Best known for earning the 1968 World Series MVP with the Tigers by pitching three complete games and winning all of them, Mickey Lolich finished his career with two seasons, 1978 and '79 in the Padres' bullpen.
The former 25-game winner and strikeout champ had been out of baseball for a year when he signed with the Padres on Groundhog Day in 1978. He retired from the game after a 1976 season spent with the Mets, and headed back to the Detroit area to open a donut shop. Apparently crullers and bearclaws weren't as exciting as competing. The big left-hander, who had started 489 of his 539 games to date, took to his new relief role like a duck to water. He posted a 1.56 ERA in 34.2 innings spread over 20 appearances his first year in San Diego. His second season in brown and gold didn't go so well; he tripled his ERA and headed back to the donut shop.
I couldn't decide which of Lolich's two Topps cards depicting him with the Padres to use for this post, so I doubled up. The one on the left, his 1979 card, features a sweet warm-up jacket and a clearer shot of his face, but the one on the right, released a year later after he'd pitched his final game, has that great batting practice jersey. Plus, the 1980 Topps design is hard to beat.
Happy birthday, Mr. Lolich! Here's to 74 more great years.