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June 21, 1975 was a memorable day in Tanana's career – he struck out 17 batters in one game. In his prime, he was known for a blazing 100+ MPH fastball, which he abruptly lost when he injured his arm. However, he was able to develop an assortment of off-speed pitches (including an excellent curveball) and continue his career.
Frank appeared in three consecutive All-Star Games from 1976 to 1978, and led the league in strikeouts in 1975 as well as in ERA and shutouts in 1977. Throughout his career, he accumulated 34 shutouts, 4000 innings pitched, and nearly 3000 strikeouts.
Major league careerEdit
Along with Nolan Ryan, Tanana anchored the pitching staff of the California Angels from 1973 - 1979. This led to the saying, "Tanana and Ryan and two days of cryin'," an indication of just how much the two meant to the rotation. Tanana missed two months of the 1979 season with a shoulder injury, but was able to pitch in September and during the post-season. On 1981-01-23, the Angels traded him to the Boston Red Sox along with Jim Dorsey and Joe Rudi for Steve Renko and Fred Lynn (whom the Red Sox worried they would lose to free agency due to paperwork errors).
Boston Red SoxEdit
Tanana pitched for the Red Sox for a single season, earning only 4 victories against 10 losses before being granted free agency on 1981-11-13.
Tanana signed as a free agent with Texas Rangers on 1981-01-06. In 1984, he was named the pitcher of the year for the team as he went 15-15 with a 3.25 ERA. This was a great accomplishment for Tanana since an arm injury earlier in his career had forced him to stop being a power pitcher and rely on pure junk. He was traded by the Rangers to the Detroit Tigers for minor-league pitcher Duane James on 1985-06-20.
Tanana returned home to Detroit due to the trade, then signed free agent contracts with the team in 1988 and 1989 to stay with the team until 1992. On the final day of the 1987 season, Tanana pitched a 1-0 complete game shutout over the 2nd place Toronto Blue Jays to clinch the American League East title for the Tigers. He was referred to as "the great tantalizer" because of his wide array of slow offspeed pitches. These he managed to mix very effectively, frustrating opposing batters and making an 88 mph fastball surprising and effective when slipped in after a steady diet of breaking balls.
Tanana signed as a free agent with the Mets for the 1993 season, winning 7 games for the last place team before being traded to the New York Yankees for Kenny Greer in an attempt to capture the pennant with the 1993-09-17 trade. He lost 2 of his three starts for the Yankees and they did not reach the post-season.
Life outside baseballEdit
Tanana attended Detroit Catholic Central High School and California State University, Fullerton before embarking on his baseball career. He converted to Protestantism midway through his career and became a leader in the Christian community within professional baseball.
Tanana has been married to Cathy Mull since 1978. They have four children and four sons-in-law and now reside in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Both serve on the Pro Athletes Outreach Board of Directors, and are involved in the Home Plate and Career Impact ministries. In 2006, Tanana was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.
Tanana taught Seattle Seahawks quarterback Jim Zorn how to slide properly. Zorn, as a coach after his playing career was over, recruited John Olerud to teach Matt Hasselbeck to slide in similar fashion.
Tanana was unwittingly involved in an infamous "prank" perpetuated by the Upper Deck baseball card company in the early nineties. At the height of baseball player Frank Thomas's popularity, Upper Deck noticeably increased their production of Frank Tanana cards. Collectors looking for the valuable Frank Thomas card would invariably become excited upon spying the relatively similar name in a freshly opened pack of cards, only to be disappointed at receiving the comparatively mediocre Tanana.
- List of Major League Baseball leaders in career wins
- List of Major League Baseball ERA champions
- List of Major League Baseball strikeout champions
- MLB All-Time Hit Batsmen List
- Home runs allowed
- Top 100 strikeout pitchers of all time
- Frank Tanana's career statistics at Baseball-Reference.com
- Information on Tanana at Baseball Library.com
|American League Strikeout Champion|
|American League ERA Champion|