An all star in 1979, Sambito pitched for 11 years in the big leagues, going 37-38 with 84 saves and a 3.03 ERA. A relief specialist (he made just five big league starts) Sambito came up in 1976 with the Houston Astros and became the team’s closer in 1978. He had the best season of his career the next year, saving 22 games, while winning eight and posting a 1.77 ERA. He finished with MVP votes that year, then was fifth in the Cy Young vote in 1980 when he was 8-4 with 17 saves and a 2.19 ERA for Houston. Sambito was solid again for the Astros in 1981 but saw his career derailed by bone spurs in his elbow that led to him having Tommy John surgery. Houston eventually released him in 1985 and he attempted to make a comeback with the New York Mets but appeared in just eight games before they released him as well. He caught on with the Boston Red Sox in 1986 and saved 12 games as he helped the team reach the World Series. He pitched in 47 games for the Red Sox in 1987, then retired.
Sambito pitched 2/3 of an inning in the 1979 All-Star Game. He walked a batter but did not give up a hit. He appeared in two games for the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series against the New York Mets, which Boston lost in seven games.
Joe Sambito – career stats