100 Days of Kansas City-area Olympians: Chuck Dobson, baseball

Chuck Dobson.jpg
Pat Friday, George Bosworth, Rich Joyce, ken Raymond Suarez, Chuck Dobson
Posted at 7:00 AM, Apr 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-26 16:15:01-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Technically, baseball wasn’t an Olympic sport in 1964.

But a team of U.S. college players did beat a team of Japanese student players in front of 50,000 fans at Meiji Jungu Baseball Stadium during the 1964 Tokyo Games, which were the first Olympics staged in Asia, as part of a demonstration game.

One of the pitchers for the U.S. was Kansas City, Missouri, native and University of Kansas graduate Chuck Dobson, who went on to play nine big-league seasons — and turned out to be a social pioneer as well as an accidental whistleblower.

Dobson, who graduated from since-closed De La Salle High School, became the first player in history to make his major-league debut in his team’s home opener in the state where he was born on April 19, 1966, with the Kansas City A’s.

He earned the win against the Minnesota Twins, allowing two runs on five hits with six walks and five strikeouts in 5.2 innings that day.

Dobson spent seven of the next eight seasons with the A’s, who moved to Oakland after the 1967 season.

He missed the 1972 season with an elbow injury before returning for his final season with the A’s.

Dobson capped his MLB career with two seasons playing for the California Angels. He went 74-69 overall with a 3.78 ERA in 202 career games, including 190 starts.

During the 1970 season, Dobson led the big leagues with five shutouts and led the American League with 40 starts.

He won at least 10 games each season from 1967-1971, including at least 15 wins a year during the final three seasons.

Dobson “broke a longstanding tradition by becoming one of the first white players in major-league history to room with an African American on the road” in 1968, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.

After having trouble with his original roommate, Dobson started staying in the same room with Reggie Jackson, who was in the second season of a Hall of Fame career.

Dobson also became the first active player to admit to taking "greenies," a type of amphetamine, on game days. While the use was widespread and touched off an early of the game dogged by substance-abuse allegations, he was pressured into retracting his statements publicly by MLB officials.

The Kansas City region has a deep, rich history with respect to the Olympic Games. As the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games approach with the Opening Ceremony scheduled for July 23, we will profile an athlete with ties to Kansas City, Missouri or Kansas each day.

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