Bob Shaw: 1960's Bronx Born Mets Pitcher & The Man Who Taught Gaylord Perry How to Throw a Spitball (1966-1967)

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.

Shaw then attended St. Lawrence University, located in upstate New York at Canton, 50 miles southwest of Montreal.  It was there he decided to drop football & play baseball. 

MLB Career: Bob was signed as an amateur free agent in 1953 by the Detroit Tigers. In August 1957 he was brought up to the Tigers big league club. In his debut he served a HR to the White Sox's Walt Droppo. After going 1-2 Bob was traded to the Chicago White Sox the next year. 

White Sox Career: Shaw enjoyed his best season in 1959 as part of the A.L. Champion "Go Go Sox".

He posted the best winning percentage in the AL at .750% going 18-12 with a 2.69 ERA (both third best totals in the AL). 
Shaw pitched 230 innings with three shutouts & eight complete games.
He was in the center of a staff featuring Early Wynn (22 -10) & Billy Pierce (14-15) going 18-12. 

Shaw said he learned many things from teammate Early Wynn who would win 300 games in his career & get elected to the Hall of Fame in 1972. He learned how to pitch smarter & took Wynn's advice by not using a rosin bag, finding out that he had more control without it. 

In Chicago, Shaw began to dress more fashionable, shopping at better clothing stores where Wynn shopped. More importantly, he also learned how to invest outside of baseball, purchasing a commercial property that he would rent out to a doctor.

1959 World Series:
In the 1959 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Shaw got the start for Game #2 in Chicago. He served up HRs to Charlie Neal & another to Chuck Essegian, taking the loss. 

In Game 5 he returned to have his finest career moment. Shaw got the call to pitch from manager Al Lopez, with the "Go Go" Sox down three games to one. 

Shaw with Johnny Podres
That night, a record crowd of 92,706 came to L.A. Coliseum to watch a young Sandy Koufax pitch against Bob Shaw. At this point in time, Sandy Koufax still hadn’t developed into being the great pitcher he was to become.

In the game, Shaw shut out the Dodgers into the 8th inning, out pitching Koufax in a 1-0 thriller. Although he only struck out one batter, he didn't allow any runs, walked just one & scattered eighth its. The Dodgers took the Series a win the next night.

Trivia: Shaw had a promotional photo of himself & Koufax taken together before the game. In 2009 it had been hanging in his living room for 47 years until he listened to his wife's advice & asked Koufax to sign it for him.

After the World Series: He returned to go 13-13 the next year with a 4.06 ERA as the White Sox fell to third place. Shaw would get traded to the Kansas City Athletics in an eight player deal midway through the 1961 season

The next year he went on to the Milwaukee Braves, winning 15 games there posting a 2.80 ERA with 124 strike outs in 38 games (29 starts) making the 1962 All Star team. He also hit a career high 12 batters (2nd most in the NL).

1962 All Star Game: In the All-Star game he earned the save closing out the last two innings, getting his former teammate Luis Aparicio to fly out to end the game.

In 1963 he saved 13 games which was sixth best in the league, posting a 2.66 ERA with a 7-11 record for the sixth place Braves. 

Record For Balks in a Game: On May 3rd in a game against the Chicago Cubs, he was charged with five balks setting an MLB record.

On December 1963, He was traded along with Del Crandall & Bob Hendley to the San Francisco Giants for Felipe Alou, Ed Bailey & Billy Hoeft. 

S.F. Giants Career: In his first season with the Giants, he was 7-6 leading the team with 11 saves (10th most in the NL) & finishing off 27 games. The Giants won 90 games but finished fourth that season.

The Spitball:
It was this season that he taught Gaylord Perry how to throw a spitball. Shaw would place KY Jelly on various spots of the cap & uniform, then rubbing it into the baseball where it can't be traced after the pitch is thrown. 

Perry was just in his third season at that point in his career. In 1963 he had gone 1-6 with a 4.03 ERA improving to 12-11 with a 2.75 ERA in 1964. 

