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Al Hrabosky, aka, The Mad Hungarian, was one of the most intimidating MLB relief pitchers in the 1970s, and it started before he ever threw a pitch. Hrabosky pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, and Atlanta Braves, before retiring in 1982. Where is Al Hrabosky today?
Al Hrabosky was drafted in the first round of the 1969 MLB draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. Less than a year after he was drafted, the 20-year-old Hrabosky made his MLB debut, where he pitched a scoreless inning of relief against the San Diego Padres.
However, those first few seasons in the big leagues, Hrabosky saw limited action. In 1974, when Hrabosky learned he might be returning to the minors, he decided in order to avoid that fate he needed better focus each time he took the mound. That’s when he came up with a self-psych routine that would allow him to concentrate on each batter.
The routine, which he said included visualization of upcoming pitches to the next batter, started the moment he stepped on to the mound. Hrabosky would turn his back to the batter, look to center field, and walk toward second base. He’d stop, rub the ball firmly, take a deep breath, and slam the ball into his glove. Once the ball hit his mitt, he immediately turned and stormed back to the mound, where he would stare down the batter.
The routine worked and, in 1975, Hrabosky led the National League with 22 saves. He was named the Sporting News NL Fireman of the Year given each season to the top relief pitcher. He finished his 13-year career with 97 saves and a 3.01 ERA.