Anthony Young: The Passing Of Baseball’s Lovable Loser By Joe Saponara

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*** Written By Joe Saponara****

I went to Shea Stadium on June 27, 1993. This was one of my first times there. Anthony Young was pitching. He had lost 26 straight decisions. This had the potential to be number 27. That had never happened before. The Mets jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first. It looked like things might be different on that particular Sunday afternoon. They were not. In fact, things were very normal. Young and his team still held an advantage after three innings. The shutout and lead disappeared in the fourth. St. Louis went on to win. Another L for Anthony. The streak eventually ended, and that game I attended ended up being his last loss of the streak. It is still the record today. I kept my ticket stub for years, but eventually lost it. I’m sure it would not be worth very much, but I wouldn’t sell it anyway.

Here is the thing about Anthony Young: he really was not that bad. No great player, but probably at least average. A potentially decent guy should not have lost 27 straight decisions. Despite having been a starter, Young later filled in for John Franco. He even converted 12 straight save opportunities during the losing streak. Young tossed 23 2/3 scoreless innings in that span. Closers are generally not in position to pick up a victory. Usually it is a save if things go well or a blown save and loss if you fail. An article recently described him as “beloved”, and he was considered a fan favorite. Indications were that Young was a nice guy. He handled the streak with class. One former teammate called Young a true gentleman. His career ERA of 3.89 is almost baffling. Stats were starting to take off. Many people think numbers suddenly went crazy after the strike of 1994, but that season saw plenty of offensive production. Colorado had started play in the NL. That place was a pitcher’s nightmare. New stadiums were built small for success by hitters. There was always a question of whether or not balls were juiced. Some players certainly were. Matt Williams hit 43 home runs through 115 San Francisco Giants games in 1994. That pace equals 60.6 homers through a complete season of 162 games. The strike ended play prematurely in August. Anybody with an ERA under 4 did not seem like one of the worst pitchers around. Young definitely was not in that category. I remember calling Ian Eagle in 1993 and suggesting that Young could succeed with New York’s other baseball team. Years later the Yankees won with former Mets Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. I knew George Steinbrenner would enjoy sticking it to his cross-town rivals. Gooden and Strawberry had found glory playing at Shea, but their careers (not to mention lives) were filled with rough patches. Each man needed a revival. I thought Young would have been a good fit for the Yanks. I’m sticking to that belief.

Young finished with a career record of 15 wins and 48 losses. Unfortunately, there was more bad luck ahead for him. He was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Young passed away on June 27, 2017. He died exactly 24 years after I watched him pitch at Shea and set the record at 27. People will remember him for different things. Those who knew him will likely remember Young as a father, friend, or regular good guy. Some might think of Young as a youth leagues coach. Sadly, many will probably just hear his name and think of him as a loser. To me, he will always be that talented pitcher who simply could not catch a break.

Rest in peace, Anthony.

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