David Cone had some of his best years as a member of the New York Mets. Unfortunately, if you grew up in the 1990s as I did, you never really thought of him as a member of the orange and blue.
On July 18, 1999, Cone took the mound against the Montreal Expos representing the New York Yankees. Cone had been with the team in the Bronx since mid-1995 and put together some very solid seasons. One year earlier, he won 20 games for the second time in his career. Cone had not done this for more than a decade when he was a 20-game winner for the 1988 Mets.
Cone retired all 27 Expos batters he faced on that hot afternoon just a few degrees shy of 100. I remember it vividly. Cone dropped to his knees and cried when it was all over. I think this was the first time I remembered seeing a professional athlete tear up.
From afar, Mets fans watched as David Cone would forever be remembered best as a member of the Yankees
Cone wasn’t the first former Mets pitcher to toss a no-hitter or perfect game in this era. Only three years earlier, Dwight Gooden did it with the Yankees as well. As painful as it was, I imagine people were happy for Doc. I didn’t start following baseball until the end of the 1996 season so all I can really do is make an assumption—or talk to someone a few years older that remembers. But that would involve social interaction and that’s just not what people my age do.
Cone’s perfect game was different. Not only was it a step better than Gooden’s accomplishment, it was also the second time it happened in a short period of time.
The Yankees, without the purpose of doing so, rubbed a lot of salt in the wounds of Mets fans in the late 1990s. Gooden and Cone won World Series and pitched epic games for them. Darryl Strawberry picked up a few rings with the team, too.
Everything reached its culmination with the 2000 World Series. Yet again, the Yankees came out on top.
Cone’s overall numbers with the Mets are much better than what he did with the Yankees. This is to be expected when we consider his age. However, the winning percentages were nearly identical. Cone owned a .614 winning percentage with the Mets compared to a slightly better .615 performance with the Yankees.
Amazingly, he also struck out batters at the same exact rate with both New York teams: 8.7 per nine innings of work.
Cone didn’t get to pitch for too many good Mets clubs. The 1988 season was his lone trip to the postseason with them. After departing, he won four World Series: three with the Yankees and one with the Toronto Blue Jays.
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It was this perfect game that had all of the baseball world watching in 1999 that officially changed the perception of Cone’s career. In part, you can blame my age for this. When I think of David Cone, I think of the Yankees, not the Mets. The game everyone was talking about in 1999 sealed the deal.