Obituary: Larry Foss (1936-2019)

R.I.P. to Larry Foss, who pitched in 8 games in the big leagues over two seasons. He died suddenly on June 15 at the age of 83. Foss played for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1961) and New York Mets (1962).

Larry Foss was born in Wichita, Kan., on April 18, 1963. He attended Wichita State University and was signed by the Pirates prior to the 1955 season. They then proceeded to send him to some of the most obscure minor-league cities I’ve ever heard of. Dublin, Georgia? Douglas, Arizona? By the time he made it to the Lincoln Chiefs in 1957, he must have felt like he’d made the big time. As he was signed as a teenager, it took a few seasons with 5+ ERAs before Foss adjusted to the minors. He logged a fair 3.38 ERA and 3-5 record in 1958 while pitching in Lincoln and San Jose, and he was an excellent reliever for the Wilson Tobs of the Carolina League in 1959. He went 5-4 with a 2.25 ERA in 35 appearances.

Larry Foss, while with the Asheville Tourists in 1961. Source: Asheville Citizen-Times, September 6, 1961.

Foss began to be used as a starter more often, throwing a career high 151 innings in 1960 and 143 in 1961. He went 10-3 with Asheville and had a 2.34 ERA, earning a brief call to the majors with the Pirates in September 1961. His debut was September 18, 1961, and as a starting pitcher, he had to face Bob Gibson and the Cardinals. Foss was up to the challenge and pitched into the 8th inning for his first (and only) MLB win. He scattered 6 hits and walked 6 while striking out 5 in an 8-6 Pirates win. He got two more starts and ended up with a 1-1 record and 5.87 ERA.

Foss failed to make the Pirates out of Spring Training and spent most of 1962 back in Asheville, winning 10 more games in 20 starts. The Pirates put him on waivers toward the end of the season, and the expansion Mets picked him up and brought him back to the majors. He threw 6-1/3 scoreless innings in 4 relief appearances. He also started one game against the Astros and was hammered, allowing 10 hits and 6 runs in 5 innings. He took the loss in the game, which raised his Mets ERA to 4.63.

Foss’ major league totals are a 1-2 record, 5.33 ERA in 8 games (4 starts). He struck out 12 batters and walked 18 in 27 innings. He pitched one more seasons in the minors, going 6-4 for the Denver Bears in 1963. In 9 minor-league seasons, Foss went 59-51 with a 4.21 ERA and 594 strikeouts.

After baseball, Foss worked in the insurance, pharmaceutical and gas/oil industries. He also pitched on a Service Auto Glass team in Wichita. He and his late wife, Vicki, also operated a sporting goods store in Steamboat Springs for several years.


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