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Dick Drago, staple of Red Sox pitching staff in 1970s, dies at 78

Dick Drago, a righthanded pitcher who made 206 appearances for the Red Sox in two stints with the team from 1974-80, died Thursday in Florida. He was 78.

Drago died from complications following surgery.

An Ohio native who attended the University of Detroit, Drago signed with the Tigers in 1964 and was selected by the Royals in the 1968 expansion draft.

The Red Sox traded for Drago after the 1973 season, sending righthander Marty Pattin to Kansas City.

Drago was 9-12 with a 3.59 earned run average and 18 saves in two seasons. “The Dragon” was initially used in multiple roles by manager Darrell Johnson. Drago proved better in relief, which became his focus in 1975 when the Red Sox won the pennant.


Drago pitched three scoreless innings in Game 2 of the ALCS against Oakland to earn a save. He also saved Game 3 to clinch the pennant, getting the last five outs.

Drago appeared twice in the World Series. He took the loss in Game 2, allowing two runs in the ninth. Drago pitched three scoreless innings in Game 6 — with help from Dwight Evans.

Drago was on the mound in the 11th inning when Joe Morgan hit a ball deep to right field that Evans snared with a remarkable catch before hurling the ball toward first base.

Carl Yastrzemski caught the ball in foul territory and flipped it to shortstop Rick Burleson, who was alertly covering the bag, for a double play.

Drago was traded to the Angels before the 1976 season then returned to the Sox as a free agent in ‘78. He was 21-17 with a 3.52 ERA in 133 games over three seasons. That included getting an out in the top of the ninth inning of the 1978 tiebreaker game against the Yankees.


In all, Drago was 108-117 with a 3.62 ERA over 13 seasons with five teams.

Information on survivors was not available.

Rodriguez a free agent

The Red Sox declined their $4.2 million option on lefthanded reliever Joely Rodriguez, making him a free agent. He appeared in only 11 games last season and allowed eight earned runs over 13 innings.

Rodriguez, who had three stints on the injured list, made his last appearance of the season on July 25.

Joely Rodriguez will be a free agent after making 11 appearances with the Red Sox last season.Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him @PeteAbe.