Former Tigers pitcher Bill Slayback passes away at 67

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Bill Slayback, a pitcher for the Tigers in the early 1970s who went on to a songwriting career, has passed away at age 67. The Tigers confirmed the news Thursday evening.

A lanky right-hander drafted out of Cal State Northridge in 1968, Slayback pitched in 42 Major League games -- all for the Tigers -- from 1972-74.

He was a midseason sensation as a rookie, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Yankees in his Major League debut -- legend has it he got lost trying to find Tiger Stadium beforehand -- before tossing three consecutive complete-game victories on three days' rest, including a 13-strikeout performance against Texas.

Arm problems the next year wound down his career when it had barely gotten started. Slayback went 5-6 with a 3.20 ERA in 1972, and retired in 1976 with a 6-9 record and 3.84 career ERA.

He retired from baseball in 1976 and went into the music industry, writing jingles for commercials and working with Tigers Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell -- an accomplished songwriter himself. Together, they wrote a song about Hank Aaron passing Babe Ruth as baseball's all-time home run leader.

Slayback released a CD of songs in 2006. He stayed close with several former teammates, including Jim Leyland and Gene Lamont. He performed the National Anthem at Comerica Park on June 26, 2011, when the Tigers retired Sparky Anderson's number 11.

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.