If you spend time looking through old Tigers yearbooks, especially those from the 1970s, and you have no recollection of the barren period of Tigers baseball, you might think those teams were this close to pennant contention.
The descriptions of the players in the yearbook are deftly crafted. Take, for example, Chuck Scrivener [emphasis is mine]:
Chuck bounced around the Tiger farm system for seven years before getting his first chance, low plate figures holding him back. But he broke loose with a .251 average at Evansville in 1975 to help lead the Triplets to the Junior World Series title.
Hmm. Batting .251 in Triple-A is considered “breaking loose”? Those were lean times for Detroit.
Another name you’ll find in the Tigers yearbooks of that era is Fernando Arroyo, who just so happens to turn 56 today.
In 1975, Arroyo appeared in 14 games and earned a 2-1 record, with a 4.58 ERA. The Sacramento native spent all of the ’76 campaign in Evansville before returning to Detroit in 1977. In 38 games that year his record was 8-18 with a 4.18 ERA.
Here’s what the yearbook had to say about that ’77 campaign:
Fernando had lost 18 games — but six were by one run and 12 came when the Tigers failed to score, scored once or scored twice. That’s not the kind of support to enhance a pitcher’s record.
In 1978 and ’79, Arroyo — who wore number 36 — pitched a mere 16 innings in eight games for Detroit compiling a 1-1 record.
On Dec. 5, 1979, he was traded to the Minnesota Twins for Jeff Holly. He spent parts of three seasons with the Twins before being released. Arroyo pitched in the White Sox organization from 1982-84.
Almost two years later, he reappeared in the big leagues, this time with Oakland. On Monday, Aug. 11, 1986, Arroyo came into a 4-4 game in the top of the ninth against the Mariners with two out, Danny Tartabull at first and Ken Phelps at second.
He walked the first batter he faced, Bob Kearney, to load the bases. Next he walked Spike Owen to bring home Phelps and the go-ahead run. Then he walked Domingo Ramos, plating Tartabull and giving the Mariners a 6-4 lead. Dave Leiper replaced Arroyo and got Harold Reynolds to flyout to center to end the inning.
And that was the last we heard of Fernando Arroyo.