Larry Gura

This article was written by Rich Bogovich


Larry GuraHealth activities embraced by Larry Gura in 1976 were so unusual for a pro pitcher that veteran Sports Illustrated writer Bill Nack devoted a long newspaper article to them. “An idea fixed in conventional baseball wisdom is that a pitcher, of all people, should not involve himself in weightlifting, should not strain over weighted pulleys or barbells,” Nack wrote, yet that consumed Gura’s offseason. “Gura also has engaged in an elaborate series of muscle-flexibility exercises – squats, bends, rotations and jumping jacks – and indulged in a high protein, low carbohydrate diet that includes an exotic mixture for breakfast … of three raw eggs, two tablespoons of strained honey, three tablespoons of protein powder and 14 ounces of whole milk in a blender.”1 In hindsight, Gura proved to be much more an innovator than an oddity. “He was a pioneer in baseball, a fanatic about nutrition and weight training, years before it became commonplace for all ballplayers to pay attention to such matters,” said longtime Royals broadcaster Steve Stewart in 2008.2

Nothing in Gura’s formative years suggested this particular niche for him in baseball history. Lawrence Cyril Gura was born on November 26, 1947, to Charles J. Gura Jr. and Gretchen L. (Barnett) Gura in Joliet, Illinois,3 about 40 miles southwest of downtown Chicago. Joliet’s population was about 50,000 at the time.4

Charles Gura, of Slovak descent, was a lifelong resident of the area and for over 40 years was a baker for the American Baking Company, maker of Rainbo Bread. He belonged to the local Loyal Order of Moose lodge. Gretchen was a widow when she married Charles. She had children from her first marriage, and Larry grew up with two brothers and two sisters. Gretchen became a teacher’s aide at Joliet East High School, which opened in 1964. Larry was a senior there during the school’s first year. His mother also served as a president of the Air Force Mothers Club locally and was quite involved in the Belmont and Ingalls Park Athletic Clubs on Joliet’s east side. Larry played Little League baseball at Belmont Park and Pony League ball at Ingalls.5

According to a niece of Larry’s, the family was very athletic. His brother Chuck played football in high school, but several other relatives mainly played on the diamond. Their father pitched and played third base for the Moose team, and their mother played softball during her youth. Charles Gura’s brother Emery also played for the Moose, and because Emery was left-handed, like Larry, it was that uncle who taught Larry how to pitch during Little League.6

Joliet has long had a “reputation as a great baseball community,” according to a longtime journalist there.7 During the last decade of Gura’s pro career, a Chicago Tribune sportswriter even called Joliet “baseball-crazy.”8 Baseball in Joliet made the news nationwide when Larry was a baby, and another of Larry’s uncles was on the periphery. In 1948 the Joliet area’s new semipro baseball league was called the Will County Athletic Association (WCAA), and the Joliet Moose had one of the circuit’s eight teams. Starring for them that year was 5-foot-9, 18-year-old Francis “Fuzzy” Gura, who the local daily said was “undoubtedly the most effective hurler in the league.”9 Also in the WCAA was St. Joseph’s American Legion team. In an exhibition game for that team on July 20, pitcher Bernice Metesh became the only female semipro baseball player in the United States at the time. She and Frank Gura didn’t pitch against each other because she was added to the roster too late to be eligible for regular WCAA games.10 Instead, she pitched in more exhibition games across northern Illinois for which she received newspaper and radio coverage coast to coast.11

Frank Gura may have been overshadowed as he compiled a record of nine wins and three losses for the Moose team, to go with a .421 batting average, but he didn’t go unnoticed. In January of 1949 he was signed to a professional contract by White Sox scout Doug Minor. The White Sox’ announcement of his signing noted that in 1947 he had a pitching record of 6-1 for Joliet Catholic High School, and that three of those victories were one-hitters, after which he went 15-1 for a Junior American Legion squad, while batting .687 with a streak of 12 consecutive hits. The White Sox assigned him to Madisonville (Kentucky) Miners of the Class-D Kentucky-Illinois-Tennessee (Kitty) League.12 Gura won 14 games and lost 8 for the Miners. In 1950 he was promoted to the Superior (Wisconsin) Blues of the Class-C Northern League. He won four games and lost four, but in midseason he was sent down to the Wisconsin Rapids White Sox in the Class-D Wisconsin State League and that was the conclusion of his professional career.

