“El Tiante” Coming to BB&T Ballpark…
Each year, the Charlotte Knights welcome legendary baseball players to BB&T Ballpark for fans to meet. That rich tradition will continue during the upcoming 2017 season.
The first player of the group scheduled to visit the Queen City in the 2017 Harris Teeter and Gain Celeb Series is legendary pitcher Luis Tiant, who will meet fans and sign free autographs on Wednesday, April 19th. On that night, the Knights will host the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox — the team that Tiant made his mark with back in the 1970’s.
Born in Marianao, Cuba on November 23, 1940, Tiant first made a name for himself in the Mexican League in 1960 as a 19-year-old. A year later, the Cuban native signed with the Cleveland Indians (1961) and was on his way to playing professional baseball in the United States.
“El Tiante” spent the 1962 and 1963 seasons making his way through Cleveland’s minor league system. In each of those two seasons, the talented right-handed pitcher spent time in the Carolinas — first with Charleston (1962) and later with Burlington (1963).
In 1964, Tiant shined at the Triple-A level. Pitching for Portland, Tiant posted a 15–1 record and tossed a no-hitter and one-hitter. After dominating the Triple-A ranks, Tiant made his major league debut with the Indians on July 19, 1964 — the rest was history.
Tiant’s first start was one for the ages. Starting for the Indians against the New York Yankees and Whitey Ford, Tiant tossed a four-hit shutout in a 3–0 win over the Bronx Bombers. He fanned 11 batters in his debut as well.
In 19 starts during his rookie campaign, Tiant posted a 10–4 record with a 2.83 ERA with 105 strikeouts. It was a dominating performance for the 23-year-old, who went on to even greater success over the years.
In one of his finest seasons of his career, Tiant posted a 21–9 record with a minuscule 1.60 ERA in 1968 in 34 games (32 starts). That season, Tiant was an American League All-Star — his first of three during his career. Among some of his other highlights from that season, Tiant tossed 19 complete games, nine shutouts, and he struck-out 264 batters over 258.1 innings pitched.
Three years later, Tiant was a member of the Red Sox — a team he helped get to a World Series in 1975. Tiant, who won 122 games for the ‘Sox in eight seasons, posted a 2–0 record in the 1975 World Series. Despite his dominance in the postseason that year, the Red Sox fell to the Cincinnati Reds for the World Series Championship.
Over the course of four seasons (1973 to 1976), Tiant was one of the most dominating pitchers in baseball. He combined to win 81 games over that four-year stretch and was an All-Star in 1974 and 1976. He won a season-best 22 games in 1974.
Over his final four years in the majors, Tiant pitched for three different teams. He pitched for the New York Yankees (1979–1980), the Pittsburgh Pirates (1981) and the California Angels (1982). Despite playing for six different teams over his distinguished career, Tiant will always be remembered for his success with Boston.
For his career, Tiant posted a 229–172 record with a 3.30 ERA in 573 games (484 starts). He threw 187 career complete games and 49 career shutouts. He was inducted into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1997 and the Hispanic Heritage Hall of Fame Museum in 2002.
Interesting to note: Luis Tiant appeared in an episode of the popular TV show, Cheers, on January 6, 1983.
Did You Know: Tiant’s dad, Luis Tiant Sr;, was a star pitcher in the Negro Leagues with the New York Cubans.
Tickets to meet Luis Tiant on April 19th at BB&T Ballpark are on sale now online at CharlotteKnights.com and by phone at 704–274–8282.