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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Chuck Estrada, In Condition - 111

New Rangers manager Whitey Herzog was confident in his new pick for pitching coach for the 1973 season, according to UPI.

That pick was Chuck Estrada, a veteran of seven major league seasons who had and Mets minor league coach.

"I'll guarantee no Rangers pitcher will lose a game because he's not in shape," Herzog told UPI in November 1972. "Estrada knows how to get them in condition and how to win their confidence."

Estrada's tenure in Texas ended up being brief, but he returned to the majors later as a coach for the Padres and Indians. In all, his coaching career spanned a quarter century.

His coaching career came after a playing career that saw him win 18 games one season, but it was a career shortened by an early arm injury.

Estrada's long career in baseball began in 1956, signed by the Braves as an amateur free agent out of Atascadero High School in California.

Estrada started at class-C Salinas. He made AAA Vancouver in 1959 after moving to the Orioles system. Then, in 1960, he made Baltimore.

In that first major league season, Estrada went 18-11 with a 3.58 ERA. He also took a no-hitter into the eighth inning of a June game. He made the All-Star team and even came in second in the Rookie of the Year balloting.

Going into the 1961 season, Sports Illustrated wrote that Estrada kept hitters "jumping" with occasional inside pitches. Estrada's sophomore season was comparable to his first, ending with a 15-9 record and a 3.69 ERA.

His 1962 season, however, came back to Earth. His record came in at 9-17, with a 3.83 ERA. It was that year that something went wrong with his arm. He heard a pop, he told author William J. Ryczek years later in the book "The Amazin' Mets, 1962-1969."

Estrada only got limited time for the Orioles in 1963 and 1964. He then returned for nine games with the Cubs in 1966 and nine more with the Mets in 1967, ending his career.

"The thing that bothered me the most about my short career," Estrada told Ryczek for his Mets book, "is that fact that I was just learning how to pitch when my arm blew out. I used to challenge everybody."

Soon after, Estrada started his coaching career. He coached at Texas in 1973. By 1978, he was coaching with San Diego, staying four seasons there. In 1983, he was with the Indians.

He was at AAA Tacoma by 1985, staying there through 1990. He's last recorded as coaching in 1995 at AA New Haven.

At Tacoma in 1985, future Bash Brother Jose Canseco asked Estrada for advice before a July at bat. Estrada responded by telling Canseco exactly where the first pitch would be, according to Dale Tafoya's book "Bash Brothers: A Legacy Subpoenaed." It would be a slider at Canseco's back ankle.

"The pitch was a slider down and in and he hit the ball 450 feet," teammate Mike Ashman told Tafoya. "There was a four-lane road above the stadium and the ball landed on the other side of the road."
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,867
Made the Majors: 870 - 46.6%-X
Never Made Majors: 997-53.4%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 372-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:218

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