status as a beloved Cardinal. And that is what he will always be in my eyes, despite the insanity this Fleer card is showing.
Bob Forsch is a CARDINAL… his BROTHER is an Astro.
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