1993 Finest Refractors: It’s All Mental for Control Artist Bob Tewksbury

Here’s a tough common card for the Refractor set: #193 Bob Tewksbury. The card likely isn’t any more scarce than other examples from the set, though it did get a short print designation in hobby publications. The grading companies have seen fewer examples of this card than most others, though this may be the result of collectors considering the card to be a common rather than a more popular star player. PSA has reviewed 90 copies, of which only 31 have been graded in the past 15 years. Phil Gold’s collection reportedly had 8 Tewksbury cards. Regardless, this is a card that can be a bit tough to locate when completing a set.

So how is it that a pitcher made it into Topps Finest with opponents batting .280 against him? The answer is that was about the only way they would get on base. Bob Tewksbury was a control artist in every sense of the phrase. He walked less than 300 batters over the course of a 1,802 inning career. This is the fifth best ratio of walks to innings pitched for a starter in the last 100 years and easily the best in modern times.

He credits his pitching success to mental planning. He would stay loose drawing caricatures of fellow players. Tewksbury’s fastball rarely left the 80s, so he relied on changing speeds and spotting breaking balls where he wanted them. One of his signature moments featured a 1997 game in which he twice got Mark McGwire out on sub-50 mph eephus pitches.

Today Tewksbury provides mental consulting services and wrote a book on the subject. He doesn’t enjoy watching baseball, feeling modern pitchers do not approach their craft with enough thought. Sounds like a temperamental control artist.