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Ronald Samuel Herbel (January 16, 1938 – January 20, 2000) was a right-handed Major League Baseball pitcher. His .029 career batting average is the lowest batting average in Major League history for a player with a minimum of 100 at-bats.
|Born: January 16, 1938|
|Died: January 20, 2000 (aged 62)|
|September 10, 1963, for the San Francisco Giants|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 19, 1971, for the Atlanta Braves|
|Earned run average||3.83|
|Career highlights and awards|
Herbel set another record for batting futility, he accumulated the fewest hits of any pitcher or position player in major league history reaching his first 100 at-bats with one. He got his second hit on June 9, 1966 at the Houston Astrodome, a fifth-inning single RBI single off of Larry Dierker. He was 1-for-108 (.009) in the majors up to that point and 0-for-12 beginning the 1966 season. It was his only safety of the season, going 1-for-38 (.026) overall. After his second hit, he went 4-for-97 (.041) thereafter, completing his major league career in 1971 to finish 6-for-206.
Born in Denver, Colorado, but was raised in Brighton, CO. He graduated from Brighton High School in 1956. Herbel attended the University of Northern Colorado. After two seasons at Northern Colorado, Herbel signed as an amateur free agent with the San Francisco Giants. He spent five seasons in San Francisco's farm system when he received a September call up to the Giants in 1963. He made two relief appearances with the Giants, both against the New York Mets, with his major league debut on September 10 at the Polo Grounds.
Herbel was used both in relief and as a starter in 1964, as he made 22 starts and eighteen appearances out of the bullpen. In his first Major League at-bat on May 6, he struck out against Larry Jackson of the Chicago Cubs. For the season, Herbel made 54 plate appearances without getting a hit, and struck out thirty times.
In 1965 Herbel earned a spot in the starting rotation on his way to a 12–9 record for a Giants team that won 14 straight games in September, with Herbel pitching the best ball of his career, only to lose the pennant by two games to a Dodger team that won its last 15 games. He registered his first major league hit and RBI on May 21 in his first major league game on astroturf, while holding the Houston Astros to just five hits themselves in the complete game victory. It was Herbel's only hit of the season, though he was credited with a second run batted in on July 28 when he walked with the bases loaded.
If it could be said that he had a best season with the bat, it would be 1967. Herbel had three hits, two of which were doubles, two walks, three successful bunts and struck out only fourteen times for a .107 batting average. It was also Herbel's first real season as a reliever. Though he made eleven starts, he made 31 appearances out of the bullpen, earning one save. Over the next two seasons, Herbel made only six starts. Following the 1969 season, Herbel was traded with Bob Barton and Bobby Etheridge to the San Diego Padres for Frank Reberger.
The Padres were 50–82, 34.5 games back of the Cincinnati Reds when they dealt Herbel to the reigning World Series champion New York Mets, who were in the midst of a play-off drive again in 1970 (two games back of the first place Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League East at the time of the trade), and needed to add an arm to their bullpen. Herbel went 2–2 with a 1.38 ERA and one save in twelve relief appearances for the Mets, who finished in third place, six games back of the Pirates. Combined with his 64 appearances with the Padres, Herbel's 76 appearances on the mound led the National League, and was only one less than major league leader Wilbur Wood. Following the season, he was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Bob Aspromonte.
Herbel spent one season in Atlanta, where he went 0–1 with a 5.23 ERA and one save in 25 appearances for the third place Braves. He signed with the Minnesota Twins in 1972, and spent the entire season with their triple A Pacific Coast League affiliate before retiring. He died from a heart attack on January 20, 2000 in Tacoma, Washington at 62 years old.
- "Ron Herbel". Historic Baseball. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
- "New York Mets 4, San Francisco Giants 2". Baseball-Reference.com. 1963-09-10.
- "Chicago Cubs 4, San Francisco Giants 2". Baseball-Reference.com. 1964-05-06.
- "San Francisco Giants 1, New York Mets 0". Baseball-Reference.com. 1964-05-17.
- "San Francisco Giants 8, Houston Astros 1". Baseball-Reference.com. 1965-05-21.
- "San Francisco Giants 8, St. Louis Cardinals 5". Baseball-Reference.com. 1965-07-28.
- "Ron Herbel". Ultimate Mets Database. Retrieved 2009-01-17.