Billingham, a distant relative of Christy Mathewson
, was groomed as a reliever in
the Dodger organization. He became a starter with Houston, and by 1972 was a mainstay
in the rotation of Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine." The gentle, 6'4" righthander won
at least 10 games for 10 consecutive seasons (1970-79), with 19 victories in both
1973 and '74. He didn't miss a turn in '73 as he led the NL with 40 starts, 293 IP,
and seven shutouts. In three World Series
, Billingham allowed just one earned run
in 25 1/3 innings; in Game Three of the 1972 WS, he threw eight shutout innings to
defeat Oakland, 1-0.
In his first 1974 start, he gave up Hank Aaron's record-tying
714th home run. In 1978, after winning 87 games in six years with Cincinnati, Billingham
was traded to Detroit. Two years later he finished with Boston.