Raymond Michael Sadecki was born on December 26, 1940 in Kansas City, Kansas. The five foot eleven left hander, was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1958.
The next year he won 13 games (13-9) at AA Omaha, going to AAA Rochester the following season. After six games he was called up to the Cards staff at age 21. He pitched a three hitter in his first career win, eventually earning the Cardinals Rookie of the Year honors after posting a 9-9 record & 3.78 ERA.
The next season he won 14 games (14-10) with a 3.72 ERA, but walked over 100 batters and he began to spend time in the bullpen. His problems were his walks, wild pitches and HRs given up. He came in amongst the tops in the league in those categories at least three times in the early to mid sixties. He allowed over 20 HRs four times in his career & his 240 career HRs allowed are 119th on the all time list.
Sadecki was among the top ten in walks three times & his 922 walks are 140th all time. With that said he still had a good career as a quality starter & excellent relief pitcher in the days where it was not a glorified position.
In the Cardinals 1964 Championship season he enjoyed his best year, winning 20 games (3rd in the NL) going 20-11 with a 3.68 ERA & striking out 119 batters. That season the Cardinals & Cincinnati Reds were chasing the Philadelphia Phillies, behind by six games with twelve left to play.
The Cards went on a nine game win streak and the Phillies collapsed losing ten in a row. On September 29th Sadecki earned his 20th win of the season, as he beat those Phillies , sending his team into a tie for first place. The Cardinals won their first pennant since 1946 on the final day of the season, defeating the New York Mets 11-5.
Post Season: Sadecki got the start in Game #1 of the 1964 World Series and gave up three runs in the second inning. He soon settled down & the Cards beat Whitey Ford 9-5. They went on to win the World Series behind Bob Gibson’s fantastic pitching performances in his last two starts.
In 1965 Sadecki record fell to 6-15 with an ERA ballooning to 5.21, from there he began to see time in the bull pen. On May 8, 1966 he was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Orlando Cepeda, going 5-8 there in 31 appearances with a 4.80 ERA.. In 1967 he rebounded to a 12-6 record with a career-best 2.78 ERA. He struck out 145 batters in 188 innings, but was the fourth best pitcher on a good Giants staff that included Gaylord Perry, Juan Marichal & Mike McCormick.
In 1968 he won 12 games again but led the league in losses with 18. He struck out 206 batters (5th in the NL) threw six shutouts (5th in the NL) with 13 complete games, posting a good ERA (2.91). After a 5-8 record as a spot starter in 1969, Sadecki & Dave Marshall were traded to the New York Mets for Bobby Heise & Jim Gosger for 1970.
When he arrived in New York he went from being the young guy on a staff to the oldest guy on a staff. Manager Gil Hodges said to him "I don't know what we are going to do with you, we have the finest yound group of pitchers in baseball". Sadecki was thirty years old.
Sadecki would spend five years in New York, as a spot starter & middle reliever on some good pitching staffs. He was a good team mate & added some fun to the clubhouse by telling his classic jokes.
Tom Seaver remembers: “Ray & Koos would tell the same bad jokes over & over again & then they would always laugh at it”.
In his first season with the Mets, Sadecki began the year with a relief appearance in St. Louis, his only appearance in April. Then by mid My he was in the rotation, going 4-0 into June with a 3.24 ERA. Overall He threw three complete games, & went into the 8th inning eight different times as a starter. One of his best outings was a three hit, twelve strikeout performance against the Philadelphia Phillies in September.
On the season he finished 8-4 with a 3.63 ERA, striking out 89 while walking 52 in 138 innings, pitching in 28 games, 19 of them as a starter.
The next year 1971, he began in the bullpen, getting a win & two holds into mid May. He got his first start against the Atlanta Braves and tossed a five hit shutout striking out seven. On July5th in the secong game of a double header he threw a three hit shutout against the Montreal Expos at Shea Stadium. He went 3-1 in the month, pitching another three hitter (allowing two runs) in St. Louis On the 19th.
In September he beat the Phillies with a ten hit, one run outing at Veterans Stadium but was 2-4 in the final two months as the Mets finished 83-79 in third place. In his last start of the season, he threw a two hitter against his old Cardinals team mates, but the bullpen blew the game allowing five runs in the top of the 10th inning.
Sadecki was 7-7 with a 2.93 ERA striking out 120 batters in 138 innings. He averaged 6.6 strikeouts per nine innings which was 7th best in the league.
