Steve Carlton

Position: Pitcher
Teams: St. Louis Cardinals, 1965-1971; Philadelphia Phillies, 1972-1986; San Francisco Giants, 1986; Chicago White Sox, 1986; Cleveland Indians, 1987; Minnesota Twins, 1987-1988

Steve Carlton
Steve Carlton won Cy Young Awards in
1972, 1977, 1980, and 1982.

Never before had rice gone into such a recipe: Take one left arm and add a heap of endurance. Sprinkle with determination and independence. Throw in Eastern flavor and a vat of rice -- presto, a career to savor.

That's how it worked for Steve "Lefty" Carlton, who set a record with four Cy Young Awards (since matched by Greg Maddux), won 329 games over a 24-year career, and finished second to Nolan Ryan on the all-time strikeout list with 4,136.

Steven Norman Carlton was born in Miami in 1944. He broke into the St. Louis starting rotation in 1965 and pitched for World Series clubs in '67 and '68. He blossomed in 1971, posting his first 20-win season. He wanted a fitting pay raise, but the Cards balked. Because of the contract dispute, Carlton was traded to Philadelphia in 1972 for Rick Wise.

Carlton immediately recorded a season for the ages -- going 27-10 for a team that won just 59 games. Lefty accounted for an incredible 45.8 percent of Philadelphia's wins, setting a modern record. He was the NL leader in wins, ERA (1.97), starts (41), complete games (30), innings pitched (346), and strikeouts (310).

With the Phils, Carlton teamed with strength and flexibility coach Gus Hoefling to intensify his training. One drill involved working his arm down through a vat of rice. Carlton also embraced some Asian philosophy. On the mound, he focused on the catcher's glove. Steve Garvey, who faced Carlton for 18 years, said that Lefty's slider was almost impossible for a right-hander to hit. It broke sharply down and in and, if you got the bat on it at all, you'd probably ground it foul.

Carlton won Cy Young Awards in 1972, '77, '80, and '82. He appeared in seven postseasons, going 4-2 in NLCS play and 2-2 in Series play. His best October came in 1980, when he went 1-0 in the playoffs and 2-0 in the World Series, including the clincher that gave the Phillies their first-ever world championship.

Carlton's last winning season came in 1984. He won 13 games, but the sore-shouldered hurler had to cope without his once-wicked slider. He retired in 1988 with five strikeout and innings-pitched crowns and six 20-win seasons.

In 1994, he was named on 436 of 455 ballots, with virtually none of the votes coming on sentiment. In fact, for much of his career he refused to be interviewed. For insight into Carlton, the media often had to talk to his longtime Philadelphia battery mate, Tim McCarver. The two worked so closely that the joke was that when they died, they'd be buried 60' 6" apart.

Here are Steve Carlton's major league totals:


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