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Padres Rule 5 Draft History: Bill Laxton, 1970

Justin K. Aller

The Padres' second-ever Rule 5 Draft pick was the first to actually see action with the club. Bill Laxton was selected from the Phillies organization in 1970. His entire major league experience to date consisted of two rocky appearances earlier with Philadelphia that year.

Laxton struggled with the Padres in 1971, but the team saw enough promise in him to keep him up the entire season so they wouldn't have to send him back. That, and the team as a whole was fairly awful so the twenty-fifth roster spot wasn't going to make a lot of difference. He went 0-2 with a 6.83 ERA in 27.2 innings over 18 games. He gave up four homers and had a WHIP north of 2.0, earning himself a banishment to the minors for the entirety of the 1972 and '73 seasons.

After a couple decent seasons as a starter for AA Alexandria, Laxton returned to the majors in 1974 as a reliever once again. He pitched 44.2 innings in 30 contests, shaving his WHIP down to a still-robust 1.679 and posting a career-best 4.03 ERA. Laxton was back at camp with the Friars the next spring, but was cut loose three days before Opening Day.

The Mets signed Laxton on April 25, 1975, 18 days after he was released by San Diego. He had a great year as a starter for AAA Tidewater, going 11-4 with a 2.49 ERA, but didn't get the call up to New York. After the season he was sent with Rusty Staub to Detroit in exchange for future Friar Mickey Lolich and an outfielder with the perfectly reasonable name of Billy Baldwin.

In 1976 and '77 Laxton spent two entire years in the majors without a trip down for the first time in his career. He went 0-5 as a Tiger in '76 to bring his career record to 0-8. Laxton was selected by Seattle in the expansion draft after that season and went 3-2 with a 4.95 ERA in 43 relief appearances as an inaugural Mariner, putting his name in the history books by earning the first win in franchise history. He was sent to Cleveland in early September for former All-Star Ray Fosse*. Laxton threw 1.2 innings in two games with the Indians and thus concluded his major league career.

*It seems almost redundant to refer to Ray Fosse as a "former All-Star". I don't think anyone is going to forget his place in midsummer history.

Bill Laxton came back to the Padres organization halfway through the 1978 season in a swap for Dave Freisleben, but never made it back to San Diego. The 10 games he got into with AAA Hawaii after the trade were his last games in organized ball.

Over 20 years after Bill's last pitch, the Laxton name returned to the major leagues. On Father's Day of 1999, Bill got a call informing him that his son Brett got promoted to Oakland. The younger Laxton didn't stick around as long as his father, going 0-1 in three games that season and 0-1 in six games with Kansas City in 2000. Incidentally, Brett Laxton was first drafted as a fourth round pick out of high school by the Padres in 1992, but opted to go to LSU and fell to the twenty-fourth round by 1996.