New York Yankees: World Series only perfect game: Don Larsen

The New York Yankees Don Larsen, a not-so-perfect pitcher, put his name into the baseball history books yesterday 65 years ago when he pitched the only perfect game in World Series history.

On January 1, 2020, Don Larsen’s son Scott had announced that his father had entered hospice. He stated that his father, a former New York Yankee pitcher, had had treatments for esophageal cancer in recent months but had taken a turn for the worse and had entered hospice care. He died shortly after that in Hayden, Idaho, at the age of 90. Don Larsen holds the record for having pitched the only World Series perfect game in baseball history. I wanted to take this opportunity to post my Don Larsen Legend article that was previously published on November 10, 2019. Here are some excerpts.

Larsen was born in 1929 to a humble family in Michigan City, Indiana. When he was 15, he and his family moved to California, where his Dad was a department store salesman and his Mom a housekeeper. Larsen attended Point Loma High School, where he played basketball and baseball. Although Don got scholarships for basketball, he chose baseball, citing that he wasn’t all that good at his studies. While playing baseball there, he was noticed by a St. Louis Browns scout. He was offered a minor league contract, and he accepted. The Browns eventually became the Baltimore Orioles. Don was assigned to the Aberdeen Pheasants in 1947. He went 4-3 with an ERA of 3.42.

The following season he won 17 games. In 1949 he moved up to the Globe Miami Browns. Soon after, Larsen was promoted to the Wichita Indians of the Class-A Western League in the second half of the 1950 season. With the Indians, Larsen had a 6–4 record with a 3.14 ERA in 21 games. In 1951, Larsen was drafted to the United States Army for the Korean War. He spent the next two years in the Army, working in a variety of non-combat jobs. He was discharged from the Army in 1953 and made the St. Louis Browns roster before the beginning of the season. On April 17, 1947, he made his major league debut against the Detroit Tigers. His first game was a no-decision, but he won his second game giving up one earned run to the then Philadelphia Athletics. In 1954 the Browns became the Baltimore Orioles, where he was 3-21 (that’s not a misprint) with a 4.37 ERA.

In 1954 the Yankees lost the World Series to the Indians, and the Yankee Manager blamed it on the older pitching staff of the Yankees, who were in their late 30’s. Wanting to beef up the team in a 17 man trade, the Yankees acquired Don Larsen from the Baltimore Orioles. Larsen would pitch behind Yankee ACE Whitey Ford. The original deal was to get Bob Turley, but Manager Casey Stengel wanted Larsen in the trade because of how he beat down the Yankee hitters. From 1955 to 1959, Stengel used Larsen as a starter and reliever; during that period, he went 45-25 in 90 starts.

Larsen started the 1955 season with a sore arm, didn’t pitch well, and was demoted to the minors. He ended up pitching in 19 games, going 9–2 with a 3.07 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 97 innings pitched. On August 5 of the year, he would throw a shutout of the Tigers. His best year was 1956, when he went to an 11–5 record, with a career-best 107 strikeouts and a 3.26 ERA. He pitched another shut out, this one against the Orioles. Late in the season, he pitched five complete games out of seven. But these stats were not the highlight of his pitching year.

On October 8, 1956, Don Larsen pitched the only perfect game in World Series history. It was game 5 of the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Larsen needed just 97 pitches to complete the classic game, and only one Dodger batter (Pee Wee Reese in the first inning) was able to get a 3-ball count. Brooklyn’s Maglie gave up only two runs on five hits. Mickey Mantle’s fourth-inning home run broke the scoreless tie. The Yankees added an insurance run in the sixth. After Roy Campanella grounded out to Billy Martin for the second out of the 9th inning, Larsen faced pinch hitter Dale Mitchell, a .311 career hitter.

Throwing fastballs, Larsen got ahead in the count at 1–2. On his 97th pitch, a called third strike by home plate umpire Babe Pinelli Larsen caught Mitchell looking for the 27th and last out. After the pitch, catcher Yogi Berra leaped into Larsen’s arms in celebration, setting up the “everlasting image” that you can see in my photo collage. Larsen’s unparalleled game earned him the World Series Most Valuable Player Award and Babe Ruth Award.

