RIP Bill Campbell

Papo The Snow Tiger

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Former Red Sox closer Bill Campbell has passed away. He was the first ever big-name Red Sox free agent signing ever, before the 1977 season. He was lights out in '77. and I loved the way Hawk Harrelson used to say "Soups on" whenever he came into a game on channel 38. But was overused that year and was never the same. I can't help but think that '78 would have turned out differently if Don Zimmer hadn't abused him so much the year before. RIP Soup.

Bill Campbell, All-Star Red Sox reliever in 1977, dies at 74 - The Boston Globe

MLB world honors longtime reliever, former All-Star after passing (thecomeback.com)
 
Sep 12, 2022
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I use to love him as a baseball player. The Soup as that was one of my first baseball cards, but Zimmer overused him. I do remember he had one last good run with the 1985 Cardinals in a limited role and I was rooting for him and yeah 1978 would most likely have turned out better if Zimmer didn't overuse him in 1977.
 
Dec 8, 2017
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Former Red Sox closer Bill Campbell has passed away. He was the first ever big-name Red Sox free agent signing ever, before the 1977 season. He was lights out in '77. and I loved the way Hawk Harrelson used to say "Soups on" whenever he came into a game on channel 38. But was overused that year and was never the same. I can't help but think that '78 would have turned out differently if Don Zimmer hadn't abused him so much the year before. RIP Soup.

Bill Campbell, All-Star Red Sox reliever in 1977, dies at 74 - The Boston Globe

MLB world honors longtime reliever, former All-Star after passing (thecomeback.com)
Ah, Don Zimmer, how do I loathe thee, let me count the ways...

RIP, Soup.
 

Mighty Joe Young

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Former Red Sox closer Bill Campbell has passed away. He was the first ever big-name Red Sox free agent signing ever, before the 1977 season. He was lights out in '77. and I loved the way Hawk Harrelson used to say "Soups on" whenever he came into a game on channel 38. But was overused that year and was never the same. I can't help but think that '78 would have turned out differently if Don Zimmer hadn't abused him so much the year before. RIP Soup.

Bill Campbell, All-Star Red Sox reliever in 1977, dies at 74 - The Boston Globe

MLB world honors longtime reliever, former All-Star after passing (thecomeback.com)
RIP … I do remember him. It seemed like there were a lot of closers who suffered similar burnout in the 70’s early 80s

The Sox had another guy like that - Ken Tatum they got from the Angels in the Tony C trade I think

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/t/tatumke01.shtml

He was great for two years in California , got to Boston and immediately got hurt and was never the same - out of baseball at age 30

edit : #fuckdonzimmer
 

54thMA

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I remember I was at a game in 1977, great seats near home plate; he came into the game and was warming up.

The way the catchers glove was popping with each warm up pitch, I'll never forget that sound, true gas he threw.

RIP Soup and agreed, #fuckdonzimmer
 

jacklamabe65

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I had an inordinate love for Soup. I loved his motion, which I used to imitate, and his stuff during the first half of his Sox career was lights out. Possum used to say on the broadcast, "And Soup is simmering in the Red Sox bullpen."
 

Green Monster

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Bill Campbell was one of the early pioneers of the closers role. Analytics or even pitch-counts weren't a thing yet. The idea of a 1-inning closer wouldn't come around until a few years later and as a result, Soup would frequently pitch 3 or 4 innings several days in a row. His heavy usage of a screwball meant that arm issues were probably inevitable.

RIP Soup....Thanks for your military service and the fond Red Sox memories!
 
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Ale Xander

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His 1977 season was Sosh consensus for membership on the all-time Red Sox team iirc

RIP Bill
 

loshjott

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I use to love him as a baseball player. The Soup as that was one of my first baseball cards, but Zimmer overused him. I do remember he had one last good run with the 1985 Cardinals in a limited role and I was rooting for him and yeah 1978 would most likely have turned out better if Zimmer didn't overuse him in 1977.
I remember that 1977 Campbell baseball card also.
 

