Dave Righetti’s Yankee Regret Turns into Giant Success

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Dave Righetti is a uniquely successful pitching coach, leading the San Francisco Giants’ staff to their third World Series in the past five years. In his 15 years as Giants pitching coach, he’s overseen the success of two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, and All-Stars Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and Brian Wilson. But for all his post-playing day success, there seems to be a hole in his resume. 

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In Mike Puma’s article, Righetti’s discusses his lack of a Yankee championship ring. “I think about it every day. The reason that I do, there is always somebody in the other dugout who is an ex-Yankee or an ex-teammate, so it is always brought up, and people are writing books about the lost ’80s.”

Righetti was the 1981 AL Rookie of the Year as a starter, winning eight of his 12 decisions and logging a 2.05 ERA.   He was the starter in Game 3 of the World Series, pitching against Dodger phenom Fernando Valenzuela, with the Yanks leading the series 2-0. Righetti, in what would be his only World Series start, lasted only two innings giving up three runs, as the Yanks lost to Valenzuela, and then dropped the next three games to lose the Series. 

Righetti’s 1982 was disappointing in the beginning, when after a slow start, the impatient Yankee management sent him down to Triple-A Columbus for seasoning.  The year ended well, as he won 11 games, but this set the tone for young players in the Yankee organization – no amount of success bought you any guarantee of longevity if you hit a slump.

1983 was Righetti’s most successful season as a starter, winning 14 games and providing the highlight of his season, when on July 4th (owner George Steinbrenner’s birthday), he threw a no-hitter against the Red Sox.  In 1984, Righetti’s career took a turn: he was moved to the bullpen as the nominal closer. He went on to be one of the best relief pitchers in baseball, leading the league in saves and setting the then-big league record in 1986 with 46 and becoming a two-time All-Star. (He also became an answer to the trivia question – who was the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter and then lead the league in saves?) Righetti left the Yanks to join the Giants as a free agent in 1991 and retired for good in 1995.

In 2000, Righetti joined Giants’ manager

Dusty Baker

’s staff, and created a pitching staff that won the NL pennant in 2002. In 2007, current manager

Bruce Bochy

retained Righetti who is now cemented as one of the leading pitching coaches in baseball.

But as a player, he’s always wondering what could have been.