Charley Kerfeld: the Astros' "Blithe Spirit"
Charley Kerfeld: the Astros' "Blithe Spirit"

Like Gerald Young and John Hudek, Charley Kerfeld is considered in Astro context mostly for the one shining year he had as a newcomer to the major league club, and only secondarily for the years that followed, years that were a disappointment taken in any context, but especially given the spectacular debuts they each had.
Kerfeld was drafted number one in the secondary phase of the 1982 draft, and both his first year at Asheville, and his second at Columbus, were characterized by sub 3.00 ERA's and 10+ wins. He led the 1983 Sally League in wins, complete games, and innings pitched, while finishing second in strikeouts, earning Pitcher of the Year honors. If the ERA at Tuscon in 1985 wasn't what people might have hoped, the fact that he was at AAA at all (and got a July call-up to boot) in only his third pro season was remarkable.

Kerfeld made the Astros out of spring training in '86; his 11 - 2 record and his 2.59 ERA that year were stellar, no doubt, but mostly the guy made news because, maybe other than Bo Belinsky, the Astros had never quite seen someone quite so free-spirited as Kerfeld. Charley told anybody who'd listen about punk rock and slamdancing and there was always the Jetsons T-shirt below the uniform. Meanwhile, he led the National League in won-loss percentage and finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year balloting. Kerfeld capped his season by pitching four innings and giving up a run in the NLCS. He took the loss in game five when Gary Carter slapped Kerfeld's twelfth-inning pitch for a single, scoring Wally Backman, after Fred Brocklander had forced extra innings.

Kerfeld began 1987 with the Astros again, but was sent to Tuscon on April 26 after 11 games with an 0 - 2 record and a 9.24 ERA. He went 4 - 4 at Tuscon with a 4.74, and was briefly recalled to Houston before going on the DL for two months with calcium deposits in his elbow. He pitched three games in late September with good result to close 1987 out. . .

And that was basically it. Kerfeld, battling elbow, neck and weight problems pitched at AA Columbus in '88 and at Single A Osceola in 1989 , before making the Astros out of spring training in 1990, and appearing in five games, going 0 - 2. His last game for the Astros was April 19, 1990, where he pitched an inning in relief of loser Mike Scott. Ten days later, Kerfeld was traded to the Braves for outfielder Kevin Dean and pitcher Lee Johnson. He exited Houston with a great deal of class as I recall, making some public statements that reflected well upon Astros management and fans.

Jose Cano and Kerfeld enjoy a chew during a Toro game in '87

1985 Cramer Tuscon Toros # 73
1986 Donruss The Rookies # 6
1986 Miller Lite # 11
1987 Toys R Us # 15
1989 ProCards Tuscon Toros # 188