Sunday, July 18, 2010
#400) ANTHONY YOUNG
Anthony Young was selected by the New York Mets in the 38th round of the free agent draft on June 2, 1987. He was a scholarship defensive back at the University of Houston. Anthony made his major league debut as a member of the Mets on August 5, 1991. He became the lowest draft pick to make the team since 38th-rounder Dave Schneck in 1967. "Anthony started slowly this year at Tidewater, but he turned it around and based on what he's shown up here, we think that Anthony has a chance to make the team as a starter next year," offered Mets' Assistant Vice President Gerry Hunsicker on his debut.
On May 6, 1992 he was the losing pitcher when the Mets fell to the Cincinnati Reds at Riverfront Stadium. That started what would become a streak of losses which elevated the young right-hander to national attention. Young would drop 27 consecutive decisions (14 as a starter, and 13 as a reliever) before finally ending it with a win on July 24, 1993. "I got a bad rap on that," Anthony says of the streak, in which he had a 4.36 ERA. "I always said I didn't feel like I was pitching badly. It just happened to happen to me. I don't feel like I deserve it, but I'm known for it. It was an 82-year old record and it might be 82 more years before it's broken." His 27 straight losses eclipsed the mark of 23 recorded by Boston hurler, Cliff Curtis in 1911. The New York Times described Anthony as a "Noble Loser" and wrote, " Mr. Young endures all this with remarkable dignity, acknowledging the pain of his predicament but never giving in to it by whining."
It was the hard-luck nature and no excuse attitude of Young during the losing streak that kept the Shea Stadium faithful firmly behind the pitcher. He was even satirized by late-night talk show host, Jay Leno on a regular basis. Anthony made an appearance on his program once back on the winning track. "It was a lot of fun." Anthony remembers. During the struggle his locker was filled with good luck talismans mailed to him from supporters hoping to help. Psychics called the team and offered their assistance. All this added to the mystique of the Mets pitcher.
Other baseball clubs saw the promise in Young and routinely contacted New York in efforts to acquire him. He was traded to the Chicago Cubs along with Ottis Smith in exchange for Jose Vizcaino on March 30, 1994.
After his active pitching career came eight years working at a chemical plant. But he followed his desire to coach and developed AY Enterprises. Anthony formed teams of 9-13 year-olds in the Houston area. He also returned to the Mets organization as a regular at Mets fantasy camps in Port St. Lucie, Florida. "Life is good," Young said. "I'm a grandfather. It's been a pleasure watching my kids grow up and I'm keeping busy with baseball."
Anthony Young signed his card in the set for my friend Jessie, when the Mets faced the Minnesota Twins at Citi Field on June 27, 2010. Young was being recognized along with Mets 2010 Fantasy Camp members at the game.