Born in Ozanna, Poland, Drabowsky came to the U.S. with his parents in 1938. He accepted a reported $50,000 bonus to sign with the Cubs after fanning 16 in a no-hitter for Trinity College of Hartford. Joining the Cubs’ rotation immediately, Drabowsky managed a 2.47 ERA as a rookie. Inclined to work inside, he led the NL with 10 hit batsmen in 1957, hitting a record four men on June 2, 1957. He finished second in the league with 170 strikeouts, going 13-15 for a seventh-place club. A sore arm cost Drabowsky his fastball in 1958, when he yielded Stan Musial‘s 3,000th hit. Drabowsky struggled, pitching for eight clubs in four years. The Orioles drafted him for 1966 and Drabowsky turned his career around with a 6-0, 2.81 record and seven saves for the 1966 World Champions. Relieving Dave McNally with one out and the bases loaded in the third inning of Game One of the World Series, Drabowsky gave up just one hit, no earned runs, and struck out 11 to earn the win as he finished the game. He had a WS-record six strikeouts in a row. He won his first 12 Baltimore decisions, achieving ERAs of 1.60 and 1.91 in ’67 and ’68. Doing it all, Drabowsky also batted .364, .350, and .286 in 1966-1968. Selected by the Royals in the 1969 expansion draft, Drabowsky led the AL with 11 relief wins, saving 11 with a 2.94 ERA in 52 games. He returned to Baltimore to post a 4-2 record down the stretch in 1970, climaxed with two more clutch relief performances in that World Series. He returned to Poland in 1987 as a baseball ambassador, helping the Poles form their first team for Olympic competition.
A well-known flake, he was once rolled to first base in a wheelchair after being hit by a pitch and specialized in bullpen pranks.