Dec 14, 2015

1986 World Champion Mets Pitcher: Bobby Ojeda (1986-1990)

Robert Michael Ojeda was born December 17, 1957 in Los Angeles, California.

The left hander known as Bobby O, was drafted out of the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, California, in 1978 by the Boston Red Sox.

He was 15-7 with a 2.43 ERA at Elmira in the NY Penn. League in 1979 going to AAA the next year Making his debut in July of 1980 at Fenway Park getting no decision against the Detroit Tigers. He pitched in seven games going 1-1 getting his first win against Texas on August 2nd. He found himself back at Pawtucket after posting a 6.93 ERA.

On April 18, 1981 Pawtucket and Rochester played a tie game for 32 innings before the game was finally suspended. Two months later it resumed, and Ojeda began the 33rd inning earning the win 18 minutes later. He is credited with being the winning pitcher in the longest pro game in baseball history.

He came back up to the Red Sox and went 6-2 with a 3.12 ERA in 1981, struggling the next year going 4-6 with a 4.53 ERA. He then posted two straight twelve win seasons; first going 12-7 in 1983 with a 4.04 ERA In 1984 although he was .500 with a 12-12 record he led the league in shut outs with five.

In 1985 he was doing time in the bull pen then pitched well and was brought back into the rotation. He struggled again falling to 9-12 and the Red Sox chose to trade him that winter. On November 13th, 1985 he was sent to the New York Mets with John Mitchell & Tom McCarthy for Calvin Shiraldi, John Christensen, & Wes Gardner.

The trade proved to be important for both teams in getting to the 1986 World Series. Bobby O turned out to arguably be the best pitcher on the 1986 Mets Championship staff.

He made his Mets debut in the second game of the year, in relief of Ron Darling who was roughed up for six runs in four innings. The Mets rallied to beat the Philadelphia Phillies & Ojeda earned his first victory. He won his first start on April 22nd in Cincinnati then pitched a complete game win in St. Louis to beat the Cardinals on April 27th.

In May he began the month with a one run, seven inning performance against the Reds in Cincinnati. When the Reds came to Shea, he beat them again with an eight inning, one rub ten strike out game. He was soon at 5-0 in early May, posting a 1.49 ERA. He went undefeated in June and July going 6-0 in that period in ten starts, throwing four complete games two shut outs and going beyond the seventh inning seven times.

On June 5th he pitched a five hit shutout in Pittsburgh beating the Pirates 7-0. On June 15th he tossed another complete game, allowing just one run against the Pirates at Shea. In St. LOuis on July 30th he shut out the Cardinals on a seven hitter.

On July 19, he was involved in a famous incident at a Houston night club with teammates Ron Darling, Tim Tuefel & Rick Aguilera. The four Mets were arrested after fighting with off duty police officers posing as security guards. They were soon released after paying $200 fines. Bobby O returned to the mound three days later, earning no decision in a 6-3 Mets win in Cincinnati.

Bobby O was 12-2 by the end of July with one of the league’s best ERA’s at 2.24. In August he took two straight losses; one in Montreal & another in Philadelphia. He returned to win his next four straight starts. On August 18th he threw a five hit one run game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Shea Stadium. In his next start he pitched a three hitter against the San Francisco Giants, striking out seven. Before the season was over he tossed a four hitter in Pittsburgh but got no decision. He won his last start as well beating the Pirates at Shea Stadium.

On the season he had eight different outings where he didn't allow any earned runs. He finished up with the second best ERA in the NL (2.57) leading the Mets staff.

His 18-5 record gave him the best winning percentage in the league at .783%, while his 18 victories were third most in the league, and best on the Mets staff. Ojeda got past the 5th inning in 28 of his 30 starts, throwing two shut outs and seven complete game.

He allowed only one run or less in sixteen of his 30 starts. Overall he pitched 217 innings with 148 strike outs & 52 walks. He was number one in the NL with a 4.030 strike outs / walks ratio. He was fifth in the league in walks per nine innings (2.153) & tenth in hits per nine innings (7.6).

Post Season: In Game #2 of the 1986 NLCS against the Houston Astros, Ojeda pitched a complete game allowing just one run on ten hits while striking out five Astros. He beat Nolan Ryan to even the Series at one game apiece, after the Mets had fallen behind one games to none.

Ojeda was the starting pitcher in the Classic Game #6 but he gave up three runs in the first inning and left in the 5th inning trailing 3-0. The Mets eventually rallied & won the game in sixteen innings advancing to the World Series.

In the World Series the Mets faced Bobby’s old team, the Boston Red Sox, losing the first two games at home. Bobby O took the mound against Oil Can Boyd in Game #3 at his old familiar mound in Fenway Park. He allowed one run on five hits over seven innings as the Mets went on to a 7-1 victory.

Ojeda also got the start in the classic Game #6 at Shea Stadium, with the Mets down in the Series 3-2. He gave up two runs on eight hits pitching six innings, leaving with a tied score.

Later in the game, the man traded for Ojeda less than a year ago, Calvin Schiraldi, gave up the tying and winning runs in one of the greatest comebacks in World Series history. Overall Bobby went 2-0 with 15 strikeouts in 27 innings and a 2.33 ERA in the 1986 post season.                    

