Wednesday, December 14, 2011

RBI (48) One heck of a TTM Barr...

As the holiday season rolls around I wasn't sure if there would be an increase in TTM response or a decrease as people became busy with family functions and holiday celebrations. In the case of former pitcher Jim Barr, it was speedy holiday cheer he sent me.

A California native Barr was a 3rd round draft pick by the San Francisco Giants in the 1970 June Secondary out of USC. He actually has the distinction of being able to play almost his entire baseball career for a California team since he went from USC to the San Francisco Giants to the California Angels and back to the San Francisco Giants. There was a brief stint with the White Sox farm club the Edmonton Trappers, but never a MLB appearance and California won't hold it against him.

Barr was a consistent producer for the teams he played for regardless of the role he filled. In the rotation or bullpen he was a consistent out producer, setting a record for number of consecutive batters retired in 1971 until Mark Buehrle broke his mark of 41 in 2009. By the time he finally hung up his glove he would have a 101-112 career record across 454 Games Appeared and 252 Starts with a 3.56 ERA. Of those 252 Starts he would have 64 Complete Games, an astounding 25% of his starts ending with him still on the mound. His time as an occasional closer would also be successful as he would have 12 Saves spread across his career as managers entrusted him with the game despite only modest Strikeout numbers.

Mr. Barr is known to be a very active in helping youth grow an appreciation for the game. For 16 years he was the pitching coach for Sacramento State University helping mold young pitchers with his strong work ethic. He's kindness and passion for the game is clearly evident in his responses to my letter:

What was it like to get your 100th Win with the Giants?
For some pitchers the milestone is fleeting and a big focus, for Barr he demonstrates why he was such a great clubhouse guy throughout his career, "I never knew I was at that mark until reading about it - I was trying to focus on my next win an how the team did."

How did you prepare to transition from starting to closing?
Most starters have their pre-start ritual every 5th day, but as a reliever there's no luxury of having time to prepare to come into the game. Barr not shutted between the rotation and bullpen throughout his career but did it effectively, "The biggest difference is mental. You prepare yourself to pitch every day as a reliever."

What do you consider to be your career year?
Consistently a club focused player he writes, "1976 was good but I think my most productive year to the team was 1972" selecting his 8-10 record with a 2.87 ERA over 44 games and 18 Starts with 2 Saves over the 15-12, 2.89 ERA, 252.1 inning full year he spent in Giants rotation.

What was your favorite city to play in as a visitor?
Surprisingly despite all his years in the MLB's western divisions, "Chicago probably was my most favorite."

How were you able to consistently throw Complete Games?
Of his 252 starts not only were 64 Complete Games but 20 of those games were Shut Outs, "Being able to focus till the end - Not just till I get tired. Pitching well to the end was more important than just 5-6-7 good innings."

Jim Barr autographed my Topps 1981 card I got through the Diamond Giveaway and respond to the accompanying letter sent to his home address in only 7 Days.

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