In 1972 he was being used mostly as a mid reliever making just two starts while finishing 17 games in 34 appearances. In a classic May 14th Mothers Day game at Shea Stadium, Sadecki was the winning pitcher in game against the San Francisco Giants.
It was the day Willie Mays arrived making his Mets debut & he homered off Don Carrithers in the 5th in what turned out to be thw inning run. Mays delighted the 35,000 fans on hand with his Mets debut HR. In the game new Met Rusty Staub had hit a grand slam HR in the first inning. Sadecki pitched five innings allowing four runs on six hits.
He was 2-1 on the year, taking the other win in Philadelphia on August 1st. That night he pitched three innings of relief in a 16 inning game won by New York when Cleon Jones hit a base hit scoring Tommy Agee. On the year Sadecki made 34 appearances with a 3.09 ERA striking out 38 batters with 31 walks in 75 innings.
Quotes: Sadecki tells a story of pitching on the same staff with Tom Seaver: "One day Seaver got roughed up and I mopped up for him. He and I were in the locker room after, and he said, You want to walk back to the hotel? He didn't want to meet with the press and I didn't blame him.
He was telling me how lousy his fastball was, his control was lousy, his breaking ball wasn't worth a damn, and I was just listening, then we got across the bridge and I said to him, the stuff I take out there every time is half your fastball and half your curveball. You want me to feel sorry for you? That's me at my best."
In the 1973 Mets Pennant season, Sadecki was a major asset to Yogi Berra & pitching coach Rube Walkers pitching staff. First off, he filled in as a starter for eleven games late in the season going 4-4, when the Mets staff was suffering through injures. On August 21st he threw four hit one run 2-1 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Shea Stadium. He also helped in the bullpen as a mid reliever, coming in for twenty games, earning one save.
He pitched well in an important late September series against the first place Pittsburgh Pirates whom the Mets overtook for the Eastern title. He pitched three scoreless innings at Three Rivers Stadium in a 6-5 Mets win during that series. Two days later he pitched four scoreless innings in the famous “ball off the wall” game, as the Mets beat the Pirates 4-3 in 13 innings, putting them only ½ game out of first place.
Overall on the year he went 5-4 with a 3.39 ERA, 87 strikeouts in 116 innings pitched in 31 games.
Post Season: Sadecki didn’t pitch in the 1973 NLCS but he was used in four games of the World Series against the Oakland A's. In four 2/3 innings, he struck out six batters, posting a 1.93 ERA.
In Game #2 he relieved Jerry Koosman in the 3rd inning, and got out of a one out bases loaded jam . First he caught Gene Tenace leading off third base as Jerry Grote ran him down & then he struck out Dick Green to end the inning. In the 4th inning he struck out two batters, retiring the side in order.
In Game #4 he came in to relieve Jon Matlack in the 9th inning ahead 6-1, closing out the game. He gave up two hits & a walk but managed to strikeout Bert Campaneris to end the game & earn the save. In Game #7 he pitched two innings, allowing a run & two hits with no decision in the A's Series clincher.
In 1974 he began the year at 4-2 then went through a tough period, out of the bullpen. In late August he was put into the starting rotation, and went 4-0 throwing three complete games including a five hit shutout in Atlanta on August 25th. That night he beat Phil Niekro in a 1-0 classic pitcher's duel. In that stretch he only allowed four earned runs over 33 innings. He finished up the season .500 with an 8-8 record, a 3.41 ERA.
At the age of 34, he began to wind down his career. In October he got traded back to the Cardinals with Tommy Moore in exchange for Joe Torre. He went 11-7 over the next 3 years pitching in St. Louis, Milwaukee, Atlanta, & Kansas City.
He signed as a free agent back with the Mets in 1977; a familiar face from the glory days of 73 was a small treat for Met fans. Unfortunately Ray was done and went 0-1 in six games, getting released on May 2nd.
In his 18-year career, Sadecki pitched in 563 games, going 135-131 with seven saves while posting a 3.78 ERA. He had 1614 strikeouts in 2500 innings pitched, with 20 shut outs & 85 complete games. His 13 complete games as a Met put him at 19th on their all time list.
Honors: In his home town of Kansas City, Kansas, The Catholic Charities named its newly renovated baseball field, Ray Sadecki Field in 2002. In 2007 he was inducted into The National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame.
In November of 2014 Sadecki passed away in Mesa, Arizona, due to complications from blood cancer,, he was 73.