Allan Fulton "Red" Worthington (born February 5, 1929 in Birmingham), nicknamed "Red", is a former pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the Giants (New York, 1953-54, 1956-57 and San Francisco, 1958-59), Boston Red Sox (1960), Chicago White Sox (1960), Cincinnati Reds (1963-64) and Minnesota Twins (1965-69). Worthington batted and threw right-handed. He has been considered the first great closer in Twins history.
Worthington was the son of Independent League pitcher Walter Worthington, and both his older brothers had signed professional contracts. He played on an Inglenook team with his father as a teenager. After graduating from Phillips High School, Worthington, who preferred football to baseball, accepted a scholarship to play for the Alabama Crimson Tide football team. He also walked on the baseball team and, after an injury to his non-throwing arm, decided to drop football. He helped take the 1950 Crimson Tide team to the College World Series.
Worthington spent the next summer in an amateur league in Nebraska. He began dating the niece of his team manager, now his wife. He went 7-10 and 13-13 in his first two years with Nashville of the Southern Assoication. Worthington was claimed by the New York Giants, who promoted him to AAA Minneapolis. He began his Major League career the next season at New York's Polo Grounds. He got off to an unprecedented start for a pitcher, earning two shutouts in his first two major league games. After that, however, he lost eight of his next ten starts to finish 4-8 with a 3.44 earned run average. He spent most of the next two years in the minors, but returned to the Giants' starting rotation in 1956 and moved to a relief role in 1959.
Worthington was traded to the Boston Red Sox just before the 1960 season. He spent some time in their farm system and was traded to the Chicago White Sox during the season. He spent another two seasons mainly in the minors before returning to the Major Leagues as a member of the Cincinnati Reds in 1963. Midway through the next season, he was traded to the Minnesota Twins.
After Worthington landed in Minnesota, he blossomed into one of the American League's most dominant closers. In 1964 he compiled a 5-6 record with 59 strikeouts and a 1.38 ERA. His most productive season came in 1965, when he posted a career-highs 21 saves, won 10 games, and made an appearance in the World Series. From 1966-67 he saved 32 games, and in 1968 he led the league's relievers with 18 saves. He retired after the 1969 season.
In a 14-year career, Worthington compiled a 75-82 record with 834 strikeouts, a 3.39 ERA, and 110 saves in 1,246.2 innings pitched.
After leaving the active roster, Worthington spent two seasons as the Twins' pitching coach. In 1974 he accepted the challenge of creating a baseball program at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Over the next 13 years his Flames compiled a 343-189-1 record. He took on the added duties of Athletics Director in December 1983. The baseball field on Liberty's campus was named in his honor on his final day as coach on May 3, 1986. He remained on staff as AD long enough to usher the Flames into the NCAA's Division I in 1988.
- Al Worthington. (May 5, 2008) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia - accessed July 15, 2008
- Segrest, Doug (May 18, 2011) "Birmingham's Al Worthington debuted with a bang, became premier AL reliever." Birmingham News