Dave Boswell, a former Minnesota Twins pitcher who led the American League in winning percentage in 1966 and ended his career with the Orioles, died of a heart attack Monday at his Joppatowne home. He was 67.
Born in Baltimore, he was a 1963 graduate of Calvert Hall College High School. A Baltimore Sun article in 1967 said that in his senior year there, "he was followed by a pack of major league scouts." According to news accounts, he was whipped into condition by his father, Buck Boswell, a Baltimore steelworker, and an uncle who had played for the International League Orioles.
"I punched the bags, skipped ropes and ran distances and sprints," Mr. Boswell recalled of his early training.
In that account, Lee MacPhail, then Orioles president, said, "We ranked him and Wally Bunker as the best pitching prospects in the country. But Boswell had a poor spring, and we couldn't afford to sign two first-year men for big bonuses. ... So we decided on Bunker."
Mr. Boswell signed with the Minnesota Twins for a $15,000 bonus. The news article said, "Boswell, the master of the malapropism, put it another way: 'The Orioles disembarked from me.'" Reporters often detailed his sometimes off-kilter remarks. When a catcher once asked if he knew much about the opposing team's hitters, Mr. Boswell said, "I can't incogitate all I know."
On his first professional visit to Yankee Stadium, he said, "Is this the park where the Yankees play when we watch them on TV back home?"
He made his debut with the Twins in 1965 and pitched in their loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers that year in Game 5 of the World Series. The next season he had a .706 winning percentage, leading the American League. His career record was 68-56.
He was known for his off-the-field behavior and once got into a celebrated fight with manager Billy Martin in the parking lot of a Detroit bar. Mr. Martin knocked out Mr. Boswell and gave him a cut that required numerous stitches. They later apologized.
"He told me about that fight," said former Orioles pitcher Dick Hall, who lives in Mays Chapel. "He said, 'I woke up the next morning and thought, "I made a mistake."' He was very friendly and outgoing, and easy to room with when we were on the road."
Mr. Boswell, as a Twins pitcher, got a standing ovation at Memorial Stadium after an intense American League playoff game on Oct. 5, 1969. The Orioles won that Sunday night, 1-0, in 11 innings. It was later revealed that he severely injured his arm as he struck out Frank Robinson in the 10th inning.
He pitched 102/3 innings and gave up a "stingy seven hits," according to The Baltimore Sun's account.
"My best game? They're never your best when you lose," he said late that night in Minnesota's locker room. The Sun's account described him as having "an ice bag on his pitching shoulder and the fingers of his right hand [were] blistered."
"I would have pitched until my arm fell off," he was quoted as saying after the game. "I never want to quit when I'm out there. No matter what the situation — you're tired but you push yourself."
The account said, "Boswell got off to a shaky start, surviving a bases-loaded, none-out situation in the second and another in the third when Frank Robinson doubled and Boog Powell walked, in matching McNally's string of goose eggs. However, halfway through the marathon, Boswell had worked his way through nine straight hitters and retired thirteen out of fourteen."
He said, "Being from Baltimore, I was really proud they would give me that ovation."
Years later, he told a Fort Myers News-Press reporter, "It felt like my shoulder went right into my jawbone. The arm would actually turn black and run all the way down to the elbow."
Eddie Watt, a former Orioles pitcher who now lives in North Bend, Neb., recalled Mr. Boswell as "an intense competitor." Mr. Watt said, "He only knew how to play one way, and that was all-out."
In his final year in the majors, he signed with the Orioles on May 28, 1971, after two other teams had let him go. In his first outing the next day against his old team, the Twins, he pitched 12/3 innings in relief, got the win and hit a run-scoring double. It would be his last victory in the big leagues.
After leaving baseball, he worked at the old Carling-National brewery and later was a supervisor for Winner Distributing-Anheuser Busch. He was also a pitching coach for Grand Slam USA at local venues.
Bill Stetka, an Orioles official, said Mr. Boswell was scheduled to sign autographs at a game this week. "He wanted to bring his sons out for batting practice," Mr. Stetka said.
"His right arm was very damaged, and he could not hold it straight — not even close," said a son, Daniel Boswell of Joppatowne. "But he didn't complain about his injuries. His only complaint was that he could not play ball longer."
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Connelly Funeral Home, 300 Mace Ave. in Essex.
In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 47 years, the former Eleanor "Lou" Smith; another son, Jason Boswell; a daughter, Christine Boswell, all of Joppatowne; a sister, Barbara Hatfield of Elkridge; and five grandchildren.
Baltimore Sun reporter Mike Klingaman contributed to this article.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun