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1990 Cy Young Award-winner Bob Welch, 57, has died

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The Dodgers and A's great conquered both Reggie Jackson and alcoholism.

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The Oakland A's have announced that 1990 Cy Young award-winner Bob Welch has passed away at the age of 57. The cause of death was not immediately available.

Best known for going 27-6 for the A's in that Cy Young campaign, Welch owned a career 211-146 record with a 3.47 ERA in a 17-year career split between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Athletics. The 20th-overall pick in the first round of the 1977 Draft, Welch made his debut with the Dodgers the following June at the age of 21. He pitched on four postseason teams with his initial club, including the 1981 World Series winners, and four more with the A's, the 1989 champions among them. He was a three-time All-Star and also received down-ballot votes for the Cy Young in both 1983 and 1987.

As with several ballplayers of Welch's generation, he became almost as well known for struggles with substance abuse as for his generally strong pitching, which included 28 career shutouts. In his case, the substance of choice was alcohol. He sought treatment after his second season in the majors and was able to overcome his addiction. He published a book about his experiences, "Five O'Clock Comes Early: A Young Man's Battle with Alcoholism" in 1982.

Prior to his Cy Young campaign with the A's, Welch's biggest on-field moment came during Game 2 of  the 1978 World Series. The rookie had his youthful stuff -- his later success would be fueled by a combination of a forkball and Tony La Russa's dexterous deployment of Dennis Eckersley to protect his wins -- coming off a tremendous major league debut, going 7-4 with a 2.02 ERA as a swingman, earning three saves and three shutouts. Manager Tommy Lasorda didn't hesitate to deploy him in a key spot against the defending-champion New York Yankees and Reggie Jackson, who had personally demolished the Dodgers the previous October.

The game, at Dodger Stadium, went to the top of the ninth with the home team holding a 4-3 lead. Lefty reliever Terry Forster was working his third inning for the Dodgers. Shortstop Bucky Dent opened the frame with a single, and a comebacker by left fielder Roy White moved him into scoring position. Forster than walked center fielder Paul Blair, finally forcing Lasorda to go to the pen. Welch entered and retired catcher Thurman Munson on a flyout to right field. That brought postseason hero Jackson to the plate. The confrontation took eight pitches and a full count to resolve:

"The kid beat me," Jackson acknowledged after.

Given our modern understanding of wins, Welch's 1990 campaign now seems like less than it did at the time. Still, Welch made 35 starts, received a decision in all but two of them, and made a quality start nearly 70 percent of the time. That's an unremarkable percentage, but it was also all that team needed. Run support and a Hall of Fame closer or not, it's something, and it's reflected in the fact that except for Denny McClain in 1968, no other pitcher of the last 61 years has won more.

Those two moments are more than enough to call Welch's career great, even without his other accomplishments. Add in that he defeated his off-field demons and you have a rare pitcher, indeed. Our condolences to his family, friends and teammates.