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Bo Belinsky
Bo Belinsky 1964.jpg
Belinsky in 1964
Born: (1936-12-07)December 7, 1936
Manhattan, New York City
Died: November 23, 2001(2001-11-23) (aged 64)
Las Vegas, Nevada
Batted: Left Threw: Left
April 18, 1962, for the Los Angeles Angels
Last appearance
May 18, 1970, for the Cincinnati Reds
MLB statistics
Win–loss record 28–51
Earned run average 4.10
Strikeouts 476
Career highlights and awards
  • Pitched a no-hitter on May 5, 1962

Robert "Bo" Belinsky (December 7, 1936 – November 23, 2001) was an American professional baseball pitcher who played for the Los Angeles Angels, Philadelphia Phillies, Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball from 1962 to 1970.

Belinsky became a local celebrity as a rookie with the Angels when he won his first four starts, including a no-hitter. Belinsky is one of only two pitchers in Angels franchise history to start his career with a four-game winning streak or better, the other being Jered Weaver.

Early life

Belinsky was born on the Lower East Side in Manhattan in New York City, the son of Anna (Polnoff) and Edward Belinsky. His father was a Polish-American Catholic and his mother was Jewish. When he was a child his grandmother, who was a Russian Jew, called him "bubelah". ..... He attended Trenton Central High School.

Baseball career

Belinsky was already notorious as a minor leaguer for his night life during several seasons in the Oriole farm system. His career and life changed when the Angels picked him in a minor league draft for the 1962 season. His pre-season contract holdout and charismatic personality made him a star before he'd thrown a single pitch in major league competition.

Belinsky had a career record of just 28–51, but threw the first no-hitter in the history of the Los Angeles Angels and the first one at Chavez Ravine (Dodger Stadium), beating the Baltimore Orioles 2–0 on May 5, 1962.

But the no-hitter—his fourth straight win at the start of his rookie season—would immortalize his name and, perhaps, mark the beginning of his long downfall. Belinsky would finish the 1962 season with a 10–11 win–loss record, a 3.56 earned run average, 4th in the league in strikeouts per 9 innings pitched (6.966) and the league lead in walks (122). He finished the season second in the American League in home runs per 9 innings pitched (0.577), third in hits per 9 innings pitched (7.158), and sixth in shutouts (3).

After throwing the no-hitter Belinsky also said, "If music be the food of love, by all means let the band play on." The 1962 season was a raucous one for Belinsky in that he became glittering copy for southern California sportswriters with his wit and unapologetic womanizing. ..... "His name would become synonymous with a lifestyle that was cool and slick and dazzling ... But in time the name Belinsky would become synonymous with something else. It would become synonymous with dissipated talent."

In addition to pitching the first no-hitter in Angels' history, Belinsky was also on the losing end of the first no-hitter ever pitched against the Angels—Earl Wilson's 2–0 gem at Fenway Park on June 26 of the same 1962 season. The Boston Red Sox pitcher hit a home run in that game, one of four no-hit pitchers ever to do so.

Belinsky fell to 1–7 in 1963, and was sent to the Angels' minor league team in Hawaii, where he pitched his way back and finished the year 2–9 in the Major Leagues.

Belinsky was 9–7 with a career-best 2.86 ERA in August 1964 when came the incident that ended his days with the Angels: a hotel room fight with elderly Los Angeles Times sportswriter Braven Dyer. He was suspended from the Angels, then traded to the Philadelphia Phillies after the season for Costen Shockley and Rudy May. After spending a little over a season with the Phillies, in which he was used mostly as a long reliever before his outright release back to the minors, he also pitched for the Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds before his career ended in the Cincinnati minor league system in 1970.

Later life and death

Belinsky became a kind of protégé to fading but still influential and show business-connected newspaper columnist Walter Winchell. He was linked romantically, at one time or another, to such women as Ann-Margret, Connie Stevens, Tina Louise and Mamie Van Doren, the last his fiancee for a year. Contemporary player Mike Hegan once said, "Bo had more fun off the field than he did on the field."

"What was clear," Jordan wrote, "was that Belinsky had dissipated a promising career, that people had grown tired of him, and that most of the problem could be traced to his personality. He did not have the knack of such later athletes—the Namaths, Harrelsons and Sandersons—of cultivating his personality precisely up to, but not beyond, that point at which the public became bored with it."

..... Clean, sober and a born-again Christian ("Can you imagine," he was quoted as saying, "finding Jesus Christ in Las Vegas?"), Belinsky battled bladder cancer before his death in Las Vegas of an apparent heart attack at age 64. He is interred at Davis Memorial Park in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Veteran sportswriter Maury Allen wrote a biography of Belinsky, Bo: Pitching and Wooing, "with the uncensored cooperation of Bo Belinsky," in 1973.

See also

  • List of Major League Baseball no-hitters
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