Former pitcher Jerry Reuss, who pitched for eight different teams in four different decades, will be the featured speaker at the World Series Club in West Hartford on Dec. 5.
By Ronni Newton
Jerry Reuss said that when he was playing Major League Baseball, the average length of a career was four or five years.
“Many things have changed in baseball, but many have stayed the same, like the distance between the bases,” Reuss (pronounced “Royce”) said in a recent phone interview. And the average length of a career is still four or five years, he said.
“It has a lot to do with success, but as much to do with staying healthy,” said Reuss, 69.
Reuss, a southpaw, pitched for 22 years, for eight different teams, in a career that spanned four different decades (1969-1990) and included 220 wins, 1,907 strikeouts, and a World Series championship in 1981 when the Dodgers beat the Yankees.
He was an all-star in 1975 and 1980, and pitched a no-hitter in 1980 that might have been a perfect game if not for a fielding error.
When he addresses the World Series Club on Dec. 5, Reuss said he will cover the topics that the audience is interested in – and he anticipates there will be plenty of interest in how he got started, and how he managed to keep his career active for such a long time.
“You can’t get there without planning,” Reuss said. He couldn’t identify a single day when he decided he wanted to play Major League Baseball, but he said he was about 10 years old.
“I was like the kids all over St. Louis,” he said. While people told him it was great to dream, he knew that many others had the same dream.
“I studied hard, and I also played basketball,” said Reuss. Academics or basketball, as well as baseball, could have also been a pathway to college, but instead he was drafted by the Cardinals in the second round in 1967, right out of high school.
“From high school to MLB it was 27 months. That’s the ‘express route,'” said Reuss. “It was the right place and the right time, and when I got there, I wanted to stay.”
Reuss said there were good experiences with every team he played for – the Cardinals, Astros, Pirates, Dodgers, Reds, Angels, White Sox, and Brewers – but from a success standpoint his best years were probably in Los Angeles. From 1980 through 1983, he was consistently ranked in the top five or 10 pitchers in MLB.
Reuss will also speak about his book at the World Series Club. His memoir, “Bring in the Right-Hander,” was published in 2014.
“I started more than 600 games,” said Reuss, but completed less than 150. The inspiration for the title was because when he was taken out of a game, it was to bring in a right-handed pitcher.
“When the manager said bring in the right-hander, I knew my work was done.” Reuss said he wanted a title that would make people at least interested enough to pull it off a shelf.
Reuss said he joined Facebook about a year ago, and started pulling out and sharing some of the stories in the book. It’s rekindled interest in the book, and he has made some updates.
In his retirement, Reuss, who now lives in Las Vegas, does some minor league baseball commentary. His plans for next season include covering 20-25 games for the Las Vegas 51s, now the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s. They will be playing at a brand new 10,000-seat ballpark, and Reuss said he looks forward to broadcasting in front of some full houses.
As for his reputation as a “prankster,” Reuss said really it’s more that he has a sense of humor.
“I just enjoyed a good laugh,” he said of some of his antics. “What I would do would be just spur of the moment.”
He’ll share some of those stories – “what’s fit for a family to hear,” he said – at the World Series Club as well.
Reuss will speak at the World Series Club at the VFW in West Hartford, 83 South St., on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. The event runs from 6-9 p.m.
Tickets to the World Series Club event can be purchased online. All tickets include a buffet dinner, meet and greet, autographs, and an opportunity for questions and answers. Tickets for those 18 and under are just $10.
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