Former Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Bill Campbell, one of the first of the Major League players to take advantage of free agency, died Friday. Campbell, 74, had been diagnosed with cancer and died while in hospice care.
Campbell played 15 seasons in the major leagues with 7 teams, and his most notable years were from 1977 through 1981 with the Red Sox. He also played for the Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers and Montreal Expos.
Campbell’s best season was in 1977, when he was selected for the American League All-Star team. Campbell was 13-9 with a 2.96 earned run average, while registering an American League-leading 31 saves. He finished 5th in Cy Young voting.
The 1977 and ’78 seasons were notable in Red Sox history as they built big leads in the American League East in both seasons. They ended up falling out of the top spot in both years, and the rival New York Yankees took the division title both times.
Campbell came to the Red Sox as a free agent, and after his tenure in Boston ended, he signed another free-agent contract with the Chicago Cubs in late 1981 and donned a Cubs uniform in 1982.
Campbell was a workhorse in the prime years of his career. He would often pitch 2 or 3 innings to close a game.
Campbell appeared in the postseason in 1985 with the St. Louis Cardinals. He pitched in 3 games in the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers and compiled a 0.00 ERA. He also pitched in 3 World Series games against the Kansas City Royals, and had a 2.25 ERA.
The reliever had an 83-68 record during his career, and he also compiled a 3.54 ERA with 126 saves.