5 Noteworthy Bespectacled Baseball Pitchers
- Updated: January 27, 2014
Hall of fame inductees Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine earned their tickets to Cooperstown without the need for specs when they took the mound, but don’t assume every great in the league had 20/20 vision. Charlie Sheen’s Wild Thing didn’t know his true potential in that fictitious Cleveland Indians lineup until he was forced to wear his thick-rimmed frames with the decorative skull.
So while Topps celebrates 25 years of “Major League” by producing baseball cards of the characters, let’s take a look at the best vision-assisted pitchers who took the mound in the real MLB.
Joe Kelly (2013-Present)
Kelly’s a young gun yet to leave a complete legacy with baseball, but his first year with the St. Louis Cardinals couldn’t have been more eventful. The 25-year-old rookie pitched two games for the Redbirds in the 2013 World Series. The team would eventually lose to the Boston Red Sox, but Kelly was thurs into the spotlight and became one of the most notable pitchers wearing-glasses in the league. The man is also known to cut a rug from time to time.
Jose Valverde (2003-Present)
Valverde is technically a free agent but chances are slim he’ll get picked up before spring training. It’s too bad, because the closer had a few good runs with Arizona and Detroit, reaching nearly 50 saves in two seasons. And as far is dancing is concerned, there must be something about wearing glasses and shaking it on the diamond. Check out Jose’s grooves after this final out.
Ronald Belisario (2004-Present)
This middle reliever wore specs that rivaled the Hubble space telescope and is known for his nasty sinker. He pitched in the 2009 NLCS but is perhaps better known for his antics against the Arizona Diamondbacks who share a nice, new rivalry with the Dodgers (soiled swimming pools, anyone?). Belisario received a suspension last year during a bench clearing brawl that had the two teams throwing punches in the infield.
Ryne Duren (1954-1965)
Duren was known for two things, a blazing fastball and god-awful 20/200 vision. As talented as his arm was, his aim was often comical at best and dangerous at worst. In the minors, he once hit a batter in the on-deck circle, which is worse than even the most atrocious opening pitches. There was no Visiondirect.com or contact lenses to help Duren back then so he relied on heavy, coke-bottle glasses. It didn’t help that he had a well-documented history of alcohol abuse either.
Glasses and contacts have come a long way since Duren’s crazy arm. Pitchers like Kelly and Valverde might not have had a shot 50 years ago, but thanks to today’s optical technology, they’re hanging with the best of them in America’s game.
This article was written by Mark Williamson
Mark is a freelance writer and black belt originally from Queens. He is married with two kids.