Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Mel Stottlemyre Released
I know that Mel Stottlemyre is not exactly a man for whom we should be breaking out the violins, he has after all, won--by my count--five World Series as a pitching coach (one with the Mets, four with the Yankees), is being paid a handsome sum to serve that role with the Yankees again this season and had two sons pitch in the Major Leagues. That having been said, Mel deserves at least some sympathy for his playing career, when he was a victim of terrible timing.
Stottlemyre joined the Yankees in August 1964 as a twenty-two year old rookie. He pitched less than one-hundred innings the rest of the season but impressed manager Yogi Berra with a 9-3 record and a 2.06 ERA. He started three games in the World Series that year, giving up just four runs in sixteen innings against the Cardinals before surrendering three runs in four innings when he was pressed into duty starting Game Seven on two days' rest after Whitey Ford had arm problems. The Yankees lost that game and the series and entered into a long period of mixing good teams (they won ninety-three games in 1970 and eighty-nine four years later) with some pretty bad ones (they were under .500 every year 1965-1969).
Stottlemyre for his part was consistent, starting thirty-five or more games from 1965 to 1969 and pitching more than two hundred-fifty innings every year until 1974, usually giving the team better than league average innings. He still ranks ninth all-time among Yankees in ERA, and third in innings. Stottlemyre was just thirty-two when he suffered arm troubles in 1974 and his release prior to the 1975 season marked the end of his career. It was as poor timing for the end of his career as the beginning; the Yankees were average in 1975 but would go to the World Series three years in a row starting in 1976, including winning back-to-back titles in 1977 and 1978.
Yes, Mel Stottlemyre, World Series winning coach, father of Major Leaguers and earner of a mighty salary is not someone for whom many tears need be shed. However, we could at least feel a bit of sympathy for a good pitcher with bad timing.