Mike LaCoss

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Michael James LaCoss
born Michael James Marks

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Biographical Information[edit]

Mike LaCoss, like many members of Roger Craig's pitching staffs, was known for a split-finger fastball. He won 98 games in the major leagues and was known as a practical joker. As a high school senior, he allowed 2 earned runs in 50 innings. He was picked by the Cincinnati Reds in the third round of the 1974 amateur draft and was assigned to the Billings Mustangs, where he went 6-5 with a 2.79 ERA, 8th in the Pioneer League.

In 1975, Mike was 7-10 with a 2.86 ERA for the Tampa Tarpons. Moving on to the Trois-Rivières Aigles, he had a 12-10, 2.94 season in 1976. Going to spring training with the Reds in 1977, LaCoss was assigned to the Indianapolis Indians and went 11-13 with a 3.87 ERA. He tied Steve Dunning for the American Association lead in losses, tied for third in wins and was third in innings (186). He was nicknamed "Buffie" after a TV character from Family Affair.

Starting 1978 with Indianapolis, he improved to 11-5, 3.46 and tied Steve Baker for the AA lead with three shutouts. Called up to the Reds, he was 4-8 with a 4.50 ERA. He had a 107 ERA+ as a regular starter for the Reds in 1979 and went 14-8, making his only All-Star team. He dropped a decision in the 1979 NLCS. After getting shelled the next two years, LaCoss was let go by Cincinnati.

Mike signed with the Houston Astros and went 6-6 with a 2.90 ERA primarily out of the bullpen for the 1982 edition of the team. His 115 ERA+ was his career-best. In 1983, he slipped to 5-7, 4.43 despite playing in a pitcher's park, and missed a month with a sprained knuckle. He was 7-5 with three saves and a 4.02 ERA as a starter and reliever in 1984.

He was picked up by the Kansas City Royals in 1985 and had a 1-1 record with a 5.09 ERA in 21 relief appearances then was demoted to the Omaha Royals, where he went 1-2, 3.22. As a result, he missed the Royals' run to the World Championship that year. Kansas City let him go and he signed with the San Francisco Giants.

Reviewing videotapes of his time with Cincinnati, LaCoss adjusted his delivery and had a rebound season at 10-13, 3.57 in 1986. He hit his only career home runs in consecutive at-bats though in different games. The first was on June 23rd that year off utility player Dane Iorg, who was pitching at the end of a 18-1 Giants win. Six days later, in his first at-bat, he homered off Tom Browning. He had a 13-10, 3.68 year for the Giants in 1987 and made the playoffs for the second time. He was 9th in the 1987 NL in wins, his highest finish in the majors. He was an average pitcher in both W-L and ERA over the 1988-1989 time period but appeared in his only World Series, the 1989 Fall Classic, which the Giants lost to the Oakland Athletics.

The 33-year-old hurler went 6-4 with a 3.94 ERA for the Giants in 1990 before arthroscopic surgery on his left knee ended his season. He returned the next year to go 1-5 with a 7.23 ERA to finish his big-league career. In 1992, Mike was 0-3 with a 7.30 ERA with Indianapolis to complete his pro baseball career.

LaCoss was a coach for the Brevard County Manatees in 2002.

Sources: Pat Doyle's Professional Baseball Player Database, 1975-1979 Baseball Guides, The Big Book of Jewish Baseball by Peter Horvitz and Joachim Horvitz

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • NL All-Star (1979)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 2 (1979 & 1986)

Related Sites[edit]