The Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels have played almost 60 seasons of baseball. As the baseball world is suspended due to circumstances outside its control, it is time to look back at the history of this organization. There have been many talented players to put on the uniform, and we at Crashing the Pearly Gates wish to highlight the best who have ever represented the Angels. Without further ado, here we go!
#35 – Andy Messersmith
OC native Messersmith was drafted by the Angels #12 overall in the 1966 draft out of UC Berkeley after his junior year. Prior to that, he had attended Western High School in Anaheim. The Angels’ scouting report read, “He’s got three pitches – two of ’em you can’t hit and the other one you can’t even catch.”
Messersmith made his MLB debut in 1968 and put up a 2.21 ERA pitching mostly from the bullpen that year. The following season he would start 33 games and entrench himself into the starting rotation for the next few years. He is 11th on the all time K list for Angels pitchers and his 11 shutouts is good for spot #8 despite pitching only 5 years with the club.
In 1971, Messersmith made his first and only All Star Appearance as an Angel. That year he was also 5th in Cy Young voting with a 2.99 ERA over 276.2 innings with 14 complete games and 4 shutouts.
An injury in 1972 led to a down year and Messersmith being traded to the Dodgers in January of 1973. The Angels ended up with legendary Frank Robison for his age 38 season as part of that deal and the Dodgers benefited greatly the following years with some of Messersmith’s best performances including placing top 5 in Cy Young voting twice, 2 All Star nods, and 2 Gold Gloves.
Above all, Messersmith is known as baseball’s first free agent. On April 10th, 1976, he signed the first ever free agent contract.