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Pitcher Drabowsky dies

June 13, 2006

Moe Drabowsky, the prankster pitcher who delighted in putting pythons in teammates' shoes and wound up as a World Series star for the Baltimore Orioles when they won their first championship in 1966, is dead. He was 70.

Drabowsky, who was the pitching coach of the Hagerstown Suns in 1992, died Saturday at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Medical Center in Little Rock, spokeswoman Liz Caldwell said Sunday. He had been ill with multiple myeloma, the Orioles said.

Drabowsky worked for the Orioles' organization the last 13 seasons as their Florida pitching instructor, overseeing players in extended spring training and on rehab assignments.

More than anything, Drabowsky was known for being one of the most zany players in the majors - he loved to make crank calls from bullpen phones and once gave commissioner Bowie Kuhn a hotfoot.

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In a 1987 interview with The Associated Press, while working as a minor league pitching coach for the Chicago White Sox, he lamented that the game wasn't so playful anymore.

"Players seem to be more serious now," he said then. "I would tend to believe they don't have as much fun. You don't find the same kind of characters in the game today. Egos are a big factor. And the guys are making so much money."

The highlight of Drabowsky's 17-year career came in Game 1 of the 1966 World Series. He set a record for relievers by striking out 11 over 6 2-3 scoreless innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers, starting the underdog Orioles toward a sweep.

Drabowsky pitched from 1956-72 with the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Braves, Cincinnati, Kansas City Athletics, Baltimore, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis and the White Sox. He was 88-105 with 55 saves and a 3.71 ERA.

Drabowsky also was the answer to several trivia questions. He gave up Stan Musial's 3,000th career hit, was the losing pitcher in Early Wynn's 300th career victory and was the first Royals pitcher to win a game.

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