DourDoerr

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IIRC the Sox signed him and he blew his first game. I was a kid and my uncle nearly lost his mind. Sportswriters in those days really pushed hard on the “spoiled ball-player” narrative with those early free agent contracts and Soup was 1st generation. He was nails the rest of the year though. Loved his distinctive crabbed delivery.
 

phineas gage

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I think his entire first month in 1977 was abysmal--started 0-5 and then turned it all around. Those mid-70's Red Sox teams were my first love. RIP, Bill.
 

RG33

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Just before my time, but I remember his baseball card from the early/mid 1980’s. In looking at his BRef page, it suprised me that his 5-year Red Sox career was the longest of any other team in his 15 years. Had a very respectable career with a career 3.54 ERA. Rest in peace.
 

54thMA

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I think his entire first month in 1977 was abysmal--started 0-5 and then turned it all around. Those mid-70's Red Sox teams were my first love. RIP, Bill.
It's amazing you survived being a fan of those teams; 1972, 74, 75, 77, 78, one nutpunch after the other.
 

Dick Drago

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He was great in ‘77–great fastball and screwball criminally overused by Gerbil (and in ‘76 in Minn.) He was coming back from an injury in ‘78, and Zimmer promptly let him pitch 4 innings in a game vs the Yankees and got hurt again-never made it back to his ‘76-77 form.

Could’ve been a great bullpen in ‘78 a peak Campbell with Drago, Burgmeier and Steamer…but he was out for good by August.

‘79 they used him as a specialist vs lefties with his good screwball—but never a dominant closer again, lost his best fastball . Thanks Zim.

I loved his motion, it looked like all elbows and knees. Interesting and thoughtful interview subject— Vietnam vet I think as well-

RIP soup.
 

Minneapolis Millers

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It's amazing you survived being a fan of those teams; 1972, 74, 75, 77, 78, one nutpunch after the other.
75 felt like Bum Phillips. We were gonna kick the SOB door in the next time. (Yes, I realize this is anachronistic. Work with me!)

Didn’t realize it was gonna be almost two decades for that time to come.

***

For a short period, Soup was awesome. RIP.
 

Green Monster

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He was overused in 1976 as well, by the Twins. Agree re: Don Zimmer, though.
It was more a product of the times. In 1972, 27 pitchers recorded 250 IP or greater and Wilbur Wood lead the league with 376 IP . In 2022, 0 pitchers were over 250IP with only 8 were over 200 IP. Sandy Alcantara lead the league with 228 IP.
 

Mighty Joe Young

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It's amazing you survived being a fan of those teams; 1972, 74, 75, 77, 78, one nutpunch after the other.
Me too , had been a fan since 67 but cable arrived in the early 70s and with it Red Sox baseball on Friday nights on some channel in Bangor.

And I wouldn’t put 75 on that list … losing the WS in 7 games can’t be viewed as a nut punch - despite Mcnamara‘s stupid decision to pull Willoughby.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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He should be one of the poster boys for when people say, “these guys don’t pitch as much as they used to! They’re all wusses! Back in my day men were men, we’d pitch 300 innings a year and would be fine.”
 

JohnnyTheBone

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75 felt like Bum Phillips. We were gonna kick the SOB door in the next time. (Yes, I realize this is anachronistic. Work with me!)

Didn’t realize it was gonna be almost two decades for that time to come.
Almost three, in fact.
And I wouldn’t put 75 on that list … losing the WS in 7 games can’t be viewed as a nut punch - despite Mcnamara‘s stupid decision to pull Willoughby.
Johnson's, actually.

RIP Soup
#fuckdonzimmer
 

Mighty Joe Young

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Oops - too many bad managers

And I think McNamara’s were far more egregious in 86 than Johnson’s in 75

If their was a Curse it was having clowns running the show for so long

#fucktomyawkey
 
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MtPleasant Paul

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Bill Campbell was one helluva significant guy in the history of major league baseball and the Red Sox. I inquired with Bill Newlin a few months ago about doing his bio with the SABR project but was told that it was in the works.

