Friday, August 26, 2011
#479) DAVE MLICKI
Dave Mlicki joined the New York Mets when he was traded along with Paul Byrd, Jerry DiPoto, and Jesus Azuaje from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Jeromy Burnitz, and Joe Roa on November 18, 1994. "We saw a need to beef up our pitching staff and we had the opportunity to acquire some pitchers," explained Mets general manager, Joe McIlvaine. Although many believed that the strained relationship between Burnitz and Mets manager, Dallas Green had as much to do with the deal.
The righthander made his debut with the New York Mets on April 29, 1995. He came from the bullpen to finish the game at Shea Stadium. Dave threw a scoreless 11th-inning and was credited with the 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. It was the Ohio native's first major-league win. "I'm going to give Mlicki a shot at it for a while and see how it goes," Manager Green said. "I think that he'll be the fifth guy for a while." Dave was given the chance to start and finished with a 9-7 record, and 4.26 ERA in 29 appearances. "Cleveland was great to me; I still have a lot of friends there," said the 26-year-old rookie. "But it was time for a change and this worked out the best."
After two consecutive losses in starting assignments to begin 1996, Mlicki began to pitch from the bullpen. He remained in that role for the entire season even after Bobby Valentine replaced Green as manager on August 26th. The results were a 6-7 record, and an improved 3.30 ERA.
Injuries to the three Mets prospects—Jason Isringhausen, Bill Pulsipher, and Paul Wilson caused the trio to begin the next year on rehabilitation assignments. The development moved Dave back into New York's starting rotation for 1997. "Mlicki has had success as a starter in the past." Valentine offered. The move set up Dave's biggest moment as a New York Met. With the introduction of "interleague play" baseball had created the first meaningful match up of the Mets and Yankees in history. With fanfare rivaling that of the World Series the city braced for the Subway Series. "I remember seeing the schedule and thinking how much I wanted to pitch in just one of those games." said Mlicki. "To pitch in the first one was just so cool." The previously unheralded pitcher took the ball at Yankee Stadium on June 16, 1997. He delivered a nine-hit complete game shutout that propelled an underdog Mets club over the reigning World Champions by a 6-0 score. Dave even struck out Derek Jeter to end it. "I remember the excitement in the Stadium, all the Mets fans chanting, 'Let's Go Mets!' in Yankee Stadium." recalled Mlicki. "I thought it was really cool." The moment is remembered as an all-time favorite of all Mets fans and was not lost on Dave's biggest fan—his wife. "I'm very proud of him, thankful he's getting recognition doing his job," said Annie Mlicki. "and thankful Bobby Valentine gave him a chance to do his job."
The next year Mlicki had remained in the rotation, but was struggling with a 1-4 record during his first 10 starts. He was traded along with Greg McMichael to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Hideo Nomo, and Brad Clontz on June 4, 1998. "We're absolutely delighted with the deal," Dodgers general manager Fred Claire said. "Hideo had asked to be traded and we accommodated him. But at the same time, we've acquired two pitchers who we believe can help us."
Mlicki would finish a ten-year major league career in 2002. Following that he returned to his hometown of Dublin, Ohio where his family became the focus. Dave has been able to coach his two sons on various sports teams and work with young pitchers at Jerome High School. A passion for golf has allowed Mlicki to never lack for competition in his retirement from baseball. "It was a cool time in my life. New York was a cool place to be and I was fortunate to play there." explains Dave. "It's in the past now and now I love spending time with my family. There's nothing greater than seeing them everyday and we play catch or something and baseball is what afforded me this luxury. For that. I am thankful."
I created Dave Mlicki's card in the set from an autographed index card given to me by my good friend, Jessie on August 26, 2011.