New York Yankees History: Today in 1999 – David Cone’s perfect game (video)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 23: Former New York Yankee David Cone participates during the teams Old Timer's Day prior to a game between the Yankees and the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium on June 23, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The New York Yankees have had many excellent players and pitchers in it’s rich history none more than David Cone. In 1995 he would pitch a complete game with 147 pitches. Little did I know the best and worst challenges were yet to come in a history-making career.

Cone is not the atypical pitcher, he wasn’t imposing, doesn’t look athletic, and had the face of a choirboy, but he attained a place in sports history that few ever attain or even dream about. Born David Brian Cone on January 2, 1963, in Kansas City, Missouri, he was last of four children born to hard-nosed blue-collar parents, Ed and Sylvia Cone. His Dad, Ed, had dreams of being a pitcher himself but was a mechanic working 60 hour weeks.

David Cone the early days

Ed felt sports was a way to get a better education and a better life for their children. He may have thought that, but in Davids’s case, he didn’t attend college and instead pursued a career as a baseball player, which was also improbable, as he came from a high school that had no baseball team. He attended Rockhurst High School and played football as a quarterback, leading them to a district championship. He was also a point guard for the basketball team.

Cone played baseball as a child locally, frequently playing alongside boys his older brothers’ ages. David got used to fighting for what was his. He was cut from his first little league team at age 7 because he was too small. He made it the next year, with Ed Cone as the new coach. , but in high school, he would play ball summers in a college league in Kansas City. He was noticed by scouts and was invited to an invitation-only to try out at the Royals stadium for the St. Louis Cardinals. He was also recruited to play football at the University of Missouri, where he enrolled, but the MLB draft would cut that short when he was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1981.

In his first two years in the minors, he would go 22-7 with an ERA of 2.21. The next year would see him sit out the season with an injury. When he returned, he never really returned to form. In 1986 he converted to a relief pitcher. On June 8th, he would make his major league debut in relief of Cy Young winner Brett Saberhagen. He made a few more games in relief but returned to the Omaha minor league team as a starter where he went 8-4 with a 2.79 ERA.

Before the 87 season, David would see himself traded to the New York Mets, where he did not fare well in his first season. In 1988 he would pitch in relief again, but in May, they put him out to start a game and answered by pitching a complete-game shutout of the Atlanta Braves.

Cone spent over five seasons in his first stint with the New York Mets, most of the time serving as the team’s co-ace alongside Dwight Gooden while leading the National League in strikeouts in 1990 and 1991. He was successful with his fastball, curveball, and newly learned sidearm slider. Injuries worked in Cone’s favor, first when Dwight Gooden checked into rehab and again when Rick Aguilera’s elbow went, rocketing Cone into the starting rotation permanently.

In his year, he won all of his games in May and eight in a row at the end of the season, going 20-3 with an ERA of 2.22. Fans of David were starting to be called “Coneheads.” Cone appealed to the New York media, as he was talkative, open, and honest. In 1992 the Mets were 14 games behind the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates and Cone would be traded to the Toronto Blue Jays.

In Toronto, Cone would have a short stay going 4 and 3 in the regular season. The Jays would go to the World Series that year and be the first Canadian team to win a World Series. Cone in the postseason would be 1-1 with an ERA of 3.22. After the season, David would be a free agent and would be returned to his home town Kansas City Royals. He wouldn’t have his most impressive going 11-14 despite his 3.33 ERA. 1994 would see him 16-5 in the shortened season, and Cone would receive the Cy Young Award.

David Cone becomes a New York Yankee

Four days after the strike ended, Cone would be traded back to the Jays. He was 9–6 with a 3.38 ERA for Toronto, but with Toronto in fifth place at the All-Star break, they again would trade Cone, this time to the New York Yankees. At the half with the Yankees trailing the Red Sox for the AL East, Cone instantly became the team’s ace and would post a 9-2 record as the Yankees won the wild card in the first season of the new three division, wild card format. The Yankees would take the Wild Card and go on to the ALDS against Seattle. Cone would famously blow game five and the series but still talked openly with reporters.

1996 would be a challenging season for Cone in many ways. First, he resigned with the New York Yankees with a three-year contract. Early in the season, he would be 4-1 with a 2.02 ERA. Then Cone was diagnosed with a life-threatening aneurysm. He was on the DL for over three months. In his comeback start that September against the Oakland Athletics, Cone pitched a no-hitter through seven innings before he had to leave due to pitch count restrictions.

The Yankees would go onto the ALDS, in which Cone lost his game. In the ALCS, he had a no-decision. In game 3 of the World Series, he would give up only one run in six innings against the Braves Tom Glavine. The Yankees would go on to win it’s first World Series in eighteen years.
In 1998 Cone would go 20-7, his second 20 game season, and the longest span between 20 game wins (11). Cone would win his ALDS game, His ALCS game, and his game 3 of the World Series against the Padres as the Yankees would repeat in the World Championship.

David Cone’s perfect game

In 1999 with Yogi Berra and Don Larsen at the New York Yankee game, Cone would pitch his 27 up, 27 down perfect game against the Expos on July 18th. The ninth inning begins with Widger flailing at an outside slider for strike three and follows with pinch-hitter Ryan McGuire lofting a fly ball to left that Ledee, battling the sun, catches a little awkwardly, but the out is made nonetheless. And when Orlando Cabrera pops up Cone’s 88th pitch of the day into foul territory, Scott Brosius circles underneath it as his pitcher sinks to his knees in disbelief before being mobbed by his teammates.

The New York Yankees would three-peat and win the World Series. Strangely after the perfect game, Cone would not return to form and would have his worst year in 2000, going 4-14. In an exciting move, the Yankees would bring Cone in to face one batter, Mike Piazza, in Game 4 of the 2000 World Series. Cone induced a pop-up to end the inning and give Jeff Nelson the win and the Yankees another World Series win.

In a move, the NY media would call “traitor,” and Cone would call a divorce. Cone would sign with the Red Sox for a one year deal. He would go 9-7 in 2001, and his contract would not be renewed. He did not pitch in 2002. In 2003 he attempted a comeback with the Mets, but in May, he realized his pitching style that was hard on his hips had taken its toll, and he retired from baseball. Cone during his baseball career would be in five All-Star games, would be nominated twice for the MVP award, and would be nominated five times for the Cy Young award; he won the Cy Young in 1994.

In 2008 he became a part-time color commentator for the YES Network, among a rotating team of announcers providing in-game and studio analysis. Cone has won praise as a perceptive student of sabermetrics, with observations ranging from complicated statistics to technical analysis of how the ball spins across the plate. In one interview, he would say, “Every year it’s become a little easier, knowing what the job entails, when to use sabermetrics and when not to,” said Cone. “I try to be an easy listen. I try to tell you something you don’t know.” David, to this day, is one of the most popular living Yankees.

Other significant happenings on this day in Yankee history

1921: Babe Ruth hits his 139th career home run in just his eighth season an all-time high number of home runs.

1987: “Donnie Baseball” Mattingly in the fourth inning hit a home run to put his home runs in eight straight games in the history books.

2016: Alex Rodriguez hits his 696th and final career home run in the Yankees’ 2-1 win over the Orioles. Kevin Gausman is the last of 422 pitchers A-Rod will go deep off in his career.

2019: “Savages in that box” is immortalized forever as hot microphones near home plate pick up Aaron Boone’s tirade against home plate umpire Brennan Miller. Boone and Gardner were thrown out of the game. Boone again strode out of the dugout and embarks on his quotable rant.