In 1957, Larsen had a 10–4 record with a 3.74 ERA in 27 games and 20 starts. Near the end of the season, he hurled a 3-hit shutout against the Kansas City Athletics on September 15, his fifth shutout with the Yankees. In seven innings in relief in game 3 of the World Series against the Braves, the Yankees won 12-3. He started game seven but only went 2 1/3 innings in the loss as the Braves won the series. Larsen had another winning season in 1958, although the Yankees did not make the World Series. In 1959 Larsen’s performance dropped considerably, and he was sent down to the minors. In the offseason, he was traded to the Kansas City Athletics.

In his first year with the Athletics, he had his worst year ever but rebounded in 1961, having his best year since 1955 with both the Athletics and the White Sox. From 1962 to 1967, he would play with the Giants, Colt 45’s, Orioles, and the Cubs but would never regain his pitching success. Don Larsen retired from baseball during the 1967 season. Little is ever said of Larsen’s hitting ability, but he was one of baseball’s best hitting pitchers, having 14 home runs and a career .242. In 1956 he had a grand slam against the Red Sox. He was a good enough hitter that he was used 66 times as a pinch hitter. Yankee fans hope to see Don at Old Timer’s Day for years to come.

Don Larsen was present at Yankee Stadium for two perfect games, his own in 1956 and David Cone’s in July 1999. Unfortunately, don passed away on New Year’s Day 2020.

New York Yankees: Kluber, Taillon, German, Medina and more pitching thoughts

The New York Yankees and the YES Network are fortunate to have “Mr. Perfect,” David Cone on their staff commenting on the games, pitchers, and hitters. Cone had one of the Yankees’ perfect games on July 18, 1999. He is one of the most knowledgeable pitching authorities in all of baseball.

Cone has on his resume a 17-year pitching career, with an ERA of 3.46. He spent the best years of his career with the New York Yankees. He has a lifetime WAR of 62.4. He had two 20 game wins and was a five-time Cy Young Award nominee, winning it in 1994. Over the weekend, he spoke by phone to NJ.com’s Brendon Kuty about spring training and his thoughts on the Yankee pitchers.

Corey Kluber:

Kluber became a Yankee just after the Yankees re-signed batting champ DJ LeMahieu. The Yankees gave him an $11 million on a year deal, taking on the risk of a pitcher that had a 2019 season that was cut short after he got hit with a comebacker. In 2020 he pitched only one inning after suffering a shoulder injury. But so far in spring training, he looks Cy Young sharp.

“He’s not babying it,” Cone said. “He’s not being tentative. It’s like he’s got confidence in his stuff because it’s snapping again. “That slider … when he was at the top of the game, he had one of the world’s best sliders. It had it’s own name, ‘The Kluber Slider.’ People wanted that pitch and it looked like it was snapping. It looked good (Wednesday).”

Jameson Taillon:

David Cone admires Taillon, sighting his background and what he has been through. Taillon is another pitcher that hasn’t pitched in the past two years and is returning from his second Tommy John surgery. During the offseason, Taillon made several changes to his delivery to protect his arm, and so far, those changes are paying off. Cone had this to say:

“I can’t help but admire somebody like him, the way he handles himself. But the stuff, too, is exciting. His curveball is for real. It’s got real depth to it. He’s got that swing-and-miss stuff that you love to see from a starting pitcher.”

Domino German:

Domingo German in 2019 went 18-4 before he was suspended for a domestic violence issue. He missed the last games of the regular season and the entire postseason. While serving out his suspension, he didn’t pitch at all in the short 2020 season. A remorseful German has apparently convinced the Yankees that he is a changed man and ready to get back into the game.

In his outing last week, German was near perfect, pitching two innings while allowing only 1 single and no walks. He struck out 4 hitters; that’s 18 per nine innings. Cone gave his thoughts on who would be the fifth starter.

In terms of the overall picture, who’s more established, who has options left, the status of their development, how far along are they … it almost seems as if that gives (Domingo) German the leg up right now, just in terms of those things, aside from all the off-the-field stuff, obviously.”

Luis Medina and New York Yankee depth:

Cone spoke about the Yankee pitching depth that allowed them to take chances on Kluber and Taillon’s likes, saying if the Yankees have problems, they have many capable arms to rely on. He spoke specifically on Luis Medina, a fireballer coming up through the ranks.

