In 1971, pitcher Steve Blass helped the Pittsburgh Pirates win the World Series and he also finished right behind Roberto Clemente in voting for the World Series MVP [source: CBS]. The next year he made the Major League Baseball all-star team. One year after that he was completely out of the game of baseball. What happened?
There was no injury, no retirement due to his age and no problem that made him lose focus. There was just one small change to Steve Blass: He lost the ability to pitch. In 1973 Blass had tripled his earned run average (ERA) and walked 84 batters in only 88 innings [source: Plautz].
He dropped down to the minors for a season but just couldn't recover his skill. Steve Blass' professional baseball career was over before the 1975 season even began.
In the baseball world, his problem is now referred to as "Steve Blass Disease." It's used to describe any baseball player who's completely lost his ability to do his job on the field. It's the disease every player prays they'll never catch and the one that no one thinks they ever will [source: O'Neill].