The Press Pass: Luis Tiant 4-17-20

In an interview with Chris Ryan, Luis Tiant, El Tiante, the legendary pitcher for the Red Sox and five other major league teams over a nineteen-year career, opens up about a wide range of topics. During his playing days, Tiant was known for his flamboyant, distinctive pitching style which involved head bobbing, turning his back to the batter, and throwing from an assortment of arm angles.

The Cuban born, only child of a star pitcher in the Negro League, has Hall of Fame worthy credentials–a 3.30 ERA, a 229-172 record while playing for some terrible teams, 2,416 strikeouts, a 3 time All Star, and a 4-time 20 game winner. However, he has over the years fallen short of the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s required number of votes. He has been inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame.

Luis Tiant is not one to hold back. In the interview, he even discusses his opinion about the importance of abiding by social distancing and the other recommended practices during the Coronavirus pandemic. Tiant put it rather bluntly when he said, “We have two choices: Do what they’re telling us to do or be dead.”

In 2019, Luis Tiant’s second autobiography, Son of Havana: A Baseball Journey from Cuba to the Big Leagues and Back, was published. During the interview, Tiant reflected on many of the topics which were discussed in the book, like the racial tensions in Boston during the bussing riots in 1975. He speaks bluntly about being treated one way when people saw a dark skinned, Latino and how their attitudes would change 180ᵒ to love when they realized that he was a pitcher on the Red Sox. He related the obstacles in buying a home in the Boston area.

A powerful influence on Luis Tiant was his father, Luis Tiant Sr., who had a long successful career in the Negro Leagues before the Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball. El Tiante discusses his father’s advice about life in general and about racism in America.

When he was a young man, Tiant had been a power pitcher with a fastball in the high 90s. In the interview, he discusses how he developed his unique, deceptive pitching style using changing of speeds and guile to get outs. El Tiante also has some opinions about the current obsession in baseball about pitch counts, velocity and computer-generated statistics. Tiant pitched an amazing 187 complete games and 49 shutouts, and he gives lots of great advice to young pitchers.

In the last part of the interview, Luis addressed whether his uniform #23 should be retired by the Red Sox and whether he should be accepted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. He is very happy with how he has been treated by the Red Sox organization over the years, and he understands that the team is constantly dealing with lots of day to day decisions besides whether to retire his number. However, the 79-year-old Tiant points out that he has better numbers than 21 pitchers which the Hall of Fame has inducted. He has no interest in being inducted after his death, and he has instructed his family of this fact. If he is ever inducted, he wants to enjoy it with his family and teammates.