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Pete Vuckovich

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pete Vuckovich
Pete Vuckovich Cardinals.jpg
Born: (1952-10-27) October 27, 1952 (age 70)
Johnstown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
August 3, 1975, for the Chicago White Sox
Last MLB appearance
October 2, 1986, for the Milwaukee Brewers
MLB statistics
Win–loss record93–69
Earned run average3.66
Career highlights and awards

Peter Dennis Vuckovich (VOO-koh-vich) (born October 27, 1952) is an American former professional baseball starting pitcher who played 10 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1975 to 1986. He came across as an intimidating presence on the mound with his 6'4" (1.93 m) 215 lb (100 kg) frame and horseshoe moustache. Vuckovich was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 1974.

Despite a notable 12-year career as a professional baseball player, he is known mainly for his role as fictional Yankees slugger Clu Haywood, the chief nemesis of Charlie Sheen's character Ricky Vaughn, in the popular 1989 film Major League.

Vuckovich graduated from Conemaugh Valley High School then went on to Clarion University to play baseball. Vuckovich, winner of the 1982 AL Cy Young Award, is a member of the Clarion University Sports Hall of Fame. He is also a member of both the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame and the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.

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Early life

Vuckovich was born on October 27, 1952, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, to Serbian parents. His father Lazo, was a steel-mill worker and his mother Bosiljka (née Gjurich), was a homemaker.[1][2]

He graduated from Conemaugh Valley High School in 1970 where he played baseball, football and basketball. Afterwards, he attended Clarion State College. He was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the third round of the 1974 MLB Amateur Draft.[2]

Baseball career

Vuckovich developed a reputation for bizarre, hyper-competitive behavior during his twelve-season career. He would fidget, twitch, pace, and convulse while on the mound. He was known to cross his eyes and stick his tongue out at batters. He would spit in his glove, scream at umpires while in the stretch, and sometimes step to the back of the mound and dry heave.[citation needed]

Toronto Blue Jays and St. Louis Cardinals

After minimal duty with Chicago from 1975–76, Vuckovich was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1976 MLB expansion draft. Even though the Blue Jays lost 107 games in 1977, and although mostly used in relief, Vuckovich managed a 7-7 record with eight saves. He recorded the first shutout in Toronto franchise history, a 2-0 victory over Jim Palmer and the Orioles. He also recorded the first save in Toronto franchise history on Opening Day on April 7, 1977 at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, versus the Chicago White Sox.[2]

Involved in a multi-player trade to the St. Louis Cardinals, Vuckovich's career went to the next level. In 1978, he started more often, winning 39 games for the Cardinals during three years. He finished third in the National League in ERA with a 2.55 mark in 1978, and ranked fourth in shutouts (3) in 1980.

Milwaukee Brewers

A part of a blockbuster seven-player trade in December 1980, Vuckovich went to the Milwaukee Brewers along with Rollie Fingers and Ted Simmons.[2]

With the Brewers, Vuckovich continued his stellar pitching. He led the American League in wins (14) and winning percentage Win–loss % (.778) during the strike-shortened 1981 season. When Milwaukee won the AL pennant in 1982, Vuckovich won the Cy Young Award with an 18-6 record and a 3.34 ERA, and once again tied for the league lead with the Baltimore Orioles' Jim Palmer in winning percentage Win–loss % (.750).[3][4]

He lost Game Two of the ALCS to the Angels 4-2, and started the decisive fifth game, though not figuring in the decision. In the 1982 World Series, the Cardinals beat him 6-2 in Game Three, and he got a no-decision in the final loss.

This however, proved to be the zenith of his career, as Vuckovich had been battling shoulder pain for two seasons, and in spring training of 1983, it was discovered he had torn his rotator cuff. Vuckovich skipped surgery in favor of an exercise rehabilitation. He attempted a comeback for three games, but went 0-2 in 14 innings, then missed all of 1984. Subsequent and prolonged comeback attempts all failed, and by the end of the 1986 season, Milwaukee released Vuckovich.

In an eleven-season career, Vuckovich posted a 93-69 record with 882 strikeouts and a 3.66 ERA in 1455.1 innings pitched. In postseason play, he was 1-2 with a 3.74 ERA.

While with the Brewers, Vuckovich co-owned a bar in Milwaukee with outfielder Gorman Thomas. It was called "Stormin' & Vuke's", a play on their nicknames.[5][6]

Following retirement

Following his retirement, Vuckovich worked for three years (1989–1991) as a television announcer for the Milwaukee Brewers. Vuckovich portrayed fictional Yankees slugger Clu Haywood in the film Major League.[7]

In 1992, he was hired by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a pitching instructor. Vuckovich served as the pitching coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates for the 1997–2000 seasons. He then worked his way through the Pirates organization to the position of special assistant to the general manager with the Pirates, and held a similar post with the Seattle Mariners' organization under Jack Zduriencik, Seattle's GM from 2009–15.[8][9] In 2016, Vuckovich served as a professional scout with the Arizona Diamondbacks.[9]

Personal life

Vuckovich resides in Johnstown with his wife Annie.[2] His son, Pete Vuckovich Jr. was drafted by the White Sox in the 48th round of the 2004 amateur draft nearly 30 years to the day after he was drafted. Like his father, Vuckovich Jr. also attended both Conemaugh Valley High School and Clarion University.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Eisenbath, Mike (1999). The Cardinals Encyclopedia. Temple University Press. p. 300. ISBN 9781566397032. Al "the Mad Hungarian" Hrabosky could seem tame compared to Vuckovich, whose parents came from Serbia and settled in the no-excuses mill area of western Pennsylvania. But Vuckovich never allowed anyone to call him "the Mad Serbian." He wasn't mad. Different, yes, only because he was so competitive.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Pete Vuckovich". Society for American Baseball Research.
  3. ^ Shatzkin, Mike; Holtje, Stephen (1990). The Ballplayers: Baseball's Ultimate Biographical Reference. Arbor House/William Morrow. p. 1125. ISBN 9780877959847.
  4. ^ Brucato, Thomas W. (2004). Baseball's Retired Numbers: Major and Minor Leagues. McFarland. p. 162. ISBN 9780786417629.
  5. ^ Nashawaty, Chris. "A LEAGUE OF ITS OWN". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  6. ^ Prigge, Matthew J. (6 June 2016). "So-Long Gorman: This Week Marks 33 Years Since the Most Hated Trade in Brewers History". Shepherd Express. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  7. ^ Fagan, Ryan (7 April 2023). "Ranking the 10 best characters in classic baseball movie 'Major League'". The Sporting News.
  8. ^ Sullivan, Jeff (16 September 2011). "Mariners Hire Pete Vuckovich As Special Guy". Lookout Landing. SB Nation. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  9. ^ a b Mastovich, Mike (6 January 2016). "Johnstown native Pete Vuckovich starts new baseball chapter as Diamondbacks scout". The Tribune-Democrat.
  10. ^ Mastovich, Mike (24 February 2019). "Vuckovich Jr. relishes role as Brewers pro scout". The Tribune-Democrat.

External links

This page was last edited on 8 May 2023, at 09:04
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