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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ray Soff, Long Wait - 544

Originally published March 19, 2012
It was a short outing that, for Ray Soff, ended a lifetime of anticipation.

On Sept. 1, 1986, Soff came in to pitch the eighth inning, holding the Cardinals to a run. Cardinals hitters soon turned that deficit to a lead and Soff found himself with the win, his first in the majors.

"I had waited and waited and waited for that," Soff told The Associated Press afterward of the victory. "I had waited since I was seven years old, when I started playing little league ball, and I'm 27 now."

Soff got that first major league win in his eighth professional season. The reliever would go on to pick up three more that season in 30 total outings. He would pick up one more in 1987. Those five big league wins would be the only wins Soff got in the majors.

Soff's career began in 1979, taken by the Cubs in the 11th round of the draft out of Central Michigan University.

Soff signed with the Cubs forgoing a season of college ball. In high school, he also pitched on two state championship teams.

With the Cubs, Soff started at short-season Geneva, getting into nine games, starting eight of them. He went 2-3.

He moved to single-A Quad Cities for 1980 and stayed in single-A through 1982. In 1983, Soff made AA Midland, returning to Midland for a shortened 1984.

Released by the Cubs to start 1985, Soff signed with the Cardinals. He played that year at AA Arkansas. In 1986, Soff played at Arkansas, got his first look at AAA at Louisville and got his first look at the majors with St. Louis.

Soff debuted with the Cardinals July 17, a one-inning outing where he gave up a hit and a walk. His first win came in his 16th outing, Sept. 1. His second and third wins came quickly, Sept. 5 and Sept. 10.

"It's more luck than anything," Soff told The AP after his third win. "I happened to be in there when we scored. We've been scoring runs late in the game."

Soff ultimately went 4-2 in his 30 appearances, with an ERA of 3.29.

Soff returned for 1987, but only got into 12 games. He picked up one win to no losses, but had a 6.46 ERA. His final game on the year came May 28. It also turned out to be his final game in the majors.

Soff played out the season at Louisville. He also continued playing in the minors through 1992. He moved to the Twins system in 1988, playing at AAA Portland.

He joined the Mets system in 1989, playing out that year and the next two at AAA Tidewater. Soff's final season came in 1992, with the Angels at AAA Edmonton.

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