Tekulve heads home after heart transplant surgery

Tekulve heads home after heart transplant surgery

PITTSBURGH -- Kent Tekulve, the submarine-throwing relief hero of the Pirates' last World Series championship, is at home recovering from Sept. 5 heart transplant surgery.

This save was on Tekulve, not by the "Teke" of Buccos fame, as Dr. Stephen Bailey performed the operation hours after informing the 67-year-old former All-Star that a match had been located for him.

Tekulve had been on a transplant waiting list since April, four months after a massive Christmas Eve heart attack had confirmed the gravity of the organ.

Tekulve was discharged on Friday from Allegheny General Hospital, and on Monday, he expressed optimism about being able to make his usual appearance at Spring Training next February.

"I definitely wouldn't want to miss it, if at all possible," Tekulve told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

Dr. Bailey told The Associated Press that Tekulve is doing "extremely well" and should be "resuming normal daily activities very soon."

The gangly, bespectacled Tekulve saved three of the Pirates' wins in their seven-game triumph over Baltimore in the '79 Fall Classic.

Tekulve had to take a hiatus from his role as an analyst for Root Sports Pittsburgh on Pirates telecasts. His studio duties prior to and after game telecast have been filled by Ken Macha, the former Oakland A's manager.

Tekulve led the league in appearances four times during his career, and he finished with 184 saves and a 2.85 ERA in 1,050 games in the Majors -- the first 722 with the 1974-85 Pirates prior to finishing his career with four seasons in Philadelphia and one in Cincinnati.

Tekulve, a native of Cincinnati, retired as the game's all-time leader in appearances, a record subsequently broken by left-hander Jesse Orosco. Tekulve still stands ninth all-time in appearances, and he had 90 appearances in three seasons.

The AP reported that Tekulve thanked his family and friends, the Pirates, Root Sports and the medical staff. He expressed "eternal gratitude for the gift of life that I received through organ donation."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.