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Know Your KU History: Chuck Dobson

Today we take a closer look at perhaps the best Major League pitcher to ever don the crimson and blue of KU.

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Chuck Dobson originally came to Kansas to play football, but a back injury derailed his chances of stardom on the gridiron, so Dobson turned to his other passion, baseball. His scholarship got transferred from football to baseball and he eventually suited up for Floyd Temple’s team after sitting out his freshman year. He played summer league ball for the first time that summer before his sophomore campaign, and before you knew it, the former football player was winning games for KU. He was pretty good and played on that fine 1965 team with Steve Renko, who was drafted after the 1965 season.

Dobson had no luck with the draft, but he was one of the rare guys who got to play professional sports in his hometown. The six foot four right-hander from Kansas City, Missouri signed as a free agent with the nearby Kansas City Athletics in 1965.

After only playing in the minors for the equivalent of one season, Dobson was brought up to the big leagues by the A’s and made his major league debut in his hometown on April 19, 1966. That day, he went five and two-thirds innings, giving up five hits and two runs to the visiting Minnesota Twins. The Athletics went on to win the game and Dobson grabbed a win in his debut.

He played two full seasons with the Athletics while they were based in Kansas City, accumulating a 14-16 record in 280 innings pitched. However, he didn’t hit his stride until a few years later when the team was based in Oakland. He won double-digit games for five consecutive years and had his overall best season in 1970.

That season was probably the best season a Jayhawk pitcher has ever had in the majors. Dobson went 16-15 that year with a 3.74 ERA. He was the most durable pitcher in the league that season, leading the American League with 40 starts, but the statistic that stands out the most is the fact that Dobson recorded five shutouts that year and led all AL pitchers in that category.

The Oakland A’s won two World Series while Dobson was on the team (1972 and 1973) and while Dobson never featured in the ’72 series against the Cincinnati Reds, he did pitch in one game in the ’73 fall classic against the New York Mets. This gives Dobson the distinction of being the lone Jayhawk with a World Series Championship ring.

He finished his career in California with the Angels and over the course of his nine seasons in the big leagues, Dobson compiled a 74-69 overall record and a 3.78 ERA.

Dobson also holds the distinction of being part of the first-ever black and white road rooming relationship in the history of Major League Baseball when he became roommates with future Hall-of-Famer Reggie Jackson while playing in Oakland.

Not bad: racial pioneer, World Series champion, and a winning record over a nine-year MLB career.

Note: After 43 straight weeks, the Know Your KU History series will take a short break. But rest assured, we will come back strong in the fall with profiles of some of KU’s best football players and coaches. If you’d like to see an athlete profiled, please send an email to the author at dnoll5@yahoo.com. Thanks for reading.