About three years later, his nephew Larry started playing baseball in earnest. “As a little kid, I always wanted to play for the Yankees,” he recalled in 1976. “Whitey Ford was my idol and he helped me when he was the Yankees’ pitching coach.”

Gura added, “I remember when I was pitching in the Little League on a team called the Caterpillars, my dad promised me a new fishing rod if I shut out the other team, and I shut them out. At the time that was real pressure.” He also took pride in accomplishments while playing American Legion ball in Joliet: “I pitched back-to-back no-hitters with 23 strikeouts in each game.”13

“Growing up, I didn’t try to throw the ball that hard,” Gura recalled on a later occasion. “I concentrated on control. It took me six months to learn a changeup.” In addition to location, he said, the other key to his success was patience.14

According to Charles Gura’s entries in city directories, Larry grew up at 9 North West Circle Drive, just a stone’s throw from Ingalls Park, where he played his Pony League ball. During the summer of 1962, Gura earned some national exposure as the Joliet Pony League All-Stars were advancing to the final four of the Pony League World Series double-elimination tournament in Washington, Pennsylvania. Facing a team from Northbrook, Illinois, in Davenport, Iowa, on August 21, he replaced Joliet’s starting pitcher with two out in the second inning. Over 5⅓ innings he struck out 13 batters. His opponents could manage only one walk, four hits, and a run as Gura and Joliet triumphed, 10-5.15

During the spring of 1964 Gura was a junior at Joliet Township High School (now Joliet Central) and didn’t pitch an inning. “I don’t think that’s real surprising, though,” he said a few years later, “because the two top pitchers on that club were Bill Sudakis and Dale Spier.” Sudakis had an eight-year major-league career (albeit never as a pitcher) and Spier pitched in the minors, peaking at Triple A from 1970 through 1972. But Gura had a 5-1 pitching record for his Colt League team that summer, and earned a spot on the city’s team in national Colt League World Series tournament.16 They reached the final game in Shawnee, Oklahoma, against a team from Houston, thanks in large part to Gura amassing a tournament record of 11-0. He got his team into the final game by beating a team from Riverside, California, on August 21 for the second time in 48 hours. “Gura’s control was perfect as he spun a five-hitter and struck out seven in lowering his earned run average to 1.65 over 58 innings of work,” his hometown daily reported. Gura didn’t play the next day when it took an extra eighth inning for Houston to beat Joliet, 2-1, and claim the crown.17

By switching to Joliet’s brand new East High School for his senior year, Gura was able to pitch for the varsity baseball team. He was also a competitive swimmer and runner for the school.18 “I guess I started thinking about playing pro ball in my senior year of high school,” Gura said a few years later. At Joliet East he was coached by Elmer Bell, who played minor-league ball briefly for the Philadelphia Phillies around the time of the Korean War. Bell was once a teammate of Bobby Winkles, the baseball coach at Arizona State University. As a result, Gura accepted a scholarship to enter ASU in the fall of 1965.19

Gura’s college years were very eventful, both with the Sun Devils and with other teams during his summer breaks. Jon Cole, an All-American for ASU in the discus and shot put, and a future Olympic weightlifter, later directed Gura through the trailblazing regime documented in the 1976 article by Bill Nack.20 Gura was a sophomore on the ASU team that won the 1967 College World Series tournament, and he delivered a key victory on June 14 against top-ranked Stanford with a scoreless, three-hit relief stint.21 That summer he had a 7-1 record for the semipro Cowboys of Halstead, Kansas, for whom he played in the 1967 National Baseball Congress tournament. Then, as a junior back at ASU during the spring of 1968 his mediocre 4-4 record was offset by an earned-run average of 1.90 in 90 innings and an average of more than 11 strikeouts per game. By that point he had reached his adult height of 6-feet and weighed 180 pounds.22

During that summer Gura compiled a record of 12-1 for the Collegians of Boulder, Colorado, and starred for them in the 1968 National Baseball Congress tournament. He hurled no-hitters three days apart on the way to being named to the all-tourney team.23 Then in November Gura and fellow Joliet resident John Lucenta were on the US team in a four-country round-robin tournament tacked onto the Olympics in Mexico City. The US squad hurdled teams from Puerto Rico and Mexico and received gold medals, defeating Cuba 2-1 in the final contest.24

