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The Turk Was Unlucky 13...And Historically Unlucky at Pitching

Dick "Turk" Farrell was an original Colt 45s, and he took the No. 13. As superstitious as baseball players can be, it's a wonder that any players will wear the number. Farrell was the best Astros' starting pitcher of his era, and he represented the Colt 45s/Astros three times (62, 64, 65) in the All Star Game. He was a hard throwing reliever picked in the expansion draft off the Dodgers' roster, and he was converted into a starting pitcher by the new franchise. Farrell was a successful pitcher with the Phillies in the 1950s before he was traded to the Dodgers.

So why do I say he was historically unlucky at pitching? He was the best 20 game loser in history. In the Colt 45s inaugural season, Farrell posted a 10-20 W/L record with a 7.4 Wins Above Replacement. Yes, you read that right: 7.4 WAR in a 20 loss season. Farrell had the 7th best ERA in the league. By way of comparison, Roy Oswalt's best season was 6.2 WAR. Farrell's closest competition is Phil Niekro who had 8.4 WAR in a 16- 20 season, but required about 100 more innings (Niekro pitched 330 innings) to get the extra win over Farrell. Farrell had an ERA+ of 128, compared to 111 for Niekro. Isn't there something noble about pitching that well and being rewarded with 20 losses?

By all accounts, Farrell was a colorful character. He had a reputation for enjoying the night life during his career in the 1950's. Perhaps this reputation is why the Dodgers made him available at the age of 28 in the expansion draft. He was a notorious prankster with the Colt 45s/Astros. He is known, for example, to have place alligators in the team whirlpool. He was eventually traded back to the Phillies for two years, before retiring from the major leagues in 1969. He continued pitching in the minor leagues into the 1970's before he pitched his last game in the Mexican League. He died in an auto accident in 1977; the New York Times obituary is here.