Frank Tanana

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Frank Tanana
Frank Tanana 1992.jpg
Tanana warms up at Arlington Stadium, 1992
Born: (1953-07-03) July 3, 1953 (age 66)
Detroit, Michigan
Batted: Left Threw: Left
MLB debut
September 9, 1973, for the California Angels
Last MLB appearance
October 1, 1993, for the New York Yankees
MLB statistics
Win–loss record240–236
Earned run average3.66
Career highlights and awards

Frank Daryl Tanana (born July 3, 1953) is a former Major League Baseball left-handed pitcher. He was the California Angels' first-round draft pick in 1971. From 1973 to 1993, he pitched for six teams: the Angels, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers, New York Mets, and New York Yankees.

In his prime, Tanana was known for a 100+ MPH fastball, which he abruptly lost when he injured his arm. However, he was able to develop an assortment of off-speed pitches (including an excellent curveball) and continue his career. Throughout his career, he accumulated 34 shutouts, 4,000 innings pitched, and nearly 2,800 strikeouts. He is one of only 23 major league pitchers to have struck out at least 2,700 batters in his career.

Early life[edit]

Tanana attended Detroit Catholic Central High School and California State University, Fullerton before embarking on his baseball career. Tanana's father, also named Frank, had played professional baseball in the 1950s and was on the 1955 Eastern League championship team, the Reading Indians, before he left baseball and joined the Detroit Police Department.[1]

Major league career[edit]

California Angels[edit]

Along with Nolan Ryan, Tanana anchored the pitching staff of the California Angels from 1973 to 1979. This led to the saying, "Tanana and Ryan and two days of cryin'", an indication of just how much the two meant to the rotation. (This was a variation on "Spahn and Sain, then pray for rain," referring to the pitchers of the Boston Braves of the late 1940s.)[2] On June 21, 1975, Tanana struck out 17 batters in one game. The Angels' offense did not always measure up to its top twosome; in 1976, Tanana and New York's Catfish Hunter each pitched 13 scoreless innings in a game where both men received a no-decision. Tanana had had another 13-inning shutout no-decision in 1975 against the White Sox, and he is the only pitcher with two such outings.

Tanana appeared in three consecutive All-Star Games from 1976 to 1978 and led the league in strikeouts in 1975 as well as in earned run average (ERA) and shutouts in 1977. Tanana missed two months of the 1979 season with a shoulder injury but was able to pitch in September and during the post-season.

Boston Red Sox[edit]

On January 23, 1981, the Angels traded him to the Boston Red Sox along with Jim Dorsey and Joe Rudi for Steve Renko and Fred Lynn (who the Red Sox worried they would lose to free agency because of paperwork errors). Tanana pitched for the Red Sox for a single season, earning only 4 victories against 10 losses before being granted free agency on November 13, 1981.

Texas Rangers[edit]

Tanana signed as a free agent with Texas Rangers on January 6, 1982. In 1984, he was named the Rangers' pitcher of the year as he went 15–15 with a 3.25 earned run average (ERA). He was traded by the Rangers to the Detroit Tigers for minor-league pitcher Duane James on June 20, 1985.

Detroit Tigers[edit]

Tanana signed free agent contracts with the team in 1988 and 1989 to stay with the team until 1992. On the final day of the 1987 season, Tanana pitched a 1–0 complete-game shutout over the second-place Toronto Blue Jays to clinch the American League East title for the Tigers. He was referred to as "the great tantalizer" because of his wide array of slow off-speed pitches. He mixed his repertoire of off-speed pitches very effectively, frustrating opposing batters and making an 88 mph fastball surprising and effective when slipped in after a steady diet of breaking balls. It was during this time that ESPN's Baseball Tonight would refer to him as "the guy who threw 90 in the 70s and 70 in the 90s."

New York Mets and New York Yankees[edit]

Tanana signed as a free agent with the Mets for the 1993 season, winning 7 games for the last-place team before being traded to the New York Yankees for Kenny Greer in an attempt to capture the pennant with the September 17, 1993 trade. He lost two of his three starts for the Yankees, and they did not reach the post-season.[3] In 1993, Tanana became one of only two pitchers in MLB history to give up a home run to both Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds.[4]

Life outside baseball[edit]

Tanana converted to Protestantism midway through his career and became a leader in the Christian community within professional baseball.

Tanana has been married to Cathy Mull since 1978. They have four children and four sons-in-law and now reside in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Both serve on the Pro Athletes Outreach Board of Directors, and they are involved in the Home Plate and Career Impact ministries. In 1996, Tanana was inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame,[5] and in 2006, Tanana was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.

In 1999, Tanana appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time but received no votes and thus, he was removed from future Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) consideration for election.[6] Tanana is one of five Hall of Fame-eligible pitchers who rank in the top 25 all-time in career strikeouts and who have not been elected to the Hall. Tanana's 2,773 strikeouts rank him at number 23 all-time. Also not in the Hall of Fame are Curt Schilling (#15 with 3,116 strikeouts), Mickey Lolich (#19 with 2,832), David Cone (#24 with 2,668), and Chuck Finley (#25 with 2,610).[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lukas, Paul (June 16, 1971). "Tanana and the Indians". Reading Eagle. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  2. ^ Enberg, Dick (2011). Oh My!. Skyhorse. p. 118. ISBN 978-1-61321-005-5.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-28. Retrieved 2013-10-02.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "1999 Hall of Fame Voting".
  7. ^ "Career Leaders & Records for Strikeouts".

External links[edit]