Sunday, March 30, 2014

Short Stay Sunday: Len Church

The man's name made him a shoe-in candidate to be profiled on my weekly Sunday feature.  Does this count as visiting church?  Well, if you're Susan Sarandon in Bull Durham or if collecting baseball cards is your religion too, then absolutely!

Now, let us begin today's sermon:


This piece from Larry Fritsch's One Year Winners collection pictures Len Church.  As mentioned in previous Sunday's, this set focused exclusively on players who spent 1 year or less in the major leagues.  Many of these players had no other cards issued in their lifetime; big points for originality.

Pictured in the uniform he spent most of his baseball career, Tacoma, Church was a local boy who graduated from Lane Tech High School.  Lane Tech, of course, is the baseball powerhouse that also produced Chicago royale Phil Cavaretta.  Phil was somewhat more successful, however.

Signed in 1963, in the days before the amateur draft, he made the big league team for the first time in for the infamous 1966 Cubs as a reliever.

Why is that team significant?  Well, it's the only roster in MLB history that has included 5 HOF players and lost 100 games.

Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and Robin Roberts couldn't save that club and neither could Len Church.

Of course, the 4 games that he appeared in that summer wouldn't have made a difference anyway.

Church's statistics from that stint are exceptionally ugly:  0-1 while giving up 5 earned runs in 6 innings, with two blown saves and surrendering two leads in the 9th inning.  The Cubs lost every game he appeared in.

He was sent down in September, never again to see his name listed on a big league roster.  He kept on trying though, playing mostly in AAA-Tacoma through the 1971 season before finally calling it quits.

Prospect to organizational filler in 4 games flat.

So, despite his last name being Church, Len was completely incapable of "saving" anything.  Hey-yo!

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