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Card-by-Yankees Card: The 1977 Topps Set, Card #236, Tom Buskey (Article 44)

by Paul Semendinger

(Continuing a series…)



Tom Buskey.

Going into this exercise, I didn’t know much about Tom Buskey other than the facts that I knew he came up with the Yankees and that he also pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays.

The first time I even heard of Buskey was when I opened the first Strat-o-Matic game I ever owned (a gift from my loving Grandmother) and Tom Buskey was a player inside. That first game I had came with two random teams, the 1979 Los Angeles Dodgers and the 1979 Toronto Blue Jays. The first games I ever played of Strat-o-Matic (along with my dad) were battles between the Dodgers and the Jays.

I remember using Tom Buskey in relief an awful lot.

I don’t remember how he did.

I do remember that I couldn’t wait for the Yankees cards I ordered to come in the mail.

Still, I have an affinity for the Blue Jays team, and those Dodgers (even if I always rooted against them).

***

Tom Buskey first arrived in the big leagues as a Yankee. In 1973, he pitched in eight games for the Yankees, all in relief. In fact, Buskey pitched for eight years in the big leagues, appearing in 258 games for the Yankees, Cleveland Indians and the aforementioned Blue Jays, and not once did he ever start a game.

Buskey’s first appearance came on August 5 in Detroit. He threw 3.1 innings that day allowing just one hit and striking out three batters in a game the Yankees lost 8-6.

The first batter he ever faced was Duke Sims. Duke flied out to center. The next batter, Aureilo Rodriguez became Buskey’s first strikeout victim. The old veteran, Jim Northrup, had the first hit off Buskey – a single to right field.

In that 1973 season, Tom Buskey appeared in eight games for the Yankees. He went 0-1, 5.40 in 16.2 innings. The Yankees lost seven of the eight games he appeared in, though those results certainly weren’t his fault. Buskey was mostly a mop-up guy.

The only game in which Buskey pitched that the Yankees won came on August 10, 1973 in New York. On that day the Yankees defeated the Oakland A’s 10-9. This was a wild game with a wild ending. The ball was flying out of the park that day. Reggie Jackson hit two homers for the A’s. Roy White hit two of his own for the Yankees. Deron Johnson and Bert Campaneris also homered for the A’s as did Bobby Murcer and Horace Clarke for the Yankees.

In that game, the Yankees headed into the top of the 9th leading 10-7. Sparky Lyle was on the mound to close it out. Billy Conigliaro singled to begin the inning. Bert Campaneris then singled as well. Billy North then struck out and Sal Bando lined out. The Yankees were one out away. Reggie Jackson then singled to make it 10-8. Deron Johnson then singled home another run to make it 10-9. ON that hit, Jackson went to third. The tying run was 90-feet away…

(And this I love…) Pitcher Blue Moon Odom went in to pinch run for Johnson…

And Tom Buskey came out of the bullpen in relief of Sparky Lyle to face Gene Tenace.

Tom Buskey struck him out on a called strike three to end the game and earn his first ever Major League save.

In 1974, Tom Buskey appeared in four games for the Yankees (saving one) before he (and his 6.35 ERA) was traded (along with Fred Beene, Steve Kline, and Fritz Peterson) to the Cleveland Indians in the trade that brought the Yankees Chris Chambliss and Dick Tidrow (and Cecil Upshaw).

All told, being part of the trade that brought the Yankees an important pitcher, Dick Tidrow, and their first baseman for the rest of the decade, a solid and steady performer who provided consistency to those great late 1970s teams, was Tom Buskey’s biggest contribution to the Yankees.

The Indians traded Busky (with John Lowenstein) to the Rangers for David Clyde and Willie Horton, but he never played for the Rangers and was released. That’s when the Blue Jays picked him up.

Tom Buskey pitched for the Blue Jays through the 1980 season.

In his career, Buskey owned a lifetime record of 21-27, 3.66. In total, he saved 24 games.






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