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Former Mets pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre passes away at age 77

MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 03: A Wilson baseball glove and major league baseballs sits on the field at Miller Park on September 3, 2015 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jeff Haynes/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 03: A Wilson baseball glove and major league baseballs sits on the field at Miller Park on September 3, 2015 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jeff Haynes/Getty Images)
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The New York Mets family lost a former coach with the passing of Mel Stottlemyre Sr. He was 77.

Former New York Mets pitching coach and MLB pitcher Mel Stottlemyre Sr. passed away this week at the age of 77. Stottlemyre was battling a 20-year long struggle with bone marrow cancer to which he sadly succumbed to on January 14, 2019.

Stottlemyre came up through the Yankees farm system in 1964 and quickly rose to become the Yankees ace staff pitcher the following year. He pitched eleven seasons in Yankee pinstripes and was a 5-time All-Star along with being a three-time 20-game winner. He finished with a career winning percentage at almost 55% and a lifetime ERA of 2.97 as a starter.

Stottlemyre went on to have an even better career as a pitching coach as he became the Mets pitching coach in 1984, after spending five years in Seattle as a roving instructor for the Mariners.

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Stottlemyre was instrumental in the molding of such talented young Mets’ arms as Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez and later on Bobby Ojeda. He stayed as the Mets pitching coach until 1993.

In 1986, Stottlemyre coached and was responsible for Mets winning the world championship. Four of his five starters that year pitched over 200 innings and had at least 15 wins in the regular season.  In fact, Mel and his pitching staffs were largely given their fair share of credit for the Mets winning seasons dating from 1984 all the way to 1990.

In 1996, Joe Torre decided to hire Stottlemyre as his pitching coach when he took over as the Yankees skipper. Working with such famous Yankee pitchers as Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, David Cone and Mariano Rivera – Stottlemyre was considered a major factor in why the Yankees were able to win four World Series titles in a five year span (1996,1998, 1999, 2000).

In the spring of 1999, Stottlemyre was first diagnosed with a cancer of the white blood cells known as “multiple myeloma”.  Even though this disease had no cure, the highly accomplished pitching coach took it on like the fierce competitor he always was. He underwent four months of chemotherapy, a stem-cell transplant and, at one point, took over 24 pills a day to stave off the disease.

Even though the doctors had given him only five years or so to live from when the cancer was first diagnosed, Stottlemyre beat the odds and survived up until 2019.

Stottlemyre was raised as a child in the southern part of Washington state in a town called Mabton. The mayor of Mabton, WA declared October 12 to be called “Mel Stottlemyre Day” in 1964.  In June of  2015, Stottlemyre gave an emotional and thankful speech in front of a packed house on Old Timer’s day at Yankee Stadium. It was on this same day that the Yankees dedicated a plaque to his honor in Monument Park for all his accomplishments.

Stottlemyre is survived by his wife Jean and his two sons Todd and Mel Jr. – who both also went on to pitch in the Major Leagues as well. I can say with great certainty that New York city baseball as a whole probably owes a debt of gratitude to the professional accomplishments and hard work of Mel Stottlemyre Sr.

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He will be sorely missed.

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