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Alois Terry "Al" Leiter (Template:PronEng, born October 23, 1965 in Toms River, New Jersey), is a retired Major League Baseball left-handed starting pitcher. He attended Central Regional High School. He is now a color commentator and an analyst on the New York Yankees Pre-Game Show and New York Yankees Post-Game Show for the YES Network.
Early Career (1987-1995)Edit
Leiter was a prospect with the New York Yankees along with his brother Mark. Leiter made his major league debut as the starting pitcher for the Yankees on September 15, 1987, earning the win in a Yankees 4-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Yankee Stadium. Leiter struggled with blisters on his pitching hand to such a degree that the Yankees gave up on him at the age of 23 and dealt him to the Toronto Blue Jays for outfielder Jesse Barfield on April 30, 1989. Early in his Blue Jay career, he was able to overcome the blisters with an exotic liniment (that he used throughout his career) and was seen as a very promising prospect.
In 1989, after being dealt to Toronto, the left-hander had arthroscopic surgery. He pitched in fewer than 20 innings for the Blue Jays from 1989-1992, because of the surgery, a pinched nerve in his elbow, tendinitis, and another arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder. His statistics during this period were a 5.17 ERA, 15 2/3 IP, 14 H, 10 K, 11 BB, 1 HR, 1 GS, 0-0. Leiter finally got over his injury troubles in 1993, making 32 appearances (12 starts) for the Blue Jays. That year he appeared in 5 postseason games and even picked up a win in relief (and hit a double) in Game One of the 1993 World Series, as the Blue Jays went on to win their second consecutive World Championship. Leiter pitched effectively for the Blue Jays for the next two seasons before departing via free agency in 1996.
Florida Marlins (1996-1997)Edit
Following the 1995 season, Leiter left Toronto and signed with the Florida Marlins as a free agent. In his first season as a Marlin, Leiter made his first All-Star team, going 16-12 with a 2.93 ERA and 200 strikeouts. On May 11 of that year, Leiter pitched a no-hitter against the Colorado Rockies, the first in Marlins history.
In 1997, Leiter won another World Series as the Marlins beat the Cleveland Indians. Leiter started Game 7 for the Marlins, pitching 6 innings and giving up two earned runs while being credited with a no decision. The Marlins would go on to win the game 3-2 in 11 innings to capture the championship.
New York Mets (1998-2004)Edit
In Leiter's first season as a Met, he reached a career high in wins going 17-6 and a career low in ERA finishing with a 2.47 ERA. In 1999, when the Mets were tied with the Cincinnati Reds for the National League Wild Card spot after 162 games, Leiter was the Mets starting pitcher in the "winner take all" one game playoff in Cinergy Field in Cincinnati. Leiter pitched a 2-hit complete game shutout to earn the win in the Mets 5-0 victory. The win put the Mets in the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons. The Mets would go on to lose the 1999 National League Championship Series to the Atlanta Braves 4 games to 2.
In 2000, Leiter made the All-Star team once again going 16-8 with a 3.20 ERA and 200 strikeouts. The Mets made the playoffs again in 2000 and this time reached the World Series. Leiter started Game 1 of the 2000 World Series at Yankee Stadium and Game 5 at Shea Stadium. Although he managed to achieve a 2.87 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings, the Mets lost both games he started and eventually lost the World Series 4 games to 1.
On April 30, 2002, Leiter became the first Major League pitcher to defeat all 30 teams, after beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 10-1. Leiter would pitch for the Mets until the end of the 2004 season. In his seven seasons in a Met uniform, all wearing number 22, he went 95-67 with a 3.42 ERA. At the time he left the Mets, he ranked highly on several Mets all-time lists including wins (6th), strikeouts (7th with 1106), innings pitched (7th with 1360.0), and games started (6th with 213). He was the Mets Opening Day starting pitcher in 1999, 2001, and 2002.
In ten straight seasons, from 1995 to 2004, Leiter had at least 10 wins and at least a .500 record.
Final Season (2005-2006)Edit
Following the 2004 season, the Mets declined Leiter's US$10 million option for 2005, making him a free agent. His former team, the Marlins, signed Leiter to a one-year, $8 million contract on December 8, 2004.
Leiter struggled during his return to the Marlins. He walked more batters than usual (60 in 80 innings, in addition to 88 hits). In 17 appearances (16 starts), he had a 3-7 record and a 6.64 ERA, and he took much criticism for the Marlins' first-half struggles in 2005 (they were 7 games behind the surprising Washington Nationals at the All-Star break). He was demoted to the bullpen in late June, but he returned to the rotation after an injury to Josh Beckett. On July 10, when the Marlins played their last game before the three-day All-Star break, he gave up six runs in three-plus innings.
On July 14, 2005, the Florida Marlins designated Leiter for assignment. The next day, he was acquired by the New York Yankees, who had four starting pitchers on the disabled list, for a player to be named later. His first start as a Yankee since April 26, 1989, came on July 17, 2005, against the division-leading Boston Red Sox. Leiter won the game, pitching 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run and three hits, and striking out eight. After several starts with mixed success, he informed Joe Torre that he would be willing to pitch out of the bullpen, where he would stay for the latter part of the season, yielding his starting slot to Aaron Small.
Leiter worked out of the bullpen in the 2005 American League Division Series pitching in four of the five games between the Yankees and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Angels won the series 3 games to 2. In his final official appearance in a Major League uniform, Leiter earned a win pitching 2/3 scoreless innings in Game 4 at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees won the game 3-2.
Leiter signed a minor league contract with the Yankees in 2006; however, he stated he would likely retire. The primary reason he spent part of spring training with the Yankees was to keep in shape for the World Baseball Classic. After the United States team was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic, he officially retired in an interview on YES, after a Yankees spring training victory versus the Indians where Leiter pitched 1/3 an inning. He has since become a color commentator for the YES Network.
Leiter has worked in the broadcast both for FOX during the playoffs in the past several seasons, mainly to provide in-depth analysis of various pitchers. Leiter's contract with YES allows him to join a network broadcast team for the postseason once the Yankees have been eliminated from the playoffs.
Leiter has won nearly every philanthropic award MLB offers, including the 2000 Roberto Clemente Award.
- MLB All-Time Hit Batsmen List
- Top 100 strikeout pitchers of all time
- List of Major League Baseball no-hitters
- ↑ Rushin, Steve. "World Series: 1993 - Home Sweet Homer", Sports Illustrated, November 1, 1993, accessed April 26, 2007. "'I don't give a —— how it feels,' said a laughing Leiter, whose last hit came for Central Regional High in Bayville, N.J., where he batted .220 in 1984."
- ↑ Caldera, Pete. "LEITER HAS BEATEN THEM ALL", The Record (Bergen County), May 2, 2002. Accessed August 26, 2008. "With the Mets' 10-1 victory Tuesday against the Diamondbacks, Leiter became the first man to ever defeat all 30 teams."