KEN FORSCH OSU
SACRAMENTO BASEBALL--Sacramento natives Ken and Bob Forsch both attended Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento, California and threw no-hitters in the major leagues, the only brothers duo ever to do so. Ken, the elder by three-plus years, led the semi-pro Placerville Outlaws to an undefeated Placer-Nevada League championship in 1965 and the following spring pitched for the Panthers of Sacramento City College. That same year, 1966, he was drafted by the California Angles in the 9th round of MLB's June Amateur Draft but opted to accept a scholarship to OSU instead. He was drafted the following year in the 4th round of the 1967 MLB June Draft-Secondary Phase by the Chicago Cubs and again in the 18th round of the 1968 June Amateur Draft by Houston after setting an all-time record that still stands today when he struck out 121 batters in a single season at Oregon State. His career ('67, '68) earned run averaged (2.12) remains as OSU's 3rd best all-time. Oregon State finished 23-13 and and 23-13-1 while Forsch pitched for the Beavers with his eight victories, 1.92 ERA and .727 winning percentage (8-3) leading the OSU's pitching staff in 1968. His 63 strikeouts in 1967 was also a team's best as was his four complete games (1968) and innings pitched (59.1 in '67 and 98 in 1968).
Younger brother Bob led Hiram Johnson to a Metro League high school title with his 5-1 record and 0.21 earned run average. He was also drafted in the 1968 MLB June Amateur Draft (26th round) and signed after high school as a pitcher/infielder with the St. Louis Cardinals. The 18 year old began his professional career as a 3rd baseman with the rookie Gulf Coast League Cardinals where he hit .224 in 44 games. The following year, he combined to hit .223 at the lower A and class A levels with the Lewiston Broncs of the Northwest League and Modesto Reds of the California League. In 1970, Bob Forsch combined to hit .126 in 57 games for 3 different teams (class A and A-). He also pitched in 8 games with a 2-3 record and 4.95 earned run average before spending the rest of his 22 years as a pro solely as a pitcher. In his 1st full season as a pitcher, 1971, he won 11 games while losing 7 with a 3.13 ERA for the Cedar Rapids Cardinals of the "A" Midwest League. He followed by going 8-10 with a 4.35 ERA with the 1972 Arkansas Travelers of the "AA" Texas League, 12-12 and 4.39 ERA for the 1973 Tulsa Oilers of the "AAA" Midwest League and 8-5 with a 3.67 ERA for the '74 Oilers before making his major league debut that same year with the St. Louis Cardinals on July the 7th, 1974. He finished the '74 season with the Cards by pitching in 19 games and winning 7 of 11 with a stellar 2.97 ERA including 2 shutouts, one of them tossed in just his 2nd major league game.
Kenneth Roth Forsch began his professional baseball career in 1968 at age 21 with the Williamsport Astros of the lower Class-A New York-Pennsylvania League where he won one of three games with a 1.38 earned run average. He spent the next season, 1969, with the Peninsula Astros of the Class-A Carolina League going 6-5 with a 3.16 ERA. He spent that winter in the Florida Instructional League and posted a 4-3 record with a 1.10 ERA. In 1970, Forsch won 13 games while losing 8 with a 2.05 ERA for the Columbus Astros of the "AA" Southern League. He struck out 152 batters in 167 innings pitched and his five shutouts and 13 victories were the league's best. That same year he logged a perfect 4-0 record with a minuscule 1.58 ERA for the "AAA" Oklahoma City 89ers of the American Association and on September the 7th, 1970, Forsch made his major league debut with the Houston Astros by tossing a complete game 10-5 victory over the San Diego Padres. He finished the year by going 1-2 with a 5.62 ERA for the Astros. During his 4 years as a minor leaguer, Forsch won 28 games and lost 18 (.609 win %) with a combined 2.64 ERA.
