#CardCorner: 1983 Topps Doug Bair
Over the course of three offseasons, Finley sold, traded or simply lost to free agency players like Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Ken Holtzman, Joe Rudi, Sal Bando, Bill North, Gene Tenace and Rollie Fingers.
Hall of Fame Membership
As the keepers of the Game’s history, the Hall of Fame helps you relive your memories and celebrate baseball history.
The predictable result saw the A’s go from 98 wins in 1975 to 98 losses two years later.
But lost in the tumult was perhaps the single greatest heist of the 1970s, scored in Finley’s favor.
And Doug Bair was right in the middle of it.
Bair, born Aug. 22, 1949, in Defiance, Ohio, was a 1971 second round pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of Bowling Green State University. After getting his feet wet in Class A and Double-A that season, Bair went a combined 15-8 in Class A and Triple-A with a 2.93 ERA and 191 strikeouts in 184 innings in 1972. But in a deep Pirates farm system, Bair was unable to make the jump to the majors.
Over the next three seasons, Bair started 26 games every year for the Triple-A Charleston Charlies before the Pirates moved him to the bullpen in 1976. He went 7-10 with eight saves in 45 games with the Charlies in that Bicentennial summer, finally earning a late-season call-up to the Pirates – appearing in his first four games at the age of 27.
Then, on March 15, 1977, the Pirates shipped six players, including Bair, to the Athletics in exchange for Phil Garner, Tommy Helms and Chris Batton. Garner, who had forced a trade by refusing Finley’s contract offer, was the centerpiece of the deal for the Pirates – who were in need of help at third base.
Finley, though, received a prospect haul nearly unmatched for the era.
With a regimented stretching program, Bair maintained a 90 mph-plus fastball into his final big league years. His last MLB game came on Oct. 3, 1990, with the Pirates, but Bair also pitched in Triple-A in 1991 and 1992 before calling it a career.
One of the first generation of set-up men, Doug Bair proved the big leagues were indeed worth the wait.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum