#33: Rick Camp

See the 44 Greatest Atlanta Braves here.

Righthanded Pitcher
Seasons With Braves: 1976-1978; 1980-1985
Stats With Braves: 56-49, 3.37 ERA, 57 Svs

I now think that this is probably a little too high. Camp is one of the few native Georgians — maybe the only one — on this list, drafted out of West Georgia in the seventh round in 1974. He’s also, I believe, the only retired player on the list who played only with the Braves. Primarily, but not exclusively, a starter in the minors, he tore his way up to Richmond in two years and got a brief callup in 1976. In 1977, he was up to stay. His ERAs in his first two full seasons aren’t very impressive (4.00 and 3.75) but these were years when a lot of runs were being scored in the Launching Pad.

Late in 1978 or in spring of 1979, Rick’s right arm went bad. He missed all of 1979 except for 22 games in Richmond. But he came back strong in 1980, throwing 108 1/3 relief innings (off an arm injury, mind you) and saving 22 games with a 1.94 ERA. The next season he threw just 76 innings with 17 saves but with an even lower ERA, 1.78, and went 9-3. The save totals aren’t as impressive, but it’s probably as good of a two-year sequence as Wohlers or Smoltz as the closer.

Camp started the 1982 season in the bullpen, but he struggled some. Torre moved him into the rotation in June, and he pitched really well; in 21 starts, he had a 3.53 ERA, though only a 7-10 record to show for it. The next season, he began as a starter but struggled, only to move back to the pen where he put up a 2.10 ERA. He was shut down in September, which didn’t help the Braves’ efforts to catch the Dodgers. In 1984, he again started in the pen but was moved to the rotation, and had a good season again, 8-6 with a 3.27 ERA. And in 1985, he made just a couple of token starts and was mostly in the bullpen. As you probably know, he hit an 18th inning home run to tie the July 4 extra-inning game against the Mets that year, only to lose the game in the next inning.

Camp threw a ton of relief innings that year, winding up with a 3.95 ERA, just worse than the context. It was the only worse than park-adjusted average ERA of Camp’s career, except for his cup of coffee in 1976. It was the last season of his career, as the Braves released him in spring of 1986. I don’t know why, but I’d guess his arm was hurt.

Rick Camp Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com

9 thoughts on “#33: Rick Camp”

  1. The save totals aren’t as impressive, but it’s probably as good of a two-year sequence as Wohlers or Smoltz as the closer.

    Indeed. Bobby actually had the nerve to use Camp to maximize is impact on games and not to maximize his save total. No manager today would consider such a thing.

  2. Robert, you are probably right. The save total is misleading. In that era there was no such thing as a ‘closer’ but a ‘fireman’ the guy you depended on to save the game just before it got out of hand. Your best reliever used in the most high leverage relief situations in the game. Good old Tony LaRussa started the one inning closer thing with Dennis Eckersley in Oakland. Little did he know that he would spawn a whole new job class of highly paid one inning pitchers.

  3. Camp’s release was part of the April Fool’s Day Massacre, in which new GM Bobby Cox released Camp, Forster, Barker, and Perez. He also signed Omar Moreno that day, which was not the reason it was called the Massacre, but it might as well have been. Can’t wait to see the profile for the Outmaker!

  4. Camp’s homerun against the Mets was probably the second-most unlikely homer in Braves history (Belliards “blast” being #1).

    As I recall, didn’t Dykstra (or whoever was in center) do sort of an exasperated jump when it cleared the fence? Sort of like, “We’ve gotta keep playing??”

  5. @4

    I remember that Danny Heep sat on the left field grass in complete disbelief. It was on an MLB video called 50 Greatest Home Runs made back in… 1991 or 1992 or something. :D

  6. Dykstra’s reaction was similar to mine. I was in Athens that day and had gone to about 3 different 4th of July parties—at each one, the Braves game was on & I was constantly shocked they were still playing. (“Oh, there was a rain delay…” “It’s 8-8 now…,” “Oh, they’re in extra-innings…,” etc.)

    So when I got home I was more than a little tipsy & very tired. I flipped on the TV and, damn if they weren’t STILL playing. I tried to watch, but kept drowsing off on the couch. Basically, I woke up to see Camp’s at-bat and had to pinch myself that he’d hit a HR. “No really, I MUST be dreaming this…”

    The absurdity of the moment hit me harder than anything I’d drank that day & I was plenty awake to see the Mets’ deluge in the next inning (5 runs), the Braves comeback attempt (2 runs in, with 2 on & no players left) and Camp’s final AB—a strikeout.

    For the record: 19 innings, 29 Runs, 46 hits, 5 errors, 43 players used, including 14 pitchers, 6 hours-10 minutes playing time, and one big 5th-of-July fireworks display at the end.

  7. Mac you seem like a cool cat, anyone i can talk old school braves is A+ in my books. But Rick Freaking Camp. Come on Mac. This cat as you can see through yearbooks and ball cards shape went from out of shape to way out of shape. To wolf man face to heavier wolf man face. He will always be remembered as the baby blue brave era.
    Yes the april first massacure, my Pascual was given the bullet by Cox, bad move my man, he came back as a Spo and did damage until he re discovered coke.
    More piss poor braves McMurtry ( what a rookie year) very similar to Moss.
    FYI still active in the “I hate george Lombard club”

  8. Well Rick is way overrated, but if you’re going to overrate a guy, Rick’s a good one. ALWAYS took the ball, good teammate, happy guy, 4th of July HR one of the great Braves 80’s moments.

  9. Rick Camp!?!? Better than TP!?!? No “Best” list should be made if Rick Camp is going to be on it…

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