HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — “The Mad Hungarian,” famed pitcher Al Hrabosky, will return as a featured guest for the fourth time when Hot Springs Baseball Weekend is held August 27 – 28 at the Hot Springs Convention Center.
“Al has been a guest at every one of our Baseball Weekends, and he’ll return in August to once again meet and entertain fans at our fourth annual celebration of Hot Springs’ role as The Birthplace of Major League Baseball Springs training,” Visit Hot Springs CEO Steve Arrison said.
“We’ve started calling him ‘Mister Baseball Weekend’ because he’s proved to be such a hit with the fans,” Arrison continued. “It wouldn’t be Baseball Weekend without ‘The Mad Hungarian’ on the mound.”
Hrabosky joins fearsome pitcher Rich (Goose) Gossage and Hall of Fame outfielder Jim Edmonds as the celebrity guests who have agreed to come to Hot Springs for the weekend.
Hrabosky was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 11th round of the 1967 amateur draft, but did not sign with the club. Two years later the St. Louis Cardinals made him their first-round choice. Within a year, at the age of 20, he made his Major League debut, pitching a scoreless inning against the San Diego Padres.
During his time with the Cardinals, Hrabosky became a fan favorite for his antics on the mound. Between each pitch he would turn his back to the batter, walk toward second base, vigorously rub the ball between his palms several times, take a deep breath and pound the ball into his mitt. He would then storm back to the mound, staring down the batter. Although the crowd would roar in delight, most batters were not fond of the pitcher's routine.
Hrabosky's best year was 1975 when he led the National League in saves with 22 (a career best) en route to winning the Sporting News "NL Fireman of the Year" award.
After eight seasons in St. Louis the Cardinals traded Hrabosky to the Kansas City Royals. Following just two years with the Royals, he was released and signed with the Atlanta Braves.
Early in his career with the Cardinals, Hrabosky enhanced his menacing appearance with long hair and a horseshoe mustache. However, when Vern Rapp became the Cardinals manager in 1977, Hrabosky had to cut his hair and shave the mustache.
Perhaps Hrabosky's most memorable performance came during an ABC Monday Night Baseball game on May 9, 1977, against the Cincinnati Reds. In the top of the ninth with the game tied at 5-5, Hrabosky allowed the first three hitters (all left-handed), Ken Griffey, Joe Morgan and Dan Driessen, to reach base and load the bases. As the Redbirds home crowd roared, Hrabosky went into his "Mad Hungarian" routine and proceeded to strike out right-handed power hitters George Foster, Johnny Bench and Bob Bailey. The Cardinals went on to win 6-5 on a Ted Simmons home run in the 10th inning.
The Fourth Annual Hot Springs Baseball Weekend again will be held at the Hot Springs Convention Center. The public is invited to attend free of charge under whatever COVID-19 guidelines are in effect, if any.
For more information call Steve Arrison at 501-321-2027.