August 25, 2002
There have certainly been better relievers in baseball, but almost nobody can boast a more unique set of accomplishments.
- Wilhelm didn't make his debut until he was 28, but would pitch until he was nearly 49, appearing in 1,070 games, a record that stood for almost 30 years.
- That 1952 rookie year was perhaps his best. He appeared in a record 71 games for the pennant-contending Giants, won 15 and saved 11, led the league in ERA, and finished fourth in MVP voting. Famously, he hit a home run in his first at-bat, the only homer of his career. (There are reports that he hit the only triple of his career in his second at-bat, but this may be apocryphal.)
- Wilhelm didn't start a game until 1958, and only started 52 in his career. In one of those 1958 starts, however, he no-hit the Yankees in a nationally televised game.
- The following year, Wilhelm started 27 games, winning 15 with a 2.19 ERA. He became the first pitcher to win ERA titles in both leagues. Despite his success, he would start only 15 more games in his career.
- Though he never led the league, he retired with a record 227 saves (Wilhelm is now no longer in the top 20).
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