When Bob Welch died at age 57 this week, it brought back the memory that I was a fan of his. And I really couldn’t remember why; he was a Dodger, and I never was a Dodgers fan.
Then, when reading this story in the New York Times, I remembered … his early moment of glory against the Yankees and Reggie Jackson in 1978 — the year the Yankees derailed the Red Sox in particularly excruciating fashion (the Bucky Dent year). And the Red Sox were the center of my 17-year-old life.
I also grew to respect Bob Welch and root for him not just because of this Cy Young award or 20-win seasons but because of his battle with alcoholism.
Many University of Hawaii baseball fans met Welch, because his son Riley played for UH in 2011 and 2012.
UH coach Mike Trapasso told me that even though he didn’t get much action until his senior year, Riley Welch never complained. Neither did his dad.
Riley Welch performed well in the 10 games he did pitch, with a cumulative ERA well under 3.00. He is now an assistant coach at Presentation College in South Dakota.
“Riley is a big part of our Rainbow Warrior ohana,” Trapasso said. “And our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”