June 8, 1935|
Houghton, Michigan, United States
|Died: October 25, 1991
Poza Rica, Veracruz, Mexico
|Batted: Right||Threw: Left|
|September 14, 1956 for the Kansas City Athletics|
|Last professional appearance|
|April 28, 1971 for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Earned run average||3.62|
|Career highlights and awards|
George Stuart Brunet (June 8, 1935 – October 25, 1991) was an American Major League Baseball pitcher who also went on to a Hall of Fame career in Mexico. Early in his career, Brunet earned a reputation as a "Dalton Boy," that is, a young ballplayer with a reputation for partying. As a result, Brunet pitched for nine different major league clubs during his career in America.
Kansas City Athletics
Brunet was born in Houghton, Michigan, and attended Calumet High School in Calumet, Michigan. He was originally signed by Detroit Tigers scout and former pitcher Schoolboy Rowe in 1952. He pitched three seasons in the Sooner State League before being released. He soon caught on with the Kansas City Athletics in 1955. He received his first call up to the majors in 1956, giving up seven earned runs in nine innings pitched. His second major league appearance came against the Boston Red Sox with the bases loaded, and Ted Williams standing in the batter's box. He got Williams to bounce into a double play.
He spent the next three seasons in the minors, making brief call ups in 1957 and 1959. He was 14-15 with a 3.42 ERA and a league leading 235 strikeouts for the Little Rock Travelers in 1957. At one point, his record stood at 10-3, but over a stretch of over fifty innings in which his team failed to give him a single run of support, his record fell to 10-11.
One of the two games he appeared in in 1959 was against the Chicago White Sox on April 22. He entered in the seventh inning with the bases loaded, and five runs already scored thanks to poor pitching and even worse fielding (five walks and three errors). He walked the first two batters he faced, hit the next batter, then walked three more before Jim Landis grounded back to the mound. The Chisox scored eleven runs that inning on just one hit.
The Braves original assigned Brunet to the Louisville Colonels upon acquiring him, but he was quickly called up after going 4–1 with a 0.78 earned run average. He went 2–0 with a 5.07 ERA in seventeen games (6 starts) in his first season with the Braves. He again started 1961 in the majors, but was sidelined by an appendectomy after just one appearance. He made four appearances when he returned that June, but was reassigned to the triple A Vancouver Mounties by the end of the month, and remained there for the rest of the season. On May 16, 1962, he was traded to the Houston Colt .45's for minor league pitcher Ben Johnson.
Houston Colt .45's
Brunet was terrible in his first two starts with Houston. He lasted a total of one inning, and was charged with six earned runs. He settled in for his next start, pitching a complete game against the Chicago Cubs in which he gave up just one unearned run. He ended up going 2–4 with a 4.66 ERA in eleven starts. He also made six appearances out of the bullpen.
The 1963 Baltimore Orioles were in the American League playoff hunt. Following Dean Stone's retirement, they had only one left hander in their bullpen, Pete Burnside. They purchased Brunet's contract from Houston on July 14, 1963, and in his third appearance with the Baltimore Orioles, he earned his first career save.
He began the 1964 season assigned to the Orioles' triple A affiliate, the Rochester Red Wings, then was reacquired by the Colts on May 12. He was 10–6 with a 3.00 ERA for the Colts' triple A affiliate, the Oklahoma City 89ers, when his contract was again sold on August 18. This time to the Los Angeles Angels.
After eleven seasons of bouncing around, Brunet seemed to have finally found a home in Los Angeles. He was immediately promoted to the major leagues upon his acquisition by the Angels. He went 2–2 with a 3.61 ERA, mostly as a starting pitcher. One of those victories came on September 5 against his former club, the Orioles. He held the Orioles to four hits over seven innings before handing the ball over to Bob Lee for the save. The 1–0 victory knocked the Orioles out of first place.
Probably his finest season in the majors was 1965, when Brunet went 9-11 with a 2.56 ERA splitting fourth starter duties for the newly renamed California Angels with Rudy May. The .209 batting average he held opposing batters to was the fourth lowest in the league. By 1967, he was the Angels' top starter, but was a victim of hard luck. After a complete game victory in the season opener, Brunet lost his next nine decisions, a span during which the Angels only scored eighteen runs. In 1967 & 1968, he led the AL in losses with 19 & 17, respectively, despite relatively modest ERAs both seasons (3.31 & 2.86, respectively). He pitched back-to-back shutouts to earn his last two wins with the Angels on July 9 and July 14, 1969. On July 31, his contract was sold to the Seattle Pilots. Brunet's career with the Angels spanned over six seasons, his longest tenure with any club.
