In this episode of RRA, we take a look at a little used relief pitcher from the early to mid 80's, Mark Ross. Mark was the Astros 7th round pick in 1979 out of Texas A&M where he was a two-time all SWC pitcher.
After a moderate amount of success in the minors, Mark made his major league debut September 12, 1982 against the Dodgers, coming in to pitch the 8th and 9th innings and giving up two hits and one run with one strikeout in a 7-3 loss to L.A. He would finish his cup of coffee with a 1.50 ERA in six innings across four games with four strikeouts and no walks.
After spending all of 1983 on the farm Mark would get a couple refills on that cup in 1984, when he pitched in just two games, and 1985, when he made 12 appearances. His Astros career spanned three seasons of short call-ups, totaling 21.1 innings in 14 games. Mark compiled a 1-2 record with one save, eight strikeouts, two walks, and a 3.38 ERA.
It's tempting to say the highlight of his brief Astros career would be either his one win or his one save, but let's look at things a little differently. On September 22, 1982, Mark came in for Frank DiPino the top of the sixth against Atlanta with the Braves leading 2-1. Facing the heart of the lineup against a Joe Torre led Braves team that would win the NL West that year, Mark pitched two scoreless innings, inducing six ground-outs while allowing just one single. With Mark holding the line the Astros were able to regroup for a comeback victory as they scored two runs after Ross left the game.
Mark's transactional history is interesting, as he's listed as having been sent to the Cardinals as part of a conditional deal in December of 1985, but was returned to the Astros in March of 1986. Essentially he spent his winter break in St. Louis. After spending the 1986 season in Tucson, Mark was granted free agency by the Astros. He would get a few more innings in the majors with the Pirates and Blue Jays before hanging up his spikes following the 1991 season.
Strangely, Mark's early ups and downs with the Astros were tied to J.R. Richard as Richard was attempting his comeback from the 1980 stroke that struck him down as he was entering his prime. Prior to the 1982 season they were optioned to the minor leagues the same day. Then, he and Richard were called up the same day that September.
Mark has recently been a part of the Astros scouting organization as West Coast Supervisor.