Campbell was the third free agent in modern baseball history after Andy Messersmith and Catfish Hunter. He was the first player signed after the collective bargaining agreement of 1976 to be followed shortly after by Reggie Jackson and Rollie Fingers. He went from making $23000 a year with the parsimonious Twins (after three outstanding seasons there) to $1,000,000 with the Red Sox on a five year contract. He was one of the last signings by Dick O'Connell who would be fired within the next year, ushering in the Haywood and Shoddy era.

Zimmer certainly overused him, but it followed years of abuse by the Twins. His best season was 1976 with the Twins when he went 17-5 (second historically only to Elroy Face among RP's in wins}, pitched a remarkable 167 innings all in relief and closed 68 games. He was 8th in voting for MVP in 1976 and 5th with the Red Sox for the Cy Young in 1977.

He was one of maybe four MLB players who saw combat in Vietnam. Although a radio operator, he was sent out on jungle patrols after a conflict with a junior officer.

As was noted he got off to a rough start in April, 1977. Some of us remember that a banner was hung in the bleachers "Sell Campbell. Bring back $1.50 Bleachers." Campbell recalled that it was a hairy time. Fans threw things at him when warming up in the bullpen and beer at his wife in the stands. (This from the excellent SABR bio by Vincent Cunnato which recently appeared and included an interview with Campbell done just last February.}

Campbell was outspoken on racial issues in Boston in the fraught 1970's. When he was asked toward the end of the 1978 season about the chances of the. Red Sox signing his former teammate Rod Carew, he said it was not likely because "Boston is not a racially suitable city." He was friendly with Jim Rice. They lived in the same condo complex. After Rice's magnificent 1978 season, he said if Fred Lynn had had the same season "the man would have been put on a pedestal and taken through Kenmore Square."

I always wondered what would have happened if Zimmer had not abused him. He did have a serviceable career up to 1986. It was a different era then. He said he never seriously worked on rehabbing his arm until 1980.
 

54thMA

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75 felt like Bum Phillips. We were gonna kick the SOB door in the next time. (Yes, I realize this is anachronistic. Work with me!)

Didn’t realize it was gonna be almost two decades for that time to come.

***

For a short period, Soup was awesome. RIP.
I remember after they lost the 1975 WS, I told my grandfather "They fell short, but they have a lot of young talent and will win one soon".............I don't ever recall seeing him laugh that hard.

Ever.
 

54thMA

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Me too , had been a fan since 67 but cable arrived in the early 70s and with it Red Sox baseball on Friday nights on some channel in Bangor.

And I wouldn’t put 75 on that list … losing the WS in 7 games can’t be viewed as a nut punch - despite Mcnamara‘s stupid decision to pull Willoughby.
A fan since 67 as well.

That WS was a bitter pill to swallow; Drago blowing the 2-1 lead in game 2, the non interference call in game 3, Carbo's three run bomb to tie game 6..........Zimmer and his "No/no/no" with Denny Doyle, the Evans catch, Lynn crashing into the center field wall and lying there..........then the Fisk home run................going up early in game 7, only to see the Reds come back and win it..........

Just a real grind.
 

Pandemonium67

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I remember a Globe article from the late 70s or early 80s, during the four years when Campbell and Dennis Eckersley were both on the Sox. The Sox were in Detroit and apparently there was some kind of gun fight that left a couple of people on the street either dead or dying. Eck and Campbell walked right past the victims, with Campbell staying stuff like "That one's dead. Doesn't look like this dude's gonna make it either." He was totally unfazed, while Eck was pretty much freaked out.

After the action Campbell saw in Vietnam, relief pitching wasn't very stressful at all.
 

jmcc5400

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He was great in ‘77–great fastball and screwball criminally overused by Gerbil (and in ‘76 in Minn.) He was coming back from an injury in ‘78, and Zimmer promptly let him pitch 4 innings in a game vs the Yankees and got hurt again-never made it back to his ‘76-77 form.

Could’ve been a great bullpen in ‘78 a peak Campbell with Drago, Burgmeier and Steamer…but he was out for good by August.

