I loved watching El Duque work on the mound. His ability to throw so many different pitches from that winding and unwinding motion always left me with the impression that he was conducting an orchestra instead of just pitching a baseball game. At least 33 years old when he escaped from Cuba and signed with the Yankees in 1998, his first two seasons in pinstripes were his best, winning 29 games during that span and compiling the first four of what would become eight consecutive postseason wins for New York. I clearly remember always feeling confident the Yankees would do well in any big game with Hernandez as their starting pitcher. Even after his mediocre 2000 regular season, when he finished 12-13, El Duque managed to win three straight starts that postseason.
And after New York traded him in January of 2003, Yankee fans will never forget how Hernandez rejoined the team during the 2004 season and led New York back to the playoffs by winning eight of ten decisions. Then, after spending time with both the White Sox and the Diamondbacks, El Duque joined the Mets during the 2006 season and went 18-12 during his two seasons at Shea. Perhaps if he had escaped from Castro’s Cuba a decade earlier, he would be headed for Cooperstown.
El Duque shares his October 11th birthday with this former Yankee reliever.
|NYY (6 yrs)||61||40||.604||3.96||139||136||1||8||2||1||876.1||780||410||386||114||304||703||1.237|
|NYM (2 yrs)||18||12||.600||3.88||47||44||0||1||0||0||264.1||212||122||114||37||105||240||1.199|
|ARI (1 yr)||2||4||.333||6.11||9||9||0||0||0||0||45.2||52||32||31||8||20||52||1.577|
|CHW (1 yr)||9||9||.500||5.12||24||22||1||0||0||1||128.1||137||77||73||18||50||91||1.457|
Blaylock was signed by the Cardinals out of high school in 1950 and then it took him nine years to climb his way through the St. Louis farm system and make it to the parent club. In his first big league start against the Cubs, the right-hander from Clarkton, Missouri pitched eight strong innings but lost a tough 1-0 decision. By May 16th, he was 3-1 with a 2.86 ERA and Cardinal fans were most likely thinking they had a keeper. But it went downhill quickly from there for Blaylock and by late July of that ’59 season with his record at 4-4 and his ERA up to 5.13, the Cards pulled the plug and put him on waivers.
A couple weeks later, the Yankees claimed the pitcher and inserted him in Casey Stengel’s bullpen. That ’59 Yankee team Blaylock joined was an underachieving ball club that would finish the season in 3rd place behind Chicago and Cleveland. They were already a full 11.5 games behind the White Sox when Blaylock made his first appearance in pinstripes on August 2nd. After a rough first time out with New York, he pitched well in his next three appearances and Stengel rewarded him with his one and only Yankee start against the Tigers. He got shelled, failing to make it out of the second inning. He stayed on that Yankee roster through the end of the season but his career in the Bronx ended at that point and Blaylock would never again pitch in a big league game. This Cuban defector shares Blaylock’s October 11th birthday.
Let’s take a look at my selections of the all time team of players who like Blaylock played for both the Cardinals and Yankees during their professional careers.
Here are Gary Blaylock’s Yankee seasonal and MLB career stats:
|STL (1 yr)||4||5||.444||5.13||26||12||1||3||0||0||100.0||117||61||57||14||43||61||1.600|
|NYY (1 yr)||0||1||.000||3.51||15||1||7||0||0||0||25.2||30||13||10||0||15||20||1.753|