Rick Auerbach has developed into one of the elite amateur bowlers in the Los Angeles area, blasting five perfect games and an 818 series.
It should come as no surprise that Auerbach was an instant hit when he picked up bowling about seven years ago because he has an athletic past.
Auerbach was a star athlete at Taft High School in Woodland Hills and he went on to compile an 11-year major league career that spanned from 1971 to 1981.
Auerbach played his first season in 1971 with the Milwaukee Brewers and got his first start against a pitcher who went 24-8 that year and earned the American League’s Cy Young and most valuable player awards for the Oakland A’s.
“I remember I broke into [major league] baseball against Vida Blue,” said the right-hand-hitting Auerbach, a Woodland Hills resident. “My first four at-bats were against him and I went oh-for-four. Two of my outs were fly balls to the warning track.
“My legs were shaking,” he added, laughing.
“Then years later, I hit a home run off him. So I went oh-for-4 against him, but I got him later.”
Auerbach’s homer off Blue came April 22, 1978 when Auerbach was a utility infielder for the Big Red Machine Cincinnati Reds. The left-handed Blue was then pitching for the San Francisco Giants and he hadn’t slacked off much from his 1971 season when he shut down Auerbach.
Blue went 18-10 in 1978 and was named the Sporting News' National League’s pitcher of the year.