While the prior year of 1971 saw major changes for the Philadelphia Phillies with the move into brand new Veterans Stadium, the 1972 campaign was also a key season of change.
In 1972 the Phillies really began moving towards the team that would become a major contender later in the decade. A trade for Steve Carlton just prior to the season. The first full season for 21-year-old left fielder Greg Luzinski. The first-ever big-league appearances for 24-year-old catcher Bob Boone and a 22-year-old third baseman named Mike Schmidt.
On the pitching staff, only Carlton and 24-year-old right-hander Wayne Twitchell were the only arms that would last with the team into those contending seasons.
Also on the staff and, like Boone and Schmidt, making his big-league debut was a 27-year-old righty born in Trenton, New Jersey named Bob Terlecki. He had been signed by the Chicago Cubs back in 1964 as an amateur free agent out of Notre Dame High School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and the Cubs dealt him to the Phillies in June 1967.
Terlecki won 26 games with Double-A Reading between the 1970 and 1971 seasons, then went 8-6 with a 4.34 ERA over 37 games, 19 of those starts, with Triple-A Eugene in 1972. At age 27 and with all that minor league experience under his belt the Phillies called him up in mid-August.
Paul Owens had come down from the front office and his GM duties on firing former manager Frank Lucchesi just a month earlier. Owens wanted to evaluate the young players who would become the centerpiece of his rebuilding plan first-hand.
On August 16, 1972, Owens got his first look at Terlecki in relief during a game at The Vet in which the Phillies were trailing the tough ‘Big Red Machine’ of Cincinnati by 3-2 in the top of the 5th inning.
Terlecki began his big-league career by facing a pair of future Hall of Famers. He walked Johnny Bench to lead things off and then surrendered a double by Tony Perez to center field. The next batter, Dennis Menke, scored Bench with a sacrifice fly. But Terlecki would work his way out of the inning without allowing anything further, and ended the frame with his first strikeout in Major League Baseball, getting Reds’ catcher Bill Plummer (Bench was playing right field.)
In the top of the 6th inning, Terlecki shut the Reds down without scoring. He faced two more stars in the middle of that frame, yielding a single to Pete Rose and retiring Joe Morgan on a bunt back to the mound.
Terlecki was allowed by Owens to go out for the top of the 7th but would not record an out. Bench started it with a double, and then Perez victimized him once again, this time with a two-run homer to up the Cincy lead to a 6-2 margin.
When Menke followed with a single, Owens had seen enough, making a double-switch with Dick Selma taking the mound and Terry Harmon taking over for Don Money at third base, batting in Terlecki’s spot of the order which was due up second in the bottom of the inning.
Terlecki would be used in three more games over the final week of August, make four appearances during September, and then take the mound for what would prove to be the final time in the big-leagues on October 1, 1972 at Montreal.
The final line for that 1972 season and for his Phillies and MLB career was as follows: no decisions, 4.73 ERA, 1.950 WHIP, 16 hits over 13.1 innings across nine games, all in relief. He struck out five and walked 10 opposing batters.
Terlecki spent the 1973 season back at Double-A Reading for his final 33 appearances in relief. He was hit hard that year and would retire following that season at age 28.