Sunday, January 25, 2009

Number of Days Until Spring Training: Dave Righetti (#19)

Dave Righetti a.k.a. “Rags” was a Yankee starter from 1981-1983 and reliever from 1984-1990. He was the first pitcher in MLB history to both pitch a no-hitter and also lead the league in saves in his career. Dennis Eckersley later matched the feat.

In the strike shortened season of 1981, Rags won the AL Rookie of the Year Award and led the Yanks to the World Series where they eventually fell to the Dodgers.

His most memorable moment in Pinstripes was in the Bronx on July 4, 1983 when he gave owner Geoerge Steinbrenner a no hitter against the Boston Red Sox for his birthday. It was the first Yankee no-hitter since Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series, and the first by a Yankee left-hander since 1917. Red Sox slugger Wade Boggs was the final out after he struck out on a slider. The game is now a mainstay on the YES Network.

Because of a glut of starting pitchers in the Yankees rotation, in 1984 The Big Ragu was moved to the bullpen where he replaced Hall of Famer Goose Gossage as closer. In his 7 years in the Yankees pen, he averaged 32 saves per season and was named an All-Star in 1986 and 1987. In 1986, his 46 saves set a MLB record for the most saves in a single season. This record is still the AL record for most saves in a single season by a left hander.

Following the 1990 season, Righetti signed as a free agent with the San Francisco Giants. While with the Giants in 1991, he broke Sparky Lyle's major league record for left-handers of 238 career saves; a record that stood until 1994 when John Franco broke it. Dave is now the pitching coach for the Giants. Perhaps someday he will be back in the Bronx in that role.

If not, thank you for the memories and YES content!

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