George Frazier knows the emotions of the postseason.In a 10-year big league career, the right-handed pitcher advanced to the postseason three times, the World Series twice and earned a world championship ring with the Twins in 1987, his final season as a player.Frazier's postseason memories are the focus of this
George Frazier knows the emotions of the postseason.
In a 10-year big league career, the right-handed pitcher advanced to the postseason three times, the World Series twice and earned a world championship ring with the Twins in 1987, his final season as a player.
Frazier's postseason memories are the focus of this week's Q&A:
MLB.com: With the Cubs in 1984, it was the first postseason appearance in 40 years. Pretty big event in Chicago?
Frazier: It was crazy. When the game ended, you had five minutes to get dressed or you were at the ballpark for three hours. Couldn't get out because of the partying. It was absolutely nuts, that whole street. You had to go the back roads out of there and hoped that you'd get out of there. I remember (Rick) Sutcliffe and those guys lived in the suburbs. They wouldn't get home until 8:30 sometimes, after a day game. The town was crazy. This is when Harry Caray started selling Budweiser and dancing on the dugout. It got to be the popularity thing.
MLB.com: People don't remember, but that was the year it became chic to be a Cubs fan. They went over two million in attendance for the first time that year, more than 400,000 more than the Cubs drew in 1983.
Frazier: Dale was a friend of mine who had season tickets down the right field line, right above the visitor's bullpen. For years they didn't have to assign a guard there because he was the only one that had a seat out there, and that was 20 feet behind first base. I remember going into Wrigley with the Cardinals '78, '79 and '80 and there might be 25,000. They thought they were jam packed. Now you go in there and it's stupid.
MLB.com: Now they are back to the World Series for the first time since 1945, looking for the first world championship since 1908. It's been a struggle.
Frazier: They've gone through their test of time of trying to put together good ball clubs with great managers from Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella, Don Zimmer, Don Baylor, Jim Frey and now you have Joe Maddon. What's the ticket to their whole thing? They spent a lot of money on pitching and they weren't afraid to go get one. In that way, they are similar to what we were in 1984. They have a strong rotation. We had Rick Sutcliffe, Dennis Eckersley was a starter then, Steve Trout and Scott Sanderson.
MLB.com: You guys go up two games to none in a best of five series. There's got to be a lot of confidence at that point, right?
Frazier: I remember riding on the airplane for Game 3 in San Diego. I was in the back by myself reading a book. Gary Matthews comes back and goes, "What's up dude? Why aren't you out here?" They are partying up front, hooting and hollering. I said, "I've been on this ride before buddy. We ain't done anything yet. We got to win another game." I told him the story about the
81 Yankees. We're up 2-0 in the World Series against the Dodgers and don't win another game.<br><b>MLB.com:</b> You and Sut had to be almost celebrities in Chicago, coming over from the Indians for the June 15th trading deadline (back then) and being such key factors.<br><b>Frazier:</b> I was 6-3 with (three) saves, and Sut was 16-1 and won the Cy Young even though we spent two months in Cleveland. We had 22 wins, more than a fifth of the team total. It was pretty exciting.<br><b>MLB.com:</b> That81 season with the Yankees had to be special?
Frazier: To this day I think back to the '81 season. Out of Spring Training I was told I was going to make the Cardinals, and the next day was sent down. Then, I was traded to the Yankees the day the strike hit, and went to the Minor Leagues with the Cardinals. Once the strike is settled, they bring me up to pitch in an intrasquad game against the Yankee starters. Then, I told I'm on the team, and 30 minutes later told I was going back to the Minors. I fly back to Columbus, get off the airplane and my wife says, "We got to do your laundry, you're going back to New York, back on the team again."
In the ALCS against Oakland, I come in bases loaded, one out, Rickey Henderson coming up and we're down, 3-2. I get a double play. Jerry Neudecker rang Rickey up at first and he was safe by three feet. We come in and score seven runs and I go 5 2/3 shutout innings and get the win. People forget about that. They remember the three losses I had in that World Series against the Dodgers.
If I took a vote of every pitcher that pitched in the big leagues but never pitched in a World Series, they'd probably like to have a chance to lose those three games.
MLB.com: Then in your final year, you wind up getting to celebrate the 1987 world championship in Minnesota. That's a special time?
Frazier: Here's the neat part about that. I started my career in 1978 with the Cardinals in Busch Stadium. I finished my career pitching for the Twins in the World Series against the Cardinals and make my last appearance in Busch Stadium in 1987 and I'm walking off the mound with a world championship ring.
I wasn't really a main part of that bullpen. Jeff Reardon and Juan Berenguer were the main two guys out of that bullpen. Bert Blyleven and Frankie Viola were starters in there and then after that we had some other guys, but that was the youthful team that wanted to win. We won at home, lost on the road, and came back and won two at home again. So we have the parade through Minneapolis and St. Paul. We're in Corvettes with our wives. It's 19 degrees. And Kay says, "Something is burning." Our car caught on fire from all the confetti. We jumped in the car with Kirby Puckett and his wife. I went out in flames baby.
MLB.com: That Twins team was a lot like your Cubs team in terms of youth.
Frazier: You got to remember, the Griffith family owned it. They weren't going to spend any money. I bet their payroll wasn't $15 million. Then the Pohlad family bought it and they hired a young executive named Andy MacPhail. They hired a very young manager in Tom Kelly. They had a fairly young coaching staff and, if you think about that ballclub, there was very little experience.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com.