Al Hrabosky, aka, The Mad Hungarian, was one of the most intimidating MLB relief pitchers in the 1970s, and it started before he ever threw a pitch. Hrabosky pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, and Atlanta Braves, before retiring in 1982. Where is Al Hrabosky today?
Al Hrabosky transforms into The Mad Hungarian
Al Hrabosky was drafted in the first round of the 1969 MLB draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. Less than a year after he was drafted, the 20-year-old Hrabosky made his MLB debut, where he pitched a scoreless inning of relief against the San Diego Padres.
However, those first few seasons in the big leagues, Hrabosky saw limited action. In 1974, when Hrabosky learned he might be returning to the minors, he decided in order to avoid that fate he needed better focus each time he took the mound. That’s when he came up with a self-psych routine that would allow him to concentrate on each batter.
The routine, which he said included visualization of upcoming pitches to the next batter, started the moment he stepped on to the mound. Hrabosky would turn his back to the batter, look to center field, and walk toward second base. He’d stop, rub the ball firmly, take a deep breath, and slam the ball into his glove. Once the ball hit his mitt, he immediately turned and stormed back to the mound, where he would stare down the batter.
The routine worked and, in 1975, Hrabosky led the National League with 22 saves. He was named the Sporting News NL Fireman of the Year given each season to the top relief pitcher. He finished his 13-year career with 97 saves and a 3.01 ERA.
Confrontation on and off the field
While the Hungarian in Hrabosky’s nickname referred to his heritage, the 5-foot-11-inch pitcher perfectly played the role of a madman with his menacing-looking Fu Manchu mustache coupled with his antics behind the mound and aggressive pitching once he stepped on the mound. There are numerous YouTube videos where Hrabosky gets in fights with the opposing team’s hitter, and the smaller Hrabosky never backed away from the conflict.
There are other videos of Al Hrabosky confrontations, including one with a local news reporter, as well as a hilarious one where Hrabosky and an umpire get into a disagreement and end up throwing multiple balls back and forth to each other.
One of his lesser publicized disputes came in 1977 when Vern Rapp became the Cardinals manager. Rapp had a strict no-facial hair policy that upset multiple players. Hrabosky initially challenged the manager on his position saying it would affect his persona and effectiveness. Eventually, he relented and shaved. Hrabosky had one of his worst seasons on the mound. The following season the Cardinals shipped Hrabosky to the Kansas City Royals and fired Rapp.
Where is Al Hrabosky today?
Al Hrabosky played his last season with the Atlanta Braves in 1982. He didn’t stay out of baseball long. Two years later, Hrabosky started working with a regional sports channel, and in 1985, he began broadcasting St. Louis Cardinals games on radio and television.
For the next decade, Hrabosky served as a broadcaster for Cardinals games on various television networks. Since 1996, he has provided play-by-play and color commentary on St. Louis games for Fox Sports Midwest.
Away from the booth, Hrabosky is a motivational speaker and active in many charities, including the St. Louis Zoo, Angel Arms and FOX Sports Midwest’s work with The Mission Continues. Hrabosky and his now-white Fu Manchu mustache, and wife, June, live in St. Louis.