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1970s / Steve Blass Disease
Steve Blass of the Pittsburgh Pirates was one of the most dominating pitchers in the National League in 1971 and 1972. In the 1971 World Series Blass pitched two complete-game victories against the powerful Baltimore Orioles, allowing just two runs. He won a career-high 19 games in 1972 and was a member of the NL All-Star team. Then in 1973, inexplicably, the wheels fell off. Blass mysteriously lost his control. Blass' ERA ballooned to 9.85. He walked 84 batters and struck out just 27 in 88-2/3 innings. (His WHIP was 2.177; on average more than two batters per inning reached base.) Medical exams showed nothing was wrong. Blass spent most of 1974 in the minors trying to regain his form. In 1975, after a miserable spring training with the Pirates, Blass retired from baseball a month before his 33rd birthday. Scholarly baseball fans ever since have referred to a pitcher's swift, sudden, and irreversible loss of control as 'Steve Blass disease.'