Friday, August 31, 2012

1983 TOPPS DAVE RIGHETTI

GUIDRY GIDDY-UP OUT OF THE PEN.
BIT THE HAND THAT ONCE FED HIM FOR HIS FIRST WIN OF '82.

THE FRONT PAGE

  • Dave Righetti was one of the best relievers of the 1980s, saving 188 games and possessing a fastball that reminded many of Ron Guidry. But most fans, including me, remember his no-hitter against the Red Sox on July 4, 1983, as his defining career moment.

THE BACK PAGE

  • Those 108 walks in '82 led the league, prompting the demotion to Columbus.

PHOTO PLAY

  • Looks like Rags is just tossing lightly off the mound. Too bad. He had a fluid high-kicking delivery that would've been perfect for this card. His '87 Topps card was a better shot.

EXTRA, EXTRA

  • Righetti as a starter once struck out 21 batters for the Rangers' Double-A Tulsa affiliate.
  •  He was acquired by the Yanks in '78 as part of a 10-player deal that included former closer Sparky Lyle going to Texas. "We got the next Ron Guidry,'' Yankees GM Gabe Paul said at the time. 
  • He made it to N.Y. in '81, when he went 8-4 with a 2.05 ERA, starting 15 games and earning Rookie of the Year honors for the AL champs. 
  • He won Games 2 and 5 of the Division Series against Milwaukee and Game 3 of the ALCS against Oakland. His storybook rookie season ended harshly in the World Series, starting Game 3 and giving up three earned runs in two innings against the Dodgers. It would be his only World Series appearance.
  • Twenty-seven of his 33 appearances in '82 were starts, and he went 11-10 with a 3.79 ERA and 163 strikeouts but was sent to Triple-A Columbus during the season to work out control issues; interestingly, he opposed Pawtucket's Mark Fidrych, who was trying to make it back to the majors with the Red Sox, in a game won by Fidrych, 7-5.
  • Righetti was used exclusively as a starter in '83, when he finished 14-8 with a 3.44 ERA and 169 strikeouts.
  • The no-hitter was the first by a lefty at Yankee Stadium and first by a Yankee since Don Larsen's Game 5 gem in the '56 World Series.
  • I remember watching the local news with my brother when the sports came on -- ESPN and cable TV hadn't made it to our neighborhood yet -- and we were eagerly waiting for the Righetti highlights. That stupid station barely mentioned it and showed no footage. Man, were we pissed!
  • Incidentally, Wade Boggs made the final out, striking out swinging.
  • With closer Goose Gossage signing with the Padres before the '84 season, the Yankees converted Rags to closer. He took to the role like stupid banter to airhead anchors, saving 31 games with a 2.34 ERA. It would be the first of seven consecutive seasons of 25-plus saves.
  • His Fireman of the Year season in '86 was highlighted by saving a then-major-league record 46 games and finishing fourth in the Cy Young voting.
  • After saving 36 games in '90, Righetti signed with the Giants and saved 24 more, but he never again would reach double-figures. In fact, he would make four starts with the Giants the next year and nine with the White Sox in '95, his final season.
  • On July 18, 1995, he and Jim Abbott, who threw a no-hitter for the Yanks in '93, started for the White Sox in a doubleheader at the Stadium. Abbott won the first game and Rags the second. 
  • Since 2000, Righetti has been the pitching coach of the Giants. 

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