God vs. Devil: A Baseball Story

Jim Gott was born in Hollywood, California and was an imposing figure on the mound at 6’4” and 215 pounds, accentuated by a no-nonsense countenance and sweet horseshoe mustache. He was pretty much the man you’d call from central casting to play God in a 1980s baseball movie. So it is certainly no coincidence that Gott’s last name in German translates to “God.”

Tim Teufel was born in Greenwich, Connecticut, the son of a carpenter. He was a strapping infielder with power that belied his 6’0” 175-pound frame. Just the kind of player who might sell his soul to the devil, just to have an opportunity to play Major League Baseball. So it is certainly no coincidence that Teufel’s last name in German translates to “devil.”

In 1983, Tim Teufel made the International League a living hell for opposing pitchers. He hit .323/.437/.577 for the Toledo Mud Hens, while adding 27 home runs, 100 runs batted in, and drawing 102 walks. For this effort, he was named league MVP and called up to the Twins for September. He would never play in the minor leagues again.

In 1983, Jim Gott was in the second season of his Major League career and started a career-high 30 games for the Blue Jays that season. He finished his campaign 9-14 with a 4.74 ERA and 1.489 WHIP.

On September 16, 1983, Gott was slotted to take the mound against the Twins in Minnesota. Teufel was at second base for the Twins and batting leadoff. After a quiet top of the first for Toronto, it was time for the baseball battle of the ages. As Teufel approached the plate, a crack of thunder clapped ominously from the cloudless sky. Woodland animals scurried for cover. Good versus evil. God versus the devil.

Good versus evil. God versus the devil.

Gott looked in for the sign and nodded his approval. He delivered the pitch with a deified might. Teufel swung and connected, a mighty thwack! Gott looked up to the heavens and watched the ball sail into the Metrodome stands. Tim Teufel had just clobbered his first Major League home run off of none other than Jim Gott.

Teufel faced Gott another ten times over the course of his career but was only able to muster a lone single and pair of walks. His career batting average against Gott was .222, exactly three times less than the .666 to which he aspired.

Both Teufel and Gott had lengthy Major League careers. Teufel was a member of the World Champion 1986 Mets and hit .444 in the World Series, with a home run. Gott never saw post-season action, despite 14 big league seasons. He would finish his career with a respectable 3.87 ERA over 1120 innings pitched.

So who prevailed in the final analysis? It is up to you to decide.

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