Late on Wednesday we learned of the passing of Dick Tidrow, a 13-year MLB veteran who played a key role for the 1983 Winning Ugly White Sox in the autumn of his career.
Tidrow went 2-4 with seven saves, a 4.22 ERA (100 ERA+), 4.30 FIP and 1.309 WHIP over 50 games for the 99-win White Sox. Those 50 games were second on the team, and 27 games finished also ranked second — in both cases, two games behind early-season closer Salome Barojas.
Like the later World Series champion White Sox in 2005, the 1983 White Sox did not have a defined closer for the season, due to varying bullpen performances and injuries. Barojas, Tidrow, Dennis Lamp, Juan Agosto, Kevin Hickey and Jerry Koosman all logged multiple saves for the team.
At age 36, Tidrow threw 91 2⁄3 innings for the White Sox, seventh-most on the team, and even started the first game of a doubleheader on August 8, throwing four innings of an eventual win for the South Siders on just two days’ rest. Just five days earlier, Tidrow went five innings of relief for Koosman (the only pitcher on the staff older than Tidrow), striking out seven.
Tidrow’s work with the White Sox in 1983, his only season on the South Side, was by definition average — 100 ERA+, -0.1 bWAR — but that heavy innings load and swiss army knife usage made him an invaluable piece of the division winners. He pitched in one game of the 1983 ALCS, throwing three innings and surrendering one earned run.
Tidrow debuted for Cleveland at age 25 in 1972 and was a workhorse starter for two seasons, combining to go 29-34 with a 3.78 ERA and 5.0 bWAR over 78 starts (85 games). He logged significant time for the New York Yankees after that, winning World Series in 1977 (in the bullpen) and 1978 (as a rotation member), as well as the Chicago Cubs.
Tidrow came to the White Sox through peculiar means. The White Sox and GM Roland Hemond embarrassed the Cubs by hinting through the media that they might select pitcher Fergie Jenkins after the Cubs left him unprotected in the free agent draft in 1983. Jenkins, the future Hall-of-Famer, was getting close to the magical 300-win mark in his career. That threat forced the Cubs to trade Tidrow, Scott Fletcher, Randy Martz and Pat Tabler to the White Sox for pitchers Steve Trout and Warren Brusstar, as well as a promise not to take Jenkins. The Sox then flipped Tabler to Cleveland for Jerry Dybzinski. Fletcher, Martz, Dybzinski and Tidrow would contribute a combined 3.6 bWAR to the White Sox’s division push in 1983.
Tidrow signed with the New York Mets after the season, but was released just two months into the 1984 campaign and retired.
He found considerable success after his playing career. As an executive with the San Francisco Giants, Tidrow was instrumental in drafting Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Jonathan Sanchez and others.
The burly righthander had a distinctive high leg kick (illustrated above) and Fu Manchu facial hair. His zeal for pregame “flip” contests saw him often diving on the ground to keep the ball alive, soiling his uniform and earning the nickname “Dirt.”
Dick Tidrow was 74 years old.