One of the best players that the state of South Dakota has produced, Terry Forster was a solid left-handed relief pitcher throughout his career. As a young buck, he and Hall of Famer Goose Gossage gave the White Sox a terrific righty-lefty combo in the bullpen until Paul Richards destroyed it by making both men starters. The two went their separate ways and clashed in two World Series: Gossage with the Yankees and Forster with the Dodgers.
Forster was drafted out of high school by the White Sox in 1970 and a year later he was in the Major Leagues as a 19-year-old. As a rookie, the hard-throwing Forster nearly averaged a strikeout per inning. Skipper Chuck Tanner, who knew how to use fellows like Forster and Gossage, made Terry his closer in 1972. He finished second in the AL with 29 saves on a miniscule 2.25 ERA. Although he narrowly missed averaging a K per inning in ’71, he was able to do so in 1972. Forster fanned 104 men in 100 innings. Forster also missed the bats, indicated by his 0.75 hits allowed her inning of work–better than Hall of Fame peers Rollie Fingers (0.766) and Gossage (0.9).
The White Sox fell in the standings in 1973 and manager Tanner needed some help in the rotation. With Cy Acosta flourishing in the bullpen, Tanner experimented with Terry in the rotation and he completed four games in 12 starts with 16 saves out of the pen. The Chicago rotation gained some stability in 1974 thanks to 20-win seasons from workhorses Wilbur Wood and Jim Kaat. Back in the bullpen fulltime, Terry paced the AL in saves.
When Terry missed a large portion of the ’75 season to injury, Gossage claimed the role of stopper. Chuck Tanner was canned after the ’75 season and his replacement, Paul Richards, made the dubious managerial decision to try both Forster and Gossage as starters. The results were not flattering. Terry went 2-12 and Gossage 9-17. After their poor seasons as starters, they were dealt together to the Pittsburgh Pirates where they played under skipper Chuck Tanner, who knew how to use them, again.
Forster pitched one year for the Pirates before signing a free agent deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers–where he’d enjoy his greatest success. He had his highwater mark for ERA in his first year in LA when he posted a 1.93 mark. The stout southpaw nailed down 22 saves for the Dodgers and helped them reach the postseason. Terry won the deciding game of the NLCS and had a perfect 0.00 ERA in the World Series. A postseason wonder, Terry pitched in eight career postseason contests and never allowed an earned run.
The Dodgers had to resort to a closer-by-committee situation with Forster sidelined by injury in 1979. Injuries persisted in 1980 and limited Terry to just nine games that season. Finally healthy again in the strike shortened 1981 season, Terry helped the Dodgers reach and ultimately win the World Series. After a modest season in 1982, the Dodgers let Terry test the free agent waters and he signed on with the Atlanta Braves. With the ’83 Braves, Forster saved 13 games on a tidy 2.16 ERA.
After the ’83 season, Terry was mainly used as a setupman. He setup for Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter in 1985 and had far superior peripheral numbers to the Cooperstown man. Sutter’s ERA was an unflaterring 4.48 while Terry posted a 2.28 mark. Sutter also surrendered more hits than innings pitched while Forster coughed up 49 safeties in 59 innings of work. Terry pitched one final season at the Major League level with the 1986 California Angels.
W 54/L 65/PCT .454/ERA 3.23/G 614/SV 127/IP 1,106/H 1,034/BB 457/SO 791