In pitching, it seems, you either have electric stuff or you have pinpoint control — I mean, if you want to find real, lasting success, that is.

And if you don’t have that blazing fastball, the more surgical you can be out there on the mound, the better.

Think Greg Maddux, who often spent entire seasons below the six-strikeouts-per-nine-innings line but who also hardly ever gave up even two walks per nine.

Then you have guys who are sort of tweeners — they can generate some breeze, but maybe not always. And then … they have to have some control.

Some of that surgeon’s blood.

You know, guys like former White Sox hurler Fred Howard.

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Now, in case you’ve forgotten about Howard, he was Chicago’s sixth-round pick in the 1976 MLB Draft and then spent four seasons working his way through their farm system.

Along the way, Howard showed that he could strike out some guys — his K/9 numbers read 9.0, 6.9, 7.1, and 8.3.

That last mark, at Triple-A Iowa, came in just a few games in 1979. It was just a few games, because that’s the summer the young right-hander got the call to Comiskey park, and he stayed there most of the season.

In 28 appearances, Howard made six starts and ran up a 1-5 record, but with a respectable 3.57 ERA (or magnum?). But the 22-year-old struck out only 36 while walking 32 in 68 innings.

That nearly even K-to-BB ration, and his 1.544 WHIP surely contributed to his fate the next season … ALL of 1980 was dedicated to the Triple-A Oaks.

And there, in Iowa, Howard’s ERA ballooned to 5.02 in 19 starts as his strikeouts fell to 3.9 per nine innings. To his credit, he did reduce the free passes to just 2.5 per nine.

Still, it was a pretty ugly showing for a dude who had spent almost all of 1979 in The Show, and you have to wonder if the fact that he could pull his very own baseball card from a 1980 Topps wax pack that summer salved the wound, or rubbed salt in it.

Either way, Howard’s slip at Iowa landed him out of baseball in 1981, and then a split gig between Double-A and Rookie ball in 1982. After just a handful of games back at Double-A Glen Falls in 1983, Howard was done.

But just with baseball.

Because those old surgical ties ran deep for the man who couldn’t always rely on stuff to get batters out.

And, with the diamond behind him, Howard enrolled at the University of Missouri School of Medicine and didn’t stop until he was a general surgeon.

A general surgeon with a super cool business card, that is.


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1906 Chicago White Sox World Series Full Ticket And Postcard

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