Sep 17: End of an ERA
SEPTEMBER 17, 1980 | ARLINGTON, TEXAS – An era came to an end on this date in 1980. Oakland A’s starter Rick Langford got the hook after giving up a two-run homer to the Texas Rangers‘ Rusty Staub. Langford had pitched 22 consecutive complete games (he was one out from his 23rd). Langford would finish the 1980 season with 28 complete games. Burt Blyleven had 24 in 1985, but no one in either league has come close since. Langford was a ways from the consecutive complete games record of 39 set by Jack Taylor of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1904.
Baseball Almanac (see Contributing Sources) has an interesting list of complete game leaders throughout history. Thirty and 40 complete games a season by a starting pitcher were not uncommon in the early 20th century. Jack Chesbro threw 48 for the New York Highlanders (today’s Yankees) in 1904. The list is full of pitchers with 20 and 30 complete games a season until the late 80’s.
No one in either league has reached double digits since Randy Johnson‘s 12 in 1999. Roy Halladay led the American League in complete games in 2007 (7) and 2008 (9). Brandon Webb led the NL in ’07 with 4. C. C. Sabathia led the NL in ’08 with 7.
The stat that’s gone up since complete games have gone down is saves.
September 17, 1980 Rangers-A’s box score/play-by-play
BASEBALL-ALMANAC: Complete games over the years