Card-by-Yankees Card: The 1977 Topps Set, Cards #556, Doug Bird (Article 110)
by Paul Semendinger
(Continuing a series…)
Doug Bird was one of those players that wasn't a Yankee for very long and who actually did quite well while in pinstripes. His lifetime win/loss percentage as a Yankee is impressive. In a season and a half in pinstripes, Doug Bird went 8-1 in 39 games. Most of his appearances came out of the bullpen. In his Yankees tenure, Bird made just five starts.
Before coming to the Yankees, Bird had pitched for the Royals from 1973 through 1978. In that time he appeared in 292 games (making 43 starts). He was a pitcher who could be used in a variety of roles. He amassed a 49-36 record with 58 saves.
In 1979, he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Todd Cruz. Bird spent the year in Philadelphia where he pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen (he made just one start) and went 2-0.
In 1980, he then went to the Yankees and went 3-0 on the season.
Amazing! Doug Bird never lost a game between 1978 and 1981. (I had to dig deeper into that...)
The last game Doug Bird lost in 1978 was against the Minnesota Twins on August 16, 1978. That was a game that he was called upon to start. He lasted only four innings allowing ten hits and five runs. Bird didn't start any more games the rest of that 1978 season, but he did earn two wins in relief. Those wins started his winning streak.
Doug Bird then didn't lose a game until the 1981 season while pitching as a Yankee. That loss came on June 11 in Chicago against the White Sox. This was another start, but it was not his first start of the year; Bird had made three starts previously (with a 3-0 record). On June 11, 1981, the White Sox collected eight hits and three runs (two earned) off Bird in just 5.1 innings. Bird took the loss. Ironically, the winning pitcher for the White Sox was Steve Trout who would one day become a Yankee who would fail to win any games.
But here's the most amazing thing - the day after that loss, his only loss as a Yankee, and his first since 1978, Doug Bird was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Rick Reuschel. Imagine that!
As a Cub, Doug Bird won his first two games before settling into a 4-5 record for the season. In 1982, again for the Cubs, he went 9-14. Doug Bird's last season was 1983. He pitched for the Red Sox that year and went 1-4.
Interestingly, Doug Bird was drafted three times by two different clubs before signing with the Kansas City Royals. He was first drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 29th round of the 1968 Amateur Player Draft. The Pilots then drafted him in the 8th round of the 1969 January Secondary-Phase Draft. The Pilots again drafted him in the 8th round of the June Amateur Draft. The Royals drafted him in the third round of June Secondary-Phase Draft. He finally signed with the Royals.
I've written before how we all sometimes confuse different baseball players for one reason or another. One player I always confused with Doug Bird was Don Hood. They were both pitchers. They both pitched in the same time period (Hood was a Yankee in 1979). They both had moustaches and they also both pitched, for a time, with the Royals. Never mind that Don Hood was a lefty.