January 16, 1973:
It was a salary dispute that brought Steve Carlton to the Phillies before the 1972 season, and the team refused to let it be the reason he left. Following a Cy Young-winning season, often considered one of the most dominant campaigns in modern baseball, the Phillies were determined to keep their ace. To do so required making Carlton the highest paid pitcher in the league; with his new $165,000 salary, the left-hander received a raise of $100,000.
Large contracts often carry a large burden, and Carlton’s was no exception. After a season in which he called his starts “win day”, Carlton struggled throughout 1973, finishing with a 13-20 record while his ERA ballooned by nearly two runs. The struggles continued off the field, as well; always a colorful character, “Lefty” found himself in the crosshairs of the Philadelphia media, who questioned his unorthodox behavior and training methods. The relationship would remain to be tense until it ceased entirely. For the remainder of his career in Philadelphia, Steve Carlton would refuse to speak with reporters.
Photo: AP Wirephoto