1969 BASEBALL PLAYER OF THE DAY- LEW KRAUSSE- OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Lew Krausse was a second generation major leaguer- his father Lew Sr. had pitched for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1931-32- this was the same franchise- they moved from Philadelphia- to Kansas City to Oakland. Lew Krausse was a big time prospect when he signed with the Kansas City Athletics out of high school for $125,000 in 1961. Kansas City had the inside track on signing Lew- Lew Sr was a scout for them. As an amateur Krausse had pitched 18 no-hitters. It would later be suggested that he was over pitched as a teenager which led to later arm problems in professional baseball.

His career highlight was his first game in the Major Leagues. As part of his contract it was stipulated that he get a shot at the big club. A mistake- Krausse was only eighteen years old and fresh out of high school. His first game though was a big success- before the biggest crowd of the season to that point- on June 16th, 1961 Krausse made his MLB debut by pitching a 3 hitter against the Los Angeles Angels. It was downhill that season after that due to control problems. He would eventually be sent to the bullpen and then to the minors where he would spend most of the next four seasons.

In 1966 at the age of 23- Krausse made it back to the majors on a permanent basis. He had a pretty good season going 14-9 for the Athletics -starting 22 games with a 2.99 ERA. The next season though was a step back- 7-17- and he ran into problems with the A’s owner Charles O. Finley- who over the years would have a lot of problems with his players. Finley suspended Krausse in August for rowdiness on a plane flight from Boston to Kansas City. In the end it would be for only four days but things were falling apart in Kansas City for the A’s-the Krausse incident was followed by the release of Ken The Hawk Harrelson, the fining of pitcher Jack Aker and the firing of manager Alvin Dark. Of course in 1974 Finley would hire Dark back as manager. In the off-season Finley moved the ballclub to Oakland. Tempers would calm down in the off-season and Krausse would become the first player to ever sign his contract-as an Oakland A.

Lew Krausse’s goal was to win 20 in 1968. Probably every starting pitcher in baseball has the same goal every year. Krausse didn’t have a bad season going 10-11 3.11 ERA. He was a victim at times of non-support from the A’s offense.  After a subpar 1969 season in which he went 7-7 4.44 ERA he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. Milwaukee had just moved from Seattle. The highlight of his time with the Brewers was being the opening day pitcher for them in their first season. On July 7, 1970 he pitched the first shutout in Brewers history.  After 2 seasons in which he went 21-30 as a started he was involved in a big trade- big as in the number of players involved-ten. Krausse who was still young at 29 didn’t do well in Boston, then went to St. Louis for a game in 1973 before finishing his career at the age of 31 in Atlanta in 1974.

Lew Krausse is remembered as a great phenom who failed but a few things probably hurt his chances of success- the overuse of his pitching when he was a teenager, his going from high school to the majors immediately- he wasn’t ready at 18 for that and the elbow injury/surgery he had in the minor leagues. Overall Krausse had a record of 68-91 with a 4.00 ERA. He had some success mainly with the A’s in the mid-60’s and appeared in 12 different seasons but played in only six full seasons. He is still living- now 75 years old.

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