Steve Carlton, pitcher, born December 22, 1944. Bats and throws left-handed. Chiefly identified with the Philadelphia Phillies, but came up originally with the St. Louis Cardinals, and played for the Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, and San Francisco Giants briefly at the end of his career. Played in the majors from 1965 to 1988.
Carlton and Nolan Ryan were the most overpowering strikeout pitchers of the late 1970s and the 1980s. While Ryan relied almost exclusively on his unhittable fastball, Carlton's signature pitch was his slider, which gave left- and right-handed batters fits. Carlton won four Cy Young Awards in the NL, in 1972, 1977, 1980, and 1982. He was known simply as "Lefty" to his contemporaries, and in baseball, that is high praise for a left-handed pitcher indeed, and since there are so many of them, singling Carlton out as "Lefty" was a big honor to him. Carlton's statistical record is amazing: five times he led the league in strikeouts, five times in innings pitched, four times in wins, three times in complete games, and once in shutouts. He threw 30 complete games in 1972 on his way to a 27-10 record, winning the pitching Triple Crown of ERA, wins, and strikeouts as well as his first Cy Young award. In his career, he threw 254 complete games; 55 of them were shutouts.
Carlton's 4136 strikeouts place him third behind Ryan and Roger Clemens on the career list. Control was never his strongest point; he also allowed the second-most walks ever, with 1833 allowed in his career (Ryan is by far the career leader with 2795, almost exactly a thousand more than second place Carlton). Carlton was the first pitcher to win four Cy Young awards, but Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson have both matched that feat. Carlton was a ten-time All-Star and is a member of the Hall of Fame, elected on the first ballot he appeared on in 1994.
Major League Baseball Hall of Fame
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