July 13, 1956 |
Santa Monica, California
|May 12, 1979, for the Chicago Cubs|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 28, 1987, for the Oakland Athletics|
|Earned run average||3.68|
|Career highlights and awards|
William Holland Caudill (born July 13, 1956) is a former Major League Baseball pitcher. One of the wackier players to play the game, Caudill was also one of baseball's top closers from 1982 to 1985. Caudill is perhaps most notable for being agent Scott Boras' first client.
Caudill was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals out of Aviation High School in Redondo Beach, California in the eighth round of the 1974 Major League Baseball Draft. After three seasons in their farm system, in which he went 21-23 with a 3.57 earned run average, he was dealt to the Cincinnati Reds for Joel Youngblood just before the start of the 1977 season. He went 15-6 with a 4.04 ERA his only season in the Reds' farm system, after which he and Woodie Fryman were traded to the Chicago Cubs for Bill Bonham.
Caudill spent the 1978 season with the Wichita Aeros of the American Association. He split the 1979 season between Wichita and the Cubs, making his major league debut on May 12. Though he had been used almost exclusively as a starter in the minors, he made his major league debut in relief. Already down 10-3 to the Houston Astros, Caudill was called upon for mop up duty. He pitched the rest of the game, giving up only one unearned run. Splitting his time between the bullpen and the starting rotation, Caudill went 1-7 with a 4.80 ERA and 104 strikeouts his rookie season.
In 1980, Caudill went 4-6 with a 2.19 ERA and 112 strikeouts. He earned his first major league save on September 28 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and was second only to Dick Tidrow with 70 appearances out of the bullpen for the Cubs. His numbers dipped to 1-5 with a 5.83 ERA in 1981. On April 1, 1982, he was the "player to be named later" from a 1981 mid-season deal in which the Cubs acquired Pat Tabler from the New York Yankees for a player to be named later. The Yankees then sent him, Gene Nelson and a player to be named later to the Seattle Mariners for Shane Rawley.
The Mariners introduced a nautically themed bullpen "car" called the Tugboat for the 1982 season. It got off to a rocky start on Opening Day when Caudill stole the keys during pregame festivities, leaving the Tugboat stranded on the left-field line and delaying the start of the game. On another occasion, when brought in to pitch in a one-sided game, Caudill appeared from the bullpen sporting a half-shaved beard. He acquired the nickname "the Inspector" after inspecting the Mariners bats for unused hits and discarding those he deemed empty. The team began playing the Pink Panther Theme over the Kingdome loudspeakers when he was summoned from the Mariners' bullpen.
Despite his antics, Caudill emerged as one of the American League's top relievers his first season in Seattle. He felt snubbed when 1982 AL All-Star team manager Billy Martin left him off the AL squad. His record stood at 8-3 with a 1.95 ERA and a team record seventeen saves when selections were made. For the season, he went 12-9 with a 2.35 ERA, 26 saves and 111 strikeouts.
His 26 saves in 1983 mirrored his previous season's production, however, his record dipped to 2-8 while his ERA ballooned to 4.71. Following the season, he and Darrel Akerfelds were dealt to the Oakland Athletics for Dave Beard and Bob Kearney.
Caudill returned to form with the A's in the first half of the 1984 season. His record stood at 8-1 with a 1.97 ERA and eighteen saves when AL manager Joe Altobelli named him to his AL squad. With the NL leading 2-1, Caudill was brought in to pitch the seventh inning. He struck out all three batters he faced (Tim Raines, Ryne Sandberg & Keith Hernandez).
From there, things seemed to turn around on Caudill. He went 1-6 in the second half with a 3.60 ERA while blowing four saves. He finished the season with a career-high 36 saves, which was second in the American League only to the Kansas City Royals' Dan Quisenberry who had 44. Following the season, he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Dave Collins and Alfredo Griffin.
Toronto Blue Jays
Caudill was manager Bobby Cox's top closer upon his arrival in Toronto, but lost his job to Tom Henke by the end of the season. The formula worked as the Jays won the American League East by two games over the Yankees.
The Jays jumped to a 3-1 series lead in the 1985 American League Championship Series against the Kansas City Royals, however, 1985 was the first post-season that the championship series was expanded to seven games. KC came back to win the series in seven games. Caudill did not make an appearance.
A shoulder injury limited Caudill to 40 appearances in 1986. He went 2-4 with a 6.19 ERA and just two saves as the Blue Jays fell to 86-76 and fourth place in their division under new manager Jimy Williams. He was released during Spring training the following season. Shortly afterwards, he signed with the A's.
Trying to rebound from a subpar season with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1986, Caudill began the 1987 season pitching for Oakland's triple A affiliate, the Tacoma Tigers. He pitched effectively enough to earn a call to the majors; however, after just a month with the A's, he suffered a broken hand after punching a man who was reportedly trying to accost his wife in a hotel parking lot in 1987. It effectively ended his big league career at age 30.
Caudill currently coaches and works for his former agent, Scott Boras, who is also a former minor league teammate and close friend.
- "Houston Astros 11, Chicago Cubs 3". Baseball-Reference.com. May 12, 1979.
- "Chicago Cubs 3, Pittsburgh Pirates 2". Baseball-Reference.com. September 28, 1980.
- Greg Bishop (April 12, 2007). "Season's first day brings fresh hope". Seattle Times.
- "Caudill Won't Watch Game". The Tuscaloosa News. July 11, 1982.
- "1984 Major League Baseball All-Star Game". Baseball-Reference.com. July 10, 1984.
- "1985 American League Championship Series". Baseball-Reference.com. October 8–16, 1985.
- "Caudill Released by Blue Jays". The Phoenix. April 2, 1987.
- "Caudill Injured". New York Times. Associated Press. 1987-08-02. Retrieved 2009-01-23.