Keith Comstock

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Keith Martin Comstock

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Biographical Information[edit]

"Todd said I needed to tell the young guys what I wanted to do. You had to sign a contract to do the baseball card, which covered a bunch of stuff and said you agreed that your photo would show up in the set. Todd told me, "You're the veteran," and said I needed to tell the guys in the clubhouse that they shouldn't sign their card contracts unless this photographer allowed me to get a ball to the crotch. So many of those guys were future major leaguers, and it was pretty obvious the card company needed them in the set. So I did it. I went to the clubhouse, told the guys my idea about the ball and said they shouldn't sign their contracts unless I got this picture taken. They didn't hesitate. It wasn't like some movie moment, though. I didn't mandate anything from them. I wasn't Mel Gibson in "Braveheart." There was no chanting or cheering. Like I said, these guys were 30 minutes from leaving the clubhouse. They were like, "Go ahead." I'm sure they didn't really care." - Keith Comstock, to ESPN in 2019, about the trials and tribulations of getting his legendary minor league trading card made, which features him taking a "comebacker" to the groin.


Keith Comstock was a journeyman reliever over parts of six big league seasons. In 1990, he put together his finest season out of the Seattle Mariners bullpen.

Keith was drafted in the 5th round in the 1976 amateur draft by the California Angels. He began his pro career with the Idaho Falls Angels of the Pioneer League. In 15 games, he was 1-4, 3.89 with 5 saves. Showing a lively and wild arm, he struck out 45 with 32 walks in 37 innings. Moving up to A ball in 1977, he split the year between the low A Quad City Angels and high A Salinas Angels. In the Midwest League, he was 1-0, 5.06, with 5 saves and 39 strikeouts in 32 innings. In the California League, he was 1-1, 4.64, with 6 saves and 41 strikeouts in 33 innings. Returning to Salinas in 1978, Comstock was 6-4, 2.85 in 27 games. He had 2 saves and made 6 starts while racking up 71 strikeouts to 46 walks in 82 innings. Comstock reached AA in 1979 with the El Paso Diablos. In 16 games (8 starts), he was 2-5, 7.14 with a rough 35 walks to 18 strikeouts in 63 innings, drawing his release in July.

Comstock joined the Oakland Athletics in February 1980. Dealing for the West Haven Whitecaps in the Eastern League, he was 2-7, 4.19 in 29 games with 52 strikeouts in 73 innings. Back with West Haven in 1981, he pitched 35 games (22 starts), going 8-7, 4.10 as his strikeout rate rebounded a bit, fanning 133 in 145 innings. He spent most of 1982 in West Haven, but also got his first taste of AAA. In the EL, he was 9-5, 3.02 in 24 games (18 starts) with 69 walks and 132 strikeouts in 125 innings. With the Tacoma Tigers, he was 1-2, 7.16 in 5 starts, striking out 22 but walking 12 in 27 2/3 innings. In March 1983, the Detroit Tigers bought Comstock. According to a Sports Illustrated article in 1990, the price for Keith was $100 and a bag of baseballs that Keith personally got to deliver. Playing in his third AA league with the Tiger chain, the Southern League for the Birmingham Barons, he was 12-3, 3.21 in 37 games (14 starts). He had probably his best command of the strike zone yet as he struck out 136 in 145 2/3 innings. On October 23rd, he became a minor league free agent, immediately signing with the Minnesota Twins.

On April 3, 1984, Keith was rewarded with his major league debut. In 4 games for the Twins, he had a tough 8.53 ERA in 6 1/3 innings. He spent most of the year with the Toledo Mud Hens, where he was exclusively a starter. In 23 games, he was 12-6, 2.79, striking out 154 in 164 1/3 innings. The Twins, nonplussed, released him in November. Comstock spent 1985 and 1986 in Japan. With the Yomiuri Giants, he was 8-8, 4.19 in 1985 and 0-2, 7.83 in 3 games in 1986. The San Francisco Giants signed him in November 1986 and turned him back into a reliever. For the Phoenix Firebirds in 1987, he was 4-2, 2.77 with 2 saves in 17 games, striking out 35 in 39 innings. For the big club, he was 2-0, 3.05 in 15 games with 21 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings. On July 4tg, the Giants traded Comstock, Chris Brown, Mark Davis and Mark Grant to the San Diego Padres for Dave Dravecky, Craig Lefferts and Kevin Mitchell.

The trade was a great one for Keith, affording him a longer big league look. In 26 games for the Padres, he was 0-1, 5.50 with 38 strikeouts in 36 innings. For the Padres in 1988, Comstock had a 6.75 ERA in 7 games. As the closer for the Las Vegas Stars he was 5-4, 3.14, with 17 saves, fanning 78 batters in 71 innings. He returned to Las Vegas in 1989, appearing in 28 games, and the Padres released him on June 18th. Two days later, he signed with the Seattle Mariners. Comstock appeared in 5 games for the Calgary Cannons, with a composite Pacific Coast League line for 1989 of 9-2, 2.93 with 10 saves, striking out 64 in 55 1/3 innings. For the Mariners, he was 1-2, 2.81 with 10 walks and 22 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings.

Keith had his finest big league run in 1990. It would be the only time he spent a full season in the big time. Keith came out of the Mariner bullpen 60 times, finishing with a 7-4, 2.89 record and 2 saves. In 56 innings, he struck out 50 batters while allowing only 40 hits. His reward for such a fine season? Back to Triple A Calgary, of course! In 15 games on the farm, he was 3-1, 3.28 with 38 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings. He made a final big league appearance on August 11, 1991, allowing two runs in one third of an inning. Becoming a free agent after the season, Keith hung it up. As a big leaguer, he finished 10-7, 4.06 with 142 strikeouts in 153 innings. In the minors, he struck out 1,152 in 1263 1/3 innings (8.21 per 9) while walking 640 (4.56 per 9).

In retirement, Keith was pitching coach for the Burlington Bees from 1995-1996 and the San Jose Giants in 1997. He managed the 1998 Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, moving on to skipper the Bakersfield Blaze in 1999, the San Jose Giants in 2000 and the 2001 AZL Giants. He was pitching coach for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in 2002, Arkansas Travelers in 2003, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in 2004 and Arkansas again in 2005. He became a roving instructor in the Los Angeles Angels minor league system in 2006. In 2007, he the pitching coach of the Spokane Indians. After the 2007 season, he was named rehab pitching coordinator by the Texas Rangers, a position he still held in 2019.

Keith is the great grandson of Anthony Comstock, the former United States Postal Inspector. Keith's brother, Brad Comstock, was a pitcher in the Giants chain from 1987-1988.

Year-By-Year Minor League Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs
1998 Salem-Keizer Volcanoes Northwest League 43-33 3rd (t) San Francisco Giants League Champs
1999 Bakersfield Blaze California League 64-76 7th San Francisco Giants
2000 San Jose Giants California League 53-87 9th San Francisco Giants
2001 AZL Giants Arizona League 29-27 3rd San Francisco Giants

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