‘79 they used him as a specialist vs lefties with his good screwball—but never a dominant closer again, lost his best fastball . Thanks Zim.

I loved his motion, it looked like all elbows and knees. Interesting and thoughtful interview subject— Vietnam vet I think as well-

RIP soup.
Soup’s motion was so unique. I remember being at a Braves game in the early 90s and before the game the Braves’ Pete Smith (who I think was from Burlington, MA) was about 50 feet away from me tossing in the outfield with another pitcher and mimicking that hunched, quirky delivery. I yelled out “hey, Soup’s on!” and he turned around and laughed.
 

Granite Sox

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Fernando Valenzuela, Tug McGraw, and Mike Cuellar were probably the only other notable contemporaries who featured a screwball. Soup’s scroogie was a thing of beauty, but my elbow is aching just remembering him.
 

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Fernando Valenzuela, Tug McGraw, and Mike Cuellar were probably the only other notable contemporaries who featured a screwball. Soup’s scroogie was a thing of beauty, but my elbow is aching just remembering him.
Don’t forget Mike Marshall.
 

sheamonu

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1977. I just remember listening to the radio at family cookouts in the Berkshires. That team would fall behind by three early, hit five homeruns to take the lead and then turn the ball over to Campbell in the seventh to close things out. Along with 2003 probably my favorite Sox team that didn't win it all. More than '78. More than '86 - both of which I loved. There was just an energy about them - and Campbell was at the center of it all. RIP.
 

Monbonthbump

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Sorry to read this. He was one of my favorites with the Red Sox and all his other teams and his baseball card is displayed in my closet beside photos of Yaz and Ted. My dad had the same name. RIP to both.
 

jmcc5400

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1977. I just remember listening to the radio at family cookouts in the Berkshires. That team would fall behind by three early, hit five homeruns to take the lead and then turn the ball over to Campbell in the seventh to close things out. Along with 2003 probably my favorite Sox team that didn't win it all. More than '78. More than '86 - both of which I loved. There was just an energy about them - and Campbell was at the center of it all. RIP.
I had the same attachment to the '77 team. I was 9 and our family was in the process of moving back to Massachusetts after living in Albany, so we were spending a lot of time with family on the Cape while my folks looked for a home. That meant I finally got to spend a lot of time with Channel 38 and an incredibly fun (and characteristically frustrating) Red Sox team.

I cried myself to sleep after this game: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA197706240.shtml The Sox were riding a hot streak after burying the MFY the weekend before (9-4, 10-4, 11-1) and sweeping a very good O's team and were taking it to the MFY in the Bronx. Two out in the 9th, Soup's on, we're celebrating . . . and then a Randolph triple, a Roy fucking White homerun and we're tied and eventually lose and proceed to get swept.

But jesus, look what Zim did to Soup that night. FIVE innings. JFC. (and Ramon Hernandez in the 11th? REALLY?).
 

lexrageorge

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The 1970's Sox teams were the ones I grew up with, and it hurts to see their players slowly move on to The Clubhouse. He single-handedly carried the pitching staff in 1977. Zimmer was incompetent.
 

phineas gage

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In backyard pick-up games I played back then, the most imitated pitcher motion was Tiant. Campbell was second.
 

Archer1979

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For some reason, I have it ingrained in my head that Hawk nicknamed him Scroogie. I was ecstatic when they signed him in the 1976 off-season. He basically shut down the Sox every game that they played against the Twins in '76. Not sure if anyone remembers how free-agency worked back then, but it was basically a draft so you knew early on which team had which free-agents in their sites.

I also remember hearing a story about Charlie Finley sitting a dinner when Cambpell came walking into the restaurant. Finley turned to whoever it was that he was eating dinner with and said that some fool was going to pay him a million bucks. That was a simpler time when I didn't care what the overall payroll was, just that the Sox needed a closer.

But old-school Zimmer figured that if they were going to pay Soup a million bucks, that they were going to make him earn it. Zimmer was too dumb to realize that it was an investment not a sunken fee. If Zimmer had any sense, he wouldn't have overused him in '77, and the narrative of '78 would have been significantly different. Just another reason why I hate Zimmer's managing.
 

