Jack Billingham

Pitcher, Baseball Player

1943 –


Who is Jack Billingham?

John Eugene Billingham is a former starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros, Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox. Nicknamed "Cactus Jack", the 6-foot-4 hurler won at least 10 games for 10 consecutive seasons, and he helped lead Cincinnati's legendary "Big Red Machine" to back-to-back World Series titles in 1975 and 1976. He batted and threw right-handed. Billingham is the cousin of Christy Mathewson.

Billingham proved to be one of baseball's greatest World Series pitchers. In seven games for Cincinnati, he went 2–0 with a 0.36 ERA, allowing just one earned run in 25.1 innings pitched. Jack came to the Reds in one of baseball's biggest trades. The Reds sent Lee May, Tommy Helms and Jimmy Stewart to the Astros for Billingham, Joe Morgan, Denis Menke, César Gerónimo, and Ed Armbrister prior to the 1972 season.

Originally signed as a free agent by the Dodgers in 1961, Billingham was groomed as a reliever in the Los Angeles farm system, reaching the major leagues in 1968. Despite a good season, the Dodgers left Billingham unprotected in the expansion draft and he was selected by the Montreal Expos, though he would never pitch for them. In January, 1969, the Expos traded Donn Clendenon to the Houston Astros for Rusty Staub. Clendenon refused to report, and Billingham was later sent to Houston to complete the trade. In 1969, Billingham was again used as a reliever. In 1970 he was moved into the starting rotation, before becoming exclusively a starting pitcher in 1971.

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Feb 21, 1943
Lived in
  • Orlando

on July 23, 2013


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