Ex-Dodger Bobby Castillo passes away at 59

Ex-Dodger Bobby Castillo passes away at 59
Former Dodgers pitcher Bobby Castillo, left, and longtime team scout Mike Brito chat in March 2011. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

Ex-Dodger Bobby Castillo, who spent nine seasons in the majors and taught Fernando Valenzuela to throw his legendary screwball, passed away Monday at age 59.

Castillo, a product of Lincoln High School in Los Angeles, had been battling cancer, the Dodgers said.


Castillo had been released by the Kansas City Royals and playing in a semi-pro game in East L.A. when he had the good fortune of striking out Mike Brito on a screwball. Brito, a Dodgers scout, remembered that moment and later signed Castillo out of the Mexican League.

Castillo's success led to the signing of Valenzuela, and Dodgers General Manager Al Campanis, wanting the young left-hander to learn a third pitch, had Castillo teach him the screwball. A major chapter in Dodgers' history would soon be written.

Castillo was a member of the Dodgers' bullpen when Fernandomania swept Los Angeles and all of baseball in 1981.

"I was very saddened to hear about Bobby's passing this morning," Valenzuela said to the Dodgers. "He was a great teammate and friend. I'll always be grateful for his influence on my pitching. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."

The affable Castillo had his own share of success. He 38-40 with a 3.94 ERA during career, six spent with the Dodgers. His most successful season was probably 1980 when he went 8-6 with a 2.75 ERA and had five saves in 61 games.

Since his retirement in 1986, Castillo had served as a member of the Dodgers' community relations department. He is survived by his mother Nellie, daughters Mellanie and Sara, son Robert III, and his sister Lorraine. He had two grandchildren, Jackson and Lila.

Funeral arrangements are pending.