The spring of 1969 was monumental for Gura. One harbinger was a game between ASU and the expansion Seattle Pilots on March 15. Gura and freshman Craig Swan combined to beat the major leaguers, 5-4.25 Toward the tail end of his record-setting season for the Sun Devils, he became a second-round draft pick of the Chicago Cubs, on June 5, 1969. He also received a bachelor’s degree in physical education.26 But he still had work to do for ASU in the College World Series. On June 13 he lost the opening game but on June 20 he beat Tulsa in the finale to give ASU another championship.27

Gura became the winningest pitcher in collegiate baseball history by virtue of a 19-2 record that included two wins and a save in the College World Series. In the process, he established ASU career records with 325 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.73, and his 1969 ERA of 1.01 was the best for a single season by a Sun Devil.28 He and University of Texas pitcher Burt Hooton were named to the 1969 American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings NCAA Division I All-America First Team.29

On June 25 Gura and the Cubs agreed on a contract, with a $30,000 signing bonus that was called “a surprisingly high figure” in at least one Arizona newspaper.

The Cubs assigned Gura to their top minor-league team, Tacoma in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. To start his pro career, Gura lost to Hawaii on July 6 but shut out Tucson on July 11.30 All told, his half-season with Tacoma wasn’t particularly satisfying, with a 4-8 record and an ERA of 3.17. Before the end of the season, Gura celebrated a milestone of a very different kind. At 11:00 A.M. on August 21, he married his ASU girlfriend, Cindy Davenport, back in Arizona. Gura credited her with making a difference in his collegiate career. “On the days I was to pitch at ASU, she really took great care of me,” he said. “She saw that I ate properly, got in early and had plenty of rest.” The couple had planned the wedding two months earlier and couldn’t have anticipated that he’d be expected to pitch in a minor-league game that same night. “All the fellows tell me I’ll be scared stiff for the wedding,” Gura told a reporter the evening before. “But it doesn’t bother me at all. I’m more worried about pitching tomorrow night.” His record was 3-6 at the time. “I wanted the wedding to take place on the mound,” Gura added, tongue in cheek, “but she wouldn’t go along with that.” He lost that night’s start.31

When Tacoma’s season concluded, Gura was shifted to the Arizona Instructional League, the only time he ever pitched minor-league ball below the Triple-A level. He also pitched in the minors for parts of 1970 through 1974, and again during his last year as a pro. He did well in his 11 games in the Instructional League, posting a 5-2 record, 3 saves, and an ERA of 2.25. In 52 innings he stuck out 46 batters and walked eight.

In 1970 Gura had a 2-1 record with the major leaguers in spring training but started the regular season back in the Pacific Coast League. He wasn’t there long. On April 22, the Cubs purchased his contract from Tacoma.32 He made his major-league debut on April 30. He shared his recollections many years later:

We were playing the Braves in Atlanta. I was in the bullpen and I had just gotten up to     throw a few, just to loosen up. All of a sudden I’m in the ballgame facing Rico Carty,    Orlando Cepeda and Henry Aaron, two future Hall of Famers and a batting champion, all          right-handed hitters. I said to myself, “Oh, great, this is a good way to start your career.”                      I got Aaron and Cepeda but I contributed to Carty’s 32-game hitting streak.

I got my first win in Montreal. I actually got a start and we got some runs early. Joe          Becker, our pitching coach, came out to the mound in the third or fourth inning and I    said, “Don’t you dare take me out of this this game.” In those days, the infielders could            all come in to the mound so Santo, Kessinger, Beckert, and Jim Hickman all heard me,                    and, to tell you the truth, I think they were kind of impressed with my aggressiveness. At           any rate, I stayed in the game and I think we won, 11-3.33

Gura’s memory about his debut was pretty good, though he focused on the second of the two innings he pitched. He entered a lopsided game in the seventh inning with the bases loaded and two outs. He yielded a single to George Stone that added two more runs, then issued a walk, but next Tony Gonzalez became the first batter he retired, on a fly to center. Aaron, Carty, and Cepeda were indeed the first three batters he faced in the eighth inning; he retired Felix Millan to end the frame. He was spot-on about his first victory, which occurred on August 5.

