View Full Version : The New York Times: Guidry Recalls '78 With an Eye on Clemens

09-09-01, 11:08 AM
Great article...:cool:

September 9, 2001


Guidry Recalls '78 With an Eye on Clemens

The New York Times

This is one way Ron Guidry has long looked at his spectacular season of 1978, albeit a joking way: "Winning 25 games in the big leagues is easy. It's losing only three games that's hard."

Roger Clemens, with 19 victories and four starts left, will not win 25 games for the Yankees this season. But he might not lose three. If he doesn't, and he wins at least one more game, he will break Guidry's major league record for best winning percentage (.893) for a pitcher with 20 or more victories.

Guidry did not compile a 19-1 record en route to his 25-3 mark, but he won his first 13 decisions, much as Clemens has won his last 15, and the Yankees won 30 of his 35 starts, much as they have won 26 of Clemens's 29 starts. But Guidry finished with a 1.74 earned run average, half of Clemens's 3.44.

"You can throw out his E.R.A.; I don't care what it is," Guidry said. "Look at his age. He's not young. That's probably the biggest compliment I can pay him. He's getting up there in age, and to have a year like he's having, it's a great year. He gives his team a chance to win. That's the thing I prided myself on more than anything else. When I walked off the field, was my team in position to win? If they were, then I've done my job."

Clemens is 39, 11 years older than Guidry was by the end of the '78 season. Age and E.R.A. are about the only differences between the performances of the pitchers and their impact on the team. Those Yankees responded to Guidry; these Yankees respond to Clemens.

"Every time I went to the mound," Guidry said, "my team felt like they weren't going to get beat. I'm not saying they play any harder for me or him. It's just that they're into the game more. You don't have to score a lot of runs. I had guys say: `I don't even watch the hitter. I'm watching you. I like watching you pitch.' I knew they had confidence in me. We fed off each other. He feeds off them and they feed off him. We feel invincible. We're not, but we feel that way."

Clemens suffered his only loss to Seattle in his 10th start. Guidry didn't lose until his 18th. Clemens lost to Aaron Sele. Guidry lost to three left-handed pitchers named Mike Caldwell of Milwaukee, by 6-0, Flanagan of Baltimore (2-1) and Willis of Toronto (8-1).

The Brewers, Guidry recalled, battered him as no team had that season. Larry Hisle hit two home runs and Sixto Lezcano one, and the Brewers rapped other extra-base hits as well. "I preferred to lose that game knowing they beat me rather than losing, 2- 1, on an error," Guidry said. "I wouldn't have wanted to see it end that way."

The loss to Baltimore was by 2-1, and an error contributed. Doug DeCinces hit a two- run home run after Bucky Dent threw a ground ball away. "I knew DeCinces was a fastball hitter," Guidry said, "but I threw a fastball to him. I don't know if he was looking for it, but he hit it a long way."

Guidry, 15-2 after that loss, reeled off seven successive victories before losing for the last time, by 8-1 to the Blue Jays.

"That was one of those games where you know whatever you try, it's not going to work," the left-handed Guidry said. "The first guy, a right-handed hitter, hit the ball over first base. The next guy was left- handed and he hit it over third base. It went from there."

Guidry didn't finish the second inning, a rare brief outing for someone who pitched 16 complete games that season. Four days later Guidry stopped Cleveland on two hits, giving him nine shutouts, a total that remains the American League record (tied with Babe Ruth) for most shutouts by a left- hander.

Three of the earlier shutouts provided Guidry with some of the most memorable moments of his career. Shutting out California in June, he struck out 18 (two-strike cheering started at Yankee Stadium that day), still a club record. In September he pitched consecutive two-hit shutouts against Boston.

Recalling the strikeout game and his catcher, Thurman Munson, Guidry said: "Munson and I didn't realize I had that many strikeouts until they posted that I had tied the team record. We got to the dugout and he apologized and said maybe we could have struck out a few more guys than we have. I said: `Let's just get them out. I want the shutout. I don't care about strikeouts.' He said, "If you're close after the eighth, you're going for it in the ninth.' I had 16 after eight. He said, `O.K., we're going for it.' I said, `Concentrate on the game.' "

Guidry, needing three to tie the major league record, struck out the first two batters in the ninth, but Don Baylor, who struck out his previous two at-bats, singled. Then Ron Jackson grounded into a force, ending the game.

"When Donny came over to us later," Guidry said, "I told him I wasn't trying to strike anyone out, and he said, `You could have fooled us.' It was one of those games where they were swinging and missing."

Turning to the shutouts of the Red Sox, Guidry said those games were as good as any he had that year because Boston had probably the best offensive lineup he faced. "I thought I accomplished something special," he said of the two shutouts six days apart.

In the game in Boston, the Red Sox had first-inning singles by Rick Burleson and Jim Rice and nothing else the rest of the game.

"I think it was a one-hitter," Guidry said. "Rice hit a ball to Bucky and Bucky didn't get it out of his glove and Rice beat it out. I always teased Jimmy, telling him that wasn't a hit, not for a guy who hits the ball like you do."

Guidry's victory sliced the Red Sox lead to one game, and the next day the Yankees completed a four-game sweep and tied for first, their 14-game July deficit a mere memory. In New York six days later, Guidry allowed the Red Sox only a third- inning double by Burleson and a seventh- inning single by Fred Lynn and raised his record to 22-2.

"I really didn't think that much about my record going through the season," Guidry said. "The pitching staff was in shambles. Consequently, I was the one the team turned to to stop a losing streak. That meant a lot to me, to have the team look to me, 160 pounds soaking wet. I did lose that year, but we didn't have any real long losing streaks."

Fifteen of Guidry's victories, including the one in the playoff game with Boston, followed Yankees losses. Clemens has won eight times after Yankees losses.

"I hope Roger accomplishes everything he wants," Guidry said.


09-09-01, 03:43 PM
Thank YOU Jimbo!!

What A Tribute ! What A Compliment!!


As Guidry has Shown... Thank You Gator!!




09-10-01, 06:26 PM
Great!!! Thanks for this.
I could not have said it better.

Jersey Yankee
09-10-01, 07:17 PM
I just wanted to say thanks for posting this. I get the NY Times but can't always read everything. I still like to keep a reasonable life offline, so I guess that's it.