Sunday, January 3, 2016

Bob Dustal Passes, Was Mgm Pitcher

Former Montgomery Rebels pitcher Bob Dustal passed away in November - Bob was with the Rebs in 1967 and '68. Bob Dustal pitched in 50 games during his time in Montgomery posting an 8-5 record. Dustal's sub-1.00 WhIP ratio as a Rebel is evidence of excellent control and minimal baserunners by the veteran righty, a hallmark of his career as a pitcher.

Bob got to the bigs with Detroit in early 1963, appearing in seven games as a reliever before being sent down in May. Dustal's lone MLB decision was a loss, one in which he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Everyone wants a chance to play in the majors... Unfortunately...I just didn`t get anyone out.

Dustal Rookie Card 1963
The surprise was that he registered a decision at all for the Tigers, every game he was in resulted in a defeat for the Motor City Kitties. Most of his work was in a mop-up role and he hadn't been pitching well so it was only in emergency situations that he would pitch with the game on the line.

Of course its baseball, that is exactly what happened.

Bob's only chance at participating in a Tigers victory was snatched away at Fenway on April 20th, 1963. Dustal was pitching in relief that day, as he had the day before when he worked a total of three innings in both ends of a doubleheader.

So with a run one lead and already two out in the fifteenth inning Bob was called on, needing only one out to pick up the save. But he was unable to close the door. The Tigers fell 4-3 as Dustal gave up back-to-back hits and took the loss on a Roman Mejias' 15th inning, two-run walk-off double.

As a minor league pitcher, Dustal saw much more success. He posted 111 wins to 76 losses and an ERA of 3.06 in just under 500 games over 15 seasons. The New Jersey native had worked his way thru the minors, from low-D level ball, posting a winning record at every level in cities such as Jamestown, Durham, Knoxville, Birmingham, Denver, Syracuse and others.

Described as "rubber armed", Dustal bragged that he once pitched 119 games in a single year, throwing from January to January in combined league campaigns. Indeed, he was named MVP of the Puerto Rican league and given a $500 watch in an era supposedly before "specialty relief pitching".

Bob Dustal is a member of the Syracuse Chiefs "Wall Of Fame" and is remembered as much as his great relief pitching as for leaving a prize fishing catch in a hidden trashcan, where it created a legendary stench in the clubhouse.

1968 was a busy year for Bob, he opened with the Montgomery Rebels, where he would earn the last three of his 111 career victories. Dustal was released after a dozen games but reassigned by Detroit as manager for Batavia in the NYPL.

Bob's last appearance as a player was in 1971 for Key West, where he was managing when pressed into duty by the team as a pitcher in two games.


Bob Dustal was 80 years old when he passed away in Florida. After baseball, Dustal enjoyed managing a team in the Keys before buying a restaurant and "tiki bar" known as The Bacchus By The Sea.

"It seems like every baseball player wants to own a bar. So here I am." Bob said in an interview in the 1990s.

I found a write-up of the bar in Conde Nast Traveler which described the owner as "a lean, brown, soft spoken man with suggestions of the status he'd enjoyed as a pitcher..."

I also found a great description of the old bar and grille, though under different ownership when this word-picture was crafted. I felt it was a sweet snapshot of the life Bob may have enjoyed.

"....a very nice restaurant called Bacchus By The Sea located down near the Seven Mile Bridge. The front of the restaurant had an Old World feel and was very formal with linen tablecloths and beautifully set tables. But in the back, along the waterfront, the atmosphere dropped a few degrees.

Here, shrimpers who had been out trawling for two weeks at a time came in to shake off the saltwater, find their favorite stool and catch up with their shrimpmates at an open air tiki bar right at the docks.

Seven Mile Bridge
Pelicans perched along the dockposts, and shrimp boats lined up neatly in their port. It was a privilege to enjoy the most beautiful sunsets each evening, and I always tried to savor the fiery ball as it dipped and reached to touch the indigo horizon.

Quickly then, it would slip away from sight as dusk settled in and the tiny white lights strung between the posts behind the bar twinkled and shined down on the deeply tanned and weathered faces of fisherman and their girlfriends or wives, ready to blow off some steam on a Friday night. The thump-thump beat of Dire Straits’ Money For Nothin’ sailed out on an invisible current disappearing over the night’s black ocean. There were quite a few characters that hung out there. It has always been said that if you want to disappear or hide, go down to the Keys. I guess that’s why they were all there. Or maybe no one would have them.

Fights often broke out once the beer and rum began flowing. There really was a Mudsucker, Shrimper John and other bizarrely-named shrimpers who frequented the waterfront bar. Near the tiki bar were outdoor dining tables for customers who wanted to enjoy the ocean view with their dinner. Usually the clientele at the restaurant were upscale tourists, as well as the infrequent celebrity such as Ted Turner, who occasionally seemed horrified at the display of obscenities and violence that they may have accidentally sat near, too close to the tiki bar revelry. It was always worth a chuckle or two."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember as a kid watching the game on TV where Bob Dustal took the loss. It was an exciting game going 15 innings but as a Red Sox fan I was certainly happy. Sorry though poor Bob had such a short career in the majors.