Saturday, June 12, 2010
#303) RON DARLING
Ron Darling joined the New York Mets when he was traded from the Texas Rangers along with Walt Terrell in exchange for Lee Mazzilli on April 1, 1982. A tremendous trade for the Mets that was orchestrated by General Manager, Joe McIlvaine. "We made the trade late in the day," Joe said, "And when we announced it, I was at a high school game in Tampa. And when I got there, I saw Joe Klein. He was the head of player development for the Rangers then. He was—I don't know, 150 feet away—and he starts running toward me. And I mean running. And he starts yelling, 'What did you do to me? What did you do?'" To top it off the young high school pitcher being scouted that day was none other than Dwight Gooden.
Darling pitched two seasons with Triple-A Tidewater before earning a late season promotion when rosters expanded. He made his major-league debut in a Mets' uniform at Shea Stadium facing the Philadelphia Phillies on September 6, 1983. The first three hitters that Darling faced were Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, and Mike Schmidt. The right-handed rookie would strike out both Morgan and Rose before retiring Schmidt on a groundout. "That's why I hope Pete makes it to the Hall of Fame someday," Ron said. "I don't think anyone has faced three hitters like that to begin their career."
It was only the start of what was to follow. Darling would earn the National League Pitcher of the Month Award in June of 1984. He represented the Mets in the Major League All-Star Game in 1985. A excellent fielder, Ron earned a National League Gold Glove Award in 1989.
He played a major role in bringing New York a World Series Championship in 1986. A part of the tremendously talented starting pitching staff that year, Darling won Game Four of the World Series, and was one of a three-man rotation used against Boston during the seven game victory. After the road team had been victorious in the first four games of the series, he famously was quoted, "It just goes to show you that baseball makes no sense at all."
After a nine-year career with the Mets where he had 99 wins and a 3.50 ERA, the former Yale standout was traded to the Montreal Expos with Mike Thomas in exchange for Tim Burke on July 15, 1991. New York had decided that he was going to be dropped from the starting rotation in favor of Sid Fernandez, "It's better for me to have a chance to pitch every fifth day rather than not pitch and mop up." Darling said.
Ron made his major motion picture acting debut in 2001. Appearing in the film Shallow Hal with Gwyneth Paltrow, on the advice of his son, Tyler. "You have to do it Dad," the younger Darling explained, "She's the bomb." The former pitcher followed that with the roles of a news anchor in The Day After Tomorrow and an announcer in the television movie, Clubhouse.
In 2009, Darling published his book, The Complete Game: Reflections on Baseball, Pitching and Life on the Mound. It serves as a terrific insight into the pitcher's thought process. An excerpt reads: "A major league pitching mound can be the loneliest place in all of team sports, and it can be the loftiest. It's up to each pitcher to claim that small piece of real estate and make it his own—no matter the inning, no matter the situation, no matter what." -Ron Darling
As a member of the SNY Television announcing team, Ron began covering the New York Mets broadcasts in 2006. He has been described as one of the most articulate commentators in baseball. Confirmed when Darling won an Emmy Award for best "Sports Analyst" in 2006. He has also appeared on Turner Sports as an analyst for their game broadcasts.
Ron Darling signed his card in the set for my good friend, Jessie through the legendary Jack Berke on
June 5, 2010. Jack's website can be found here.