Sunday, March 26, 2023

Forsch Brothers

Imagine this:
You and your younger brother grow up in the 1950s and 60s playing baseball as often as you can. Dad played semipro, which only helps fuel the fire. By the time 1968 rolls around, your talents get both of you noticed by scouts and selected in the MLB Amateur Draft. You go in the 18th round to the Houston Astros for your pitching prowess, and younger brother Bob—all of 18 years old—goes in the 26th round to the Cardinals as potential position player and pitcher.
For mom and dad, who nurtured your baseball instincts to the point where they built a baseball field behind the house in rural California, it must have been an incredible day.

You make the majors just a couple of years later, in 1970. As for brother Bob, he's still spending time in the minors. Scouts during the draft had pegged him to be a decent hitter and fielder, and although he was handling the field alright, he wasn't hitting very well. In 1971 a farm director for the Cardinals thought to switch him to pitcher exclusively, and Bob soon after began to prove that hunch right.

In Houston, though, you're having a tough time finding a role on the pitching staff. You were a starter for your first two seasons, then a reliever for the next few. You did a fine job in relief and didn't complain. In fact, you relieve so well in 1976 that you're chosen to represent the Astros in the All-Star game. But you really want to be a starter.

Meanwhile, back in St. Louis, your younger brother Bob is finding his rhythm as a pitcher—and not only that, but as a starter. In 1975 he goes 15–10 with a 2.86 ERA, 7 complete games, and 4 shutouts over 230 innings pitched. In 1977 he has an even better record, going 207. Then on April 16, 1978, he hits a big milestone: He pitches a no-hitter.
It's around this time that Houston decides to place you back in the starter role. Good thing they did.
On April 7, 1979, about a year after brother Bob's no-hitter, your very first start of the season is in jeopardy due to some sort of insect bite that has swollen up your non-pitching elbow pretty badly. But you go out and pitch anyway, pushing through it. You retire the first three batters without much issue, and then in the bottom of that first inning, your guys put up a couple of runs. Turns out that's all the run support you'd need.

Through the 8th inning you pitch a fantastic game, generating a bunch of groundouts, flyouts, and a few strikeouts. And when you get Rowland Office, Jerry Royster, and Glenn Hubbard all to ground out in the top of the 9th, you've done it. You've got a no-hitter!
Not only is it the earliest no-hitter of the year that's ever been pitched in Major League Baseball, it also makes you and Bob the first brothers to both pitch a no-hitter. (It's a feat that the brothers hold alone to this day.)
Afterward, you receive a telegram. It reads: “Congratulations on your no-hitter. I know how it feels. Enjoy every minute of it. Your Little Brother.”
Can't beat that.
Here's Bob and Ken the very next year on their 1980 Topps cards, enjoying a sunny day at the ballpark.
1980 Topps #535 Bob Forsch and #642 Ken Forsch


And here are the career totals for both brothers:



(16 seasons)


(16 seasons)





























Bob was a 1982 World Series champion with the St. Louis Cardinals. As for that potential he had as a hitter? Well, he's a 2x Silver Slugger award winner at the pitcher position. Impressively, he's got a career .213 batting average (.213/.235/.321), and put up a total of 190 hits, 45 doubles, 8 triples, 13 home runs, and 84 RBI. In 1975 he batted .308 (24-for-78, wow!) with 3 doubles, 3 triples, and a home run. Over his career he played for St. Louis and Houston. His best year could have been 1977, when he posted a 20-7 record, 8 complete games, a 3.48 ERA, 217.1 innings pitched, 95 strikeouts, 69 walks, and 2 shutouts.

Ken was a 2x All Star (1976 and 1981). He suited up for the Houston Astros and the California Angels. Because he split his career between starter and reliever, it's hard to choose his best year. As a reliever, it was 1976, when he was selected for the All-Star game, put up a 4–3 record, a 2.15 ERA, and totaled 19 saves. As a starter, it might have been 1981, his first season after being traded to California. He was again an All-Star, and went 11-7 with a 2.88 ERA, 10 complete games, and 4 shoutouts (led league).
So here's to the Forsch brothers. Two pretty solid pitching careers, and a brotherly record that still stands, almost 45 years later!


  1. I've heard of them, I never thought of putting in the research to learn about them. My grandfather and his brother both played professionally in the Yankees minor league system during the late 60's. Never played on the same team. Future custom card I want to contact you about in the coming months... 😁

    1. Pretty cool family baseball history you've got there, TwinKiller! It's been super-busy here, but feel free to email me about the custom card idea.

  2. I grew up collecting their cards (Bob Forsch's rookie card is in the '75 set). Bob died too young and since I connect the brothers in my mind, I catch myself thinking Ken has passed, too, but he's still going!

    1. I didn't realize Bob's rookie card was in the '75 set. Nice-lookin' card.

  3. Great post. Wasn't too familiar with Ken (until this post)... but I knew the two were brothers. I remember Bob, because it was fun to follow the 80's Cardinals. They were always one of those teams I liked to track and quietly root for.

    1. Thanks, Fuji! Those '80s Cardinals teams were fun to watch, for sure. I'm still surprised they didn't win more championships during that decade. (Although they came awfully close a couple of times.)

  4. Great post! I wonder how many times they faced each other in the NL West.

    1. Oops, the Cards were in the *east* (of course) I should have just said "NL"

    2. It's a good question regardless, Chris!

  5. I knew of Ken, but didn't know that there was a brother, Bob. I guess I do now though!