Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bob Knepper, Should Pitch - 7

In his first year with the Astros in 1981, Bob Knepper knew he had to focus on one thing, his pitching, he told UPI that April.

"When a pitcher starts worrying about how many runs his team scores, he is going to get into trouble," Knepper told UPI after throwing a 1-0 shutout. "I have to only worry about how many hits and runs the opposition makes."

In 1988, Knepper worried about something other than pitching and it got him into a little trouble with women. Knepper twice made comments that year seen by many as insensitive and downright wrong.

When responding on the topic of a female umpire that spring, Knepper said simply that he did not believe women should be in leadership roles. His statements caused an uproar, Knepper getting "little support" from his teammates, according to The Associated Press.

Knepper's career began in 1972, taken by the Giants in the second round of the draft out of Callistoga High School in California.

He started at rookie Great Falls, making AAA Phoenix by 1975. He debuted in San Francisco in September 1976.

Knepper got four starts that first September with the Giants, going 1-2. He got his first win after his old minor league manager John Van Ornum helped him fix his pitching motion over the phone and then in person, UPI wrote.

"I had better stuff on my fast ball than at any time in the past two months," Knepper told UPI after the win.

Knepper returned to the Giants for 1977 and got his first double-digit win season. He went 11-9, with a 3.36 ERA.

He was even better in 1978, going 17-11, with a 2.63 ERA. He stayed with the Giants through 1980, when he moved to the Astros.

His first season with the Astros also proved to result in the first of two career All-Star appearances. He also appeared in the 1988 game.

In 1986, he got his fifth double-digit win year, going 17-12 and helping the Astros to the playoffs. That May, he faced the Astros' eventual playoff opponent, the Mets. He threw a five-hitter.

"I think this was one of the better games I've thrown and this was a key win for us," Knepper told The Associated Press afterward. "They came in playing real well and we lost to them twice up there so we needed to beat them to show them we can play with them."

That October, though, Knepper couldn't beat the Mets in two tries. He went seven innings in Game 3 and into the ninth of Game 6, but he gave up three earned both times for no-decisions. The three runs in Game 6 came in the ninth, sending the game to a marathon clincher for the Mets in 16 innings.

It was in spring 1988 that Knepper got in trouble with his comments about women.

"In God's society, woman was created in a role of submission to the husband," Knepper told The Associated Press after a game umpired by Pam Postema. "It's not that woman is inferior, but I don't believe women should be in a leadership role. I don't think a woman should be the president of the United States or a governor or mayor or police chief."

His comments drew disagreement from teammates. In June, though, he seemingly doubled down, telling Sports Illustrated, according to The AP, that the National Organization for Women "is such a blowhard organization. They are a bunch of lesbians."

Knepper's comments drew condemnation from the commissioner, as well as an apology from Knepper.

"We are offended," NOW Houston chapter president Molly Yard told The AP of Knepper's June comments. "He should pitch and really not talk about something he doesn't know about."

Through all that, though, Knepper did pitch. And he had one of his best years. He went 14-5, with a 3.14 ERA and made his second All-Star team.

For 1989, Knepper moved back to the Giants mid-season, going an overall 7-12. For 1990, got 12 outings, seven starts, with San Francisco, ending his major league career. His final season also included four outings at AAA Phoenix.
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,734
Made the Majors: 825 - 47.6%-X
Never Made Majors: 909-52.4%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 358-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:208

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