Ojeda got the start on Opening Day 1987 as Dwight Gooden battled his drug problems & was in rehab. That day the Mets raised the Championship flag was raised at Shea Stadium. Ojeda pitched seven innings allowing ten hits, but just one run as the Mets went on to a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. He had a rough start himself that year, falling to 2-4 before needed surgery in early May.


He would miss most of that season, returning in September making three relief appearances. He made a start against the Pirates at Shea Stadium, in his final outing of the year. He pitched six innings allowed three runs on six hits & earned the win. For the 1987 season he pitched in only ten games going 3-5 with a 3.88 ERA.

In 1988 he began the year with a win at Montreal in the second game of the season. He then pitched a two hit shutout against the Expos at Shea Stadium a week later. He was at 3-1 in early May then had his ups & downs the rest of the way. In late May he began a three game losing streak, that took him to mid June. On June 14th he beat the Cardinals at Shea Stadium with a nine hit shutout.

In July hallowed three runs in two separate outings & took losses both times. He pitched his best game on July 19th, a three hit six strike out shutout against the Pittsburgh Pirates. That day he beat John Smiley in a classic 1-0 pitchers duel.
In August, he suffered a four game losing streak not earning another win until August 30th, when he beat the Padres 1-0 in San Diego on a six hitter.

In mid September he was involved in a strange accident at his home, damaging the Mets season. While trimming his hedges he severed the tip of his left middle finger on his pitching hand and required micro surgery to reattach it.

He missed the rest of the season and the post season, leaving a hole in the Mets solid rotation. The situation did not sit well with the fans the front office or the media.

Overall he finished the year at 10-13 posting another good ERA at 2.88 which was among the best in the National League again. He had five shutouts & five complete games pitching in 190 innings with 133 strike outs & 33 walks.

Ojeda did not recover well from the injury, he came back in 1989 but lost his first three starts going 0 for April. On June 11th he pitched a complete game victory over the Pirates in Pittsburgh, then returned to throw a three hit shutout in Philadelphia. He was showing signs of the Bobby Ojeda from three seasons ago as he won three straight. In the final two months he was fantastic, seven of nine decisions including five straight and a 4-0 August.

On the year he was 13-11, second on a staff of three 14 game winners (Ron Darling, David Cone & Sid Fernandez) while posting a 3.47 ERA, spending the majority of the year out of the bullpen.

In 1990 he was pitching middle relief out of the bullpen, and went 7-6, with a 3.66 ERA. As his career began to decline the Mets gave up on him and traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second coming of Hubbie Brooks in New York. 

In his Mets career (140 games) he was 51-40 (15th most wins) with a 3.12 ERA , 459 strike outs & 213 walks in 764 innings (20th all time). It was with the Mets that he enjoyed the most success of his career.

Ojeda pitched well in Los Angeles, as he returned to his home town as the only left hander in the Dodger rotation. On July 21st he returned to New York pitching against the Mets but exiting in third inning, as he was roughed up for six earned runs. Overall he went 12-9 with a 3.19 ERA. He dropped to 6-9 the next season and signed with the Cleveland Indians as a free agent for 1993.

Tragic Event: During Indians Spring Training, on March 22nd 1993, Ojeda went on a boat ride with his new teammates Steve Olin and Tim Crews. Crews had been drinking and was later proven to be legally drunk. He was operating a boat the three were on just before darkness set in. The boat struck a pier, tragically killing Crews and Olin instantly.

Ojeda suffered major head lacerations and sat out most of the season to recuperate, both physically and mentally. He attributed his natural slouch while sitting in the boat, the reason his life was saved. The incident was devastating to Ojeda & the Indians organization as well as shaking up all of pro baseball.

Ojeda returned late that season going 2-0 with a 4.40 ERA in 43 innings pitched. He was a free agent at the end of the season and pitched two games for the A.L. New York team, before retiring at the end of the year.

In his 15 year career Ojeda was 115-98 with 1128 strike outs, 678 walks in 1884 innings pitched. He threw 16 shut outs with 41 complete games posting a 3.65 ERA.

Retirement: After his playing days he returned to the Mets organization as the pitching coach for the Brooklyn Cyclones & then the AA Binghamton Mets.
In 2003 he was a candidate for the Mets pitching coach job but it didn't work out & when he didn’t get the job, he criticized the organization.

In 2009 he became a Mets broadcaster as a studio analyst with the SNY network.  Ojeda would do pre & post game work in the SNY studios on 6th Avenue. After a six year run he left the network prior to the Mets 2015 NL Championship season. Ojeda supported & complimented the Wilpons as owners but was bitter toward GM Sandy Alderson upon his departure.

Quotes: “I really couldn’t have been more disappointed,” Ojeda said. “I just loved what I’ve been doing for the past six years. I’ve just had a ball. It has been the quickest six years of my life. It has been great.

Ojeda received praise & support from many Mets fans, including Jerry Seinfeld. During the 2015 Mets post season run Ojeda was doing work for CBS Sports.

Ojeda lives in nearby Rumson, New Jersey with his wife, together they have a son and five daughters.

Bobby an all around good guy, was on hand for the 20th Anniversary of the 2006 Mets & for the final ceremonies of Shea Stadium in 2008.

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