Robert A. Butkus '66

Robert A. Butkus '66

In the College’s 130-year history of baseball, no pitcher has eclipsed the excellence exhibited by Bob Butkus over a three-year stretch in the mid- 1960s. Generally recognized as one of the top pitchers in collegiate baseball at the time, Butkus was the ace hurler on the 1966 squad that coach Danny MacFayden considered his finest, and he anchored one of the best-ever pitching rotations in the annals of small-college ball.

Already a well-known athlete upon his arrival at Bowdoin, Butkus had earned several honors at Boston Latin and played in the prestigous Cape Cod League while still in high school. As per collegiate rules at the time, Butkus had to sit out his freshman season, setting the stage for a breakout sophomore campaign.

He immediately became one of three starters for the Polar Bear nine, making four appearances and posting a 2-1 record with a 3.21 earned run average, as Bowdoin finished 9-4 overall. In 19 plate appearances, he batted .474 and was second on the team with eight runs scored. As a junior, he earned a 4-3 record with a 2.58 ERA, allowing just 14 earned runs in 52 innings with 30 strikeouts and just seven walks. While not on the mound, Butkus was a staple in center field, and his batting record was .281 with 12 runs batted in for the season.

As a co-captain of the 1966 team, Butkus posted one of the finest all-around seasons in Bowdoin baseball history. At the plate, he hit .264 in a team-high 72 at-bats, scoring 10 runs and earning nine RBIs. But it was on the hill that he shone. Pacing a team that went 14-4 (the top winning percentage in school history), Butkus set single-season marks with seven wins (7-2 overall), most innings pitched (78), complete games (6), and a microscopic 0.92 ERA.

The 0.92 clip ranked fifth in all of collegiate baseball in 1966 and still stands as a school record more than 40 years later. Led by Butkus, the Bowdoin team compiled a team ERA of 1.26 to lead all college baseball teams by nearly half a run. For his efforts, Butkus was named Second-Team All-American by the American Association of College Baseball Coaches, which cited him as one of the top 22 players in all of college baseball.

A list of his records is staggering: he graduated first in career ERA (1.78), career starts (19), career wins (13), and complete games (13), while also striking out 115 batters in 162 innings. He was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates and reached the AAA level before retiring from professional ball.

A member of the Boston Latin High School and Cape Cod League halls of fame, Butkus compiled an all-time 32-8 record in the Cape League, including a 10-3 mark in the playoffs.

Bob Butkus was born in Boston, attended Boston Latin High School, and graduated from Bowdoin in 1966 with a degree in Latin. He married the former Maureen Teed in 1967 and together they raised two daughters and now enjoy three grandchildren. Butkus lives in Whitman, Massachusetts, and is a partner in the accounting firm of Gosule, Butkus, and Jesson.