Gura appeared in 20 games for the Cubs in 1970, six in 1971, and 7 in 1972, and then 21 in 1973. All were relief outings except for three starts in 1970 and seven in 1973. He found the overall experience frustrating, summed up by one observation: “One year, I was with the Cubs for three months and had six innings of work.”34 Nevertheless, he retained some fond memories with that team:

            I remember sitting in the bullpen and watching Ernie Banks hit his 500th home run. It       brought tears to your eyes, it really did. And playing with guys like Banks and Jenkins       and Billy Williams. And Fergie Jenkins winning 20 games all those years in that       ballpark. How’d he do that? It was great. I enjoyed those years.35

On November 14, 1973, the Cubs sent Gura to the Texas Rangers as the player to be named later when they acquired Mike Paul on August 31. Gura didn’t actually play a regular-season game for the Rangers because on May 7, 1974, they traded him to the New York Yankees, with some cash, for Duke Sims. Still, Gura was with Texas just long enough in 1974 to have his first annoying experience with Billy Martin. “I pitched one inning in spring training and he sent me out [to the minors]. He told me I needed to work on my control,” recalled Gura. “My control? That was always my strong point. And he had a pitching staff [that] couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. But he sent me to Spokane.”36

Yankees manager Bill Virdon summoned Gura to the majors for September and gave him eight starts. Gura excelled. His record was 5-1, with four complete games, two shutouts, and an ERA of 2.41. For the rest of his time in the American League, he was done with the minors. In 1975 he pitched in 26 games for the Yankees, 20 of which were starts. He went 7-8 with an ERA of 3.51. Tragically, from Gura’s perspective, Virdon was fired in August and replaced with none other than Billy Martin.

During the 1976 playoffs, Gura commented bitterly about the first half of that year under Martin:

The first thing in spring training, he told me he was going to start me every fourth day but                        he didn’t start me at all in the exhibition games. When the season began, I thought he’d    at least use me in long relief, but every time the situation came up, he used Tippy         Martinez instead. He didn’t use me at all. Finally, after four weeks, he told me on a        Friday he was going to start me the following Wednesday, and that Friday night Catfish     Hunter got knocked out in the second inning. I thought for sure he’d use me in long relief       then, to get me ready for the start. When he used Martinez instead, I asked him why and          he said Tippy needed the work, he hadn’t pitched in two weeks. I told him I needed the             work, too, I hadn’t pitched in four weeks. Two days later I was traded.37

On May 16, 1976, the Yankees dealt Gura to the Royals for Fran Healy. Since then, much has been written about the animosity between Gura and Martin. Martin’s disdain for Gura reportedly stemmed from the pitcher’s interest in playing tennis for relaxation, which Martin considered beneath a real man’s dignity.38

Despite the fresh start in Kansas City, by September of 1976 Gura was on a pace to have his lowest innings-pitched total since 1972 with the Cubs. He started only one game for manager Whitey Herzog before that month. Bill James, the statistics guru and a diehard Royals fan, summed up Gura’s significant September succinctly: “He had cut his ERA from 3.57 on September 1 down to 2.79 on September 28, had not given up a run in September, when Whitey Herzog decided to start him at Oakland on September 29. Huge, huge game,” James wrote, and of course offered a statistic quantifying just how huge. “Oakland had won the division five straight years, three world championships. Kansas City had lost four games in a row, blowing more than half of a six-game lead. They were clinging to a 2½-game lead with four games left. … Gura threw a 4-hit shutout, effectively ending the pennant race.” In due time, Herzog trusted Gura in similar situations, and James said Gura “became Herzog’s Big Game guy.” James identified 30 contests that he considered “a high percentage,” and in them Gura went 14-10 with an ERA of 3.04.39

The magic didn’t linger into the playoffs. Gura started two games in the American League Championship Series versus the Yankees, taking one loss with a so-so ERA of 4.22. He didn’t think pressure on him was a factor. “I’ve been playing baseball 23 years and I’ve been on 12 championship teams, that’s a lot of big games,” he said at the time.40 The Royals lost in the ALCS to the Yankees in 1976, 1977, and 1978.

In 1977 Gura pitched much more, and pitched well, but had only six starts. He went 8-5 with 10 saves and a 3.13 ERA. In the ALCS he started one game but the Yankees pounded him, and he was charged with the loss.

