Big Tim Stoddard lives in a neighboring town here in Illinois. His daughters played softball in high school. He was my first interview for my book on Steve Stone.
Of course I had no use for him in the early 70′s when he and his North Carolina State teammates Monte Towe, David Thompson and 7-foot-4 Tommy Burleson were making life miserable for us Maryland basketball fans. He was in that amazing game on March 9, 1974 that headed to overtime tied at 97-97. I watched every single minute of that classic. And it’s worth repeating that there were no turnovers committed in regulation. NC State won that game 103-100 in overtime.
In 1974 Stoddard was member of the national champion Wolfpack of NC State.
I prefer seeing him in Orioles uniform blowing smoke past opposing hitters. He was pretty imposing himself at 6-foot-7 and weighing in at close to 250 pounds.
Stoddard would pitch for seven different Major League teams in his 485 game career that spanned 13 years. The Orioles wisely picked him up 11 days after the White Sox released him in 1977.
By the 1980 season, he was a regular at Orioles games. That season he notched career highs in games (64) and saves (26). His method of operation was simple. He was there to blow fastballs by American League hitters.
There was one game in Chicago, I recalled watching. We were blowing the lead and in came Stoddard with the sacks loaded and no one out. Strike out, Strike Out. Ground out to Stoddard and the game was over. Oh, gosh, what a performance.
Now officially one of his best performances came in the Kingdome in Seattle. It was on the last day of April in 1979. Starter Stone didn’t have it that night and Stoddard was called into pitch with the sacks loaded again. This time, however, he walked Bill Stein and the O’s were trailing 5-4.
The Orioles would win this game in 10 innings, 8-7. Stoddard faced 9 Mariners. There was that one walk and a single by Danny Meyer. And those other batters, Julio Cruz, Bruce Bochte, Leon Roberts, Willie Horton, Ruppert Jones, Bob Stinson and Mario Mendoza all whiffed. Stoddard was in line for a win but reliever Don Stanhouse blew the save and picked up the win in extra innings.
Stoddard had other impressive outings. In August of 1980, he saved Stone’s 21st win of the season and notched his 19th save at the same time. Stoddard struck out five Athletics in a row. Included in the this parade of K victims was Mitchell Page and Tony Armas. Actually to be fair, Stoddard had Armas’ number during his career. In 15 career appearances against Stoddard, Armas struck out seven times. The famed Mark McGwire batted 7 times against Stoddard and fanned five of those times.
Stoddard didn’t pitch in the 1983 World Series with the Phillies. He still is known for playing on a national championship team in college basketball and Major League World Series winner as well.
And there was that one special moment of hitting in the 1979 World Series. All from a pitcher who went 2-for-20 in his limited hitting career. It was that memorable eighth inning of game four in Pittsburgh when the Birds erupted for six runs. After Terry Crowley had chased home two runs with a pinch-hit double, Earl Weaver allowed Stoddard to stay in the game and take his first at-bat of the season. He simply pounded the ball off the turf and it bounced into the outfield for an RBI single. Stoddard pitched three innings of relief and went home that night as a winning pitcher of a World Series game.