To have an earned run average of under 3.00 in any single season in major league baseball is considered quite an accomplishment.
To maintain that sub 3.00 ERA for an entire career that totals more than 700 games and 1300 innings is even more impressive.
Area campers at the 21st annual Cincinnati Reds Legends Camp got some tips this week from a former Reds pitcher who spent 14 productive seasons in the big leagues and was a key part of the Reds World championship season of 1975.
MIKE MORRISON The Marietta Times
Former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Clay Carroll (left) works with a camper at the Reds Legends Youth Baseball Clinic at VFW Field in Marietta.
Clay "The Hawk" Carroll made the trip to Marietta from his home in Tennessee this year to share some pitching pointers with the more than 100 kids at this year's camp.
"It really seems like all these kids want to learn and that's why I enjoy it," said Carroll, a native of Clanton, Alabama. "Someday a lot of these kids might make it if they learn to do things the proper way."
Carroll began his professional career way back in 1961 when he signed as an amateur free agent with the Milwaukee Braves.
Three years later the right hander made his debut with the Braves and found success immediately as he posted a 2-1 record with an impressive 1.77 ERA in his first 11 games in the big leagues.
Among Carroll's teammates with Milwaukee in that rookie year were Phil Neikro, Warren Spahn, Henry Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Gus Bell and Joe Torre.
Carroll pitched in 19 more games in 1965 before spending his first full season in the big leagues in 1966 posting an 8-7 record with a 2.37 ERA and 11 saves in 144 innings out of the Braves bullpen.
703 of Carroll's 731 major league appearances came in relief and in 1968 he was traded to the Reds early in the season where he would anchor a solid Reds pen for the next seven seasons.
"We had a really good defensive team and us pitchers knew if we came in and threw strikes and kept the ball down we were going to win a lot of games," said Carroll, who pitched 150 innings for the Reds in 1969.
1970 found the Reds in the World Series for the first time in nearly a decade and despite losing the series in five games, Carroll pitched nine shutout innings in the Fall Classic, including 11 strikeouts.
Carroll won 10 games and saved 15 for the Reds in 1971 before leading the National League with 37 saves in 1972, breaking the National League record at the time.
That team also made it to the World Series but fell to the Oakland A's in seven games.
Carroll was solid once again as he posted a 1.59 ERA in the '72 series.
Despite the fact that the Reds were eliminated by New York in the 1973 playoffs and missed the post season all together in 1974, Carroll continued to excel in relief as he went 20-13 and saved 20 more games for Sparky Anderson's Reds in those two seasons.
By the time the 1975 season rolled around the Reds had put together one of the deepest bullpens in the major leagues anchored by Carroll and fellow veteran Pedro Borbon along with the a pair of rookies in left hander Will McEnaney and right hander Rawly Eastwick.
"I really think the younger guys learned a lot from guys like Pedro and myself," said Carroll, who went 7-5 with a 2.62 ERA. "They were great young pitchers but it don't take just one or two guys to make a great bullpen it takes everybody."
That team would defeat the Boston Red Sox in one of the most famous World Series' of all time and Carroll was solid once again as he pitched in five games and was the winning pitcher in the seventh game.
"I pitched the seventh and eighth inning of that final game in '75 to get the win and McEnaney came in and got the save," said Carroll. "It was just great to be part of such a great team."
After the season the Reds decided Carroll was expendable and they traded him to the Chicago White Sox.
Carroll spent the next two seasons with the Sox before wrapping up an outstanding career with brief stints with St. Louis and Pittsburgh.
"I really think I was just as good as guys like Rollie Fingers and Goose Gossage who are in the Hall-Of-Fame," said Carroll, who finished his career with a record of 96-73 with 143 saves and a 2.94 ERA. "I just wish every once in awhile they would mention my name as one of the best relievers of that era."
Carroll, who now resides in Chattanooga Tennessee is a member of the Reds Hall-Of Fame and still keeps up with the game today, mostly on television.
"The big difference between then and now is it seems when they make an error they don't worry about it as much where as when we made one we wanted to make sure that we didn't do it again the next time."