Bob Welch, a Hazel Park native who played collegiately at Eastern Michigan before going on to a 17-year Major League Baseball career that featured a Cy Young season, died Monday night in Seal Beach, Calif., the Oakland A's announced Tuesday.
MLB.com reported he died of a heart attack at age 57.
Welch pitched his first 10 seasons in the majors with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the last seven with the A's.
A 6-foot-3 right-hander, he finished his career 211-146 with a 3.47 earned-run average in 506 games, mostly starts.
"This is a sad day for the entire A's organization," A's GM Billy Beane said in a statement. "Those of us who knew Bob as a teammate and a friend will miss him greatly. My condolences go out to his family."
One of the most consistent pitchers of the 1980s, Welch's best season was 1990, when he made a bid to be baseball's first 30-game winner since Detroit Tigers ace Denny McLain in 1968. Welch finished 27-6 with a 2.95 ERA and was the runaway Cy Young winner over Roger Clemens.
Welch played in numerous World Series — he had a memorable confrontation with Yankees slugger Reggie Jackson in the 1978 Fall Classic, seen above or by clicking here — and won a pair of world championships, with the 1981 Dodgers and 1989 A's. Later, he was pitching coach for the 2001 world champion Arizona Diamondbacks.
"Though he was on our major-league coaching staff for just one season, it was certainly memorable," Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall said.
"He guided our pitching staff to a world championship and will always be a part of our history.
After his playing days, Welch co-wrote a book, “Five O’Clock Comes Early,” in which he chronicled his battle with alcoholism.
Prior to his pro career, Welch played three seasons at Eastern Michigan, and remains sixth on the school's all-time strikeouts list, with 219. As a freshman, he was first-team All-MAC. As a sophomore, he threw a no-hitter against Central Michigan and a perfect game against Detroit. And despite missing most of his junior season because of arm injuries, he was the 20th overall pick in 1977, by the Dodgers.
He is survived by sons Dylan and Riley, and daughter Kelly.
A memorial service is pending.
RIP to the greatest dad to walk the earth. You were my hero and I love you so much. I'll always be your little girl. ??— kelly welch (@kwelchhh) June 10, 2014