Pitching Coach Bob McClure Learned From the Best, Now Passing It on to Phils' Young Pitchers

MILWAUKEE -- Bob McClure had plenty of work to do Saturday as the Phillies prepared to face the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 2 of a three-game set at Miller Park, but Philadelphia's pitching coach needed to take a brief break before Aaron Nola threw his first pitch to handle some personal business.

McClure crossed the field to join his 1982 Milwaukee Brewers teammates as they were honored on the 35th anniversary of that franchise's first - and to this date - only World Series appearance.

"A lot of the guys have been to the reunions in the past but I've either been playing or coaching so this is the first one I've been able to go to," McClure said. "It's very exciting to see these guys because a lot of them were my mentors."

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McClure was 30 years old and already had seven seasons under his belt when the '82 campaign got underway. He started 26 games for the Brewers that season and went 12-7 with a 4.22 ERA in 34 overall appearances, moving to the bullpen later in the season after closer Rollie Fingers suffered an arm injury and the team acquired Don Sutton in August to bolster the rotation.

He was on the mound for the final outs of the regular season as Milwaukee beat the Orioles to clinch the AL East crown and made six postseason appearances in the ALCS and World Series, going 1-2 with a pair of saves and a 3.00 ERA in six innings of work.

McClure pitched 11 more seasons in the big leagues finishing with a 68-37 record and 3.81 ERA in 698 career appearances; success he attributes to the lessons he learned while playing alongside the likes of Fingers, Sutton and other talented pitchers like Mike Caldwell, Pete Vukovich and Jim Slaton.

"(Caldwell) took me under his wing," McClure said. "I'd watch him pitch - a guy who went 22-9 one year with 20-some complete games. I like I had better stuff, but he'd have better results. I'd talk to him about it. He'd rarely pitch above the knees. He could pitch you in, he could pitch you away, but he kept the ball down so well. It was really him teaching me how to command the baseball and the idea of command over velocity. I wasn't very good at it, but it helped me a lot. 

"Caldwell and Vukovich were two of the most competitive guys I'd ever see take the mound and (catcher) Ted Simmons was the overall mentor to all of us. He helped our team learn how to win. It sounds basic but when you have a group of talented guys who hadn't put it together, getting a guy like Ted Simmons kind of got everyone on the same page to play together and win games as a unit."

After his career came to an end in the 1993 season, McClure joined the coaching ranks, first with the Colorado Rockies from 1999-2005 then joined the Royals, who fired him after the 2011 season. 

He spent less than one season in the Red Sox organization and signed on as the Phillies' pitching coach in November 2013.

In Philadelphia, McClure has plenty of young talent to work with. Along with Nola, the franchise has high hopes for Jerad Eickhoff and Nick Pivetta. As McClure helps those players get their careers going, he tries to pass along the lessons he learned while in Milwaukee.

"It can be trying at times but I try to look back on how long it took me," McClure said. "It took me three years before I even started to realize who I was or what I could do. The most satisfying thing for me is seeing guys understand mentally where they're at, what they can do, what they can't do so they start to know themselves."

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