Bob Apodaca: Mid Seventies Mets Relief Pitcher & Long Time Pitching Coach (1973-1978)

Robert John Apodaca was born on January 31, 1950, in Los Angeles, California. The five foot eleven Mexican / American right hander was drafted by the New York Mets during their pitching rich days in 1971.

At A ball Visalia in 1971 he was 7-1 with a 3.60 ERA making a quick impression.

By 1972 he was up at AA Memphis going 11-7 (second to only Randy Sterling in wins) with a 2.80 ERA becoming a highly touted prospect.

The next year he was 6-3 posting a 1.80 ERA at AAA Tidewater the third best pitcher on the staff behind Sterling & John Glass.

1973 Mets Pennant Season: Apodaca made his debut in late September 1973, in a crucial game against the Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. He allowed one run & two walks in less than one inning of work giving him an infinity ERA. He did not appear in any other games that regular season nor the post season.

1974:  The next season he had a good spring and made the 1974 Mets roster. How could Met fans ever forget the way his name would roll off the tongues of Mets broadcasters Bob Murphy & Lindsey Nelson.

In the 1974 Mets home opener, after the ’73 NL Pennant flag was raised, Apodaca got the call-in relief. He appeared in the 9th inning, since the Mets top fireman, Tug McGraw was out sick & not able to pitch that day. With two St. Louis Cardinal runners on base, Apodaca retired Tim McCarver to earn the save in relief of Jerry Koosman.

The next day he relieved George Stone in the 9th inning at Shea in a game against the Cardinals. He gave up three straight singles blowing a save opportunity & taking the 4-3 loss. 

On May 13th in St. Louis, he earned his first victory beating Bob Gibson & the Cardinals, pitching five innings of relief. 

He would remain in the bullpen over the next two months, taking a loss to the Cubs on May 22nd & then an 11th walks off loss to the Braves. On June 11th, native New Yorker Frank Tepedino's reached on an error Apodaca made while trying to field a bunt allowing Johnny Oates to score.

On July 7th he pitched four innings of relief combining with Tom Seaver for a three-hit shutout over the Giants. Seaver had back issues & had to exit. Apodaca was then put into the starting rotation of a struggling hurting staff. 

On July 12th he made his first start, pitching six shutout innings in Los Angeles beating Tommy John & the Dodgers 5-2. His next outing wasn't as good, as he was hit hard for five runs by the Giants in Candlestick Park, exiting in the 4th inning, in a 6-2 loss.

On July 27th, Apodaca gave up a double in the 1st inning & then a Teddy Martinez error led to an Expos run.  He then settled down to retire 19 Expos in a row, before getting relieved in the 8th inning. Overall, the Mets won the game 8-5 with Apodaca allowing just two earned runs.

On August 9th, he had a brilliant two hit, seven inning shutout performance against the Cincinnati Reds at Shea Stadium. He walked three & struck out four. He took a no decision in Houston & then won a game in relief over the Braves, after he had blown a one run lead in the 7th inning. Rusty Staub's RBI single in the 8th was the difference.

In September he pitched in relief again, eight appearances earning a save going 1-1. On September 13th in the nightcap of a Shea double header, he gave up an 11th inning HR to the Cubs Ron Dunn to take the loss.

On September 29th he made a start in his last appearance of the season. He pitched a complete game victory over the Pirates allowing two runs on just three hits while striking out five.

For the season he went 6-6 with three saves, posting a 3.50 ERA, In 35 appearances he made eight starts, he struck out 54 batters & walked 42 in 103 innings of work while finishing off 15 games.

1975 Mets Closer:
In 1975 Apodaca was the Mets main relief specialist, back in those days they were still being called "Firemen". By now Apodaca had taken over as the teams closer as Tug McGraw had been traded away to Philadelphia.

 Apodaca missed the first two weeks of the season on the DL, returning on April 20th. In his first game, he earned a save in relief of Jon Matlack, beating the Chicago Cubs 8-6 at Shea Stadium. 

Apodaca saved seven games while posting a 1.05 ERA entering June. 
In that stretch he only allowed three earned runs in 26 innings. On June 11th he relieved Mets rookie Randy Tate in the 8th inning at Dodger Stadium in a 1-1 tie. He pitched two scoreless innings & earned the win thanks to Mike Phillips RBI single in the top of the 9th.

He had his first blown save & took his first loss in Montreal on June 18th allowing a 9th inning RBI single to Gary Carter. He then gave up a 10th inning game winning hit to Pete Mackanin.

In a July game against the Phillies, he took a bouncer to his face & suffered a fractured nose, requiring 14 stitches. He missed most of July but did return at the end of the month for one more appearance.

In August he earned four more saves, reaching double figures on August 16th. That month the Mets had much drama, as they parted ways with Cleon Jones after an ugly sex scandal, which had been handled wrongly & them the firing of manager Yogi Berra. But the team was still in contention, six games back of Pittsburgh at the start of September.

On September 5th, Apodaca pitched three scoreless innings, earning his 13th save coming against the St. Louis Cardinals.

On September 9th in Montreal, he was beat in the 10th inning on a (former Met) Mike Jorgensen walk off double. 

Apodaca did finish the year strong, with two relief wins, pitching five scoreless innings in two games, in the week of September 20th through the 23rd.

He had his best overall season in 1975, posting a 1.48 ERA, with a team leading 13 saves (8th best in the league) and a 3-4 record. He allowed just 66 hits, 4 HRs & 14 earned runs in 85.0 innings pitched, striking out 45 batters & walking 28.
Bicentennial Year: In 1976 he lost his closer job to Skip Lockwood who was brought over from the Angels. