Former Orioles 20-game winner Dobson dies at 64

Updated: November 24, 2006, 1:49 AM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- Pat Dobson, one of four pitchers to win 20 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 1971, has died. He was 64.

Dobson died Wednesday night in the San Diego area, the San Francisco Giants said Thursday. He was a special assistant to Giants general manager Brian Sabean this year, his ninth with the club.

The team didn't immediately release details about the cause of death. But USA Today reported on its Web site that Dobson's wife, Kathe, said he died one day after being diagnosed with leukemia.

Dobson went 20-8 with a 2.90 ERA for the AL champion Orioles in 1971, rounding out a famous rotation that also included Hall of Famer Jim Palmer (20-9), Dave McNally (21-5) and Mike Cuellar (20-9). The 1920 Chicago White Sox are the only other team in major league history to have four 20-game winners.

"He's one of four that everybody will remember," former Orioles manager Earl Weaver told The Associated Press. "He had a great year for us."

The next season, Dobson made the AL All-Star team with Baltimore. Though he finished that year 16-18, he had a solid 2.65 ERA.

"He had a great curveball," said Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, Dobson's teammate with the Orioles. "He was a real gamer, a real competitor. He didn't give in to anybody."

Dobson went 122-129 with a 3.54 ERA in 11 major league seasons and won a World Series ring with the 1968 Detroit Tigers. He was 19-15 with a 3.07 ERA for the 1974 New York Yankees. The right-hander also pitched for San Diego, Atlanta and Cleveland.

Dobson started Game 4 of the 1971 World Series against Pittsburgh and got a no-decision, allowing three runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings. The Pirates beat Baltimore in seven games.

"He was a free spirit and I enjoyed having him," Weaver said. "He was a pleasure to have on the team. He caused a lot of laughs, and he kept his teammates laughing."

Weaver, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996, recalled that Dobson had a terrific curveball even when he was struggling with Detroit mostly as a reliever -- but he rarely threw it for a strike.

So when the Orioles acquired him, Weaver spoke with pitching coach George Bamberger about getting Dobson to cut down on the curve so he could control it better.

"When he started throwing that curveball for a strike, it was all over," Weaver said. "He could throw the curveball at any time in the count."

After his playing career ended, Dobson spent eight seasons as a big league pitching coach for Milwaukee (1982-84), San Diego (1988-90), Kansas City (1991) and Baltimore (1996).

"He made his life baseball," Weaver said, "and enjoyed every minute of it."

Dobson joined the Giants in 1997 and served as an advance scout before becoming a special assistant to Sabean.

"Pat's untimely death is a complete shock to the whole organization and me and it's hard for us to express our feelings right now," Sabean said. "We've all become so close through the years and we're going to miss him dearly. ... I can't put into words the impact Pat had on the Giants over the years."

Dobson was the Colorado Rockies' first advance scout from 1993-95. He also spent five years as a minor league pitching instructor and managed the Fort Myers Sun Sox in the Senior League in 1989-90.

"I got to know Dobber well when he returned to our organization as pitching coach in 1996 and will never forget the fun times we had, talking baseball and telling stories, before and after games," Orioles executive vice president for baseball operations Mike Flanagan said. "He will be missed."

Dobson's bio in San Francisco's media guide said he was living in El Cajon near San Diego. He was born Feb. 12, 1942, in Depew, N.Y., and is survived by his wife and six children: Pat III, Nancy, Stacy, Chris, Shannon and Stephanie.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press