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Steve Carlton

From Academic Kids

Steven Norman Carlton (born December 22, 1944 in Miami, Florida) is a former left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball, from 1965 to 1988, who retired as one of the most successful pitchers to ever play the game.

Carlton debuted with the St. Louis Cardinals as a 20-year old in 1965 and by 1967 was a regular in the Cardinals rotation. An imposing (6'4"/1.93 m) man with a hard fastball and slider, Carlton was soon known as an intimidating and dominant pitcher. Carlton enjoyed immediate success in St. Louis, posting winning records and reaching the World Series in 1967 and 1968.

Following a salary dispute, Carlton was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies before the 1972 season for pitcher Rick Wise. Carlton's first season with the Phillies was among the greatest seasons a pitcher has ever had, as he won 27 games despite playing for a team whose final record was 59-97. His 1972 performance earned him the Hickok Belt as top professional athlete of the year. His having won 46% of his team's victories is a record in modern major league history. Carlton attributed his success to his grueling training regime, which included Eastern martial arts techniques, the most famous of which was doing exercises while immersed in a vat of rice. He was perhaps the most physically fit baseball player of his time.

Carlton slumped in 1973, losing 20 games. The media's open questioning of his unusual training techniques led to an acrimonious relationship between them and Carlton, and he severed all ties with the media, refusing to answer press questions for the rest of his career.

Carlton continued to enjoy many years of success with the Phillies, winning the Cy Young Award in 1972, 1977, 1980, and 1982, and pitching the Phillies to the best string of postseason appearances in club history. Carlton was the first pitcher to win four Cy Young Awards, a mark later matched by several pitchers. In 1980, Carlton helped the Phillies win their only World Series, personally winning the final game. Carlton also won a Gold Glove Award for his fielding in 1981.

In 1986, Carlton was released by the Phillies after a few disappointing years. He moved around the majors for three more years, pitching for the San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, and Minnesota Twins.

A ten-time All-Star, Carlton led the league in many pitching categories. He struck out 4,136 batters in his career, then a record for a lefthanded pitcher (since surpassed by Randy Johnson), and holds many other records for lefthanded pitchers and Phillies pitchers. His 329 career wins are the tenth most in baseball history, and rank third to Roger Clemens' 333 (and counting) and Warren Spahn's 363 among pitchers of the live-ball era (post-1920).

Carlton was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994 with 96% of the vote, one of the highest percentages ever for approval.

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