Tales from the Teepee: Scott Bailes
He was the Tribe’s premier lefty in the mid to late 80s, a man who set the Indians’ record for wins for a rookie reliever (eight in 1986) and threw five complete games with two shutouts as a starter in 1988.
At the same time, he never had an ERA below 4.28. In the aforementioned 1988 season, he finished with a losing record and was demoted to the bullpen before the end of the season.
“Almost Never Fails” Scotty Bailes dumbfounded Indians management and the fans alike, at times showing flashes of averageness and, at other times, looking absolutely god-awful.
Bailes had a whopping 13-year Major League career, and if that doesn’t say anything about the lack of quality left-handed pitching at the Major League level, I don’t know what does.
Bailes pitched at Southwest Missouri State and was drafted in the seventh round of the 1982 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He came to the Indians in 1985 as the “player to be named,” and made his Major League debut the next season.
In 1986, Bailes had a perfectly average season. In 62 appearances, most out of the bullpen, he finished 10-10 with seven saves and an ERA just under 5.00. As I mentioned, all but two of those wins came in relief.
Maybe it’s just me, but that seems like an awful lot of decisions for a guy who made most of his appearances in relief.
The 1986 Indians weren’t even that bad. Sure they finished in fifth place in the AL East, but they won 84 games and all signs pointed to a team on the rise.
Bailes split his time between the rotation and the bullpen in 1987, making 17 starts and 15 relief appearances, compiling a record of 7-8 with a 4.64 ERA—the definition of an “Even Steven.”
Due to the Tribe’s financial struggles, and the fact the Bailes made only $80,000—just above the league minimum, he was forced to take an offseason job as a nanny for a New Jersey family under the pseudonym “Charles," disclosing his secret only to his best friend, Buddy.
In his breakout year in 1988, he had two shutouts and five complete games, but his record slid to 9-14 and he was demoted to the bullpen.
The 1989 season brought more of the same. Despite his career-low ERA of 4.28 he finished with a losing record and the Tribe, facing yet another rebuilding process, dealt him to the Angels in the offseason for future International League Hall of Famer Jeff Manto.
"Scotty 2 Hotty" threw a few years with the Halos. He was released in 1992, and kicked around the minors for a few years before retiring in 1995.
(Remarkable to me only because he was only the second Tribe player I remember from my youth playing for another team after being dealt/discarded by the Indians, the first being Pat Tabler who was traded to the Royals the previous year.)
Shockingly, he made his comeback to the Majors in 1997 with Texas, where he pitched for two years before finally hanging it up for good after the 1998 season.
Currently Bailes is a color analyst for the St. Louis Cardinals AA affiliate, the Springfield Cardinals.
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