NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York baseball suffered a blow on Monday when it was learned that former major league player and longtime pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre had passed away following a long battle with cancer.
He was 77.
The Yankees released a statement confirming his death.
Stottlemyre was a standout pitcher for the Yankees during the one era of their storied history when they weren’t that good. From 1964 until 1974, Stottlemyre compiled a 164-139 record with a 2.97 ERA, spanning 360 appearances, including 356 starts. The five-time All-Star won 15 games seven times, including 20-win seasons in 1965, ’68 and ’69.
Stottlemyre went 1-1 with a 3.15 ERA in the 1964 World Series, which New York lost in seven games to St. Louis, but then didn’t pitch in the postseason again as the Yankees suffered through years of mediocrity leading into George Steinbrenner’s ownership, which began in 1973.
Perhaps Stottlemyre’s greatest claim to fame in baseball was his work as a pitching coach for both New York baseball teams. He was on the Mets staff during their 1986 championship season and later was with the Yankees during their dynasty years of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Working alongside manager Joe Torre, Stottlemyre was part of four World Series championship clubs between 1996 and 2005.
“Mel was a role model to us all and the toughest man I have ever met,” Torre said in a statement. “Sometimes a manager hires a friend to be their coach but with Mel, as with (Don Zimmer), he was my coach who became a dear friend and someone who became very special to me.”
“Mel was more than a pitching coach to me. He was a dear friend. Everything I accomplished in the game was because of him. He taught me so much more than balls and strikes,” former pupil Dwight Gooden said in a statement.
Several members of the New York baseball family expressed their condolences on social media after the news of Stottlemyre’s passing.
Stottlemyre was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable form of blood cancer, in 2000. His illness reappeared in 2011, but he made it to Old-Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium in 2015 and was honored with a plaque in Monument Park.
“Today in this Stadium, there is no one that’s happier to be on this field than myself,” Stottlemyre told the capacity crowd. “This is such a shock to me because the era I played in is an era where, for the most part, the Yankees have tried over the years, I think, somewhat to forget a little bit…If I never get to come to another Old-Timers’ Day, I will take these memories and I’ll start another baseball club, coaching up there, whenever they need me.”
He is survived by his wife, Jean, and sons Todd and Mel Jr. A third son, Jason, died of leukemia in 1981.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)