Kent Tekulve

Kenton Charles Tekulve (/təˈkʌlˌv/ tə-KUL-vee; born March 5, 1947), nicknamed "Teke", is an American former professional baseball right-handed relief pitcher who played 16 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB), primarily for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He also played for the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds. Pitching with an unusual submarine delivery, Tekulve was known as a workhorse relief pitcher who holds several records for number of games pitched and innings pitched.

Kent Tekulve
Tekulve in 2007
Born: (1947-03-05) March 5, 1947
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
May 20, 1974, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Last MLB appearance
July 16, 1989, for the Cincinnati Reds
MLB statistics
Win–loss record94–90
Earned run average2.85
Career highlights and awards


Tekulve is a 1969 graduate of Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio.[1] He signed that year as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Pirates and remained with that organization until 1985. He made his major league debut against the Montreal Expos on May 20, 1974. He pitched an inning of relief and allowed one hit in the 4–2 loss.[2]

His best seasons came in 1978 and 1979, in both of which he saved 31 games and posted ERAs of 2.33 and 2.75, respectively.[3][4] He saved three games in the 1979 World Series, including the winner, as the Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles 4–3.[5] He was selected an All-Star in 1980.[6]

He was traded from the Pirates to the Phillies for Al Holland and minor-league left-handed pitcher Frankie Griffin on April 20, 1985.[7] He continued to be an effective reliever into his 40s. Only in his first season (1974) and his last season (1989) did he post an ERA above 4. While with the Phillies, he led the NL in games pitched for the fourth time, with 90 in 1987 at the age of 40.[8]

Tekulve signed with the Cincinnati Reds before the 1989 season and pitched in 37 games before retiring in July.[9][10]


Tekulve led the major leagues in games pitched four times, appearing in 90 or more games three times. He and Mike Marshall are the only pitchers in baseball history to appear in 90 or more games more than once, having each done the feat three times. Tekulve is also the oldest pitcher ever to appear in 90 games, when he did so in 1987 at age 40. Tekulve's three saves in the 1979 World Series tied the single-Series mark set by Roy Face in the 1960 World Series; it was broken by John Wetteland in 1996.[11] He holds the National League record for career innings pitched in relief (1,436+23), and formerly held the major league record for career relief appearances; his 1,050 career games, all in relief, ranked second in major league history to Hoyt Wilhelm's 1,070 when he retired. Tekulve owns the career records for most appearances and innings pitched without making a single start. In 1986, he broke Roy Face's NL record of 846 career games pitched; he held the record until John Franco passed him in 2004. In August of 1987, he pitched on nine consecutive days, a record for pitchers.[12]

Tekulve holds the record for most career losses without having given up any earned runs, with 12, as well as the record for most intentional walks issued, with 179.[13]


Tekulve with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1977

Tekulve appeared in a 1983 episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood to explain how people play baseball.[14]

Tekulve was a member of the Philadelphia Phillies television broadcast team from 1991 to 1997.[15]

After several years involvement with the Washington Wild Things of the independent Frontier League, Tekulve took a job as the Pittsburgh Pirates' advance scout in 2006.[16]

Tekulve worked for AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh (formerly FSN Pittsburgh and later Root Sports Pittsburgh) and appeared as an analyst after each Pittsburgh Pirates game from 2008 to 2017. However, in the early to mid part of the 2014 Pirates season, he took a hiatus for personal reasons.[17]

Tekulve underwent successful heart transplantation surgery on September 5, 2014, after spending eight months on the transplant list. The surgery was performed at Allegheny General Hospital.[17]

Tekulve threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the National League Wild Card Game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Francisco Giants on October 1, 2014.[18]

Tekulve announced his retirement from broadcasting on September 6, 2017.[19]

See also

  • List of Major League Baseball career games finished leaders
  • List of Pittsburgh Pirates team records


  1. "The Story of Marietta College Baseball". Marietta College Athletics. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  2. "Kent Tekulve 1974 Pitching Game Logs". Retrieved August 17, 2019.
  3. "Kent Tekulve 1978 Pitching Game Logs". Retrieved May 13, 2020.
  4. "Kent Tekulve 1979 Pitching Game Logs". Retrieved May 13, 2020.
  5. "1979 World Series - Pittsburgh Pirates over Baltimore Orioles (4-3)". Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  6. "1980 MLB All-Star Game Roster - Major League Baseball - ESPN". Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  7. "In a trade involving two of baseball's top relief...," United Press International (UPI), Saturday, April 20, 1985. Retrieved January 29, 2023.
  8. "1987 National League Pitching Leaders". Retrieved August 14, 2019.
  9. "Kent Tekulve 1989 Pitching Game Logs". Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  10. "Tekulve, Holder of Reliever Mark, Retires". The New York Times. Associated Press. July 18, 1989. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  11. "Wetteland: Man With The Messy Hat". AP NEWS. Retrieved May 13, 2020.
  12. Schoenfield, David (April 17, 2014). "Pitching four days in a row: A history". Retrieved November 27, 2015.
  13. Siwoff, Seymour (1990). The 1990 Elias Baseball Analyst. Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers. ISBN 9780020287124.
  14. "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood - Games: A Robot Factory". Retrieved August 16, 2019.
  15. Barrist, Adam. "Teke talks". Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  16. Robinson III, Edward G. "Frontier League: Tekulve to lead Wild Things". Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  17. Rotstein, Gary. "Former Pirates pitcher Kent Tekulve recovering from heart transplant". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 27, 2019.
  18. Gentille, Sean (October 1, 2014). "NL wild-card game: After transplant, Kent Tekulve throws first pitch". Retrieved August 20, 2019.
  19. Nesbitt, Stephen J. (September 6, 2017). "Kent Tekulve will sign off at the end of the Pirates season". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
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