Just from what I’ve seen on video, Luis Medina. To see him do what he did in winter ball and the type of stuff he had, how polished he already looks, it’s easy to get excited about somebody like him. Not just his fastball, but his feel for his secondary pitches.

Yankees to play the Detroit Tigers today

The New York Yankees will play the Detroit Tigers today at Lakeland, Florida, northeast of the Yankee’s home. Deivi Garcia will get his second start of spring training. Garcia is the one pitcher that has really struggled. In his first game, he gave up two runs in as many innings. He will face the Tiger’s Spencer Turnbull in the 1 pm game that will not be televised. Garcia is hoping for a quick bounceback.

New York Yankees Legends: Mel Stottlemyre and the dynasty years

Mel Stottlemyre is both a famous New York Yankee pitcher and long time pitching coach. Mel was born Melvin Leon Stottlemyre in Mabton, Washington, in 1941. He pitched for the Yankees for eleven years and coached for a historical record of 23 years for his Yankees.  As a pitcher, Mel started playing for his local American Legion post and pitch in high school and at his college Yakima Valley.

Yankee scouts discovered him at Yakima and signed him to a contract in 1961. He was assigned to the minor league Harland Smokies. Shortly after a stint with the Auburn Yankees, he was promoted to the Greensboro Yankees, where he had a 17-9 record with an ERA of 2.50. In 1963 he was used as a starter and reliever, but Houk, the then Yankees manager, seeing his worth as a starter, demanded that he be used only as a starter.

In 1964 Mel was called up to the big team, where he went 9-3 in a successful effort to get the Yankees to their fifth pennant in a row. In the World Series, he went 1-0-1. In 1965 he was made an All-Star but did not pitch in the game. He did win 20 games that year, 18 of them complete games, something unheard of today.

Stottlemyre got 20 wins in both 1968 and 1969. He started the 1969 All-Star game. Stottlemyre threw 40 shutouts in his 11-season career, the same number as Hall of Fame lefty Sany Koufax, which ties for 44th best all-time. Eighteen of those shutouts came in a three-season span from 1971–73. Mel was known as a pretty good hitter, too; he had a grand slam in 1965. The Yankees released Stottlemyre before the 1975 season. Stottlemyre retired with 164 career wins and a 2.97 ERA.

Mel becomes the New York Yankees pitching coach

After a year off, Mel started his coaching career, first with the Mariners, then the Mets, followed by a coaching stint with the Houston Astros. When Joe Torre was named Yankees Manager in 1996, Mel joined his coaching staff as the New York Yankees pitching coach. In his first year, he brought the team ERA down from 4.65 to 3.81. Mel’s pitching staff was regarded as a major factor in the team’s dynasty years when they won four World Series Championships in five years. After 10 seasons, Stottlemyre resigned from his coaching position on October 12, 2005.

During the New York Yankees dynasty years of 1996-2005, Mel Stottlemyre was a key to the Yankees’ success.  He mentored Andy Pettitte, David Cone, Dwight Gooden,  Orlando Hernandez, Roger Clemmens, David Welles, and others.  He especially worked with a young set-up man, Mariano Rivera, who become a Hall of Fame closer.  Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera were the pitching members of the famous “Core 4,” which also included Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada.  Many believe Bernie Williams should have been recognized in that group.

Mel became the pitching coach for the Mariners in 2008, but when the Manager was fired, he was fired along with him. Mel retired from baseball following that season.

He was inducted into the Washington State American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012. At Old-Timers’ Day on June 20, 2015, the Yankees dedicated a Monument Park plaque in Stottlemyre’s honor. Mel was diagnosed with cancer in 2000 but went into remission for eleven years. Mel Passed away January 13, 2019, after a long battle with bone marrow cancer, but not before he published “Pride in Pinstripes” in 2007.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam

New York Yankees: DJ rejected his qualifying offer, some big names have said no to the Yankees

The New York Yankees offered slugger DJ LeMahieu their only qualifying offer of the offseason for $18.9 million. The star said no, and chose to be a free agent instead. Now over two months into the offseason and the Yankees are in a stalemate with the star, not over money but over the contract’s length, the Yankees are willing to offer. The Yankee’s wish list includes signing the stud for three years at $75 million. DJ wants more security and a contract for five years. With at least three other teams interested in the batting champ, he may say no to the Yankees.