Ken Forsch spent 16 seasons in the major leagues--11 with Houston (1970-1980) and five with the California Angels ('81-'84 and 1986). He combined to win 114 games while losing 113 (.502 win %) with a career 3.37 earned run average, striking out 1,047 batters in 2,127.1 innings pitched. He was a two-time MLB All-Star being selected to the National League team in 1976 as a reliever and to the 1981 American League team as a starter. On April the 7th, 1979, Forsch tossed a no-hitter, shutting out the Atlanta Braves 6-0 at the Houston Astrodome. His best season as an Astro came in 1978 when he finished the year with a 10-6 record (led the Astros in win %, .625) and 2.70 ERA (led all Astro pitchers with a minimum of 100 innings pitched) and tossed two shutouts. A year later, Forsch went 11-6 for Houston (.647 win %) with two shutouts and a 3.05 ERA. His 1.8 BB/9 inn. were the fewest in the National League and his 1.069 WHIP or BB+Hits/inn. pitched was the best in the NL. After posting a 12-13 record and 3.20 ERA in 1980, the 1st place Astros traded the 34 year old Forsch to the California Angels for shortstop Dickie Thon. He responded with his 2nd All-Star year by logging an 11-7 record with a 2.88 ERA and led the American League in shutouts with 4. The next year, 1982, Forsch tossed another 4 shutouts for the Angels (he tossed 18 in his MLB career) while winning 13 games and losing 11 with a 3.87 ERA.
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BOB AND KEN
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The Forsch brothers produced mirrior-like major league careers. Both were tall (6'4", 195-200 lb.) right handed pitchers who spent 16 years in the majors and both relied on near-pinpoint control and breaking pitches to get batters out. Younger brother Bob had a better winning % (.553, 168-136), but his St. Louis Cardinals were a far better team than Ken's Houston Astros during the 1970's. Ken pitched in more games (521 vs 498) however he spent his early years as a reliever. Bob tossed one more shutout (19) however started more games (422 to 241) and pitched more innings (2794.2 vs 2,127.1). Earned run average is a much better indicator as to a pitcher's quality. Bob compiled a career 3.76 ERA compared to Ken's 3.37. Both pitchers tossed no-hitters. Bob hurled two for the Cardinals (most by any Cardinal pitcher) and two more in the minors. Both led the National League in fewest base on balls allowed per nine innings. Bob accomplished the feat in 1980 by only allowing 1.384. Ken had a better strikeout ratio--4.4/9inn. and 1.79 SO/BB to Bob's 3.6 and 1.36. Ken produced a better WHIP or BB+Hits/IP--1.249 to Bob's 1.291.
Robert Herbert Forsch's best season as a major league pitcher could have been his 2nd year, 1975, when he posted a 15-10 record (.600 winning %) with a 2.86 earned run average (5th best in the NL) and logged 230 innings pitched. All were 2nd best on the Cardinals pitching staff. He capped the season with a 1-0 three-hit shutout over Pittsburgh. His next most impressive season came two years later in 1977 when he finished 3rd in the National League in victories (20) and trailed only Hall of Famers Steve Carlton (23) and Tom Seaver (21). Forsch's .741 Winning % (20-7) was the NL's 4th best topped only by Pittsburgh's John Candalaria (.800, 20-5), Seaver's .778 (21-6) and Larry Christenson's .760 (19-6). He hurled more than 200 innings in a season seven times and recorded a winning percentage besting .600 six times including a .741 win % in 1977. At age 38, he went 9-4 with the Cardinals before getting traded to the Houston Astros where he finished out the season by winning just 1 of 5 games.
In post season play, Bob Forsch won three games while losing four for St. Louis including a 3-hit shutout over Atlanta in the 1982 National League Championship Series. He pitched a total of 37.1 post season innings with a 5.79 ERA. Although Forsch struggled as a hitter in the minor leagues, he hit a respectable .213 with 12 career homers as a major leaguer. He led all pitchers in batting (Silver Slugger Award) on three occasions hitting .308 in 1975, .295 in 1980, and .298 in 1987 at age 37. Along with his brother, he would be regarded as among Northern California's top-10 pitchers of all-time.