Friday, June 22, 2012

1977 Topps Baseball #227 - Joe Sambito

  • You may have noticed the little mark above Joe Sambito's name on the back. There is a story behind that. The 1977 set was the first set that I completed as a kid. I was really proud of that and was dumb enough to bring the set to school for show and tell. Sure enough, the cards got stolen and I was unable to get them back. I was heartbroken. My father felt sorry for me and sent away for the complete set (probably from Larry Fritsch or Den's Collector's Den). When the cards came in, he marked each card with a diagonal pencil mark. So when you see cards with the little diagonal mark, they are the cards from the set my dad bought me 35 years ago.
  • Joe Sambito was drafted by the Houston Astros in 1973. He pitched in the minors from 1973-1975.
  • Sambito started the 1976 season in the minors. He had a high ERA with AAA Memphis (3-0, 6.33 ERA), and pitched well for AA Columbus (8-2, 1.80 ERA). Joe was called up to Houston in mid-July and had a 3-2 record with a 3.54 ERA in 20 games (4 starts).
  • Joe started a good run as a reliever for the Astros in 1977. He had a record of 5-5 with seven saves and had an ERA of 2.33 in 54 games for the Astros in '77.
  • In 1978 Sambito was 4-9 with 11 saves and had a 3.07 ERA in 62 appearances.
  • Sambito made the NL All Star team in 1979 (he pitched 2/3 of an inning, walked one batter, and allowed no runs). He had a record of 8-7, saved 22 games, and had a 1.77 ERA.
  • Joe finished 5th in NL Cy Young Award voting in 1980. During the regular season he was 8-4 with 17 saves and had a 2.19 ERA in 64 games. Joe was 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in three appearances during the 1980 NLCS.
  • Sambito's last really good full season was in 1981. He was 5-5 with 10 saves and had a 1.84 ERA in 49 games. During the NLDS Sambito was 1-0 but had a 16.20 ERA in two appearances.
  • Joe was off to a great start (0-0, 4 saves, 0.71 ERA in 9 games) in 1982 when he suffered an elbow injury . He saved the game on April 27, but that was his last appearance. Joe had surgery in July to remove a bone chip, but a ruptured ligament was discovered and that was repaired as well.
  • Sambito had another elbow surgery in March 1983 and sat out the entire season while recovering.
  • Joe underwent a rehabilitation program and did a rehab stint in the minors in 1984. Sambito was activated by the Astros on May 23 and had a 3.02 ERA in 32 games for the Astros.
  • Sambito didn't make the Houston club in 1985 -- he allowed 25 hits and 12 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings. He was given the choice of accepting a minor league assignment or being released. Joe chose to be released. Sambito worked out with a few clubs and ended up signing with the New York Mets on April 26. Joe appeared in eight games for the Mets and had a 12.66 ERA before being assigned to AAA Tidewater in July. In late August the Mets "recalled" Sambito and then released him.
  • In 1986 Joe signed with the Boston Red Sox and was able to stay with the club for the entire season. Sambito went 2-0, saved 12 games, and had a 4.84 ERA in 53 games. Joe made three appearances in the ALCS without allowing a run. In the World Series he got roughed up in two games -- he had a 27.00 ERA in 1/3 of an inning. The Red Sox used Sambito as a situational lefty during his time with the team.
  • Sambito's last major league season was 1987. He wasn't as successful, going 2-6 with a 6.93 ERA in 47 games. 
  • Joe wasn't resigned after the 1987 season. Sambito attempted another comeback with the Astros in 1988 and was successful at AAA Tucson, but the Astros didn't call him up and he left the ballclub in late June. The Astros wouldn't release Sambito because they wanted to keep the Los Angeles Dodgers from picking him up. Joe retired after the 1988 season.
  • After his playing career Joe  became an agent.
  • Here is a 2001 interview with Sambito
  • 1977 Stats: 5-5, 7 saves, 2.33 ERA in 54 games (1 start)
  • 1977 Highlights:
  • Other card blogs: 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988

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