If he says no to the Yankees, he will join a long list of players that have said no to the Yankees or wouldn’t entertain playing at Yankee Stadium. Here are just a few of the most notable players that rejected the Yankee offers.

Barry Bonds

Forget Bonds tarnished career; he was one of the best players in the game for many years. At the age of 28, after the 1992 season with Pittsburgh and a record of .311 with 34 HR and 103 RBI, Bonds was a free agent and looking for a new home.

After the 1992 season, the Yankees ended up 20 games behind the first-place Toronto Blue Jays, and the Yankees needed guys who could put up numbers, and the remarkable Barry Bonds was their target to make that happen. They thought they were going big in offering Bonds a five year $36 million contract.  Compared to today’s deals, that might not seem like much, but it was a big-money contract for the time.

Bonds all but laughed at the offer and instead signed with the San Francisco Giants, where he put up big numbers for  Giants over 15 years while hitting a record 586 home runs. It cost the Giants $50 million over the first seven years plus a signing bonus.

Greg Maddux

Greg Maddux was one of the most successful and popular starting pitchers of the ’90s.  Also, coming off the losing 1992 season, the Yankees, much like this year, needed a dramatic upgrade in their pitching rotation. In 1992 Maddox was a 20 game-winner, and the Yankees wanted him to lead the rotation as the Yankee’s ace.

General Manager “Stick” Michaels brought Maddox to New York and wined and dined him all over the city hot spots; he even arranged a meeting with Donald Trump. Wanting Maddox as much as they wanted Bonds, the Yankees made him a big offer. They offered him five years for $34 million that included a $9 million signing bonus. Maddux wasn’t impressed and said no, instead of accepting a deal with the Atlanta Braves.

Maddux would win a World Series win in 1995 with the Braves but was denied a second ring in 1996. He won game 2, but the Yankees would come back and win four games back to back for the World Series crown.

Ken Griffy, Jr.

After the 1996 season, outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. was one of the most coveted free agents in baseball history. While the Yankees never made him a formal offer because Griffey made it quite clear that he had no interest in becoming a Bomber.

Griffy explained it wasn’t a money issue; it’s just something he could never do. It seems the issue was that when his father played for the New York Yankees in the ’70s, the young Giffy wasn’t allowed to accompany his father into the clubhouse due to team rules that did not allow children in the clubhouse. Apparently, it’s not something he ever got over.  In 2008 he told the New York Post what he thought about the Old Yankee Stadium: “My favorite Yankee Stadium memory? It’s leaving Yankee Stadium.”

David Cone

We all associate David Cone with his perfect game and amazing feats on the mound, but all was not always good with the relationship. When Cone was coming off his World Series win with the Blue Jays, the Yankees made him an offer to play at Yankees Stadium. Cone sat on the offer, basically saying no; the Yankees later withdrew the offer.

But Yankee fans would still see his services as he did sign with them in 1996 and had a perfect game and won the World Series for the Yankees that year. Cone has still associated with the team calling games with Michael Kay at Yankee Stadium and for YES Network.

Cliff Lee

Cliff Lee was coming off a season where he destroyed all opponents during the 2009 season for the Indians and the Phillies. And that was after a 22 game winning season in 2008. The Yankees just had to have Lee to enhance their pitching rotation.

Lee was a free agent, and the New York Yankees offered him a huge contract for six years worth in the $140 million territory. Lee said no and signed with the Phillies for less money. Interestingly in the same year, the outfielder Carl Crawford was also available. The Yankees really wanted him for a backup to their less than the stellar outfield. General manager Brian Cashman wined and dined the star. Cashman made his play for Crawford, but he too said no, instead signing a $142 million contract with the Red Sox.

Hopefully, for the Yankees, DJ LeMahieu will not be the next big name to say no to the Yankees. But at this point, while the Yankees do nothing to improve the team while waiting to see if they can sign him, maybe a no would be better than continuing to wait while needed players are signed with other teams. Only time will tell.

