RIP to Pete Lovrich, who pitched in 20 games for the 1963 Kansas City Athletics. He died on December 30 at the age of 76.
Pete Lovrich was born on October 16, 1942 in Blue Island, Ill. He was an excellent pitcher right from the start, as he threw 6 no-hitters in Little League, according to a 1963 article about him. He attended Bremen High in Midlothian, Ill. and went 13-8 as a pitcher on the baseball team, averaging 16 strikeouts a game for two years. He also played basketball and football in high school.
His early success as a pitcher drew the attention of MLB teams, including the Yankees and White Sox. He attended Mesa Junior College in Grand Junction, Colo. for a season and went 10-1. Lovrich transferred to Arizona State University and had a 5-0 record there. He set a then-school record by throwing 32 consecutive scoreless innings. Lovrich eventually signed an $18,000 contract with the Kansas City A’s, deciding that he had a better chance to break in there than with the Yankees or Sox.
Lovrich’s first pro season was with the Minot Mallards in 1962. He pitched well there, with a 9-6 record, 2.66 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 149 innings. He managed to do that for a team that finished in last place, with a 42-82 record. He joined the A’s in Spring Training the following year and made a good impression on manager Eddie Lopat and made the team, though he was still 20 years old.
Lovrich made his debut in Game 1 of a doubleheader on April 26, 1963, throwing a perfect 8th inning against the Washington Senators. He made some history with that appearance, becoming the first ASU Sun Devil to ever appear in the major leagues.
The A’s would go on to have a 73-89 record, finishing 8th in the AL. Lovrich was more often than not used as a mop-up reliever and ended the year with a 1-1 record and 7.84 ERA, with 10 walks and 16 strikeouts in 20-2/3 innings pitched. His only MLB win came against the Yankees on July 15. Working around a walk and a single, he threw a scoreless 12th inning of an 11-10 slugfest. The A’s won in the bottom of the inning on a walk-off walk.
Lovrich was tagged with the loss in his only MLB start on August 23. He didn’t make it out of the first inning while facing the Tigers and was chased after giving up 4 runs while retiring one batter. About 10 days later, he was knocked unconscious from a line drive off the bat of the Twins’ Rich Rollins after retiring the first two batters, but he walked off the field under his own power. That was his second to last MLB appearance.
Lovrich seems to have spent 1964 in the armed services and returned for the Florida Instructional League, where he pitched in just 6 games. He returned to the A’s minor-league system in 1965 and went 9-9 for two A-Ball teams. That was his final season of professional baseball. According to a 1990 newspaper article that quoted his father, arm injuries curtailed his career.
Lovrich was part of the inaugural 1973 class of the Blue Island (Ill.) Area Sports Hall of Fame. Baseball Reference notes that Lovrich worked as a senior clerk for Commonwealth Edison following his retirement
Though Lovrich didn’t pitch in the majors in 1965, he nevertheless got a baseball card in the ’65 Topps set. Sort of. The #462 card of Lew Krausse is actually Lovrich.