Robert John Shaw was born on June 29, 1933 in the Bronx, New York. The six foot two right hander, attended high school in Garden City Long Island perusing a football career. He went to St. Lawrence University way upstate in Canton, New York, 50 miles southwest of Montreal. There he changed his mind & decided to play baseball. He was signed as an amateur free agent in 1953 by the Detroit Tigers.
He came up in August 1957 with Detroit allowing a HR to the Chicago White Sox's Walt Droppo in his first appearance. After going 1-2 he was traded to the White Sox the next year. He enjoyed his finest season in 1959 as part of the A.L. Champion "Go Go Sox". He had the best winning percentage in the league at .750%. He anchored a staff in the middle of Early Wynn (22 -10) & Billy Pierce (14-15) going 18-12 with 2.69 ERA (both third best in the A.L.). He pitched 230 innings with three shutouts & eight complete games.
He learned how to pitch better watching Hall of Famer Early Wynn. He took Wynn's advice by not using a rosin bag, inding he had more control without it. He began to dress better, shopping at the fancier clothing stores Wynn did & he also learned to invest outside of baseball. He bought a commercial property he eventually rented out to a doctor.
Post Season: In the 1959 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he took the loss in Game #2 but returned to have his finest moment in Game #5. Shaw got the call to pitch Game #5 with the Go Go Sox down three games to one. That night a record crowd of 92,706 came to L.A. Coliseum to watch a young Sandy Koufax pitch against Bob Shaw. Koufax still hadn’t developed into one of the best pitchers the game has ever seen yet at that point.
In that World Series Game #5, Shaw pitched into the 8th inning & although he only struck out one batter he didn't allow any runs. Shaw got the win & ended up beating Koufax 1-0 . Shaw had a promotional photo of he & Koufax taken together before the game hanging in his living room for 47 years, before he finally listened to his wife and asked Koufax to sign it in 2009.
He returned to go 13-13 the next year with a 4.06 ERA as the Sox fell to third place. Shaw would get traded to the Kansas City A’s in an eight player deal midway through 1961. The next year he went on to the Milwaukee Braves (1962-1963) & the San Francisco Giants (1964-1966) over the next six years pitching as a reliever & starter. In 1962 he went 15-9 with a 2.80 ERA & 124 strike outs for the Braves, making his only All Star appearance. In the All Star game he earned the save closing out the last two innings, getting his former team mate Luis Aparacio to fly out.
He went to the bullpen for two seasons on & off saving over 11 games both times. In 1965 he was 16-9 with a 2.64 ERA at San Francisco. His .640 win loss % was 9th best in the NL. On June 10th 1966 his contract was purchased by the New York Mets.
Shaw was a breath of fresh air for the Mets staff. He arrived at Shea Stadium on June 13th and beat the Cardinals in a complete game two run five hit effort. He went on the road and got a win against the Cincinnati Reds. On June 21st he pitched a four hit, one run complete game in St. Louis against a good Cardinal team, striking out nine batters. Four days later in Chicago he pitched another complete game win in a Mets 11-3 victory. This was usually unheard of for a Mets pitcher in the mid sixties. Shaw would win five of his first six games as a Met, before losing the next four of five going into September. He followed that up with three more good starts in the middle of the month.
Shaw threw a four hit, ten inning shutout in Houston to beat the Astros. After He then had a no decision in Cincinnati although he pitched well, allowing just two runs over seven innings. Then on September 28th he tossed another shut out, a six hitter at Shea over the Cubs, He would finish the season tied for the team lead in wins going 11-10 also tying for the lead in shutouts (2). He posted a 3.92 ERA pitching in 167 innings striking out 104 batters with 42 walks & throwing 11 wild pitches (6th most in the NL). He never struck out many batters in his career but did throw a lot of innings.
He started the fourth game of the 1967 season and took the loss after getting knocked out in the 5th inning. The season started out terrible as Shaw lost his first three starts and was summoned to the bullpen. He took two more losses in July, falling to 0-5 while running his ERA up to near six before finally getting his first win in June. On June 3rd, he got a start & beat the Giants at Candlestick Park, allowing just one run on three hits, over 11 innings of work. He threw another shut out, a six hitter against the Reds at Shea Stadium the following week. But Shaw would lose four of his next five decisions and had his contract purchased by the Chicago Cubs in July.
He ended his career that season after going 0-2 in nine games with the Cubs.
After an 11 year career, he was 108-98 lifetime with 32 saves, 14 shut outs, 55 complete games, 880 strikeouts, 511 walks and a 3.52 ERA.
Retirement: In the early seventies he was a pitching coach for the Milwaukee Brewers but resigned in 1973 after a difference with upper management. Shaw had helped Jim Colborn turn into a 13 game winner but GM Jim Wilson plamed Shaw for changing Bill Parsons delivery. Parsons fell from a 13 game winner in 1972 to having only three wins through late July 1973.
After baseball Shaw moved to Jupiter, Florida and has been a long time real estate developer for Shaw Soden Realty & Management Properties. He aslo coached American Legion baseball there in the seventies & eighties.