September 29, 1949 |
|September 8, 1972, for the Kansas City Royals|
|Last MLB appearance|
|August 26, 1980, for the Kansas City Royals|
|Earned run average||3.72|
|Career highlights and awards|
A bright prospect, Busby won 56 games in his first three full seasons, only to have his career derailed by a rotator cuff tear. Drafted by the Royals in 1971 in the second round, the University of Southern California graduate made his debut the following season and stuck in the major leagues for good in 1973, when he won 16 games and on April 27 pitched the first no-hitter in Kansas City Royals history, defeating the Detroit Tigers at Tiger Stadium 3-0 on April 27. Busby became the first no-hit pitcher who did not come to bat during the entire game, with the American League having adopted the designated hitter rule that year.
In a game against the California Angels on September 20, 1972, Busby hit a grand slam only to have it taken back by the first base umpire John Rice who said time out had been called to eject Jerry May. Nonetheless, Busby went on to hit a double and two singles in the game, while also earning the victory on the mound.
In 1974, Busby enjoyed his best season, winning 22 games and making the American League All-Star team. He also pitched a second no-hitter on June 19, this one against the Milwaukee Brewers at County Stadium. Yielding only a second-inning walk to George Scott, Busby defeated the Brewers 2-0, besting Clyde Wright—himself a no-hit pitcher in 1970. With this no-hitter, Busby became the first pitcher in major-league history to throw no-hitters in each of his first two complete seasons. In 1975 he won 18 games and made the All-Star team again.
Busby had struggled with his control early in his career, but his problems returned to a greater degree in 1976 when he was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff; an injury that at the time ended a pitcher's career. Busby subsequently became the first baseball player to undergo rotator cuff surgery. In an effort to help his arm recover from the surgery, his doctor recommended that Busby be placed on a pitch count. He is often believed to be the first baseball player to be placed on a pitch count, something that Busby has stated is a myth. Before his injury, he is alleged to have thrown close to 200 pitches in a game, which Busby also says is untrue.
Unfortunately for Busby, the surgery did not save his career. After missing the entire 1977 season and most of 1978, he pitched in 22 games (including 12 starts) the next year, compiling a respectable 6-6 record with a 3.63 ERA, but his walks outnumbered his strikeouts (64-to-45). In 1980 he even pitched a one-hitter, but otherwise pitched ineffectively, compiling a 6.17 ERA and allowing 80 baserunners in 42.1 innings. He pitched his final game on August 26 and the Royals released him three days later. Busby signed a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals before the 1981 season, but never pitched in the major leagues again.
In an eight-year career, Busby posted a 70-54 record with 659 strikeouts and a 3.72 in 1060.2 innings.
Despite the brevity of his career, Busby was among the first two players elected to the Royals Hall of Fame. Outfielder Amos Otis was the other. His 70 career victories ranks him ninth on the Royals' all-time list.
Following the end of his playing career, Busby became a sportscaster, primarily for the Texas Rangers, and has also worked as an instructor at a baseball school. Unlike most former players, Busby acts as both a play-by-play man and a color commentator, and traded positions with Eric Nadel on radio broadcasts. After replacing Dave Barnett as television play-by-play announcer in the middle of the 2012 season, Busby works exclusively on play-by-play, with Tom Grieve on color.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball Reference, or Baseball Reference (Minors), or Retrosheet, or Venezuelan Winter League
April 27, 1973
June 19, 1974