BOSTON -- Former Red Sox great Luis Tiant was thrilled to receive the prestigious Emil Fuchs Award at Thursday night's Boston Baseball Writers Dinner, given annually to someone who exhibits long and meritorious service to the game."It's nice, it's a good thing," said Tiant. "At least people still remember me
BOSTON -- Former Red Sox great Luis Tiant was thrilled to receive the prestigious Emil Fuchs Award at Thursday night's Boston Baseball Writers Dinner, given annually to someone who exhibits long and meritorious service to the game.
"It's nice, it's a good thing," said Tiant. "At least people still remember me and remember what I did all those years. I know what I've had to do with my life and I'm lucky. I'm lucky I played all those years. God gave me the opportunity to play. What more can you ask? You can't ask for more than that."
Well, there is one more thing Tiant would love to cap his baseball life, and that's entry into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Tiant was on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot from 1988-2002, but never topped the 30.9 percent he got in his first year of eligibility. Candidates need 75 percent of the vote to get elected.
He has been on the Veterans Committee ballot (now called the Eras Committee) several times, but has never received the necessary support.
In his 19-year career, Tiant was 229-172 with a 3.30 ERA and had 2,416 strikeouts. There were two seasons --1968 and '72 -- when Tiant had a sub-2.00 ERA. He had 49 career shutouts.
On his BaseballReference.com similarity score, the player he is viewed most similar to is Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter. Another Hall of Famer, Jim Bunning, is the second most similar. Two other Hall of Famers, Vida Blue and Don Drysdale, are among the players in the Top 10 of his similarity score.
"I'm not worrying too much about it. I want to be there, my family wants me to be there and my friends," Tiant said. "I belong there. I have the numbers. My numbers are good enough to be there. It's OK, I'm enjoying the game and having a good time. God has been good to me. I'm not going to complain. I did more than I ever thought I'd do in my life. This is nice tonight, receiving this award. We'll see what happens."
The 76-year-old, who is still in good health, would love to become a Hall of Famer while he's still alive.
"I've waited 28 years and still haven't been in there," Tiant said. "Why would you be in there after you die? That's not fair. That's what happened to Ron Santo. You want to enjoy it with your family."
Of Tiant's stats, he is most proud of notching 187 complete games. His 165-pitch performance in Game 4 of the 1975 World Series against the Reds is viewed as one of the gutsiest performances of all time.
"In my time, that's what we did, -- we finished games," Tiant said. "My father used to tell me, 'What you start, you finish.' That's how you learned and you grew up that way. Now, it's different. They are protected more. I guess you have to because there's a lot of money involved. A lot of guys want to keep pitching but they come out."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and **Facebook**.