Thursday, April 1, 2010
#176) BOB APODACA
Bob Apodaca was originally signed by the New York Mets as an amateur free agent before the 1971 season. He would make his major league debut as a Met on September 18, 1973. Bob's first major league victory came facing the St. Louis Cardinals and Bob Gibson on May 13, 1974. Apodaca was the starting pitcher that day and went five innings of the 5-3 win. The soft-throwing reliever pitched four full seasons for New York before elbow injuries prematurely forced the end of his playing career. He finished with a 2.86 ERA, 16 wins and 26 saves during his time with the Mets. Ironically his last game came on September 18, 1977. Exactly five years to the day from his debut. Bob would attempt to return to the mound unsuccessfully in 1981, but struggled in Double-A Jackson and elected to retire.
Apodaca took his experience following his pitching career and became a coach. "You don't have to have raw velocity to pitch well," Bob said, "You have to adhere to fundamentals. You have to field your position, hold runners on, throw strikes. And above all, you have to think. I remember when I joined the Mets, and the way Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman and Jon Matlack used to get to the ball park early and sit around and go over their notes on hitters."
He served as a pitching coach in the Mets' minor league system for 16 years. In August of 1996, when Bobby Valentine was promoted to manager (replacing Dallas Green) he brought his fellow Triple-A coach with him to New York. It was a great decision as the man known as "Dac" became one of the most respected pitching coaches in the major leagues. "Coaching isn't just stressing the negatives. You absolutely stress the positives far more," Apodaca explained. "You put them in a position to succeed. Then you have to give them the space and trust their judgement." Apodaca remained as the Mets pitching coach until being dismissed by general manager, Steve Phillips on June 5, 1999. It was said that Valentine first learned of the news by reading about it in the newspaper. Apodaca was recruited by fellow former Met, and then manager, Clint Hurdle when he next became the pitching coach for the Colorado Rockies.
Bob was named to the California State University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.
Bob Apodaca signed his card in the set for my friend, Sam when he visited the Colorado Rockies spring training camp in Tucson, Arizona during March of 2010.