This week I’m continuing my look at terrible Phillies from the 1980s by profiling Don Carman.
Carman was never a guy burdened with high expectations, and his stats don’t immediately identify him as a candidate, but Carman has a couple claims to fame that made him an easy choice.
First, we have Carman’s epic 1989 campaign. Carman led the league with 15 losses, and posted 5.24 ERA (Current Phillies starters are green with envy). When you lead the league in losses, it says a lot about you.
First, you’re durable, and second you play for a very bad team. Pitchers don’t get the opportunity to lose 15 games every year, but the ‘89 Phillies weren’t a team that had a lot of options.
They went 67-95, and needed every one of Carman’s five wins. It was a tough year for Don, who had posted a gaudy 23-25 mark over the previous two years.
Carman’s second qualification is that he was without question one of the worst hitting pitchers ever to wear the Phillies pinstripes. Carman was a career .057 hitter who went hitless in 31 at-bats in 1986.
I knew a kid who went 0-12 in 8th grade, and it haunted him until we graduated high school. I’m not sure what an 0-31 would do to someone.
How did Carman fare at the plate in ‘89, the year his pitching fell apart? He was 1 for 34.
Carman had 75 career strikeouts at the plate and only two walks, likely giving him one of the worst ratios in history. He also never had an extra base hit.
Carman’s offense was so poor that when he did get a hit in 1987, breaking his 0-fer from the year before it made This Week in Baseball.
I actually had tapes of This Week in Baseball as a kid, and saw Carman celebrating his hit dozens of times. It’s inspiring footage.
The icing on Carman’s cake of infamy is that he is still somewhat known among hardcore card collectors due to an unfortunate circumstance in 1987 where TOPPS put his picture on the front of the card, and Rob Woodward’s statistics on the back.
Error cards were popular and pricey for a while, though I don’t think Carman’s was as famous as Billy Ripken’s profanity-laced bat handles. Carman’s error card is currently available on Ebay if you have an extra $3 sitting around. I’d opt for 15 nuggets at Wendy’s instead.
So, cheers to Don Carman, an awful Phillie from my youth, and one of the great double threats of all-time.
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