Tuesday, May 25, 2010
#345) DAVID CONE
David Cone came to the New York Mets when he was traded along with Chris Jelic by the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Ed Hearn, Rick Anderson, and Mauro Gozzo on March 27, 1987. The 24-year-old prospect, Cone was available only because the Royals greater need for a catcher. "Going from the Royals to the Mets, I was going from the best staff in the American League to the best in the National. I was concerned about getting a job," Cone remembers. "John (Schuerholz, Kansas City general manager) said the Mets had been offered every other pitcher in the organization, but they wouldn't give in. I was the pitcher they wanted."
The Mets insistence was rewarded when David emerged as one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. The 1988 season was his first full one in the major leagues. Cone finished with a record of 20-3, while compiling 213 strikeouts (second to only Nolan Ryan that year), and a 2.22 ERA. He was named the National League Pitcher of the Month in May, and finished third in the Cy Young Award voting. Not only had he secured a spot in the rotation, David had become an ace of the staff. Cone was selected as a Met to the Major League All-Star team in both 1988 and 1992.
"I was considered a flake in Kansas City," David said, with a sly smile. "I fit right in when I came here." Cone had come over with a reputation as a spirited young bachelor who enjoyed the nightlife. "The swaggering, arrogant Mets," he said fondly. "We played hard and we partied hard. I'm not ashamed of that. I was no angel—I did some things I shouldn't have done, lived a lifestyle I shouldn't have lived. I had a blast at times; other times, I probably compromised my job, my duty to do my job, to be ready as a professional."
On the mound he was astounding. The final day of the 1991 season he faced the Philadelphia Phillies and fanned 19 batters in his nine-inning shutout victory. Raising his total to a league best 241 strikeouts for the year. Cone had also been the National League leader in 1990.
David was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Jeff Kent and Ryan Thompson on August 27, 1992. In the final year of his contract, the Mets felt little chance of being able to resign the star on the free agent market. Cone would capture his first World Series Championship with the Blue Jays that season.
Cone returned to the Mets when he signed as a free agent on February 13, 2003. The now 40-year-old pitcher had sat out the previous season and wanted to see if indeed his career was at it's end. An arthritic hip proved to be too great an obstacle and he announced his retirement during a press conference at Shea Stadium on May 30th. He said, "I'm very thankful to the Mets for allowing me to come back to New York and do this properly, as opposed to last year when I just kind of faded away."
In 1996, he established the David Cone Foundation, an organization to assist children's charities.
David Cone signed his card from the set for my good friend, Jessie at the Steiner Sports Store inside Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, NY on May 15, 2010.