|Born: December 2, 1948|
Los Angeles, California
|April 9, 1970, for the Cincinnati Reds|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 29, 1977, for the California Angels|
|Earned run average||4.37|
|Career highlights and awards|
Wayne Kirby Simpson (December 2, 1948), is a former professional baseball player who pitched in the Major Leagues from 1970–75 and in 1977. He played for the Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals, Philadelphia Phillies, and California Angels. Hank Aaron got his 3,000th career hit off Simpson.
In 1967, as a high school senior at Centennial High School in Compton, CA, Simpson was drafted in the first round in the June MLB draft by the Cincinnati Reds with the 8th overall pick. Simpson at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, was a big, hard thrower, but his minor league seasons were plagued by wildness. In three minor league seasons, Simpson had 298 walks, 66 wild pitches, and hit 26 batters in just 432 total innings pitched.
In the spring of 1970, the Reds tinkered with Simpson's delivery, which helped reign in some wildness. Simpson also had the luxury of working with Gold Glove winning catcher Johnny Bench. Simpson not only made the team as a 21 year old rookie in 1970, he was a revelation. After going 7–13 in 1969 for the Reds' Triple A farm team in Indianapolis, Simpson was almost unbeatable for the Reds. He began the year by winning 13 of his first 14 decisions (the loss came when a dropped pop fly allowed two unearned runs), including tossing a one-hitter, a two-hitter, and a three-hitter, in helping the Reds to a 70–30 start. Simpson was the only rookie pitcher selected for the 1970 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, though he didn't pitch due to elbow pain.
In the days before young pitchers were kept on strict "pitch counts," Simpson often threw a high number of pitches per game, (100–130). Though he was more consistently around the plate than he was as a minor leaguer, Simpson still averaged about four walks and six strikeouts per nine innings. His earned run average stayed below 3.00 for most of the season. Simpson had 14 wins by July 26. He began to suffer from arm soreness, which limited him to a pair of appearances after that, before it was discovered he had ligament damage. The Cincinnati Reds made it to the World Series in 1970, but Simpson did not pitch in the postseason. He finished the season with a 14–3 record and a 3.02 earned run average.
Simpson's injury predated, by four years, the Tommy John surgery ligament replacement procedure that has helped major league pitchers effectively recover from such an injury. Simpson pitched another six seasons in the majors after his brilliant rookie season, but was never able to regain the same velocity and effectiveness.
- Dyer, Mike (April 17, 2015). "Hank Aaron reflects on his 3,000th hit in Cincinnati". Retrieved July 13, 2016.
- Best Reds Debuts for Starters – Baseball-Reference PI