Former knuckleballer Bob Purkey has passed away. He was 73. Purkey was best known for his success with the Cincinnati Reds. He got his start in the Show with the Pirates, who traded him to Cincy following 1957 for pitcher Don Gross. While Purkey blossomed for the Reds, Gross was a semi-decent reliever for the Pittsburgh over parts of 1958, 1959 and 1960.
Purkey won 16 games for times for the Reds, including a career best 23 in 1962, finishing third in the Cy Young Award voting that year. Bill James takes some time in the Historical Baseball Abstract to explain while Purkey should’ve won the Cy Young in 1962 over Don Drysdale. He also saw action in the All-Star game in three years. Purkey was the tough luck loser of Game 3 of the 1961 World Series. Clinging to a 2-1 lead going into the top of the 8th, he allowed a solo homer to Johnny Blanchard in the 8th to tie the score. In the 9th, Roger Maris blasted a solo homer for the winning margin as the Yanks took the game and then took the Series in five contests.
In his career, Purkey dominated Roberto Clemente. The Pirate star was a mere 17-87 (.195) against Purkey.
Following his career, Purkey settled in the Pittsburgh area and opened an insurance agency.