I was watching the game on TV when Mel Stottlemyre threw that pitch and there was a little bit of a hitch in his arm — it was noticeable. I thought, ‘that looked odd’. I think he threw one more pitch, and that was it.
It was the end of his career. You didn’t know it at the time; you figured he’d be back.. in a month? It did look odd, so the gut feeling was that maybe it was worse than that. I was a young 11-yr-old fan, diving into the Yankees for the first time.
Band on the Run
The Yanks went on to have the “Band on the Run” season of 1974, led by the young Doc Medich, and other starters Pat Dobson, Rudy May, Dick Tidrow, and Larry Gura. There were high expectations for 1975 with the addition of Catfish Hunter. And there was hope that Stottlemyre would return too. But an early-season newspaper interview surfaced wherein Stottlemyre said he couldn’t even throw a softball to his 10-yr-old son.
Ace of the Yankees
Stottlemyre was done at 32. Tommy John surgery didn’t exist.
- Career record of 164-139 2.97.
- Ace of the Yankees throughout the 60’s into the early 70’s
- He was the ace of the Yanks when the ace of the Mets was Tom Seaver. Stotts was our guy.
- Three 20-win seasons.
- Five All Star appearances.
- One of the great Yankee pitchers, who rarely gets celebrated.
A few years later he surfaced as pitching coach with the Mets, doing a great job with their young arms of Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, and Walt Terrell. I was glad for him but there was something wrong with the universe that he was doing it for the Mets. Years later, Joe Torre brought him to the Yankees as their pitching coach and all was right with the universe. He helped guide that 4-aces pitching staff of the late 90’s (“El Duque” Orlando Hernandez, David Cone, Andy Pettitte, David Wells, Roger Clemens) to the 4 titles in 5 years.
Stottlemyre was battling cancer for years as Yankee pitching coach. He retired a bunch of years ago. Today he passed away at age 77. He goes down as a great all time Yankee. Hat’s off to you Mel! Thank you for the memories.