A big righthander with a strong arm and a sinking fastball, Pole saw his career sink after he was hit in the head by a drive off Tony Muser‘s bat in June 1975. The ball struck his face with such force that it bounded over third baseman Rico Petrocelli into foul territory in left field as two runs scored. Pole fought back from a broken jaw and shattered retina to appear in one World Series game that season, but was never the same pitcher after the injury. Dumped by the Mariners a few years later, he pitched for a few seasons in Mexico before calling it quits as a player.
Despite virtual blindness in his right eye, he later became a successful pitching coach for a number of major-league clubs, earning a reputation by tutoring a young Greg Maddux in the Cubs’ farm system and often facing off against Muser when the latter served as the Royals manager in the late 1990s. Pole later credited his time south of the border as an important influence on his coaching strategy. “Luis Tiant always said I should throw changeups, but I was young and hard-headed and relied too much on my fastball,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1999. “It didn’t help then, but it helped me in my coaching life.”
In the same interview, Pole shared his best advice for young hurlers: “Learn to duck.”