Aug 20, 2015

Early Eighties Mets Pitching Coach: Bill Monbouquette (1982)

William Charles Monboquette known as Monbo, was born on August 11, 1936, in Medford Massachusetts. The day he signed with the home town Boston Red Sox he was in the stands to watch a Red Sox game. Things got ugly when somebody spilled beer on his mother, he & his dad ended up getting into a fight. They were both hand cuffed & arrested by Boston Police, until the Red Sox bailed him out.

In 1956 he was a 15 game winner in the minor leagues & the following season won double figures as well. The five foot eleven right handed pitcher, made it to the Red Sox staff in 1958, and established himself over the next two seasons. By 1960 he was a 14 game winner going 14-11 (7th most wins in the AL) with a 3.64 ERA.

That year he was the AL starter one of two All Star Games, this one was played at Kansas City's Municipal Stadium. He gave up four runs in the first two innings, giving up HRs to Ernie Banks & Del Crandall. Monbouquette was the losing pitcher. Overall he would pitch in three All Star games in the early sixties as head of the Boston Red Sox staff. 

In a 1961 game in the Nation's Capitol, he set a Red Sox record by striking out seventeen Washington Senators while pitching a five hitter. The record stood until 1986 when Roger Clemens broke it. From 1960-1965 he would win 14 games or more for four straight seasons, while pitching over 215 innings for six straight seasons.

In 1962 Monbo threw a no hitter against the Chicago White Sox, beating Early Wynn 1-0 in a classic pitcher's duel at Comiskey Park. He finished the year at 15-13 (9th most wins in the AL) with a 3.33 ERA.

In 1963 he had his best season winning twenty games (4th best in the AL) going 20-10, posting a 3.81 ERA with 174 strike outs in 267 innings of work (3rd most in the AL). On the down side he also allowed the most earned runs (113) & hits (258) in the league. He allowed the most hits in the league again the next season, dropping to a 13-14 record.

Monboquette spent eight years with the Red Sox going 96-91 in that time with a 3.69 ERA. In 1965 he led the AL in losses (18) going 10-18 on a ninth place Red Sox team but posted a good ERA (3.70).

Unfortunately he pitched at Fenway Park during a dark period in Sox history, he was a much better pitcher than the stats show. 1965 was his last year in Boston, in 1966 he was traded to the Detroit Tigers where he pitched through mid 1967 when he was released. He signed on with the A.L. New York where he went 6-5 for the ninth place team. In 1968 he pitched in San Francisco finishing his career with the Giants pitching just seven games.

Lifetime in 11 seasons, he was 114-112 with a 3.68 ERA, striking out 1122 batters while walking 462 in 1961 innings pitched. Monbo threw 18 shut outs with 78 complete games recording three sves in 343 games. He also posted perfect fielding percentages in four seasons.

Retirement: Monbo coached in the New York Mets organization from the late seventies through the early eighties. He saw a young Dwight Gooden start out & told him no matter what don’t let anyone change your delivery. He was also the guy who suggested that Jesse Orosco go to the bullpen, after watching his arm go flat after four innings as a starter.

In 1982 he was named the Mets pitching coach under new manager George Bamberger. In those days he also doubled as the Mets bull pen coach.

Monbo’s staff was led by Craig Swans 11 wins that season. His other starters included Pete Falcone (8 wins) Charlie Puleo (9 wins) a young Mike Scott & a washed up Randy Jones (both with 7 wins). The Mets were still in contention in June in third place but finished the year at 67-95.

In 1983 he was assigned to scouting duties as manager George Bamberger took on the dual role as manager as well as pitching coach. Monbo went on to coach in the New York Penn League with the A ball Oneonta Tigers for six years.

Honors: In 2000 he was inducted into the Red sox Hall of Fame.

In 2005 Monbo married for the second time, this was to the former Josephine Ritchie whom he had asked out in high school but she said no. 40 years later they reunited at a class reunion & she said yes.

In 2008 he was diagnosed with leukemia & chemotherapy put the cancer in remission but he needed a bone marrow, stem cell transplant. The Dan Farber Cancer Institute encouraged fans to participate in a donor registry for him & others suffering from the disease.

Trivia: A Boston Rock band “The Remains” recorded a song called “Monbo Time” in his honor, donating 50% of the profits to cancer research.

On January 25th, 2015 he passed away due to complications of leukemia, he was 78 years old.

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