Thursday, July 9, 2015

Buzz Capra, In A Groove - 26

Originally published Dec. 17, 2012
A new pickup by the Braves for 1974, Buzz Capra soon settled in.

By the end of May, he threw his first complete-game shutout. By the end of June, he'd thrown four.

"Baseball is a funny game, and you can't explain it," Capra told The Associated Press early in that run. "It's just like when any player gets in a groove. I'm in one now, one like I always felt I was capable of getting into. I just hope I can keep it going."

Capra was in his fourth season with time in the majors that year. He went on to see time in seven. Capra also went on to a long post-playing career as a coach in the minors, before more recently becoming a baseball instructor for youth.

Capra's professional career began in 1969, taken by the Mets in the 27th round of the draft, out of Illinois State.

Capra started at single-A Pompano Beach, then made AA Memphis and AAA Tidewater in 1971. Also in 1971, Capra made Flushing.

Capra debuted with the Mets in September 1971, getting into three games, 5.1 innings. He returned to New York for 14 more outings, six starts, posting a 4.58 ERA.

He picked up his third major league win by mid-May. He also picked it up fighting through a downpour.

"A couple times there, I couldn't even see the plate," Capra told The Associated Press after going seven and giving up three earned runs. "The rain was hitting me right in the face - yet I got guys out."

Capra returned to the Mets for another 24 outings, all relief, for 1973. Then, Capra arrived with the Braves for 1974, in a cash deal.

With the Braves that year, Capra got into 39 games, starting 27. He also went 16-8, with a league-leading 2.28 ERA. He also became an All-Star. His run began due to injury, put into the Braves starting rotation in place of hurt teammate Ron Reed.

Capra, though, couldn't match that season. He returned to Atlanta for 12 starts in 1975, going 4-7. He got just five relief outings in 1976, then ended his major league career with 45 outings, 16 starts, with the Braves in 1977.

By 1985, Capra was back with the Mets and he was coaching, serving as pitching coach at short-season Little Falls. He arrived with the Phillies in 1988, coaching at Spartanburg, coaching there nearly continuously through 1993.

He's last recorded as coaching in 2001, with the Mets at high-A Port St. Lucie, though he never made it back to the majors as a coach. More recently, Capra has served as an instructor with the Fox Valley Sports Academy outside of Chicago.

Asked in 2011 by the site CornbeltBaseball.com about the state youth baseball, Capra told the site everything depends on who is handling the kids. He cited his grandson, then 8, already two years into playing.

"It's got to be fun, first of all," Capra told CornbeltBaseball.com. "And as they mature and they nurture and they grow up a little bit more, then they can get a little more serious about more serious about certain things. But I think the primary thing I want my grandson to do is to go out there and play baseball and let it be a fun thing for him."

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