For some reason this card of he late Francisco Barrios made an impression on me as a kid when I got it in 1979.
I saw this pic of him in Yankee Stadium and thought he was a giant of a man. The perspective of a photo can alter our perceptions of a subject. Look at this pic. He looks like to me, even now, like he must be 6 foot 7 or 6 foot 8. Hulking, maybe even with a wrestler physique.
Tell me I’m wrong! I dare you! The man is a giant.
Or he is 5’11” and under 160 pounds.
Reading that at the back of his card (and verified on Baseball Reference) just shatters my perception of what is real and what is fake.
Barrios was born in the Sonora section of Mexico in 1953. He was signed by the San Francisco Giants in 1973 but only spent one month in their system before he was released.
He returned to Mexico where he pitched well for the Jalisco team. The White Sox acquired him in December of 1973 and by 1974, he made a pair of relief appearances for the parent club.
In 1976, with Bill Veeck preventing a White Sox move to Seattle, Barrios returned to Chicago. At first he was used as a mop up man, saving the bullpen in White Sox losses.
In one game on May 28th, he threw the final 6 2/3 innings against the A’s, absorbing 6 runs in the 11-0 White Sox loss.
He earned his first save in a game against Cleveland on June 6th and earned a spot in the rotation. He threw a complete game in his first start on June 10th, and came into relieve 3 days later. On June 21st, he pitched into the 10th in a 2-1 win over Kansas City and 4 days later started another game and 4 days after that threw a complete game and 4 days after that went 9.
I guess what I am saying is manager Paul Richards did not care if he was putting miles on the young arm.
In 1977, the White Sox under manager Bob Lemon, won 90 games and contended for much of the year with a team filled with sluggers.
Using WAR as a Metric, Barrios had the third highest total on the star studded team. The 14 game winner threw 231 1/3 innings, completing 9 games.
In a game against the eventual Division Champion Royals on July 11th, Barrios went the distance, allowing 6 hits and 2 runs while striking out 10. He earned another win in a head to head match up with Kansas City on July 30th.
In 1978, he threw 195 2/3 innings and his ERA dropped to 4.05. It dropped again in 1979 to 3.61 but injuries kept his season to 94 2/3 innings.
Injuries and clubhouse tensions were his undoing as 1980 and 1981 were lost seasons for Barrios. He got into an altercation with a teammate and, like virtually everyone in the 1980’s got in cocaine trouble.
Before the 1982 season, he was working out a deal to sign with the Brewers. A team on the rise and one that was destined to win the pennant that year would have been a solid landing spot for Barrios.
But that winter, he had a massive heart attack at his father’s home in Mexico and died.
Left was a legacy of a few good if not spectacular seasons in Chicago, a troubled ending and a baseball card that made him look like a giant, deceptively.
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