George Brunet was in great shape when he joined the 1965 California Angels for spring training in Palm Springs. California per his SABR bio by Andrew Sharp—about 30 pounds lighter than at the end of the 1964 AL season. https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/george-brunet/ Part II covered Brunet’s pitching for the 1964-65 Santurce Crabbers, October 1964 through January 1965. His SABR bio did not mention his 118 regular season innings for 1964-65 Santurce; his Puerto Rico post-season; or Puerto Rico Winter League (PRWL) All-Star Game start, North American squad.
Brunet, in the author’s opinion, was a “changed pitcher” after helping Santurce (41-28) win the 1964-65 pennant, and pitching quality starts against teams with many MLB-caliber hitters. Table I includes his 1965-to-1969 California Angels stats, prior to his July 31, 1969 trade to the Seattle Pilots. Brunet is one of 15 Angels with 1,000 innings pitched (IP) as a member of the Halos.
Table I: Brunet’s 1965-69 Pitching Summary for the California Angels
The hard-luck Brunet led the AL in losses, 1967 and 1968, but helped Boston clinch the 1967 AL pennant when he pitched superbly, in relief, versus Detroit, last weekend, 1967 season. The one-run losses added up with the Angels—Bill Rigney, their manager, told Brunet: “I owe you a game,” every time he removed him, per Steve Wulf’s vivid August 18, 1980 Sports Illustrated article. https://vault.si.com/vault/1980/08/18/bisbol-is-in-his-blood Brunet had words for Rigney in the dugout…and Rigney fined him $700. Then, Brunet tore the clubhouse apart. Per Brunet: “The next day I came in and wrote out a check for $700 to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Fund.”
Earlier in his career, Brunet pitched for the 1960 Milwaukee Braves, after pitching for the 1959-60 Caguas Criollos, in Puerto Rico. Hank Aaron and Bob Buhl were 1960 Braves teammates who had played for the 1953-54 champion Criollos in Puerto Rico’s Winter League (PRWL). Juan “Terín” Pizarro, Brunet’s Caguas 1960 Caribbean Series teammate, in Panamá, was another 1960 Braves teammate. In Milwaukee, Brunet looked up to Buhl. According to Wulf, Milwaukee manager Charlie Dressen once got up in front of the team bus and said: “Anybody not in their room by midnight will be fined $500.” Brunet recalled that Buhl marched “right up to Dressen; peeled $500 off his bankroll; handed it to Dressen; and walked off the bus.” Brunet noted:” Now that’s class.”
1969 Seattle Pilots as Jim Bouton’s Teammate
Ball Four, written by Jim Bouton, was one of the all-time funniest and most realistic baseball books. In https://www.mlb.com/news/george-brunet-is-the-most-interesting-pitcher-you-never-knew, Mike Petriello chronicled Brunet’s interesting career and life, in his December 31, 2020, blog. Petriello quoted Brunet—who pitched without undershorts and a jock strap—from Ball Four: “No, I never wear undershorts,” noted Brunet. “Hell, the only time you need them is if you get in a car wreck. Besides, this way I don’t have to worry about them.” He later  told Wulf: “ I just always felt more comfortable that way. Of course, getting out of the way of ground balls up the middle has cost me a few singles over the years.”
Facing Ted Williams in 1956; pitching for him with 1970 Washington Senators
Ted Williams liked Brunet’s demeanor and honesty. On September 18, 1956, Williams—a 38-year old hitting machine with the Boston Red Sox—was 3-for-3 with a HR and an RBI, when he faced 22-year old Brunet, top of the 8th, at Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium. A’s manager Lou Boudreau replaced RHP Art Ditmar, with Brunet, who got ahead of “The Splendid Splinter,” 0-2, before inducing him to hit into a 4-6 force play, scoring a run. Kansas City won, 6-5, on a walk-off HR by Lou Skizas. https://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1956/B09180KC11956.html Coincidentally, Puerto Rico native Vic Power (Víctor Pellot) and Panamanian Héctor López were Brunet’s A’s teammates. (Brunet joined López’s 1956-57 Cerveza Balboa Brewers, per Part I; and, pitched for Power, Caguas player-manager, 1959-60 and 1960-61, per Part II.)
Brunet was 8-6 for Washington, until they traded him to Pittsburgh, late in the season. The 1970 Senators finished 70-92 and just had three hurlers with winning records: Brunet, Dick Bosman (16-12) and Horacio Pina (5-3). Pittsburgh, however, won the NL East, but Brunet was ineligible to pitch versus Cincinnati, 1970 NLCS. Brunet never pitched in an MLB post-season game, unlike his prior winter ball experience in Panamá and Puerto Rico; and later Mexico experience.. With 1970 Pittsburgh, Brunet was 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA, fanning 17 and walking nine, in 16.2 IP. He was traded to St. Louis, with Matty Alou, for Nelson Briles and Vic Davalillo, on January 29, 1971. Brunet had faced Matty Alou and Davalillo, when his (Brunet’s) LaGuaira Sharks played the 1962-63 Caracas Lions. Brunet would not pitch in the 1971 World Series. Instead, St. Louis released him, May 10, 1971, after he was 0-1, with a 5.79 ERA.