Brunet went 2–5 with a 5.37 ERA for the Pilots their only season in existence, however, he earns mention in Jim Bouton's account of the Seattle Pilots, Ball Four. Upon learning that the Pilots acquired Brunet, Bouton states, "The Pilots have just bought George Brunet from the Angels for something just over the waiver price. He'll fit right in on this ballclub. He's crazy."
The depth of his craziness is later revealed to him when he discovers that Brunet doesn't wear underwear. He explains, "This way I don't have to worry about losing them."
Shortly after the Pilots moved to Milwaukee and renamed themselves the Brewers, Brunet was traded to the Washington Senators for Dave Baldwin. He went 8–6 with a 4.42 ERA For the Senators before a trade deadline deal brought him to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Denny Riddleberger. After finishing out the season in Pittsburgh, he and Matty Alou were traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Nelson Briles and Vic Davalillo. He appeared in seven games for the Cards before he was released. He caught on with the San Diego Padres shortly afterwards, and went 18–13 with a 4.02 ERA in two seasons with the Hawaii Islanders. While with Hawaii, he received an offer to pitch in Japan, but declined, waiting on a call from the Minnesota Twins which never materialized. He spent one last season with the Philadelphia Phillies' Pacific Coast League affiliate, the Eugene Emeralds before retiring.
Brunet's minor league totals are 112 wins against 115 losses. He holds the minor league record for strikeouts with 3,175.
Nicknamed "Lefty" and "Red" during his major league career, he was known as "El Viejo" or "The Old Man" in Mexico as he pitched well into his fifties. His first stop in Mexico was Poza Rica, with Petroleros de Poza Rica. At 42 years old, on June 20, 1977, he pitched a no-hitter. He pitched for them through 1978, going 62–55 with a 2.55 ERA and actually spending part of the 1977 season as manager.
He split the 1979 season between the expansion Blue Coatzacoalcos and the Diablos Rojos del México. He was traded to Rojos del Águila de Veracruz before the start of the 1980 season, however, he returned to Blue Coatzacoalcos during the baseball strike that interrupted play for two weeks (Coatzacoalcos was one of six teams to play through the strike). He returned to Veracruz after the strike.
On June 10, 1984, he set the Mexican record for shutouts with 55. Brunet pitched until he was 54 years old, giving him a record 36 years of pitching in organized baseball. On October 25, 1991, Brunet died of a heart attack in Poza Rica, Veracruz, Mexico at the age of 56. In 1999, he was elected to the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame.
- Jim Murray (June 25, 1965). "Brunet - Baseball's Most Traveled Man". The Milwaukee Sentinel.
- "#242 George Brunet". The Great 1965 Topps Project. April 25, 2010.
- Drew Pelto. "The Greatest Pitcher You Don’t Know". Sports Card Forum.
- "Chicago White Sox 20, Kansas City A's 6". Baseball-Reference.com. April 22, 1959.
- "Called by Braves". The Milwaukee Journal. June 11, 1960.
- "Two Week Road Trip for Braves". The Milwaukee Sentinel. June 5, 1961.
- "Mounties Bounce Bees in Boo-Boo Department". The Vancouver Sun. June 21, 1961.
- "Houston Colt .45's 7, St. Louis Cardinals 4". Baseball-Reference.com. August 5, 1962.
- "Milwaukee Braves 7, Houston Colt .45's 6". Baseball-Reference.com. August 10, 1962.
- "Houston Colt .45's 2, Chicago Cubs 1". Baseball-Reference.com. August 18, 1962.
- "Baltimore Orioles 8, Detroit Tigers 6". Baseball-Reference.com. July 18, 1963.
- "Los Angeles Angels 1, Baltimore Orioles 0". Baseball-Reference.com. September 5, 1964.
- "Angels Drop Baltimore Orioles 1-0; White Sox Take Over Lead". Lewiston Morning Tribune. September 6, 1964.
- "California Angels 4, Detroit Tigers 2". Baseball-Reference.com. April 11, 1967.
- "Slam Slams A's". The St. Petersburg Evening Independent. June 26, 1967.
- "California Angels 5, Seattle Pilots 0". Baseball-Reference.com. July 9, 1969.
- "California Angels 2, Kansas City Royals 0". Baseball-Reference.com. July 14, 1969.
- Steve Treder (January 18, 2005). "The THT Interview: George Brunet’s Left Arm". The Hardball Times.
- "Bucs Trade Matty Alou to Cardinals". The Charlestown, South Carolina News and Courier. January 30, 1971.
- Andrew Godfrey (December 2, 2009). "George Brunet: 3,175 Strikeouts in Minors". Bleacher Report.
- Steve Wulf (August 18, 1980). "Beisbol Is In His Blood". Sports Illustrated.
- Demetrius C. Hernandez. "Mexican League History". Sitio Oficial de la Liga Mexicana de Beisbol.
- Paul Peterson (May 22, 2010). "Brunet's durability was never in question". Mining Gazette.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)