Former pitcher Bob Welch dies at 57

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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Bob Welch, the 1990 AL Cy Young Award winner with the Athletics and the last major leaguer to win at least 25 games in a season, has died. He was 57.

Welch died Monday night at his home in Seal Beach, California, the team said Tuesday. Police said officers responded to a call for medical aid and found Welch dead in the bathroom area when they arrived. An autopsy was conducted and the cause of death is pending.

In addition to his time with the A's, Welch spent 10 seasons with the  Los Angeles Dodgers, who said in a statement Tuesday that the former pitcher suffered a heart attack. Police still have not officially confirmed the cause of death.

Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire was a teammate of Welch's in Oakland and talked Tuesday about his competitive fire.

"I wish there were more teammates like him throughout the game today. He was a fierce competitor," McGwire said. "Dave Duncan deserves a lot of credit for what he did with him going into that Cy Young season, because he had an ERA of, like, 100 in spring training and it just goes to show you what happens when the bell rings and a light bulb goes on and he wins, what, 27 games? I don't think there was a player who knew him who didn't care for him."

Welch was an admitted alcoholic early in his career and spent time in rehabilitation. He later co-authored a book about his addiction, titled "Five O'Clock Comes Early: A Ballplayer's Battle With Alcoholism," in 1981 with George Vecsey.

"The fact is, I'm crazy when I'm drunk," Welch said in the book. "There's every chance I would have been dead by now if I was drinking."

Welch played on five teams that reached the World Series (in 1978, 1981, 1988, 1989 and 1990) and won two titles, one in 1981 with the Dodgers and another in 1989 with the A's.

Welch will be remembered most in Oakland, where he was a prominent member of the A's teams that won three straight AL championships from 1988 to 1990, including the club that swept the San Francisco Giants in the earthquake-interrupted World Series.

"He was a legendary pitcher who enjoyed many of his best seasons with the Oakland A's," A's president Michael Crowley said in a statement. "He will always be a significant part of our franchise's history."

Welch finished 211-146 with a 3.47 ERA in 17 seasons with the Dodgers (1978-87) and Athletics (1988-94). He also was the pitching coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks when they won the 2001 World Series and has served as a special instructor for the A's in recent years.

"This is a sad day for the entire A's organization," general manager Billy Beane said. "Those of us who knew Bob as a teammate and a friend will miss him greatly."

Welch was drafted in the first round by the Dodgers in 1977 out of Eastern Michigan. His most memorable moment for Los Angeles might've been in the 1978 World Series, when the 21-year-old rookie struck out Yankees slugger Reggie Jackson to end Game 2.

"I was stone sober, too," Welch said in the book. "I hadn't gotten around to drinking before a game, particularly a World Series game -- although, given time, I would have."

Welch won the AL Cy Young Award after going 27-6 with a 2.95 ERA in 1990. His 27 wins tied him with Steve Carlton in 1972 for the most in a single season since Denny McLain's 31 victories in 1968.

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