In 1978 Gura joined the Royals’ starting rotation, and was a fixture for seven seasons. That season only Ron Guidry and Nolan Ryan yielded fewer hits per nine innings than Gura.41 He achieved his highest winning percentage as a starter, .800, going 16-4 with an ERA of 2.72. He ranked seventh in postseason voting for the Cy Young Award and 23rd for the Most Valuable Player. He started the second game of the ALCS against the Yankees, pitched six scoreless innings, and won, 10-4. As gratifying as it may have been for Gura, it was his team’s only victory.

In 1979 Gura and the team as a whole had an off year. He was an average starter (13-12, 4.47) and the Royals didn’t make the playoffs. He turned that around quickly in 1980, when at the end of April he had what he considers the best performance of his career, a one-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays. The only hit off him came at the beginning of the sixth inning when Damaso Garcia legged out a double on a softly hit ball toward left field. “All four pitches were working today, which is the main reason the game went the way it did,” Gura said after the game. “When all of my pitches are working, there are nine different places a batter has to look for.” Catcher John Wathan said, “He changes speeds better than anyone in the league.”42

That game was no fluke, because about two months later Orioles manager Earl Weaver named him an American League All-Star, the only time Gura received that honor. He didn’t play in the All-Star Game but that didn’t affect his performance, because he was named AL Pitcher of the Month for July, and he finished the season with a career-high 18 wins (10 losses) and a 2.95 ERA. He was sixth in voting for the Cy Young Award. Gura pitched exceptionally well in the postseason, and played in his only World Series. His start in the ALCS was a complete-game, 7-2 victory over the Yankees.43 Though he didn’t win either of his starts in the World Series, which the Royals lost to the Phillies in six games, his ERA in 12⅓ innings was 2.19.

In the strike-shortened 1981 season, Gura lowered his ERA to 2.72, had the third lowest walks per innings pitched in the league, and was named AL Pitcher of the Month for September. He was ninth in voting for the Cy Young Award. He had one last playoff game, losing a start against Oakland in the Division Series.

In 1982 Gura matched his career high with 18 wins (12 losses) but in 1983 his 18 losses were the most in the league. He had a much better record in 1984, 12-9, but his ERA was his worst in a full season, at 5.18. In 1985 he pitched in just three games for the Royals, and was released on May 18. Ten days later the Cubs signed him, but he pitched in only five games for them. His final game in the majors was on July 27, 1985. Thus, he wasn’t on the Royals’ roster when they won the World Series that year.

In his 10 seasons as a Royal, Gura had a record of 111-78, and posted the franchise’s second best winning percentage, .587. He was named Royals Pitcher of the Year twice, in 1978 and 1981, and was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 1992.44 Including his time with the Cubs and Yankees, he was 126-97 with an ERA of 3.76. As of 2018, only 70 pitchers in major-league history had a better fielding percentage than Gura’s .986.45

In retirement, golf became one of Gura’s primary activities, and it was common to see him play in charitable tournaments, or even organize them himself after he purchased the Bent Oak Golf Course in Oak Grove, Missouri, east of Kansas City.46 In the mid-1990s he played in the Pro Athletes Golf League.47 Beyond that, he and Cindy were busy raising their daughters Kristina and Natalie. They also took over operation of the Dale Creek Equestrian Village, near Litchfield Park, Arizona, a farm that has been in her family for decades.48

The Royals’ official website credits Gura for “guile and guts” in his team Hall of Fame entry. The alliteration may just be a coincidence, but it’s easy to find testimonials in support of their overarching thesis about him: “Steady and unflappable, Gura was the textbook example of a crafty southpaw.”49

Sources

The primary source for statistics herein was baseball-reference.com.

Notes

1 Bill Nack, “Yankees’ Gura Anxious to Begin Playing Game,” Poughkeepsie (New York) Journal, March 13, 1976: 11. His teammates were aware of his penchant for health food during his first month with them. See Parton Keese, “Yanks Win, 10‐2, Lead by 2; Cubs Rally in 9th to Beat Mets,” New York Times, September 16, 1974: 45.

2 Steve Stewart, “Images from the K,” stevestewart.mlblogs.com/images-from-the-k-7ffb8bc6eb97, August 15, 2008.

3 See his parents’ obituaries, at hosting-24990.tributes.com/obituary/show/Charles-Joseph-Gura-92677336 and findagrave.com/memorial/8068513/gretchen-l.-gura.

