NEW YORK -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch has been inside both versions of Yankee Stadium many times, but Friday marked the first time he toured Monument Park in center field. Hinch snapped a photo of the plaque for former Yankees pitcher and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Sr. and planned to text it to him.
Stottlemyre was an advisor for the Arizona Diamondbacks when Hinch was the farm director. Mel Stottlemyre Jr. was the pitching coach at the time, and Hinch has remained closed to both father and son. Mel Jr. is currently the pitching coach in Seattle.
"When both of us went to the big leagues, Mel Sr. came to Spring Training a couple of times and was just a voice of reason for a couple of young coaches, one of them being his son," said Hinch, who managed the D-backs from 2009-11. "He hung around our organization quite a bit."
Stottlemyre has battled cancer since 2000, which was the year he won his fourth World Series ring as the Yankees' pitching coach. Stottlemyre was a five-time All-Star as a pitcher with the Yankees, going 164-139 with a 2.97 ERA from 1964-74. He won 20 games three times.
"I'm rooting for him to feel better," Hinch said.
Hinch told the story of going on a fishing trip several years ago in Idaho with Mel Sr. and Mel Jr. The boat they were navigating got stuck, and both Stottlemyres got into the water to try to move the boat while instructing Hinch to remain inside.
"They wouldn't let me get in the water when the boat got stuck," Hinch said. "I was the least experienced fisherman. We were chasing steelheads. Mel Jr. runs a guide business in Lewiston, Idaho. We finally caught one. It was monstrous. It had to have been the biggest one of all time.
"And then we circled around and Mel Jr. got the boat stuck. I'm watching legendary Mel Sr. and Mel Jr., who worked for me at the time as pitching coach, tread water, and I was just sitting on the boat waiting for them to get unstuck."