Joe Sambito

One of the NL’s best relievers with the Astros from 1978 to 1981, Sambito saw his career ruined in 1982 by an injury to his pitching elbow. The hard-throwing lefthander had been a starter in the minors, and led the Southern League in strikeouts at Columbus in 1975 before being promoted to Houston as a reliever the following season. In 1978, he led the Astros in saves for the first of four consecutive seasons, and in 1979 he notched a career-high 22 saves with a 1.78 ERA. Sambito was off to a fast start in 1982, surrendering one earned run and collecting four saves in his first nine appearances, but was forced onto the DL with what was first diagnosed as tendinitis. When the pain in his elbow lingered, it was discovered that bone chips had damaged the ligaments, and Sambito missed the rest of 1982 and all of 1983 recuperating from surgery. Comeback attempts with the Astros and Mets failed in 1984-85, but Sambito made the Red Sox staff in the spring of 1986 and helped Boston to the WS that fall, then retired after posting a 6.93 ERA in 1987.