Tanana warms up at Arlington Stadium, 1992
July 3, 1953 |
|September 9, 1973, for the California Angels|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 1, 1993, for the New York Yankees|
|Earned run average||3.66|
|Career highlights and awards|
June 21, 1975 was a memorable day in Tanana's career – he struck out 17 batters in one game. In his prime, he was known for a blazing 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.
Tanana appeared in three consecutive All-Star Games from 1976 to 1978, and led the league in strikeouts in 1975 as well as in ERA and shutouts in 1977. Throughout his career, he accumulated 34 shutouts, 4000 innings pitched, and nearly 3000 strikeouts.
He was given the nickname "Frank Tanana Daiquiri" by broadcaster Chris Berman of ESPN. As he became a successful junk-baller for the Tigers in the 1980s, Tiger broadcasting legend Ernie Harwell would often refer to him as "TAN-talizing Tanana".
Tanana taught Seattle Seahawks quarterback Jim Zorn how to slide properly. Zorn, as a coach after his playing career was over, recruited John Olerud to teach Matt Hasselbeck to slide in similar fashion.
Major league career
Along with Nolan Ryan, Tanana anchored the pitching staff of the California Angels from 1973 - 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. 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 is the only pitcher with two such outings. Tanana missed two months of the 1979 season with a shoulder injury, but was able to pitch in September and during the post-season. On 1981-01-23, the Angels traded him to the Boston Red Sox along with Jim Dorsey and Joe Rudi for Steve Renko and Fred Lynn (whom the Red Sox worried they would lose to free agency due to paperwork errors).
Boston Red Sox
Tanana pitched for the Red Sox for a single season, earning only 4 victories against 10 losses before being granted free agency on 1981-11-13.
Tanana signed as a free agent with Texas Rangers on 1981-01-06. In 1984, he was named the pitcher of the year for the team as he went 15-15 with a 3.25 ERA. This was a great accomplishment for Tanana since an arm injury earlier in his career had forced him to stop being a power pitcher and rely on basic pitches. He was traded by the Rangers to the Detroit Tigers for minor-league pitcher Duane James on 1985-06-20.
Tanana returned home to Detroit due to the trade, then 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 2nd 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 offspeed pitches. These he managed to mix 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."
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 1993-09-17 trade. He lost 2 of his three starts for the Yankees and they did not reach the post-season.
Life outside baseball
Tanana attended Detroit Catholic Central High School and California State University, Fullerton before embarking on his baseball career. He 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 are involved in the Home Plate and Career Impact ministries. In 1996 Frank Tanana was inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame and in 2006, Tanana was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.
- List of Major League Baseball leaders in career wins
- List of Major League Baseball ERA champions
- List of Major League Baseball strikeout champions
- MLB All-Time Hit Batsmen List
- Home runs allowed
- Top 100 strikeout pitchers of all time
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference
- Information on Tanana at Baseball Library.com