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Frank John Viola, Jr. (born April 19 1960 in East Meadow, New York) is a former starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the Minnesota Twins (1982-89), New York Mets (1989-91), Boston Red Sox (1992-94), Cincinnati Reds (1995) and Toronto Blue Jays (1996).
He batted and threw left-handed, and was nicknamed "Sweet Music" – an unusual nickname he picked up after a Minnesota sports writer declared that when Viola pitched, there was sweet music in the Dome. The nickname was a play on the fact that his last name is also a name of a musical instrument. A fan began displaying a banner bearing the phrase in the outfield's upper deck whenever Viola pitched. Twins fans considered the banner to be a good luck charm. The banner is now property of the Minnesota Historical society. It was again displayed when Viola was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame.
Viola attended East Meadow High School in East Meadow, New York. Viola played baseball for the East Meadow Jets(High school team) while he attended the school. Viola went on to attend St. John's University before being drafted in the 2nd round of the 1981 amateur draft by the Twins. His first year in the majors was only one year after that, on June 6, 1982.
The most prominent portion of his career came in Minnesota, where he picked up 112 of his 176 career wins. His overall career stats are impressive, with a 3.73 ERA, 176-150 record, 74 complete games, and 16 shutouts in 421 games. His most impressive career achievement is his Cy Young Award in 1988, when he won a career high 24 games.
Early in his Major league career, his statistics were fairly disappointing. In the 1982 and 1983 seasons combined, he went 11-25 with a 5.37 ERA. However, after those two seasons, his career took off.
Averaging 229 innings pitched through his career, he was a true workhorse, finishing 74 of the 420 games he started. Most baseball enthusiasts agree that his best year was also his last full year with the Twins. In 1988, when he won 24 games, losing only 7 and completing 7 games, 2 for shutouts. That year, he had an impressive 255 innings pitched and gave up only 20 home runs, and 54 walks. Viola led the league in wins that year, and his ERA was a career-low 2.64. He would go on to win the AL Cy Young Award that year, beating out 2nd place Dennis Eckersley.
New York MetsEdit
At the trade deadline in July 1989, two years after Viola had led the Twins to a World Series in 1987 (where Viola was named the Series Most Valuable Player), they traded him to the Mets for a number of top players, including Rick Aguilera, David West, and Kevin Tapani. Leaving his lifelong team was tough, but Viola would go on to have more good years in New York and Boston.
In 1990, he had great season, this time for his hometown New York Mets finishing third in the Cy Young voting. That year it went to Doug Drabek. Viola was 20-12 that year, with a 2.67 ERA in 35 starts, including 3 shutouts.
In 1991, Viola started out winning 12 of his first fourteen decisions and made the All-Star Game again. However, in the second half, Viola wasn't able to keep it going. As the Mets sank further and further in the division race (after being in contention in most of the early part of the season, they slid all the way to fifth in the division with 91 losses), Viola struggled as well, winning one decision the remainder of the year, his last as a Met, and finishing at 13-15.
He signed with the Red Sox in January 1992. He was injured while with the Red Sox and underwent 'Tommy John' Surgery. He finished his career with the Reds and then the Blue Jays ending his career on May 28, 1996. He finished his career with 1844 strikeouts.
Viola's two and a half seasons with the Mets in the National League gave him 179 at bats, enough to accumulate only 25 hits. He would get 6 more at bats in 1995 with the Reds and got 1 hit. Overall 26 for 185 was a .141 batting average. With 3 walks in his career, his on base percentage was .154. However, in his last season with the Mets he became more productive picking up 10 sacrifice hits and 2 doubles. He would end his career with 6 RBIs.
He only got one chance in the postseason and he certainly made the most of it. It was with the Twins in 1987. After getting past the Detroit Tigers in the 1987 American League Championship Series, Viola and the Twins had to face favorites, the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Viola pitched Game 1, when the Twins blew the Cardinals away 10-1.
Game 4 was his second start, and the Twins went on to lose 7-2. After the Twins tied the series in Game 6 with an 11-5 win under a Don Baylor home run, it was up to Viola in Game 7. He pitched a gem, shutting the Cardinals out after giving up 2 runs in the 2nd inning. Jeff Reardon pitched the ninth inning and the Twins won 4-2 and won the World Series 4-3. Viola was named World Series MVP.
In retirement, Viola had coached baseball for Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando, Florida, but no longer is involved with the program. His current coaching tenure has been with the Florida College Summer League's Leesburg Lightning. His daughter, Brittany Viola, is a diver who is entering the sports program at the University of Miami in 2006. She narrowly missed making the 2004 United States Olympic diving team.  His son, Frank Viola III, currently plays in the minor league system for the Chicago White Sox as a pitcher. Daughter Kaley Viola currently plays volleyball at Winthrop University. His brother, John, and his family still reside in East Meadow, New York Frank's hometown.
- Won the 1987 Babe Ruth Award
- World Series MVP in 1987
- Won the 1988 AL Cy Young Award
- Finished in the Top 10 in the league for innings pitched 7 times in his career
- Finished 3rd in the league shutouts in 1984 with 4
- All-Star in 1988, 1990, and 1991.
- Ranks tied for #93 in games started on the all-time leaderboard All-time GS leaders at BaseballReference.com
- Noted for his changeup.
- Gave up Rod Carew's 3000th career hit on August 4, 1985.
- Baseball-Reference.com - Major league career statistics
|World Series MVP|
|Babe Ruth Award|
Roger Clemens & Dave Stewart
|American League Wins Champion|
|American League Cy Young Award|
|American League All-Star Game Starting Pitcher|