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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Jim Shellenback, Good Enough - Playing Days

Pressed into service as an emergency starter, Jim Shellenbeck's night this June 1973 started out rough, he admitted to The Eugene Register-Guard afterward.

"I didn't have bleep out there," Shellenbeck told to The Register-Guard. "You give up four runs in the first three innings and you're usually out of there."

Shellenbeck, though, stayed in and settled in. He also picked up the 12-5 win.

Shellenbeck was in his 12th season as a pro in 1973. He also saw time that year in his seventh major league season - and came back from a career-threatening car accident.

By the time he was done in 1977, Shellenbeck had seen time in nine big league seasons. It was in the minors, though, that Shellenbeck would find his long-term home, serving as a coach there over much of the three decades since.

Shellenbeck's professional career began in 1962, signed by the Yankees as an amateur free agent out of Ramona High School in California.

Shellenbeck started at class-D Harlan of the Appalachian League, then played at class-C Idaho Falls. By 1963, Shellenbeck was with the Pirates, taken in the first-year draft.

With the Pirates, Shellenbeck started at single-A Gastonia, moving up to AA Asheville in 1964. He then first saw AAA Columbus in 1965.

In 1966, Shellenbeck first saw Pittsburgh. He debuted in September, getting into two games in relief. He gave up three earned runs in three innings.

Shellenbeck returned for six more outings, two starts, with Pittsburgh in 1967. He gave up seven earned runs in 23.1 innings of work.

He then got into a car accident that threatened his career. Shellenback broke his leg in the Oct. 1, 1967 accident. Shellenback, though, made it back to the mound by the middle of 1968, though not to the majors.

Shellenback, though, returned to the majors in 1969, moving to Washington mid-year. Between the two, he went 4-7, with a 3.91 ERA. The next year, Shellenback went 6-7 in 38 outings, 14 starts. In a July start, Shellenback threw a complete-game shutout.

Shellenback spent at least some time in the majors each year through 1974, following the Senators to Texas. Shellenback, though, continued playing through 1977. He also returned to the majors for five final outings with Minnesota, ending his playing careers.

Shellenback ended his major league career with a 16-30 record in 48 starts and 165 total outings.

"Once in a while," Shellenback recalled years later to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, referring to his big league career, "I had good enough stuff to win in the big leagues, and once in a while I didn't."

For a feature on Jim Shellenback's coaching career go to Jim Shellenback, Strong Points

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