4 Daniel J. Elazar and Joseph Zikmund II, The Closing of the Metropolitan Frontier: Cities of the Prairie Revisited (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2002), 235, 244.

5 hosting-24990.tributes.com/obituary/show/Charles-Joseph-Gura-92677336 and findagrave.com/memorial/8068513/gretchen-l.-gura; Don Hazen, “Larry Gura Signs Contract with Chicago Cubs,” Herald-News (Joliet, Illinois), June 26, 1969: 28.

6 Email message to the author from Celine Matthiessen, goddaughter of Larry Gura, July 10, 2018.

7 Don Hazen, “Convicts Served 1890-92 Sentence in Two-Eyed League,” Joliet Herald-News, May 19, 2002: Joliet Jackhammers Preview Section, 9.  A Joliet team played in the earliest documented (as of 2018) baseball game in the Chicago area, in 1851 against a nine at nearby Lockport, according to Mark Rucker and John Freyer, 19th Century Baseball in Chicago (Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2003), 13.

8 Jerry Shnay, “Providence Star Throws Coach Curve,” Chicago Tribune, April 25, 1988: 3, 10.

9 “NRC Meets Joliet Moose in Crucial WCAA Tilt Today,” Joliet Herald-News, August 1, 1948: 31. See also “Gura Hurls Moose to Win over Irvings,” Joliet Herald-News, July 24, 1948: 2 for additional details about the WCAA.

10 “Gal Pitcher Shows Plenty of Ability but Loses Game,” Joliet Herald-News, July 21, 1948: 16. Metesh’s catcher was her brother Bob. She reportedly stood 5-feet-5 and weighed 110 pounds. According to the box score, she had a hit in three times at bat and scored a run.

11 “Girl Pitcher Wins Radio, Movie Acclaim,” Joliet Herald-News, August 8, 1948: 3. Metesh was also slated to appear “in the newsreels during the near future.” Because she was often called “Bea” for short, the local paper typically called her Beatrice rather than Bernice (and her surname was often misspelled Metesch in other sources).  See also aagpbl.org/profiles/bernice-metesh-bernie/173.

12 “Chicago Whitesox Sign Sandlot Star,” Oil City (Pennsylvania) Blizzard, January 28, 1949: 4. Oil City had a Class-C minor-league affiliate of the White Sox at the time. The article reported Gura’s weight as 170 pounds and his height as “an even six feet,” three inches taller than Joliet’s daily reported.

13 Dave Anderson, “The Larry Gura-Billy Martin Feud,” New York Times, October 9, 1976: 13.

14 Grant Hall, “Mudcat Learned About Williams Early,” Northwest Arkansas Times (Fayetteville), June 26, 1989: B1.

15 “Ponies Win 1st Division Clash, 10-5,” Joliet Herald News, August 22, 1962: 30. The paper spelled his surname “Gora.” Joliet was eliminated a week later:  “It’s All Over – National City Beats Joliet Pony Stars 5-2,” Joliet Herald News, August 29, 1962: 28.   

16 Don Hazen, “Larry Gura Signs Contract with Chicago Cubs,” Joliet Herald-News, June 26, 1969: 25, 28.

17 Don Hazen, “Colt All-Stars Win 4-1,” Joliet Herald News, August 22, 1964: 7; Hazen, “Houston Defeats Joliet, Wins Colt World Series,” Joliet Herald News, August 23, 1964: B-13. 

18 Bob Lueder, “Trojans Drop Pair; Next Foes Thornridge, Thornton,” Chicago Heights Star, May 2, 1965: 24.  Gura pitched an eight-inning complete game over Bloom High School, winning 4-3, and in the fourth inning he drove in two runs to change a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead. In Joliet East’s yearbook published around then, The Crown, he was pictured on page 121 with the varsity baseball team, on page 108 with runners, and on page 123 with swimmers (sharing a team with Joliet Central).

19 “Arizona State Unbeaten,” Long Island Star-Journal (Long Island City, New York), June 15, 1967: 21; baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Elmer_Bell; Denise M. Baran-Unland, “An Extraordinary Life: Shorewood Coach Taught More than Baseball,” Joliet Herald News, July 26, 2015, theherald-news.com/2015/07/20/an-extraordinary-life-shorewood-coach-taught-more-than-baseball/a6bbwfy/.

20 Nack: 11.

21 “Arizona State Unbeaten.”

