Monday, December 28, 2015

Jack Aker (#287)

Nicknamed “The Chief” due to his American Indian heritage, Jack Aker was signed by the Kansas City Athletics as an outfielder in 1959, and after 1 season was converted to a pitcher.

He made his major-league debut in 1964, but played part of that season and the next in the minors before returning permanently to the bigs in July 1965. Jack pitched for 11 seasons, and pitched every one of his 495 games in relief.

In 1966 he led the AL with 32 saves, and in games finished with 57. Aker was the Top Dog in the A’s bullpen for 3 seasons (1966-68), then at age 27, was inexplicably left unprotected in the expansion draft, and was selected by the Seattle Pilots.

Jack began the 1969 season with the Pilots, but in May was traded to the Yankees for pitcher Fred Talbot. (This reunited Talbot with his old Yankees’ teammate Jim Bouton, providing fodder for Bouton’s book “Ball Four”.) 

Aker teamed up with the veteran Lindy McDaniel and others in the Yankees’ bullpen for the next 3 seasons. In May 1972, he was traded to the Cubs for outfielder Johnny Callison. After 1 ½ seasons with the Cubs, Aker split his final season (1974) between the Braves and the Mets.

He managed in the minor leagues after his retirement, and was the Indians' pitching coach in the mid-1980s. For 20 years beginning in 1988 he ran a youth baseball camp.

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