When you think of baseball players do you consider them well read men of letters or as athletes that would rather play Nintendo than read the Sunday Times ? Off the top of your head who would you say was more of the thinking man’s player ? Dickey ? The recently signed Chris Young ? Choo Choo Coleman perhaps ( kidding !!) .Well coming in at number 28 is probably one of the most intelligent men to ever wear a Mets uniform, Pitcher Ron Darling.
Ron was born in Honolulu Hawaii on August 19 1960. When he was a child his family moved to Massachusetts. He would go on to attend Yale University. he was selected by the Texas Rangers in the first round ( ninth pick overall).
He ouldonly spend one season in the Rangers farm system before being traded along with pitcher, Walt Terrell to the Mets for matinee idol outfielder, outfielder, Lee Mazzilli in ’82.
Darling pitched well for the Metstriple A farm team , the Tidewater Tides in both ’82 and ’83. Darling received a September call up for the Metsin ’83. He pitched well in his first game, losing 2-0, and he ended the season witha record of 1-3 with a ERA OF 2.80. His final game of the season saw his first major league win , it was a complete game victory .
Darling won a spot in the starting rotation during the Spring of ’84. He along with rookie phenom, Dwight Gooden would be the teams 1-2 starters for the better part of the next decade. Ron wouldfinish his rookie season with a record of 12–9 and a ERA of 3.81. The Mets just missed out of winning the National League East by the Chicago Cubs.
In 1985 Darling had one of his finest seasons. He started off the season going 9-2 , and was selected to his only All-Star team. He did not see action during the game. He would finish the season with a record of 16–6 with a ERA of 2.90.
In 1986, Ron like every pitcher in that vaunted Mets rotation wouldgo 15–6 , and had a s career-best 2.81 ERA. One Ron was part of that post game brawl at Cooter’s in Houston Texas, which saw him , along with fellow players, Bobby Ojeda, Tim Teufel and Rick Aguilera were arrested for fighting with the club’s bouncers – who were off duty police men.
I wish that I could say that Ron pitched well during the ’86 NLCS, but he pitched poorly in game 3, allowing four runs before being relieved. The Mets did come back to win the game , and as we know they went on to win the series.
Darling pitched well in game one of the ’86 World Series against the Boston Red Sox. He only allowed one unearned run – on a fielding error by Teufel , and the Mets lost by the score of 1-0. Darling was equally dominant in game four which resulted with the Mets winning the game 6-2. In game 7 Darling’s was not on his game. The Sox would score three runs early, and he would exit after four innings. But the Mets were a resilient bunch , coming back to beat the team from Bean Town and clinching their second ever Word Championship !!
Darling wouldhave a mediocre season, going 12-8 witha ERS of 4.29. Ron didn’t win a game in either May or June of that season. He went 0–4 , and had with eight no-decisions . Ron would not pitch in the last few weeks of the season due to a arm strain, which possibly cost the Mets a possible chance at winning the division.
Darling returned to form in 1988, going 17-8 witha ERA of 3.25.He finished the first-half of the season with a record of 10–5 a 2.70 ERA .He would throw four shutouts that season , which was a career high for him . Ron would participate in his second post season, but he pitched god awful against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He pitched in two games that post season. In the first game he let uop three runs, but the Mets would eventually win 8-4. But in that deciding Game 7, Darling was pitted against the dreaded , Orel Hershiser,. Darling was clearly over matched, giving up six runs. He was removed from the game in the second inning. It would be the last post season game for the Mets for eleven years.
1989 started Darling’s decline with the Mets. He would go 14-14 that season with a ERA of 3.52. In 1990 , Ron was relegated to the bullpen as a spot starter/ middle reliever. He would end the season with his first ever losing record, 7–9 and his ERA was a obese 4.50.
Darling returned to the Mets rotation in ’91 but his performances were uneven at best. He would be dealt just before the trade deadline , when on July 15thhe was dealt to the Montreal Expos along with minor league pitcher, Mike Thomas for reliever, Tim Burke. Metsfans were very upset with the trade because yet another Met from that once dominant team from the ’80′s was shipped out of town. Two weeks later, the Expos would deal Darling to the Oakland A’s.
Darling would spend the next five years with the A’s . He would every now and then display flashes of his former self, but he never did recapture his glory days. He retired after being released by the A’s in ’95.
After retiring , he would become a color commentator for the Washington Nationals. In 2006, Darling joined the Mets broadcast boothalong side Keith Hernandez and Gary Cohen to broadcast games for both channel 11 as well as the Mets cable network, SNY. He was awarded a Emmy for his top notch analytical skills , and his ability to break down the game , giving the viewer insights to what both the managers as well as the players are thinking. In 2007, Darling was hired as a a color analyst for TBS’ coverage of the 2007 MLB playoffs, and he joined their game of the week coverage in ’08.
Darling was on hand for the closing ceremonies of Shea Stadium in ’08. A little known fact is that heis cousin is umpire Gary Darling.
Ron’s final careerstats withthe Mets include a record of 99-70 with a ERA OF 3.50 , ten shutouts , 25 complete games and 1,148 strike outs.
Tomorrow we will profile number 27 on the list of the top 50 Mets of all time, he is one of the top Mets relievers of all time .
And with that said…. HERE COMES THE INFAMY !!!!
Mets alumni celebrating birthdays today include :
One of the most important as well as beloved Mets of all time , center fielder, Mookie Wilson is 55 (1956). I for one am ecstatic to see Mookie back with the organization.
Middle reliever from the ’94 team, Doug Linton is 46 (1965).
Back up catcher from ’97-’01, Todd Pratt is 44 (1967) . He will always be remembered for that game winning home run against the Diamondbacks in the ’99 NLDS.
The New York Mets signed one time 1977 Rookie Of The Year, Clint Hurdle as a free agent on February 9, 1987. He wouldspend parts of three seasons with the Mets. After retiring from baseball , he became a successful manager , and is currently piloting the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Anaheim Angels signed middle reliever,Jason Middlebrook of the New York Mets as a free agent on February 9, 2004.
New York Mets signed free agent pitcher Chan Ho Park on February 9, 2007. Park would only play in one game for the Mets. He would go four innings, giving up seven earned runs. He would be released that June.
New York Mets signed free agent utility man.pinch hitter, Frank Catalanotto of the Milwaukee Brewers on February 9, 2010. Frank would have a awful Spring Training last season – but somehow still made the team over players such as Nick Evans and Chris Carter. He would be released in late May after going .160 in 25 games.
And while you are burring yourselves in flannel blankets trying to keep warm , just remember that there are just 51 Dick Sisler days until the Mets open the 2011 season against the Florida Marlins in Miami and only58 days until the Mets 2011 home opener against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field.
Mo Vaughn is wondering who the hell Dick Sisler is !!!