Friday, April 19, 2024

Don Gullett, World Series champion with Reds and Yankees, dies at 73

Don Gullett, a left-handed pitcher who appeared in parts of nine MLB seasons, died on Wednesday at the age of 73. Gullett made 266 appearances at the big-league level, with most of those coming as a member of the Cincinnati Reds. He later finished his career with a pair of seasons with the New York Yankees

Overall, he amassed a 3.11 ERA (113 ERA+) and a 1.84 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His contributions were estimated to have been worth 18 Wins Above Replacement, according to the calculations at Baseball Reference.

Gullett received Cy Young Award consideration in both 1974 and 1975. He had the good fortune of being part of four World Series champions: the 1975 and 1976 Reds and the 1977 and 1978 Yankees. He also appeared in the World Series with the 1970 and 1972 Reds. For his playoffs career, he had a 3.77 ERA across 20 appearances and 13 starts.

Once proclaimed as a future Hall of Famer by manager Sparky Anderson, Gullett dealt with numerous health issues throughout his career. He suffered through a bout of hepatitis in the early ’70s, and eventually required shoulder surgery to repair a double tear of his rotator cuff. He would never pitch again. 

As SABR’s biography of Gullett notes, Anderson was right to make his prediction, even if physical woes prevented it from coming true:

The three best southpaws of the previous generation—Warren Spahn, Whitey Ford, and Sandy Koufax—were in the Hall of Fame. When Gullett celebrated his 25th birthday in 1976 he had already won 91 games—many more than Spahn (8), Ford (43), and Koufax (53) had won by that age.

After retiring, Gullett worked on his farm and later served the Reds in a number of other capacities as a coach and instructor. He even served as the big-league pitching coach for more than a decade, stretching from 1993 until 2005.  

“Don dedicated 24 years to this franchise as a player, coach and minor league instructor,” Reds CEO Bob Castellini said in a team-issued statement. “An anchor on the pitching staff of one of the greatest baseball teams in history, his contributions to our rich tradition, our city and his community will never be forgotten.”

Gullett was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 2002.

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