Robert Lynn "Bob" Welch (born November 3, 1956) is a former starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers (1978–87) and Oakland Athletics (1988–94). He played in college for Eastern Michigan. Welch was best known for his blazing fastball, and he is the last pitcher to win at least 25 games in a single season (27 in 1990). He also had a well-respected split-fingered pitch that was displayed on a baseball card.
In a 17-year career, Welch compiled a 211-146 record with 1,969 strikeouts and a 3.47 ERA in 3,092 innings. His 137 wins during the 1980s was third among major league pitchers during that decade, following Jack Morris and Dave Stieb.
Striking out Reggie Jackson in the 1978 World Series
Welch gained national fame in 1978 when as a 21-year-old rookie he struck out Reggie Jackson with two men on base and two out in the top of the ninth inning of Game 2 of the 1978 World Series.
Welch was the third starting pitcher in the rotation for the 1989 World Series champion Oakland A's, compiling a regular-season record of 17-8 and recording a win in his only start in the American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays. In an odd twist of fate, however, Welch did not throw a single pitch against the San Francisco Giants during the World Series itself. Just minutes before Welch was to take the mound in Game 3, Candlestick Park and the Bay Area were struck by the Loma Prieta earthquake, which caused extensive damage in the region and forced the postponement of the game. When the Series was resumed 11 days later, A's manager Tony LaRussa opted to re-use his Game 1 starter, Dave Stewart, for Game 3 in place of Welch, and his Game 2 starter, Mike Moore, for Game 4 in place of originally scheduled starter Storm Davis. The strategy worked, as the A's swept the Series in four games. For obvious reasons, the 1989 World Series was also known as the Earthquake Series.
A two-time All-Star, Welch won 14 or more games in eight years, with a career-high 27 in 1990. In that season he received the Cy Young Award and was considered in the MVP vote. The 27 win total was the most by any pitcher since Steve Carlton also won 27 in 1972, and currently stands as the last time a pitcher has won 25 or more games in a season. The last pitcher to win more games in a season was Denny McLain, with 31 wins in 1968.
Welch was the starting pitcher of Game Two of the 1990 World Series. Welch's personal catcher throughout much of his Oakland Athletics career was Ron Hassey, as opposed to Terry Steinbach, who caught the majority of the Oakland pitching staff.