Cieradkowski: Bill Faul, the rise and fall of the ‘Loony Tune’

From SABR member Gary Cieradkowski Jr. at The Infinite Baseball Card Set on July 4, 2015:

Indianapolis, 1969.

Everybody was staring at him, including the green-headed parakeet he had clutched in his hand. He was the oldest guy in the room – The Old Man. He was 28. Seven years earlier he was the best collegiate pitcher in the country, even made the front cover of the official college baseball guide. He’d played in the big leagues, been a Tiger and a Cub, had feature stories written about him in Life Magazine and the Chicago Tribune, yet now he was in the low end of the farm system of a lousy expansion team. The parakeet suddenly bobbed its head and took a bite out of his hand.

“That’s it!” he yelled and bit the head off the bird, the feathers exploding into a cloud of bright green, temporarily separating him from the rest of the world.

Bill Faul was the best pitcher to ever come out of the University of Cincinnati. Since the university is known more for their basketball program and architecture school that might not seem like much, but you need to consider that Sandy Koufax pitched there, too. And Bill Faul was better. So good that the Cincinnati native became UC’s first All-American and in 1961, his junior year, he was named the best college pitcher in the nation by the American Association of College Baseball Coaches. His side arm motion set baseball records at UC that still stand, including 24 strike outs in a game and lowest season season ERA – a microscopic 0.82 in ’62.

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Originally published: July 9, 2015. Last Updated: July 9, 2015.