First things first, I am sorry for my absence from the blog for so long, but I am back and hopefully better than ever. Hope I can still have some readers. As my welcome back post I want to speak about one of my favorite autographs that I have ever received back. Mr. Ron Darling!!!
Ronald Maurice Darling was born August 19, 1960 in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was selected by the Texas Rangers in the first round (9th pick) of the 1981 MLB Draft. In his first year with the Rangers Minor League organization he put up mediocre numbers which led to a very ill advised trade in which both Darling and Walt Terrell were traded to the Mets for Lee Mazzilli. For the Mets, Darling and Terrell combined for seven double-digit win seasons. They traded Terrell three seasons later for Howard Johnson. Which by the way, when I was a kid playing baseball with friends, oddly enough, if I was pitching I would scream I'm Ron Darling, and if I was playing the field (no matter where I played) I screamed, I'm Howard Johnson. Wow, that was a run-on sentence. ANYWAY....
Darling was called up to the majors in late 1983. The Mets had the worst record in the National League and second-worst in the majors when Darling debuted on September 6, 1983. He was impressive in that start but left the game down 1–0 and the Mets lost 2–0. The Mets were also last in offense in the N.L. (Boo) Darling's 0–3 start were all in decent pitching performances that season. He finished his season with a complete game victory and was in the majors for good. Ron Darling threw five pitches, a slider, "drop" curve, circle change, splitter, and four seam fastball.
As a Mets fan, I would have to mention his performance in 1986. In 1986, everything came together for the Mets and Darling was no exception. He finished with a 15–6 record and posted his career-best 2.81 ERA which was third-best in the N.L. He also received the only Cy Young Award votes of his career, finishing fifth behind Mike Scott who had his best season. (Ball Scuffer!!!) The Mets led the way most of the season and their top four starters all received Cy Young votes. On May 27, Darling tied his career-high with 12 strikeouts in a five-hit complete game victory which, despite a poor April, raised his record to 6–0. He was good on the road but even better at home with a 10–2 record at Shea. His worst blemish was off the field when, on July 19, he and teammates Bob Ojeda, Rick Aguilera, and Tim Teufel were arrested outside a bar in Houston, Texas for fighting with security guards (who were also off-duty police officers). All four were released in time for the following game and the worst results were $200 fines but the incident fed into the Mets' reputation as a rowdy crew that season. Despite the run-in, Darling was featured on the cover of the August 25 issue of Sports Illustrated magazine. If you would like to read more about this incident, as well as more about the 1986 NY Mets, I highly recommend the book, The Bad Guys Won by Jeff Pearlman. An awesome book about the 1986 Mets. After reading it I can't believe my mother let me root for them at 6 years of age!
In his career he pitched for The New York Mets (1983-1991), The Montreal Expos (1991) and The Oakland A's (1991-1995). He finished his career with a 136-116 record, a 3.87 ERA and 1,590 strike outs. He was selected for the 1985 All-Star Game and was a Gold Glove winner in 1989. His last MLB effort was on my 15th birthday, August 15, 1995.
Since his retirement he has been a broadcaster for the Oakland A's, had a FOX show called Baseball Today and has appeared on The Best Damn Sports Show Period, as well as providing baseball analysis for the YES Network (EVIL) and Fox Sports Net. He currently works as a color commentator for the New York Mets on SNY with Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez.
Because of their popularity, Darling along with Cohen and Hernandez have created a website, Pitch in For A Good Cause, where the net profit from the merchandise sold by the website goes to charity; specifically, the Cobble Hill Health Center, Juvenile Diabetes Research Center, and The Danbury Women's Center. Please check out the website.
I have to say I was absolutely shocked to receive these autos back in the mail. Sure I mailed them, but I didn't really expect them back. This was one of, if not the, biggest surprise I've ever received in the mail. I even gave Steve, formally of The Easy Life, one of them (not pictured here).
Mr. Darling, thank you so much. I am honored to add you to my collection.