 

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

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.

New York Yankees Legends: David Cone just wanted to be perfect (video)

The Story of New York Yankees legend David Cone. It’s 1995; it’s the ALDS I’ve pitched 147 pitches, something unheard of today, even with a Justin Verlander or Gerrit Cole. I just walked the tying run in the eleventh inning that would cause us to lose the ALDS. My name is David Cone. Little did I know the best and worst challenges were yet to come in a historic 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.

The early years

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. 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 David’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 seven because he was too small. He made it the next year, with Ed Cone as the new coach. 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 try out at the Royals stadium for the St. Louis Cardinals.

David joins the minor leagues

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.

Prior to the 1987 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 that 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 really 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 return to his home town Kansas City Royals. He wouldn’t have his most impressive season going 11-14 despite his 3.33 ERA. 1994 would see him 16-5 in the shortened season, but Cone would receive the Cy Young Award. 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.

Cone is traded to the New York Yankees

At the half with the Yankees trailing the Red Sox for the 1995 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 3 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.

David Cone’s perfect game

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.  Setting the scene, it’s a beautiful sunny day at Yankee Stadium. Forty-three years earlier, New York Yankee legend Yogi Berra caught Don Larsen’s first ever in a World Series perfect game.  That day on July 18, 1999, both Larsen and Yogi were in the stands to take in the game.  The starting pitcher would be David Cone. On that date, the Yankees had won 13 of his 17 starts. In the game against the Montreal Expos, David would go 27 up, 27 down for the third perfect game in New York Yankee history.

The 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.”

Pitching six years for the New York Yankees, David, to this day, is one of the most popular living New York Yankees and still pitches in Old Timer’s Day games.

David Cone: A Hall of Fame Pitcher?

When people think about David Cone they think about good but not great, not among the elites of the MLB’s history. He’s in the Hall of Very Good at best to most people, but is that really fair to the New York icon? He isn’t just one of the pretty good pitchers of his era, in fact, I’d like to argue that he was a HOF-caliber pitcher who wasn’t given a fair chance at the Hall of Fame for reasons that make no sense, such as his Win-Loss record, which is one of baseball’s worst stats. Looking at David Cone from an objective point of view, he was a much better pitcher than people make him out to be.

HOF-Caliber Numbers

David Cone’s 3.46 ERA and 3.57 FIP are pretty darn good numbers, with those numbers being better than pitchers such as Mike Mussina. His ERA+ (which is park-adjusted and compared to league average) was 121 which was better than Tom Glavine, who was considered one of the greatest pitchers to ever do it. These numbers don’t discount Glavine or Mussina as they are HOF caliber pitchers, but it helps show that David Cone was just as good as the other HOFers he pitched against and is compared to. His 56.0 fWAR is above legends such as Bret Saberhagen and Whitery Ford, so how can you say his numbers aren’t HOF worthy?

Not Having Enough Wins Is Dumb

Why does his 194-126 Win-Loss record even matter at all? You mean to tell me that he can control what the 9 people in his lineup do night in and night out? Oh wait, HE CANNOT CONTROL HOW MANY RUNS ARE SCORED. Who cares if he only won 20 games once? He pitched great year in and year out, and to hold the fact that he pitched 112 starts with only 0-2 runs of support (26.7% of all of his starts) against him is asinine. If you think Win-Loss record matters you must not think Jacob deGrom is great then, which is also a really dumb take. Hold pitchers accountable to the runs they give up, not the runs scored.

One of Baseball’s Most Accomplished Pitchers

Everyone seems to forget that David Cone pitched in an era where everyone and their brother was doing steroids. In spite of that he went on to win 5 World Series titles, go to 5 All-Star games, win the Cy Young award, and put up a 2.12 ERA in 29.2 World Series innings. He also has a legendary perfect game to go with it, so the accomplishments and numbers are there but what about the Hall of Fame induction? It’s up to people who love the game and New Yorkers who watched David Cone shine bright for 13 total years in the Big Apple to keep his name afloat for the Veteran’s Committee to one day give him his well-deserved induction.

There is always room for discussion in sports, but there’s one thing that’s certain: the numbers don’t lie.