Steve Carlton, who throws with his left hand, was the last of the workhorses on the mound. During his 24-year career, from 1965 to 1988, he averaged more than 300 IPs per year for four years. He began 41 games in 1972 and finished 30 of them. His career record of 329–244 wins and 3.32 earned run average (ERA) got him into the Hall of Fame in 1994. But not many people knew him well. – Norman L. Macht
Steve Carlton ran into trouble for most of his career. He seems to have focused more on his pitching than his appearance, a massive mistake in the media age.
The names people called him were the best way to see how different his public and private lives were. His teammates called him Lefty, but the press always called him Steve.
People like Grove and Gomez got the name “Lefty” because they were excited and made good copy. Many fanatics were unaware that they even had proper first names.
But Steve Carlton wouldn’t talk to reporters for eight, ten, or thirteen years, depending on who kept track. He was known as the Quiet One, the Monk, and the Hermit. Why? Because he didn’t show any emotion while playing? Because he made no colorful copy? Also, because he did nothing but work hard to become probably the best left-handed player in history? Would it have been distinct if he had let fans know the real Lefty was one of the most innovative, well-read, and interesting people who ever faced hitters?
Carlton’s life was always a mystery. But that same stone wall of focus and self-discipline, along with the deadliest slider any pitcher ever threw, got him into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
Keith Moreland was the Phillies’ World Series in 1980.
Keith Moreland, who caught for the Phillies in 1980 when they won the World Series, said, “He was the most attentive athlete I’ve ever worked with.” “He was able to block out everything. I think there were times when he was so into it that he didn’t even know who was hitting.”
Herm Starrette, the pitching coach for Philadelphia when Lefty was at his best, also remembered that Lefty was calm after a game.
Starrette said in awe, “Whether he pitched a no-hitter or something else when the game was over, and you congratulated him, he’d tell you that was in the past.” Already, he was getting ready for the next game.”
Above all, Lefty was the best pitcher who got there on his own. Things didn’t look good when he first joined the Cardinals in 1965. “He was a tall (6-4), skinny kid with a good curve but not much of a fastball,” his rookie roommate Nellie Briles said. “In 1966, the Cardinals sent him down. Then he brought up to pitch in the Hall of Fame Game in Cooperstown, where he beat the Twins 7-5 and didn’t go back down. He got to more than 200 pounds and made that slider.”
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