Next on our list of forgotten Brewers pitchers is William "Bill" Travers. Travers started 157 games for the Brewers from 1974 to 1980, good for ninth place on the all-time list. Travers’ best year for Milwaukee was 1976 when he went 15-16 with a 2.81 ERA, 1.275 WHIP and 4.06 FIP. Travers started 34 games that year and completed 15 of them, throwing 240 innings. His performance earned him a spot on the 1976 All-Star team but he did not make an appearance. Despite losing 7-1, the American League used just four pitchers in the ’76 Midsummer Classic—Mark Fidrych, Catfish Hunter, Luis Tiant and Frank Tanana.
In his seven seasons with Milwaukee, Travers compiled a record of 65-67, 3.99 ERA, 1.366 WHIP and an 8.2 WAR (Baseball Reference). He threw 1068.1 innings, despite spending parts of the 1974 and 1975 seasons in Triple A, Sacramento. His 65 wins make him the eighth winningest pitcher in Brewers history.
Born October 27, 1952 in Norwood, Massachusetts, Travers was just 17 years old when he was drafted in the sixth round of the 1970 draft by the Brewers. Travers suffered from arm problems for most of his career and had surgery twice before being called up to the big leagues. An October 1976 Baseball Digest article called Travers "the bionic pitcher" because of his surgeries and mentioned that his second surgery cost $400. In the article, Travers credited the development of a forkball to go along with his fastball, change-up and curve, for his success in 1976. The left hander developed the fork ball while playing winter ball in Puerto Rico for Harvey Kuenn. Brewer catcher Darrell Porter compared his fork ball to a faster version of the knuckle ball.
After going 12-6 with a 3.91 ERA and 1.257 WHIP in 1980, Travers was granted free agency and he signed a four-year deal with the California Angels. While with the Angels, his arm troubles continued. He missed much of the 1981 season and sat out all of the 1982 season. He began the ’83 season in Triple A Edmonton. He appeared in 10 games for the Angels and pitched just 42.2 innings before being released on July 19, 1983. Travers' exit from baseball at the age of 30 has caused some to speculate that he was overused early in his career.
The oddest little tidbit I could find about Bill Travers is that after his baseball career he became a professional candlepin bowler. Currently, he serves as the coach of the Foxboro (MA) American Legion Post 93 baseball team.
Bill Travers, you are no longer forgotten.