Every Philadelphia Phillies fan knows about Steve Carlton, the Baseball Hall of Fame and Phillies Wall of Famer who stands as the greatest pitcher in franchise history.
Between 1972 and 1986, “Lefty” won 241 games and struck out 3,031 opposing batters in a Phillies uniform while winning four National League Cy Young Awards and helping capture the franchise’ first-ever World Series championship in 1980.
But what you may not be aware of is that Carlton had a son who also pitched professionally. Scott Carlton had a six-game stint with Spartanburg in the Phillies’ farm system in the 1991 season.
The younger Carlton was a switch-hitter but, like his famous father, a left-handed pitcher. He was originally signed by the Saint Louis Cardinals out of Mesa Community College in 1988, just as his dad had been nearly a quarter-century earlier. Released by the Cards in 1990, Scott was then given a surprise shot by the Phillies organization.
“I asked Darren Daulton to use his uniform pants (a dear friend). I threw in the right field bullpen for 25 minutes. I was hitting high 80’s. Walking back to the dugout Tugger (Phillies Wall of Famer Tug McGraw) playfully yelled at me asking why my left knee wasn’t dirty! Another dear friend I lost.”
Carlton left the ceremony and the city without a contract offer from the team. But a month later he received a letter inviting him to attend spring training the following year.
He showed enough in that 1991 audition to be assigned to Spartanburg in the A-level Sally League. “Just making a team and breaking camp is a memory I will always cherish.”
Carlton’s half-dozen games with Spartanburg didn’t work out. He allowed 10 hits and 12 earned runs over 10 innings pitched with a 10/11 K:BB ratio, producing a 10.80 ERA and 2.100 WHIP mark. “After being released I hung em up and moved on.”
It’s not easy following in the footsteps of a legend. But Scott Carlton took his shot and went further with it than most ballplayers ever get to experience.
After moving on from his playing career, Carlton managed his father’s public appearances as president of Game Winner Sports, which has since moved to its current home as the official SteveCarlton.com website.
He has also done radio and emcee work and made a number of appearances on ESPN discussing baseball and his dad. He even got to briefly appear in a non-speaking role as the catcher for his father, who was pitching to the character of Al Bundy in a 1988 episode of the “Married… with Children” sitcom on the Fox network.
Carlton has also spent time coaching kid pitchers, helping grow the game for the next generation of youngsters who hope to one day get their own shot at the big-leagues.