ST. LOUIS — Bob Forsch, the only pitcher in St. Louis Cardinals history to throw two no-hitters, has died at the age of 61.
Team spokesman Brian Bartow said Forsch, the third-winningest pitcher in franchise history, died Thursday at his home near Tampa, Fla. A cause was not immediately known.
The death came less than a week after Forsch threw out the first pitch at Game 7 of the World Series, a few hours before the Cardinals beat the Texas Rangers 6-2 to win the championship. Forsch was the stand-in for his longtime manager, Whitey Herzog, who is recovering from a fall that left him in a hospital for more than three weeks.
“I was supposed to throw out the first ball and was still on medicine, so they decided Forschie would do it,” Herzog told the AP in a phone interview from his home in suburban St. Louis County. “We’ve kept in touch throughout the years. To drop dead like that, it’s a real shock.”
Forsch, a 6-foot-4 right-hander known for clutch performances in crucial games, played on three World Series teams in the 1980s under Herzog, and one of his three career postseason victories came against the Milwaukee Brewers in the Cardinals’ 1982 World Series championship.
Forsch won 20 games in 1977 and twice was a 15-game winner, and had a career record of 168-136 with a 3.76 ERA. Forsch was an accomplished hitter, too, with a .213 career average and 12 home runs.
“We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Bob Forsch,” chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said. “Bob was a one of the best pitchers in the history of our organization and a valued member of the Cardinals family.”
Forsch, who was a 26th round draft pick of St. Louis in 1968, threw no-hitters in 1978 (Phillies) and 1983 (Expos). His older brother, Ken Forsch, threw a no-hitter for the Astros in 1979, making them the only brothers in major league history to pitch official no-hitters.
The younger Forsch is one of only 30 major league pitchers to throw at least two no-hitters, according to STATS LLC. His were the only two thrown at old Busch Stadium, where he won more games and pitched more innings than any other pitcher. In all, he won 163 games for the Cardinals from 1974 to 1988, trailing only Bob Gibson and Jesse Haines. He finished his career with the Astros in 1989.
Herzog said Forsch was well-liked for his bulldog toughness on the mound, and off the field as well. Herzog also said Forsch was one of the more sensible players on his roster.
“I was fortunate to have Bobby on my team,” Herzog said. “He never missed a turn, pitched 200 innings each year. He’d take the ball, and he was a great competitor.”
Last year, Forsch was the pitching coach for the Cincinnati Reds’ rookie league affiliate, the Billings Mustangs.
Survivors include Forsch’s wife, Janice, and two daughters. Funeral arrangements were incomplete.