Apr 24, 2016

Late Seventies Mets All Star Pitcher: Pat Zachry (1977-1982)

Patrick Paul Zachry was born on April 24, 1952 in Richmond, Texas. He was drafted out of Richfield high school in Waco, Texas by the Cincinnati Reds in 1970 in the 19th round.

The tall lanky six foot five, right hander looked more like a fisherman than a ball player with his long bearded face. He pitched as both a starter & reliever in the minor leagues, putting up identical 10-7 records at AAA Indianapolis in 1974 & 1975.

Zachry made the Reds staff as a reliever during the height of the Big Red Machines dominance, in 1976. He began the season in the bullpen, but was moved into the rotation by mid May. He won his first four starts throwing a complete game in San Diego & a complete game shutout against the Dodgers. Zachry was pitching so well he was 11-3 with a 2.63 ERA in mid August as the Reds were rolling through the National League.

He wound up winning the Rookie of the Year Award (sharing honors with San Diego’s Butch Metzger) going 14-7 with a 2.74 ERA (5th in the league), striking out 143 batters in 205 innings pitched. He averaged 6.3 strike outs per nine innings, which was 6th best among NL pitchers.

Post Season: Zachry was the winning pitcher of the NLCS Game #2 against the Phillies, allowing two runs over five innings or work. In the 1976 World Series, he won Game #3 in the Bronx, allowing two runs, on six hits in 6.2 innings pitched, helping the Big Red Machine sweep the Series.

In 1977 he struggled at the start of the year, going 2-2 in April, & then was 0-4 in May as his ERA rose to near six. He was 3-7 with a 5.04 ERA through mid June when he became the main chip in the Tom Seaver trade. He came to the New York Mets on June 15th, 1977 “The Midnight Massacre” along with Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, & Dan Norman. He had no chance following in Seaver’s footsteps no matter how well he would ever do.

Two days after the trade he made his Mets debut at Shea Stadium, losing to the Houston Astros, allowing four runs over six innings. He quickly found out he didn't have the same offensive run support he had in Cincinnati.

In his next start he pitched well, allowing just one run in seven innings of work but got no decision. Almost a month after the trade he earned his first Mets win on July 10th, against the Montreal Expos.

In mid August he began his best streak, winning three straight decisions through early September. He threw a complete game in St. Louis & then pitched a five hit shutout against the Braves at Shea. He did well the rest of the year, going 7-6 overall since joining the club with a 3.76 ERA. He only had 63 strike outs in 119 innings pitching in 19 games.

In 1978 he started out winning the third game of the season by beating the Montreal Expos pitching six innings of one run ball at Shea Stadium. On April 19th he pitched a two hit shutout in St. Louis, striking out five Cardinals batters. Bruce Boisclair drove in both runs of the 2-0 Mets win. Zachry himself scored a run after drawing a walk & then circled the bases.

He finished out the month of April going 3-0, and then went on another four game win streak from May to July. On May 29th he pitched another complete games, allowing just two runs on three hits to the Cardinals at Shea in the first game of a double header. Zachry already had ten wins (10-3) by the fourth of July. He was the only Met chosen for the All Star Game that year, although he didn’t pitch in the game held at San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium.

On July 24th 1978, Shea Stadium was packed, hoping Zachry could shut down Pete Rose during his N.L. record setting hit streak. Unfortunately, Rose singled off him in the 7th inning; tying the 37 game NL hit streak record. The Reds then started a rally rallied knocking Zachry out of the game, four batters later. On his way into the dugout he angrily kicked a helmet, but missed it & kicked the dugout step. The result was a fracture to his left foot. He was done for the rest of the year, finishing 10-6 with a 3.33 ERA, 78 strike outs & 60 walks in 138 innings. He also threw two shut outs & five complete games.

He started out 1979 by beating the Cubs at Wrigley Field in the second game of the season. He then returned to Shea Stadium to pitch a complete game victory against Philadelphia. Although he gave up 12 hits he only allowed two runs beating the Phillies 3-2.

He missed a month of action but returned very strong in May winning three straight starts going into June. He was 5-0 before taking his first loss on June 8th against the Houston Astros. He was 5-1 until more injuries finished off his season early once again, shutting him down in June. In seven games he was 5-1 with an .833 winning % posting a 3.59 ERA in 42 innings pitched.

In 1980 he wasn’t ready pitch until May, then lost his first two starts going winless until the end of the month when he beat the Pittsburgh Pirates. Zachry was 2-5 by the end of June with a 3.26 ERA. He had a fantastic July going 4-0 while throwing four complete games. He threw a three hit shutout at Shea against the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates on July 10th and tossed two more shut outs before the month was out.

On July 25th when the Reds came to town he threw a six hit shutout against his old team & then in his next start, threw a four hit shut out to beat the Atlanta Braves. In that 3-0 win the Mets had RBI singles from Doug Flynn & Mike Jorgensen.

The Mets were a bad team, winning just 67 games while finishing in last place. Zachary would not get another win for the rest of the season. He never allowed more than three runs in his last five straight losses but the team lacked run support. He finished up at 6-10 leading the team with a 3.01 ERA and two shut outs.

In the 1981 strike shortened season he began the year winning his first three starts, but then lost his next five. He struggled and led the league in both losses (14) & HRs allowed (13). He went 7-14 but somehow still led the team in victories. He also led the team in strike outs (71) starts (24) complete games (3) & hits (151) posting a 4.14 ERA. He allowed 64 earned runs while walking 56 batters in 139 innings pitched.

In 1982 he started out the season taking a no hitter into the 8th inning, on April 10th at Wrigley Field. But Cubs pinch hitter Bob Molinaro broke it up, Zachary ended up with the win but allowed two runs on five hits in that inning.

Overall he was off to a good start going 4-1 pitching another complete game victory against his old Reds team mates. His ERA was up near five at 4.89 at the end of May & he was placed in the bull pen to pitch in relief. He was back in the rotation by August & pitched a complete game win over the Pirates although he allowed eleven hits.

He finished up the year at 6-9, with a 4.08 ERA. He struck out 69 batters, walking 57 in 137 innings pitched in 36 games (16 starts). After the season he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Jorge Orta. Orta would get traded just over a month later in February. In his six year Mets career Pat Zachry was 41-46 with 3.63 ERA, 391 strike outs in 742 innings pitched in 145 games.

Trivia: One of my favorite Zachry stories comes after a Kiners Korner episode in the late seventies. Zachry was a guest on one of Ralph Kiner’s post game shows & received Getty Gas gift vouchers for his appearance. When he tried to use them at a Roosevelt Ave. gas station, the attendant came after him with a hammer. Quite a gift there Ralph!!

Zachry pitched two years in relief for the Dodgers, going 6-1 in 1983 with a 2.49 ERA. He appeared in two games of the 1983 NLCS against the Houston Astros without a decision. Zachry's career ended after ten games with the 1985 Philadelphia Phillies.

In a ten year career he was 69-67, with three saves posting a 3.52 ERA. He threw seven shutouts, with 27 complete games, 669 strikeouts & 495 walks in 1117 innings pitched.

Retirement: In 1989 he pitched in the Senior Professional League & was profiled in a book on the league. Pat still attends Mets fantasy camps and is an elementary school teacher in Waco, Texas.

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