Former Mets First Round Pick Pitcher: Rich Folkers (1970)

Richard Nevin Folkers was born in Waterloo Iowa on October 17, 1946. The tall six foot two left handed pitcher with the thick black framed eye glasses always looked older on his baseball cards than he actually was.

Folkers was a highly touted prospect attending two colleges, including Parsons College in Iowa at the same time former Met pitcher Charlie Williams, attended the school. 

He was picked by three different teams, choosing to sign with the New York Mets, as a first round pick (20th overall) in 1967 during their pitching rich days of the late sixties.

He pitched well in the minors going 13-9 at AA ball, with his best pitch being a screwball. He then went to serve in military service, doing a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1969. 

In 1970 Folkers was 4-0 at AAA Tidewater when he got called up making his MLB debut on June 10th, 1970 at the Houston Astrodome. That day he pitched two innings allowing only a run in the Mets 5-3 loss. He pitched only in relief at the start and earned his first save on July 3rd against the Philadelphia Phillies.

In early July at San Francisco he got his first start and was roughed up for six runs in five innings taking the loss. He would get another loss against the Giants again at Shea Stadium a week later.

He went 0-2 with two saves and a 6.44 ERA in 16 appearances in his only season with the Mets in 1970.

He spent 1971 in the minors going 7-11 with a 4.50 ERA as a starting pitcher. That off season he was traded along with Art Shamsky, Jim Bibby, & Charlie Hudson to the St. Louis Cardinals for Jim Beauchamp, Harry Parker and Chuck Taylor. 

He spent three seasons in the Cardinals bullpen going 10-6 with ERAs in the mid threes, earning five saves overall.

He was traded to the San Diego Padres and they tried to make him a starter again in 1975. He went 6-11 with a 4.18 ERA striking out just 87 batters in 142 innings on the season.

He pitched in relief & as a starter for two seasons in San Diego and finished up his career in Milwaukee with the Brewers going 0-1 in 1977.

The former first round pick ended his seven season career in 1978, going 19-23 with 11 saves. He struck out 242 batters with 170 walks & a 4.11 ERA in 195 appearances. At the plate he batted .143 with six RBIs.

Retirement: He coached at Eckerd College in the late eighties / early nineties and then did some coaching for the Cardinals. He currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.


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