Bobby Ojeda: 1986 World Champion Mets Pitcher & Former SNY Analyst (1986-1990)

Robert Michael Ojeda was born December 17, 1957, in Los Angeles, California. His father was a furniture upholsterer & his mother an interpreter for Mexican migrants in the L.A. School system.

Ojeda attended the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, California. He did not get drafted right away & was working as a landscaper for his brother-in-law when the Red Sox came calling in 1978.

In 1979, Ojeda was 15-7 with a 2.43 ERA at Elmira in the NY Penn. League. He moved up to AAA Pawtucket the next year getting his call up in July of 1980.

MLB Debut:  Ojeda debuted at Fenway Park on July 13th in getting no decision against the Detroit Tigers. He blew a four-run lead, but the Sox came back for the win. He pitched in seven games that year going 1-1 getting his first win against Texas on August 2nd. He found himself back at AAA Pawtucket after posting a 6.93 ERA.

Trivia: 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.

Bobby came back up to the Red Sox and went 6-2 with a 3.12 ERA in 1981. He was the best pitcher on the staff in the second half after the baseball strike.

He struggled the next year going 4-6 with a 4.53 ERA. In 1983 he went 12-7 then posted his second straight twelve-win season in 1984 going 12-12 for the fourth place Red Sox. That season 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 a personal level, Bobby O was opinionated & didn't quite fit in with the Red Sox clubhouse.

Quotes- Bobby Ojeda: "Let's just say I wasn't their type. I didn't fit the mold".

On November 13th, 1985, he was sent to the New York Mets with John Mitchell & Tom McCarthy for Calvin Schiraldi, Wes Gardner & John Christensen. The trade may have seemed to favor the Red Sox, since Schiraldi & Gardner were two top prospects & the Mets were hoping to maybe get ten wins from Ojeda.

Mets Career: 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 Met victory. His second appearance was also in relief.

On April 22nd, made his first Mets start, he pitched seven innings, allowing one run on four hits in a 7-1 win over the Pirates at Shea Stadium. On April 27th, he earned a complete game victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

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 run, season high 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 Stadium. 

On July 30th, in St. Louis he shut out the rival Cardinals with a seven hitter in a 7-0 Mets win where he fanned six & walked three. 

 On July 10th he threw a complete game win over the Braves, allowing just a run while striking out six to earn his tenth win. He also lowered his ERA to 2.24.

Before the All Star break he already had the ten wins expected of him.

In July he stretched his personal win streak to six games to get to 12-2. On July 10th he pitched another complete game victory, allowing just one run to the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium. In four consecutive starts Ojeda had allowed just one run or less.

The Mets then went on an eventful rod trip to Houston, in a preview matchup of that years NLCS.
On July 17th, he beat the Astros at the Astrodome, pitching six innings allowing just a run on four hits.

Drama at a Houston Night Club: On July 19, he was involved in a famous incident at a Houston night club with teammates Ron Darling, Tim Teufel & 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 entered August at 12-2 with one of the league’s best ERAs at 2.24. 

He quickly took two straight losses: one in Montreal & another in Philadelphia. In those two losses he gave up 11 runs in 11 innings.

But he came back strong, winning his next four straight starts. On August 18th, the Mets offense helped him out with squeezed out a 5-4 win for him.

In his next start on that west coast road trip, he pitched eight innings, striking out nine, allowing two runs in a 3-2 Mets win in San Francisco.

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 August 29th, he pitched a 2-1 complete game five hitter victory, to beat Rick Honeycutt & the Dodgers at Shea.

Next, he threw another complete game, this one a two run three hitter over the Giants, striking out seven. That win gave him a personal four game win streak. 

On September 8th, the Expos beat him up for six runs giving him his 5th & final loss of the regular season. He got two more victories in the month & took a no decision against the Pirates where he pitched nine innings of an extra inning contest, allowing just one run. The Mets went on to win it in 11 innings.

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 games. 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).

Left-handed batters hit just .150 against him & right-handed hitters .243.

1986 Post Season- NLCS: 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.

1986 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.

Quotes- Bobby Ojeda "Because I didn't like the Red Sox. I had new friends, real friends. I had teammates who would fight & bleed for me. To do something important for my guys was awesome."

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.                    
After the Championship- 1987: 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 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.

1988 NL Eastern Champion Season: 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 pitcher's 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. 

Careless Accident at Home:
 In mid-September he was involved in a strange accident at his home, damaging his season as well as the Mets post season. 

While trimming his hedges at his Long Island home, he severed the tip of his left middle finger on his pitching hand and required microsurgery 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. The rotation had to be changed for the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

The Mets lost the series in seven games, David Cone's comments in the New York papers didn't help but only motivated L.A. further. It took another decade for the Mets to make the post season.

Overall Ojeda 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.

1989: 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 straights. 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.

1990: Bobby 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 Hubie Brooks in New York. 

Mets Career Stats: In his Mets career he made 140 appearances. Ojeda went 51-40 (16th most Mets wins) with a 3.12 ERA. He struck out 459 batters & walked 213 in 764 innings (21st on the Mes all-time list).  It was with the Mets that he enjoyed the most success of his career.

Post Mets Career: Ojeda pitched well in Los Angeles, as he returned to his hometown 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 Boating 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.


Career Stats: In his 15 years career Ojeda was 115-98 with a 3.65 ERA, he had 28 strikeouts 678 walks in 1884 innings pitched. He threw 16 shut outs with 41 complete games in 351 appearances.

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 Wilpon's 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.

Family: Bobby married his first wife Tamara Ann Gann in 1977, when he was just twenty years old. Together they had two daughters & one son. They would divorce in 1988.

Ojeda & his second wife Ellen live in Rumson, New Jersey.

Mets Honors: Bobby was on hand for the 20th Anniversary of the 1986 Mets in 2006 at Shea Stadium. He also attended the final ceremonies of Shea Stadium in 2008.

Ojeda was at Citi Field for the 1986 Mets 30th Anniversary Celebration. In 2022 Bobby was on hand for the Mets Old Timers Day Festivities.

Comments

Anonymous said…
The 4.03:1 K/BB ratio came in 1988 (and led the NL), not 1986.

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