Perry would master the pitch, for two decades he had batters & opposing managers thinking he was throwing a spitball or doctoring a baseball. Perry did not get caught in any illegal acts until his 21st season in 1982. In his career he was a four-time twenty game winner, leading the league in wins three times, finishing with 314 career victories & getting elected to the Hall of Fame. 

In 1965 Bob Shaw was 16-9 with a 2.64 ERA, striking out a career high 148 batters for the second place Giants who won 90 games & finished just two games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. His .640-win loss % was 9th best in the NL. He was second to Juan Marichal on the staff that featured Gaylord Perry & Jack Sanford.

In 1966 both Perry & Marichal were both twenty game winners, with Bobby Bolin becoming the number three man. Shaw was 1-4 with an ERA over six, when on June 10th, 1966, his contract was purchased by the New York Mets.

Mets Career: Shaw was a breath of fresh air for the Mets staff. On June 13th he debuted as a Met at Shea Stadium, beating the St. Louis Cardinals in a complete game two run, five hit effort. 

He went on the road and got a win against the Cincinnati Reds even though he allowed five earned runs. On June 21st, he pitched a four hit, one run complete game in St. Louis against a good Cardinal team, striking out nine batters beating Tracy Stallard.

Four days later in Chicago he pitched another complete game win in a Mets 11-3 victory at Wrigley Field. This was usually unheard of for a Mets pitcher in the mid-sixties. 

Shaw would win his first four Mets starts & five of his first six games.  In July he took three straight losses, then allowed just one earned run in seven innings to the Houston Astros in a July 18th double header. 

On July 31st he out dueled Bill Hands at Wrigley Field for a 2-1 victory, where he allowed just five hits & struck out five. 

On August he took two losses then had two no decisions in games where he allowed just one & then two earned runs. On August 29th he beat Claude Osteen & the NL Champion Dodgers at Shea Stadium in a complete game 5-3 win.

On September 19th, 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. On September 28th, he tossed another shut out, a six hitter at Shea Stadium once again defeating Bill Hands & the Chicago Cubs.

He would finish the season tied for the team lead in wins with Jack Fisher, 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.

1967 Season: He started the fourth game of the Mets season taking a loss at Philadelphia after getting knocked out in the 5th inning of 1 6-2 loss. In his next start he allowed just one earned run to the Phillies but two unearned runs on a Mets error led to a 4-3 loss.

Sonn Shaw found himself at 0-3 & he was summoned to the bullpen. In May he took two more losses in relief, falling to 0-5 while running his ERA up to near six.

On June 3rd, he got a start at Candlestick Park facing off against Bobby Bolin. Shaw pitched 11 innings, allowing just one run on three hits earning the victory over his old team. In the top of the 11th Cleon Jones singled & the Mets scored their runs on doubles from Johnny Lewis & Tommy Davis.

 On June 14th, two starts later, he threw another shut out, a six hitter over the Cincinnati Reds at Shea Stadium. 

Over the next month, Shaw would go 1-4 but also had three no decisions in games where he allowed two runs or less. In mid-July he had his contract purchased by the Chicago Cubs.

Mets Career Stats: In two seasons with the Mets, he was 14-19 with a 4.06 ERA, striking out 153 batters walking 70 in 49 appearances making 38 starts.

Post Mets Career: He ended his career that season after going 0-2 in nine appearances with the Cubs. 

Career Stats: In an 11-year career, he was 108-98 lifetime with 32 saves & a 3.52 ERA. He threw 14 shut outs, with 55 complete games. He posted 880 strikeouts with 511 walks in 1778 innings pitched in 430 appearances (223 starts) & 101 games finished.

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 turn pitcher Jim Colborn into a 13-game winner but GM Jim Wilson blamed 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 became a long-time real estate developer for Shaw Soden Realty & Management Properties in Northern Palm Beach County. 

He also coached American Legion baseball there in the seventies & eighties.

Passing: Shaw passed away on September 23rd, 2010, in Tequesta, Florida he was 77 years old.


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