Rollie Fingers becomes the first pitcher to record 300 saves
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Fingers was a master at closing out games. He revolutionized the game – demonstrating to the rest of the league that closers were not just a luxury, but rather a necessity.
“You have got to consider Rollie the forerunner among relievers,” former closer and Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter said. “He’s the one who sticks out in everybody’s mind.”
Fingers earned seven All-Star game selections and – while pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1981 – he won the Cy Young Award and American League MVP Award. Receiving 22 of 28 first-place votes, Fingers became the fourth reliever to win the Cy Young Award with his stellar 1981 campaign. Coupled with his AL MVP honors as well, Fingers went down in baseball history as the sixth player to win both honors in the same season.
In the strike-shortened season, Fingers put together one of the best seasons in MLB history by a reliever. Fingers was called in to pitch in 47 of the 109 games played that season and he finished with a microscopic ERA of 1.04. He allowed nine runs to cross the plate in 78 innings pitched, while recording a league-leading 28 saves in the process.
Showing that relievers thrive on focus control and being able to locate pitches, Fingers was spot-on for the entire year in 1981. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was 4.69, while he only averaged 1.5 walks per nine innings pitched.
Fingers was elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America to the Hall of Fame in 1992.
“I'd like to say to every relief pitcher before me, every guy who ever had to sit in the bullpen, every guy who had to sit and wait for a phone call to ring and every guy who ever had to walk into a pressure situation,” said Fingers at his enshrinement in 1992. “You all own a piece of this. You're all winners and this day confirms it.”
Andrew Kivette was a public relations intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development