Jun 17, 2015

Former Cy Young Winner & Short Mets Pitcher: Dean Chance (1970)

Wilmer Dean Chance was born on June 1, 1941 in Plain Township, Ohio. He was originally signed by the Baltimore Orioles then was picked up by the Washington Senators in the 1960 expansion draft.

The six foot three right hander then got traded to the expansion Los Angeles Angels for Joe Hicks that December. He went from the low levels of the minor leagues right up to AAA Dallas- Forth Worth where he was 9-12.

After a brief call up in 1961, he won 14 games leading the Angels staff in wins in 1962. He posted a 2.96 ERA, striking out 127 batters in 206 innings pitched, coming in third in the Rookie of the Year voting. In 1963 he won 13 games for the 9th place Angels although he lost 18 games (third most in the AL) posting a 3.19 ERA.

He became one of the first pitching stars for the Los Angeles Angels along with the Hollywood styling Bo Belinski. In 1964 Chance was one of the best pitchers in baseball, winning the Cy Young Award (at the time only one Cy Young Award was given out to both leagues) & coming in fifth in the MVP voting. Chance led the AL in wins (20) ERA (1.65) complete games (15) shut outs (11) & innings pitched (278). He also had a career high 207 strikeouts (3rd most in the AL).

The next year the Los Angeles Angels became the California Angels, Chance won 15 games, leading the staff going 15-10 (8th best in the AL). He posted a 3.15 ERA striking out 164 batters pitching four shut outs. At the time the Angels needed hitting real bad, and after Chance went 12-17 leading the AL in walks in 1966 (although he posted a 3.08 ERA) he was traded to the Minnesota Twins for Don Mincher & Jimmie Hall.

Chance rebounded to win twenty more games (20-14) for the Twins in 1967 leading the league in games (39) complete games (18) & innings pitched (283) while posting a 2.73 ERA. The Twins were in the tight '67 pennant race with the Chicago White Sox right through September, but both teams lost out to the Boston Red Sox on the last day of the season in "their Impossible Dream" season.

In 1968 Chance was 16-16, eighth most wins in the AL & second most losses in the league. By 1969 his career fell off, appearing in only twenty games going 5-4 as the Twins won the AL West but lost to the Baltimore Orioles in the ALCS. In that Series he gave up three earned runs in two innings pitched. In December of 1969 he was traded along with Bob Miller, Graig Nettles and Ted Uhlaender to the Cleveland Indians for Luis Tiant and Stan Williams. After going 9-8 he was released and picked up by the New York Mets in mid September of 1970.

At the time the reigning World Champion Mets were only 2 ½ games out of first place with two weeks left in the season. They wanted Chance's veteran experience for the stretch run & possible playoffs. He made his Mets debut on September 20th, but gave up two runs in 2/3 of an inning pitched in a crucial loss to the first place Pittsburgh Pirates. Two nights later he earned a save in a 7-6 win at Philadelphia.

On September 25th, he took a loss at Three Rivers Stadium, to the Pirates, putting the Mets 3 ½ back & pretty much ending their pennant chances. He is immortalized forever as a Met in a 1971 Topps baseball card, but was traded to the Detroit Tigers before the start of the 1971 season.

In his 11 year career he was 128-115 with 1534 strikeouts 83 complete games 33 shutouts & an excellent 2.92 ERA.

Retirement: Back in 1969 he became a boxing manager and promoter. In the 1990s he created the International Boxing Association & has been the president since its inception.

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