Astros in the Sky
Born: Jun 28, 1936
The Michigan native signed with the local Detroit Tigers and played in six seasons with them. Unfortunately for him, he was dealt to the Astros as the player to be named later when the Tigers acquired Eddie Mathews for the 1967 pennant stretch. When Detroit won the World Series in 1968, Gladding could only watch on television.
Gladding settled into the closer role in the Astros' bullpen and posted a 22-23 record with 76 saves and a 3.68 ERA over six years in Houston. Although saves were just emerging as a stat in 1969, Gladding led the National League in the department with 29.
Nicknamed "Fat Freddy Flintstone" for his round belly, Gladding had gone oh-for-the-decade when he blooped an RBI single against the Mets on July 30, 1969. It came, however, in the same game when fellow pitcher Larry Dierker homered off Nolan Ryan and Gladding ribbed the younger Dierker about upstaging him. It was the only hit of Gladding's career, finishing with an .016 career batting average.
After hanging up his spikes, Gladding coached 22 seasons for Detroit, Houston, and Cleveland.
Gladding passed away in Columbia, SC on May 21, 2015 at age 78.