Bill Campbell

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Note: This page links to 1970s and 1980s pitcher Bill Campbell; for the broadcaster of the same name, click here

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William Richard Campbell

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Biographical Information[edit]

Bill Campbell was an outstanding relief pitcher in the 1970s and one of the first big money free agents.

Bill's big league journey began with a couple of fair seasons out of the Minnesota Twins bullpen, beginning in 1973, saving 31 games over his first three seasons while making his only 9 big league starts in 138 appearances. In 1976, he broke out, leading the American League with 78 appearances, 68 games finished and a winning percentage of .775, going 17-5 with a 3.01 ERA, 20 saves and 115 strikeouts in 167 2/3 innings. Only ten men in the history of the game have been fortunate enough to win 15 games and record 15 saves; Bill was the only one with at least 17 of each. Only Roy Face (18 wins in 1959) had a season with more wins without a start.

After his big year, he became one of the first free agents in MLB history and cashed in with the Boston Red Sox, agreeing to a four-year, $1 million deal in advance of the 1977 season. Bill stood and delivered in the regular season, finishing 13-9 with an AL-leading 31 saves, 114 strikeouts and a 2.96 ERA in a fierce 69 game run, racking up his second Rolaids Relief Man Award. At the All-Star Game, his lone appearance in one, he struck out Hall of Famer Joe Morgan and Willie Montanez in an inning of work. He was completely ineffective at the start of the 1978 season, however, going 1-3 with a 12.79 ERA and 4 blown saves in April, and went on the disabled list shortly afterwards. His troubles were likely the result of having pitched over 300 innings in relief the previous two seasons, and the rest of his five-year stay with the Sox was marred by injuries, with a high of 54 2/3 innings pitched in 1979.

He made a nice comeback when he joined the Chicago Cubs in 1982, pitching 62 games and 100 innings as the Cubs' second reliever behind Lee Smith. In 1983, he led the National League in games pitched (82) and threw 122 1/3 innings, but his ERA went up from 3.69 to 4.49. He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies before the 1984 season, missing both the Phillies' 1983 run to the World Series and the Cubs' first postseason appearance since 1945 in 1984. He had a decent season as a middle reliever for the Phils, going 6-5, 3.43 in 57 games, and played a similar role with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985 when he was 5-3, 3.50 in 50 games. He finally made the postseason at age 36, making three scoreless appearances against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1985 NLCS and giving up a run in 4 innings against the Kansas City Royals in the World Series. He moved again in 1986 to the Detroit Tigers, where he was 3-6, 3.88 in 34 games. Nearing the end of the line, he was invited to spring training by the Montreal Expos a few weeks after its start in 1987 and made the team's Opening Day roster, but he had little left. Bill gave up 18 hits and 12 runs in 10 innings and was released at the end of April, ending his career.

In 1989, Campbell played for the Winter Haven Super Sox of the Senior Professional Baseball Association. He went 6-2 with 5 saves and a league-best 2.12 ERA. Still a workhorse, he led the league in pitching appearances (35). In 1990, he pitched for the SPBA's Sun City Rays; in 10 games, he was 1-2 with a 3.44 ERA and 1 save before the league folded.

Campbell was the pitching coach of the Denver Zephyrs in 1992, New Orleans Zephyrs in 1993-1994, and Beloit Snappers in 1996, and was a member of the Milwaukee Brewers staff in 1999. Campbell joined the Fox Valley Sports Academy, Elgin, IL, staff in 2005.

Campbell saw combat duty in Vietnam as a radio operator for the 101st Airborne.

Notable Achievements[edit]

Related Sites[edit]