Record 15 MLB Uniform Numbers in 15 Seasons
In 15 big-league seasons, Brunet pitched for nine teams and wore 15 unique uniform numbers, the most in major-league history—tied with reliever Bob Miller, per Table II.
Table II: Most Unique Numbers worn by One Player in MLB History
|Player (All Pitchers)||MLB Seasons||Unique MLB Numbers|
|George Brunet||1956-1971 (15)||15|
|Bob Miller||1957-1974 (17)||15|
|Ken Brett||1967-1981 (14)||13|
|Bobo Newsom||1929-1953 (20)||13|
|Juan “Terín” Pizarro||1957-1974 (18)||13|
Brunet and Bob Miller each won 69 MLB career games, with Brunet at 69-93, 3.62 ERA; and, Miller, 69-81, 3.37 ERA. As noted in Parts I and II, Brunet and Pizarro were a formidable lefty starting duo for the 1964-65 Santurce Crabbers, in Puerto Rico. Bob Miller also pitched for three World Series Champions: 1963 and 1965 Los Angeles Dodgers, plus 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates. Ken Brett pitched for the 1970-71 San Juan Senators, in Puerto Rico, managed by Roberto Clemente; and was a DH for the 1976-77 Bayamón Cowboys, managed by José A. Pagán.
Hawaii, 1971-72, 1973 Eugene (Oregon) and 1973 Poza Rica Petroleros
Per Petriello, Brunet found time to pitch batting practice for the California Angels, early 1970s, in addition to pitching for the 1971 and 1972 Hawaii Islanders, Pacific Coast League. Bill Adair—who managed the 1960-61 San Juan Senators in Puerto Rico, when Brunet (with Caguas) won Game One of that league’s Final Series—was Hawaii’s 1971 skipper. Then, Rocky Bridges managed him with the 1972 Islanders, when the lefty posted a 14-9 mark. (Bridges also managed the 1968-69 Ponce Lions to a PRWL crown.) The Philadelphia Phillies signed Brunet to a Triple-A contract with the 1973 Eugene Emeralds, where he started his final (U.S.) minor-league games in August 1973. One Eugene teammate was RHP Ed Bauta, five months older than Brunet. Jim Bunning was their manager. Bauta-Brunet became drinking partners, pitching for the 1973 Poza Rica Petroleros, in Brunet’s first Mexican League incursion.
Bauta went 23-5 in 30 starts for the 1973 Petroleros, completing 23, with seven SHO, for the 79-53 club, managed by Moisés Camacho. They were one-half game behind the 79-52 Jalisco Charros, in the South West Standings. (Mexican League, then, had 16 teams in four Divisions.) Brunet, 1-2, with a 1.38 ERA, pitched effectively. Eventual champion Mexico City Diablos
Rojos, behind skipper Wilfredo Calviño, bested Poza Rica, three games-to-one, in the first round, with Bauta’s 1-0 gem (Game One) Poza Rica’s only win. https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/ed-bauta/ “I loved it in Mexico,” said Bauta. “Started out earning $500/month; increased to $1,500 a month in 1973 when I kept winning. Flames from oil fields would bet very hot…kept cool by drinking beer.”
Table III: George Brunet’s Minor-League (U.S.) Record
Note: Strikeouts/other stats were not available (NA), 1953-56. The 1,692 minor-league strikeouts include 1953-56 composite totals. These, plus 1,483 in Mexican (Summer) League, equal 3,175.
Table IV: George Brunet’s Mexican League Record (Class Triple-A)
|1974||Poza Rica||13-13||41-23||10/4/7 sv||218.1||199||60||5||166||60||2.47||1.186|
Note: Summer seasons do not include Brunet’s Mexican Pacific League (MXPL) winter ball stats. Source: Enciclopedia del Béisbol Mexicano. Editor Pedro Treto Cisneros. Undécima Edición, Año 2011.
Brunet fanned 3,175 minor-leaguers in 3,959.2 innings, 1953-1964 and 1971-1985. His minor-league career W-L record was 243-240, a .503 PCT. He is the all-time strikeout king of minor-league baseball, with 3,175, just as Nolan Ryan is MLB’s top career K artist, with 5,714. Part IV will focus on Brunet in the MXPL; his three Caribbean Series, 1976-78; and stellar efforts in the Mexican League, 1974-1985.
Table V: All-Time Leaders, Minor-League Strikeouts
|George Brunet||3, 175|
|Clarence Hooks Iott||2,561|
|Dick “Kewpie” Barrett||2,512|
Source: Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball; Third Edition. Edited by Lloyd Johnson and Miles Wolff. Published by Baseball America, Durham, N.C., 2007.
Special thanks and appreciation to Ed Bauta, for insights on Brunet, and, to Jorge Colón Delgado, Official Historian, Puerto Rico Professional Baseball League.