Ronald Ames Guidry (born August 28, 1950 in Lafayette, Louisiana), nicknamed "Louisiana Lightning" and "Gator" is a former Major League Baseball left-handed pitcher. He played 14 seasons for the New York Yankees from 1975 through 1988. Guidry was the pitching coach of the New York Yankees from 2006 to 2007.
Major league careerEdit
Guidry began his career pitching briefly in the 1975 and 1976 seasons. In 1977, he began as a relief pitcher but was moved into the starting rotation. He helped lead the New York Yankees to a World Series championship in 1977 and 1978. In those two years combined, Guidry went 4-0 in the postseason with 3 complete games in 5 starts, allowing only nine earned runs in 37 1/3 innings pitched.
In 1978, Guidry posted a career year, one of the best in the modern era. Against the California Angels on June 17, he struck out a Yankee-record 18 batters. Guidry's 18-strikeout performance is usually cited as the launching pad of the Yankee Stadium tradition of fans standing and clapping for a strikeout with two strikes on the opposing batter.
For the season, Guidry went 25-3, in a season that is among the top 10 in baseball history. He led the league with a sparkling 1.74 ERA, 25 wins, a .893 winning percentage, 9 shutouts, 248 strikeouts, and 6.15 hits allowed per 9 innings pitched. He held batters to a .193 batting average, .249 on base percentage, and .279 slugging percentage. He was even tougher with 2 outs and runners in scoring position (.152/.221/.253), and in the 9th inning of games (.119/.200/.136). Guidry's success during 1978 was due in large part to mastering the slider. He began throwing the pitch the year before, and was able to use the sharp-breaking slider to complement his great fastball throughout the season.
Guidry's 25th win of the regular season was his most significant, as he was the winning pitcher in the Yankees' 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox in a one-game playoff at Fenway Park in Boston to decide the American League East division winner. The game is best known for Bucky Dent's seventh-inning, three-run home run off Mike Torrez (who, as a Yankee pitching mate of Guidry's just the year before, had been on the mound for the final out of the 1977 World Series) that gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead. Earlier in the game, Guidry had given up a home run to Carl Yastrzemski—the only one hit by a left-hander off him all season.
Later that month, the Yankees again won the World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers. No American League pitcher posted an ERA as low again until Boston's Pedro Martínez in 2000. His magical 1978 year, when isolated, is arguably the most dominant year ever by a pitcher.
Coincidentally, in all three of Guidry's losses in 1978, the winning pitcher on the opposing team threw left-handed and had the first name "Mike." He lost 6-0 to the Milwaukee Brewers and left-hander Mike Caldwell on July 7, lost 2-1 to the Baltimore Orioles and left-hander Mike Flanagan on August 4, and lost 8-1 to the Toronto Blue Jays and left-hander Mike Willis on September 20.
Over the next seven seasons, Guidry amassed a 113-57 win-loss record. Guidry also won the Gold Glove Award five straight times (1982-86). However, arm problems that began in 1981 finally began dramatically affecting his performance. He retired from baseball on July 12, 1989, after shoulder surgery did not improve his performance.
As well as winning the 1978 Cy Young Award, Guidry was named The Sporting News AL Pitcher and Major League Player of the Year. Guidry was named "Lefthanded Pitcher" on The Sporting News AL All-Star Teams in 1978, 1981, 1983 and 1985. Guidry also finished in the top 10 in the American League Cy Young voting six times (1977-79, 1981, 1983 and 1985) over a nine-year span.
On August 7, 1984, Guidry struck out three batters on nine pitches in the ninth inning of a 7-0 win over the Chicago White Sox. Guidry became the eighth American League pitcher and the 20th pitcher in Major League history to accomplish the so-called "immaculate inning." He was the first pitcher to do so in the 9th inning of a complete game, a feat which has since been matched only once.
Guidry served as co-captain of the Yankees along with Willie Randolph from March 4, 1986, until July 12, 1989.
His number 49 was retired on "Ron Guidry Day," August 23, 2003. The Yankees also dedicated a plaque to hang in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. The plaque calls Guidry "A dominating pitcher and a respected leader" and "A true Yankee." Each living Yankee previously so honored was on hand for the ceremony: Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson and Don Mattingly.
Guidry joined Yankee's Manager Joe Torre's coaching staff as pitching coach in the 2006 season, replacing Mel Stottlemyre. Under Guidry's tenure, the Yankees' pitching staff enjoyed mixed results. The pitching staff's ERA decreased from 4.52 in 2005 to 4.41 in 2006 under his first year of coaching, though in 2007, the team ERA increased to 4.49 (or 17th overall in the Major leagues).
However, Guidry was criticized in 2007, because the highly-acclaimed pitching staff was underachieving. The Yankees pitching staff in 2007 walked the sixth most batters overall in the Major leagues; this was the most walks in a season for a Yankees pitching staff since the 2000 season. Torre's departure from the Yankees following the 2007 ended Guidry's tenure as pitching coach. Though he was interested in returning to the Yankees for the 2008 season, he was not offered a position on new manager Joe Girardi's coaching staff. He did return to the Yankees as a spring training instructor.
- List of Major League Baseball leaders in career wins
- List of Major League Baseball ERA champions
- List of Major League Baseball wins champions
- List of pitchers who have struck out 18 or more batters in a nine-inning MLB game
- Pitchers who have struck out three batters on nine pitches
- Top 100 strikeout pitchers of all time
|American League Cy Young Award|
|Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year|
|American League ERA Champion|
Goltz, Leonard & Palmer
|American League Wins Champion|
|American League Gold Glove Award (P)|
|New York Yankees team captain (with Willie Randolph)|
March 4, 1986 to July 12, 1989