Rich Folkers: Former Mets First Round Pick (1970)

Richard Nevin Folkers was born in Waterloo Iowa on October 17, 1946. 

The tall six-foot two left-handed pitcher with the thick framed eyeglasses always looked very smart & mature on his baseball cards opposed to other players of the day.

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. 

Mets Debut: 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.

Folkers 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. 

Post Mets Career: Folkers spent three seasons in the Cardinals bullpen. In 1972 he made just nine appearances earning his only decision, a win pitching two innings of a 16 inning win at Wrigley Field.

In 1973 he was 4-4 with two saves out of the Cardinals bullpen posting a 3.61 ERA.

On April 11th, 1974, in the second game of a double header at Shea Stadium, he earned win after pitching two shutout innings in a 4-3 win. Tim McCarver's sac fly was the game winning run. 

That week he also recorded two saves. On July 25th, he pitched two scoreless innings in relief of
Bob Gibson at Busch Stadium against the Mets. Joe Torre tied the game in the 9th & the Cards won it when Jack Aker hit Jerry DaVanon with a pitch with the bases loaded. 

On the season, he went 6-2 with two saves posting a .300 ERA in 55 games, third most on the Cardinal team, finishing off 17.

In November 1974 he was traded to the San Diego Padres, along with Sonny Siebert & Alan Foster for Ed Brinkman. 

The Padres tried to make him a starting pitcher again in 1975 as he started 15 of 45 appearances.  

He went 6-11 with a 4.18 ERA striking out 87 batters in a career high 142 innings on the season. He threw nine wild pitches (10th most in the NL) & walked 39.

In 1976 he made 33 appearances with just three spot starts, losing all of them. On May 8th he started at Shea Stadium against the Mets Mickey Lolich, but got knocked out in the 1st inning, getting tagged for four runs & five hits as Dave Kingman, Bud Harrelson & Ed Kranepool all drove in runs.  On the year he was 2-3 with a 5.28 ERA. He gave up ten HRs in 59.2 innings.

He was placed on waivers in March of 1977 & got selected by the Milwaukee Brewers going 0-1 in 1977. That December he was thrown in a trade to Detroit with Jim Slaton for Ben Oglivie. He was released the next Spring.

Career Stats: 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 from 1988 -1992. He also served as pitching coach in the Cardinals organization in the 1990's. 

In his retirement Folkers has lived in St. Petersburg, Florida.


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