Jan 4, 2016

Former Mets Pitching Coach: Charlie Hough (2001-2002)

Charles Oliver Hough was born in a military hospital in in Honolulu, Hawaii on January 5th, 1948. He was raised in South Florida & graduated from Hialeah High School in 1966.

The six foot two right hander, was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the eighth round of the 1966 draft. He was signed because he had a power hitter’s swing, although he didn’t hit many HRs.

When he got to the Dodger minor leagues, Tommy Lasorda suggested he become a pitcher, so he converted to that role. That year he led the league in losses & allowed the most HRs (8) while batting .244. The next year he was 14-4 at A Ball Santa Barbara, second best winning % in the league but soon had arm trouble which affected him at the AA level.

By 1970 Tommy Lasorda & scout Goldie Holt, taught Hough how to throw a knuckleball, it  would change his whole career. Although he had trouble controlling it at first, the knuckleball soon became his best pitch. At AAA Albuquerque, the catchers would have trouble with the knuckler because they didn’t have mitts big enough to catch with. In 1970 while at Spokane, Hough just missed qualifying for the AAA ERA title with a 1.95 ERA. He led the league in saves (18) & went 12-8 earning him a promotion to the big leagues. 

He debuted pitching against the 1970 NL Eastern Campion Pirates that September. He struck out Willie Stargell with a knuckler in the 9th inning, with the bases loaded.

In the next three seasons, Hough was back &; forth to AAA Albuquerque, before winning another 14 games there in 1972. He then arrived with the Dodgers for good by 1973.

In his first full season Hough struck out 70 batters in 71 innings. He would pitch out of the Dodger bull pen through 1979, posting some very good seasons. In the Dodgers 1974 NL Championship season, he was 9-4 with one save, a 3.75 ERA, striking out 63 batters in 96 innings of work.

Post Season: In the NLCS win over the Pirates, he allowed two runs in the Game Three 7-0 loss. In the World Series against the Oakland A's he pitched two scoreless innings in Game #3. He allowed two runs (NLCS) in four innings.

After a rough 3-7 year, Hough had one of his best seasons in the bicentennial year going 12-8. He posted 18 saves (4th in the league) & a 2.21 ERA in 77 appearances.

In 1977 he saved 22 games (4th in the league) sharing the closer role with Mike Garman (12) for the NL Champion Dodgers. Hough went 6-12 with a 3.32 ERA in 70 games.

Post Season: He did not post any saves in the post season, appearing in one game in the NLCS win over the Philadelphia Phillies. He allowed one run in two innings pitched. He saw action in two World Series games, allowing one run in five innings pitched. That run came in Game #6, it was the third of Reggie Jacksons historic three HR night.

The next season the Dodgers acquired Terry Forster for the closers role, & Hough settled for a 5-5 record with seven saves. He had a bad post season; first he allowed a run to the Phillies in the NLCS, then had a horrible Game #5 in the World Series. He allowed five runs, ten hits & two walks in four innings pitched in the Dodgers 12-2 loss.

In July of 1980 his contract was purchased by the Texas Rangers, there he became a starting pitcher and turned his career around again.

From 1982 through 1988 he would win 14 games or more each season, including a 17 win season in 1986 (6th in the league) & an 18 win season in 1987 (4th in the league). He would be in the top ten in victories four times, lead the league in starts twice (1984 & 1987), complete games (17 in 1984) & innings (260 in 1984) one time each.

In 1986 he made his only All Star appearance at age His latter career stats are very impressive, as he would be among the top ten league leaders in complete games six times, innings five times, strikeouts four times, shut outs three times & ERA three times. The knuckleball helped his longevity, and his long innings also put him among the top in other categories as well.

Hough twice led the league in hits batsmen & his 174 career hit by pitches places him 10th all time. He allowed 383 career HRs, 16th all time, his 179 wild pitches are 20th all time, his 1665 walks are 8th all time, his 3282 hits are 89th all time & his 216 losses 30th most ever.

He went 12-12 in Texas in 1990 on a pitching staff where the only guy older than him was Nolan Ryan. Hough signed with the White Sox for two years & found himself pitching to another 43 year old, Carlton Fisk.

After two seasons Hough signed on with the expansion Florida Marlins in 1993. Hough pitched the first game in Marlins history as well as earning himself the win to go down in the Florida record books. By then he was the oldest pitcher in the league at age 45, and his 16 losses (9-16) were 4th most in the NL.

Charlie Hough finished his long 25 year career in 1994, going 216-216 lifetime (82nd all time in wins & 30th all time in losses). He posted a 3.75 ERA, with 2362 strikeouts (43rd all time) with 61 saves.

He had 13 shutouts & 107 complete games in 3801 innings pitched (51st all time) over 858 games (34th all time) with 440 starts (85th all time).

Hough has allowed 383 career HRs (16th most all time) & 1665 walks (8th all time). 

Retirement: After his playing career he coached in San Bernardino at A ball, then was promoted to the Dodgers as their pitching coach from 1996-1998.

In 2001 he replaced Dave Wallace as the Mets pitching coach under Bobby Valentine. His staff was 9th in wins (82) but first in saves (48) & shutouts (3). The staff ERA was 5th in the NL at 4.07 & 5th in strikeouts with 1191.

In 2002 the staff ERA was better at 3.89 (5th again in the NL) & their nine complete games also 5th. But the staff fell off in most other area winning only 75 games allowing 163 HRs & 624 earned runs as the team fell to 5th place.

Hough was gone in 2003 as the Art Howe regime began.

From 2007-2010 he was back coaching at San Bernardino.

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