Dec 5, 2015

Mid Nineties Mets Pitcher: Paul Byrd (1994-1996)

Paul Gregory Byrd was born on December 2nd, 1970 at the home of the Louisville Slugger- Louisville Kentucky. The six foot right hander attended Louisiana State University where he pitched the Tigers baseball team to a Championship in the 1991 College World Series.

Byrd looked like an early 20th century pitcher with his big wind up & overhand delivery. His delivery was very deceptive & he also worked very slowly on the mound. He was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 1991 in the fourth round.

In 1992 he won 14 games at AA Canton/ Akron then went 7-4 the next season at AAA Charlotte. In 1994 he posted a 7-11 losing record, and then was traded to the New York Mets along with Jerry DiPoto and Dave Mlicki for Jeromy Burnitz and Joe Roa. Byrd went 3-5 with a 2.79 ERA at AAA Norfolk, getting called up to the Mets at the end of July.

Byrd would become known as one of the nicest guys in baseball and was nicknamed "the nicest guy in baseball". On July 28th he debuted at Shea Stadium pitching the 8th inning of relief of a 10-9 loss against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Byrd actually got credit for a hold, as he held the lead until John Franco took the loss in the 9th. On August 21st, he earned his first career win, finishing a 1-0 win against the San Francisco Giants. On September 9th, in Montreal Byrd pitched three innings of relief earning his second victory.

On the year he made 17 relief appearances going 2-0 with three holds, 26 strikeouts, seven walks & a 2.05 ERA in 22 innings over.

In 1996 Byrd began the year at AA Norfolk but after a 2-0 start he was brought up to the Mets staff in need of pitching that June. On June 11th his first appearance of 1996; Tony Graffanino of the Atlanta Braves lined out but was credited with a sac fly as Chipper Jones scored the winning run. In his next game he gave up six runs over two innings of relief in St. Louis.

Byrd was used often the rest of the year, making 55 appearances while blowing a pair of saves getting credited for three holds, He was 1-2 posting a 4.24 ERA for the fourth place Mets. That November he was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Greg McMichael.

In 1998 he was placed on waivers & was picked up by the Philadelphia Phillies, where he would pitch from 1998-2001. In 1999 he became a starter and had one of his best seasons, making the All Star team. He tied Curt Schilling for the team lead in wins (15) going 15-11 with a 4.60 ERA, striking out 106 batters in 199 innings pitched for the third place Phillies. He did lead the league in hit by pitches (17) and allowed 205 hits. The next year he pitched poorly, falling to 2-9 and got traded to the Kansas City Royals for Jose Santiago.

In 2002 Byrd won 17 games going 17-11 (10th in the AL in wins) on a Royals team that lost 100 games. He led the league in complete games (7) pitched 228 innings (6th in the AL) with a career high 129 strike outs. He threw two shut outs highlighted by a three hitter on July 13th at home against the Anaheim Angels. The journeyman signed a deal going back to Atlanta but then had Tommy John surgery on his right arm, missing the entire 2003 season.

He returned in 2004 getting to his first post season. Byrd went to the L.A. Angels going 12-11 in 2005 getting to another post season. He made one appearance in the ALDS then got credit for a victory in the ALCS against the Chicago White Sox who went on the World Series.

In 2007 he went to the Cleveland Indians and once again won 15 games (15-8) leading the AL with two shut outs. The next year he began the season in Cleveland but was traded to the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named later. He went 7-10 on the season, allowing a league high 31 HRs. Byrd retired after finishing up the 2009 season in Boston.

In a 14 year career he went 106-96 with six saves, 923 strikeouts, 247 walks, 62 hit by pitches in 1697 innings in 45 appearances.

Retirement: He was the author of a book titled Free Byrd, with a foreward written by John Smoltz.

Byrd is now a born again Christian after having battled addiction to pornography. His wife is a certified life coach helping athletes in their marriages.

In 2007 his name was mentioned in the Mitchell Report for HGH use. He claimed it was prescribed by a doctor to help with a pituitary gland condition.

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