22 “Arizona State Unbeaten”; Boulder Collegians 1968 Yearbook: 9.

23 “Arizona State Unbeaten”; David L. Porter, ed., Biographical Dictionary of American Sports: Baseball, G-P (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2000), 605. No-hitters were common in the tournament due to a wide range in the quality of teams; Gura had a no-hitter shortened to five innings by rain, according to  Morris Fraser, “Rain Dominates Semi-Pro Meet; Hot Blue Sox Battle ACs Today,” Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph, August 4, 1968: 41. 

24 “Name Jolietans to U.S. Squad,” Morris (Illinois) Daily Herald, October 15, 1968: 5; alumni.lewisu.edu/2015/featured-alumni/john-lucenta.

25 Associated Press, “Arizona St. Baseballers Stun Seattle Pilots, 5-4,” Albuquerque Journal, March 16, 1969: 19. .

26 Porter, 605. 

27 baseball-reference.com/bullpen/1969_College_World_Series

28 “ASU’s Gura Inks Chicago Cub Pact Worth $30,000,” Arizona Republic (Phoenix), June 26, 1969: 65.

29 abca.org/ABCA/Awards/All-Americans/NCAA_Division_I/1969.aspx for the full First Team and Second Team rosters for Division I.

30 “Islanders Triumph, 8-2, then Lose Nightcap, 12-4,” Honolulu Advertiser, July 7, 1969: 23; “Rookie Gura Hurls Cubs Past Toros,” Arizona Daily Star (Tucson), July 12, 1969: 18.

31 Verne Boatner, “Horsehide Honeymoon,” Arizona Republic, August 22, 1969: 53. A box score is on the same page.

32 “Gura to Report to Chicago Cubs,” Tucson Daily Citizen, April 23, 1970: 34. 

33 John C. Skipper, Take Me Out to the Cubs Game: 35 Former Ballplayers Speak of Losing at Wrigley (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2000), 165.

34 Skipper, 164.

35 Skipper, 168.

36 Skipper, 166.

37 Anderson, 13.

38 Two examples of the tennis explanation: Maury Allen, All Roads Lead to October: Boss Steinbrenner’s 25-Year Reign over the New York Yankees (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000), 44. Christopher Devine, Thurman Munson: A Baseball Biography (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2001), 114. See also Tim Sheehy, “Billy Martin and Kansas City Pitcher Larry Gura Say…,” UPI Archives, October 9, 1980; upi.com/Archives/1980/10/09/Billy-Martin-and-Kansas-City-pitcher-Larry-Gura-say/8937339912000/.

39 Bill James, “Big Game Pitchers, Part V,” January 24, 2014; billjamesonline.com/big_game_pitchers_part_v/.

40 Anderson, 13.

41 Porter, 606.

42 Skipper, 167; “Gura’s One-Hitter Lifts KC,” Crescent-News (Defiance, Ohio), May 1, 1980: 24. Those four pitches were a curve, fastball, changeup, and slider, according to Parton Keese, “Yanks Win, 10‐2, Lead by 2; Cubs Rally in 9th to Beat Mets,” New York Times, September 16, 1974: 45.

43 In fact, by then he had consistent success against his previous team. See Fred McMane, “Yankee-Killer Larry Gura Survived a Second-Inning Home Run Blitz,” UPI Archives, October 8, 1980; upi.com/Archives/1980/10/08/Yankee-killer-Larry-Gura-survived-a-second-inning-home-run-blitz/9068263398053/.

44 kansascity.royals.mlb.com/kc/hall_of_fame/member.jsp?name=Gura.

45 baseball-reference.com/leaders/fielding_perc_p_career.shtml. Gura made no errors in 1980, 1981, 1983, and 1984.

46 Hall, “Mudcat Learned About Williams Early”; “Golf Tourney Set,” The Examiner (Independence, Missouri), April 20, 1991: 4B.

47 Juan C. Rodriguez, “Brodie, Dewveall Win PAGL Open,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, July 18, 1994: 5C.

48 baseballbytheletters.com/2011/04/20/pitcher-larry-gura-signs-to-save-family-farm-2/.

49 kansascity.royals.mlb.com/kc/hall_of_fame/member.jsp?name=Gura.

Full Name

Lawrence Cyril Gura

Born

November 26, 1947 at Joliet, IL (USA)

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