Dick Drago

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As many innings as he pitched, the problem many had with Zimmer was his use in low-leverage situations-he’d come in if the Sox were a few runs behind, then have to close out the next day. Zim underutilized Willoughby, and lost innings by starting Reggie Cleveland instead of Jenkins.

The ‘77 team was very much a loveable team of sluggers like the ‘03 team—I think everyone’s performance except for Rice declined in ‘78–especially George Scott and Hobson—Zim rode his position players as much as his pitchers—they’d added Eck, Torrez, Remy, Drago etc—so they’d upgraded in many areas, but most of the team declined Vs 77.
 
Aug 31, 2021
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His was my first autograph. Got Soup and The Steamer hanging out next to the bull pen pregame while they were warming up in '77. My first time to Fenway... I was 7.

Mr. Campbell was very generous and kind. I remember him clearly. Very nice man he was to that 7 year old me. Made my year and I think of him every time I take my son to Fenway and we get there early for a shot at my boy getting some autographs... RIP.
 

Norm Siebern

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This really hurts. Like many others listing here, those '70s Red Sox were as important as anything else in my life. Cried myself to sleep the night Aparicio tripped rounding third, watched the Labor Day double shutout by the 0s and the 8 game lead go pfft in '74, and '75 and '77 and on and on and on. No need to recount it all now.

I was overjoyed when the Sox signed Soup in the winter of '76. Was with my HS buddies waiting for a commuter train home at North Station when I first heard. We all jumped for joy. We all thought he was the missing piece, but at the time didn't realize they were being led by an idiot from the dugout. I was in the CF bleachers on opening day when someone unfurled that sign, then watched Campbell have a tremendous year and get abused by Zimmer in the process. A radioman in Vietnam, nothing on a mere baseball field would phase Campbell.

I should be used to this by now, but as the heroes of my youth pass on, it gets harder and harder. Tremendously saddened by this news. God bless you Bill Campbell, may you rest in peace. Thank you for giving 16 year old Norm so many great moments.
 

LoweTek

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Bill was a mainstay at the Red Sox fantasy camps. He was there for most of the 15 or so years I went between the early 90's and mid-2000's. I would consider him a friend who I haven't seen in a few years. Bill was an extremely decent guy who was also a very good baseball coach. I played for him several times over the years and got to benefit from his teaching skill. He did throwing mechanics lessons using a teaching technique I employed for years later as a youth coach. A gem of a human being. Believe me, a gem. I learned an awful lot from him and I'll always be grateful to have known him.

And into his 60's he could still bring it. I loved hitting against him. RIP old friend.
 

YTF

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Bill was a mainstay at the Red Sox fantasy camps. He was there for most of the 15 or so years I went between the early 90's and mid-2000's. I would consider him a friend who I haven't seen in a few years. Bill was an extremely decent guy who was also a very good baseball coach. I played for him several times over the years and got to benefit from his teaching skill. He did throwing mechanics lessons using a teaching technique I employed for years later as a youth coach. A gem of a human being. Believe me, a gem. I learned an awful lot from him and I'll always be grateful to have known him.

And into his 60's he could still bring it. I loved hitting against him. RIP old friend.
Thanks for sharing this. It's great when you meet your heroes and they become bigger heroes just by being themselves. More so considering that you got to see him on multiple occasions and could see how genuine the man was.
 

8slim

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Campbell’s prime was before I started following the team, so like others I only knew him as an oft-injured guy and a baseball card.

Looking at his 1977 game log is a trip, though. *twenty* appearances of 3 or more innings. A stretch in May where he pitched 4 straight days from 5/13-16, then another 4 straight from 5/21-24. 8 games in 12 days, half with multiple innings. Just crazy.
 

Humphrey

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Someone mentioned Ken Tatum. Hit Paul Blair in the face in 1970 with the Angels, messed Tatum up big time, had as much or more to do w/him washing out as a pitcher.