Dec 10, 2015

1999 N.L. Wild Card Champion Mets Pitcher: Kenny Rogers (1999)

Kenneth Scott Rogers was born on November 10th 1964 in Savannah Georgia. He grew up on a farm in Western Florida, in a town called Dover. The tall six foot one left hander was signed in 1982 by the Texas Rangers down in the 39th round. He spent seven seasons in the minor leagues, never winning more than six games in a season. He was brought up to the Rangers as a reliever in 1989, and saved 15 games the next season.

Rogers won ten games two straight seasons in relief & led the AL in appearances (81) in 1992.
In 1993 he became a starting pitcher and the ace of the Ranger staff. He won 16 games (7th in the league) striking out 140 batters pitching in 204 innings, although he posted a high 4.10 ERA.

In July of 1994 he pitched the fourteenth perfect game in MLB history, the first ever thrown by a Texas Ranger pitcher. It is also the last no hitter recorded in the organization. It came in a game at Arlington against the California Angels & was his second shut out of the season. The perfect game brought him fame, as Rogers appeared on David Letterman & Good Morning America television shows. He even did a function with Kenny Rogers the singer In Texas.

Rogers has earned himself the nick name “the gambler” in reference to the famous song by the other Kenny Rogers the singer. An injury cut his season short in early August as he finished the year at 11-8.

In 1995 he had his best Rangers season, making the All Star team winning 17 games (4th in the league) posting a 3.38 ERA (5th in the league) making 31 starts (4th in the league). After the season he signed on with the AL New York club as a free agent, going 12-8 with a 4.68 ERA.

In the post season he was roughed up, allowing eleven earned runs in just seven innings pitched in all three playoff series. The Braves hit him hardest in the World Series allowing five runs on five hits in just two innings of work. He posted no record in that post season. The following season he struggled and ended up in the bull pen, going 6-7 overall. In the off season he was traded to the Oakland A’s for Scot Brosius.

In Oakland he made a great comeback going 16-8 with a 3.17 ERA & seven complete games (3rd in the AL). A’s GM Billy Beane called Rogers the best fielding pitcher he ever saw. In 1999 he was 5-3 after 19 games when he was traded to the New York Mets for Terrance Long & a minor leaguer in late July.

As the Mets were chasing the wild card Rodgers joined an already talented staff. He debuted on July 28th at Shea Stadium pitching six innings of one hit ball against the Pittsburgh Pirates. On August 4th he got his first start & although he allowed five runs still got the win in a 9-5 Mets victory at Milwaukee.

From August through mid July he was fantastic, going 5-0 pitching two complete games. The first came on August 15th in San Francisco where he struck out nine batters, walking just one batter. The second was a four hit shutout against those same Giants at Shea Stadium on September 8th. On September 25th Rogers lost his last decision a 4-2 loss to the Phillies in Philadelphia.

He then pitched to the eighth inning in his final start which came on October 1st, he allowed just two runs & struck out a season high ten batters. He left the game earning no decision as the Mets went on to win the game 3-2 & remain in the wild card hunt with the Cincinnati Reds. Rogers finished the season with an overall 10-4 record. Since arriving with the Mets he was 5-1 with a 4.03 ERA, striking out 58 batters in 76 innings pitched. 


Post Season: Rogers did not have a good post season for the '99 Mets & unfortunately it is what is remembered as his Mets legacy. He began by taking the loss in Game #2 of the NLDS at Arizona to the Diamondbacks. He allowed four runs in 4.1 innings of work, with five hits, two walks & six strike outs.

He got the start in Game #2 of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. He allowed four runs, on nine hits taking a loss there aswell, as the Mets went down 2-0 in the series. In the classic 15 inning Game #5 at Shea Stadium, the game where Robin Ventura hit his famous walk off grand slam single, Rogers had his best post season outing. He pitched two scoreless innings ( the 11th & 12th) giving up just one hit.

In Game #6 he had his most remembered outing, a horrible one that ended the Mets season. The Mets had come back from a 5-0 deficit & went ahead 9-8 in the tenth inning. But Armando Benitez blew the Mets lead & Rogers entered the game in the bottom of the 11th inning with the score tied at 9-9.

He allowed a leadoff double to Gerald Williams, then a sac bunt to Bret Boone. He then intentionally walked Chipper Jones & Brian Jordan to load the bases. Rogers couldn't find the plate & then walked Andru Jones on five pitches giving the Braves the win, sending them to the World Series.


Rogers was granted free agency, & signed a three year deal once again with the Texas Rangers. In 2000, at age 36 he won the first of five gold gloves on the mound, as he was one of the best fielding pitchers of his era. He remained in Texas for three years, winning 13 games twice but the team finished fourth each year. He then signed a one year deal with the Minnesota Twins, once again winning on 13 games (13-8) with a .47 ERA.

In 2004 he once again signed with Texas as a free agent. He revived his career, becoming the Rangers top pitcher by winning 18 games (third most in the AL) leading the league in starts (35) pitching 211 innings striking out 126 batters, while posting a 4.76 ERA.
 
That year the media began to report that although he was winning, he was having a problem getting a contract extension from the Rangers. As a result he stopped giving interviews & chose not to speak to the press.

On June 29th he walked on the field in a pre game warm up & got into an altercation with some members of the media. He shoved two camera men & kicked a camera to the ground while he was being filmed. 

Rogers was restrained & the team sent him home. One reporter claimed he suffered injuries, was hospitalized & filed a lawsuit.


On October 5, 2005, he filed a civil suit against Rogers and the Texas Rangers, seeking money for personal damages. Rogers was charged with class A & class C misdemeanors, getting released on a bond. He was suspended for twenty games & was fined $50,000 by the Commissioner. He appeared in the 2005 All Star Game as his court appeal was pending. He ended up served a thirteen game suspension before returning to the mound.

Through it all he finished 2005 at 14-8 lowering his ERA to 3.46. At age 41 Rogers was not resigned by Texas instead he went to the Detroit Tigers, signing a three year deal. 

In 2006 he won his fifth & final Gold Glove having yet another fine season. He went 17-8 (4th most wins in the AL) tied with Justin Vernlander on the staff, leading the Tigers to a wild card finish. He pitched 204 innings posting a 3.84 ERA.

Post Season: In the ALDS he won Game #3 pitching 7.2 innings of shutout ball while striking out eight, defeating the AL New York team. 

In the ALCS he once again pitched into the eighth inning, allowing just two hits while throwing shut out baseball & striking out six. He earned the win, putting the Tigers up three games to none against the Oakland A’s.

In the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, he was the winning pitcher in the only game Detroit won in the Series. In Game #2 Rogers shut out the Cardinals for eight innings earning his first World Series win. Overall in the
2006 post season he was 3-0 allowing no runs in 23 innings of work with 19 strike outs.
The next year he needed surgery after doctors found a blood clot in his pitching arm. He missed the first three months of the season, pitching in just eleven games on the year. In 2008 he was the oldest player in the league & finished out his career going 9-13 for the disappointing 5th place Tigers. In a twenty year career Rogers was 219-156 (76 most wins all time) in 762 games (56th all time) with 28 saves.

He had 1968 strike outs (77th all time), 1175 walks in 3302 innings pitched (91st all time) with a 4.27 ERA, nine shut outs & 36 complete games. He is second all time in pick offs with 93. He allowed 339 career HRs (32nd all time).

Retirement: In 2010 he was a Tigers Spring Training pitching coach, especially helping the staff in fielding. He also threw out the ceremonial first pitch in Game #3 of the 2011 ALDS at Comercia Park in Detroit.

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