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Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Joel Horlen had successful majors pitching career, later returned to teach as minors coach

Chicago White Sox hurler Joel Horlen improved his control ahead of the 1965 campaign, marking the last piece he needed to be a top-notch pitcher, his manager told reporters, the Newspaper Enterprise Association wrote.

With control, also came confidence, the association wrote that June.

"A scout once told me that pitching in the major leagues is one-fourth ability and three-fourths confidence," Horlen told the association then. "Now I'm beginning to understand what he meant."

Horlan spoke in the middle of what would be his third-straight campaign with double-digit wins. He would extend that streak by four more, including a 1967 campaign where he used his confidence to win 19, made the All-Star team and threw a no-hitter. 

He later went on to a career dispensing advice himself, as a minor league pitching coach, attempting to get pitchers to understand what he meant, and to the same place he'd been.

Horlen's long career in baseball began in 1959, signed by the White Sox as a free agent out of Oklahoma State University. Horlan was also credited as Joe Horlen.

Horlen started at Class B Lincoln. He made Class A Charleston in 1960 and AAA San Diego and then Chicago in 1961.

Horlen saw five outings, four starts for the White Sox in 1961. He went 1-3, with a 6.62 ERA. He then continued with the White Sox in 1962 and started his run of double-digit wins in 1963. He went 11-7, with a 3.27 ERA.

He won 13 in 1964, with a 1.88 ERA, then 13 more in 1965, with a 2.88 mark. His career year came in 1967, when he went 19-7, with a league-leading 2.06 ERA. He also threw six shutouts, including his September no-hitter against the Tigers.

"I concentrated on my fast ball which was sinking," Horlen told The Associated Press afterward. "I kept changing the speeds."

Horlan continued playing in the majors through 1972, pitching all but his final year with the White Sox. He pitched his final year with the Athletics and even got an appearance in that year's World Series. That outing marked his last in the bigs.

He then largely worked outside the game until returning with the Mets for 1987 as a coach at rookie Kingston. He made single-A Columbia in 1988, high-A St. Lucie in 1990 and AA Williamsport in 1991. He coached at AAA Phoenix for 1993 and stayed at that level all but one season through 1999.

"Well, I keep telling everybody I'm definitely retired ... maybe," Horlen told in 2002. "It's fun working with the young men, getting them to the big leagues. But I never wanted to coach in the big leagues. It's tough enough to get the young guys to where they're willing to change."

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,778
Made the Majors:1,276-33.8%
Never Made Majors:2,502-66.2%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:525
10+ Seasons in the Minors:313

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