RHP 1964-74 A's , Pilots, Yankees, Cubs, Braves, Mets
A rugged, sidearming sinkerballer, Aker relieved in all 495 of his ML games, saving
123. The nickname "Chief" refers to his Potowatomie Indian ancestry, fierce presence,
and effectiveness. He was AL Fireman of the Year with the 1966 A's, going 8-4 with
a 1.99 ERA and 32 saves - a ML record until 1970. In August 1967, the Kansas City
players, with Aker as their representative, became embroiled in a feud with owner
Charley Finley. Having enraged Finley, Aker found himself pitching less and less.
He was chosen by the Pilots in the 1968 expansion draft and was soon traded to New
York. As a Yankee, he led the staff in saves in 1969 and recorded a 2.06 ERA in both
1969 and 1970, despite undergoing career-threatening spinal surgery over the intervening
winter. He pitched with pain the rest of his career. When the Yankees acquired Sparky
Lyle in 1972, Aker was dealt to the Cubs, and led their bullpen in saves and wins.
He later became a successful minor league manager and Cleveland's pitching coach.
|FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY|
|» May 26, 1968:
After a Jack Aker pitch hits Detroit's Jim Northrup on the batting helmet, a 15-minute fight erupts in Oakland. Aker is injured in the brawl and leaves the game, but Oakland wins in 10 innings, 7–6.
» July 29, 1969: Yankee reliever Jack Aker's string of 33 scoreless innings comes to an end as the A's rally for three runs to top the Yankees, 6–5. Vida Blue, the A's starter, receives credit for his first ML victory.
» August 14, 1969: In a 3–2 win over the White Sox, the Yankees Horace Clarke triples with two on in the 9th, then scores the winning run on a passed ball. Wilbur Wood takes the loss while Jack Aker is the winner.
» January 19, 1972:
The Yankees acquire veteran Johnny Callison on a conditional basis from the Cubs. They'll end up keeping him and completing the deal by shipping Jack Aker to the Cubs on May 17.
» July 27, 1972: Marking the debut of manager Whitey Lockman, Fergie Jenkins allows one hit in the Cubs 4–0 win over the Phillies. Willie Montanez's 4th inning double is the only hit. Reliever Jack Aker falters in the nitecap, and the Phils win, 4–1.
» August 3, 1972: Cubs pitcher Bill Hands allows one hit, by Ken Singleton, in beating the Expos, 3–0, in the nitecap. The Cubs lose the opener, 2–1, as Jack Aker absorbs his 3rd loss in his last five save opportunities.
» April 12, 1974:
In Atlanta, the Reds roll over the Braves, 14–2. Merv Rettenmund hits a 2nd inning grand slam off vet Jack Aker.