Kids, there used to be thing called doubleheaders
Yes, I know the Rays scheduled a traditional doubleheader on June 9 this season, but two games for the price of one used to be a regular thing and many were scheduled by each team at the start of the season. This story is about doubleheaders and a pitcher named Phil Regan who set a record that I don’t think will ever be broken.
Phil Regan pitched out of the Dodgers bullpen from 1966 until he was traded to the Cubs in April (yes, April!) 1968. Phil is a righty who pitched in the majors for 13 seasons going 96-81 record with 92 saves. His 1966 season remains one for the books. In 1966, Regan came out of the Dodgers bullpen 65 times, going 14-1 with an NL leading 21 saves. It was that season that his teammate, Sandy Koufax, gave him the nickname “The Vulture.”
In a great article about Regan in the NY Post, Regan told Kevin Kernan,
“Sandy pitched a game in Los Angeles against the Phillies, and Jim Bunning, he went 11 innings, gave up one run and struck out 16. They took Sandy out for a pinch hitter. I came in, pitched one inning, we got a run and I got the win,’’ Regan recalled. “Four days later we went to Pittsburgh. Sandy went seven innings, struck out nine, gave up one run. They took him out for a pinch hitter. I came in, we scored and I got the win.
“He came in the clubhouse and said, ‘Regan, you are a real vulture. Give me my win,’ and some reporter heard it, and that’s the way it started.
“Sandy was the best pitcher I’ve ever seen. He could have been a 30-game winner his last year, but I vultured a few wins.’’
Just to let you know, Regan was not really a “vulture,” a term commonly used when a reliever blows a lead for a starter and then the team comes back and the reliever earns the win. In that 1966 season, Regan earned wins when he entered a tie game eight times, and four times when the Dodgers trailed. Only twice did he pick up the win when blowing a lead, each time it was just a run and each time he allowed an inherited run to score.
Getting to the record
Game 1 Dodgers pitching
|Phil Regan, W (1-0)||1||2||1||1||0||1||0||5.40||5||0||0|
|Jack Billingham, S (1)||1||0||0||0||1||2||0||0.00||4||0||0|
Game 2 Dodgers pitching
|Phil Regan, W (2-0)||4.1||6||1||1||0||4||1||3.52||19||0||0|
|Jack Billingham, S (2)||1.2||1||0||0||2||0||0||0.00||7||2||0|
Then came this:
Fast forward to July 7, 1968
The Cubs are facing the Pirates in a doubleheader.
Game 1 – Regan picks up a vulture win
|Phil Regan, BS (3), W (5-2)||0.1||2||0||0||0||0||0||2.56||3||2||2|
Game 2 – Regan wins again
|Phil Regan, W (6-2)||2||2||0||0||0||3||0||2.48||8||0||0|
No other reliever has ever won both ends of a doubleheader twice in the same season
A record I doubt will ever be broken or even tied.
BTW: In his first appearances for Chicago on April 28, he picked up saves in both ends of a doubleheader
One more salute to Phil
Regan is in his ninth season with the Mets as their assistant minor league pitching coordinator and on April 7, 2017, one day after his 80th birthday, Phil Regan threw batting practice for the Mets before their game against the Marlins.
Take a look:
As he said that day, “There was never a point where I had a sore arm,” Regan said. “If you just keep doing it, the more you do it, keep doing it, keep doing it day after day — I think Jim Kaat said you’ll rust out before you wear out. That’s probably true.”