Infamous streak still follows former Met Young
Now coaching youngsters in Texas, retired righty is often reminded of tough stretch in career
HOUSTON -- Even before the conversation starts, Anthony Young knows what the topic is.
Nineteen years have passed since Young last appeared in a Major League game, and he surely hadn't gained the kind of superstar status during his pitching career that might merit being approached for interviews this long after retirement. But considering he made history for something that might not be something he'd choose to be remembered for, Young's knowing grin is understandable.
"It's OK," Young said during a Major League Baseball Alumni Association golf tournament in Houston earlier this season. "I'm used to it."
Young's record? He set a Major League mark by losing 27 consecutive games in which he had a decision. The streak spanned two seasons, both with the Mets, beginning May 6, 1992, and lasting through July 24, 1993.
Four days later, on July 28, Young's streak ended. He got the win, but in a manner that was sort of fitting, given how the previous 14 months had gone.
The Marlins and Mets were tied 3-3 in the ninth, and Young entered to face the Nos. 6-7-8 hitters. He gave up an unearned run, the result of an error by his catcher.
But, finally, redemption. The Mets came back to score two runs, the final blow delivered by future Hall of Famer Eddie Murray, who doubled home Ryan Thompson. This gave the Mets a 5-4 win and "improved" Young's record to 1-13.
"I said, 'Finally, they can stop talking about it,'" Young said.
But "they" never did. And, now, 22 years later, we're reigniting that magic.
In honor of the anniversary of the streak that mercifully ended, it's seems only appropriate to bring it up again. This comes as no surprise to Young, who realizes, good-naturedly, this is all part of it.
"They never stopped talking about it," Young said with a laugh. "They still talk to me about it today. I coach select baseball, and some of my kids still make fun of me."
But here's what made the streak so interesting -- Young actually pitched pretty well throughout.
It's too bad Young is not pitching today, where the general feeling among front offices and stat-minded fans is that a pitcher's record doesn't really matter. He finished 1992 with a 4.17 ERA over 52 games. Thirteen of those games were starts, and Young also was a pretty serviceable closer, logging 15 saves. These numbers somewhat take the glare off the 2-14 record.
In 1993, Young was 1-16. But beyond the .059 winning percentage was a respectable 3.77 ERA. Young started 10 games that year and logged 100 1/3 innings. He was also sent to Triple-A in August of that season for a spell.
But first, there was the streak. What began as a semi-interesting side story turned into a festering wound that refused to die. It went on. And on. And on.
And through it all, Young pitched well.
Consider the 12 straight save opportunities he converted. He also threw 23 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings while filling in for closer John Franco.
But still. All those losses. Young was 0-14 as a starter and 0-13 as a reliever during the streak.
If he tried to forget about it, reporters were there to serve as constant reminders.
"When it was approaching to tie the record, the reporters came in and kept reminding me of it," Young said. "And then once I tied the record and then broke the record ... it became a zoo. Everybody wanted to talk, because they never knew when I was going to be in the game, because I was in the 'pen at the time. So it got to a point where I just talked to reporters whenever I made an appearance."
The streak was less about bad pitching and more about simple bad luck. More than once, Young was on the verge of ending the streak, if not for a teammate's error.
And then it was, "Here we go again."
"My teammates, they were trying so hard, and I guess they were trying so hard that they were making mistakes," Young said. "Even when I did break the record, they had made an error and I was about to get the loss again."
Today, Young is living in his hometown of Houston, coaching 13- and 14-year-olds playing select baseball. He runs a baseball facility in Humble, Texas, and conducts private lessons as an instructor.
If Young was ever to forget about the streak, his pupils are there to remind him.
"They give me a hard time about it," Young said. "We make fun about it, but I know, and they know, it was a fluke.
"I really don't think I deserved it, but I have the record. And I don't wish it on anyone."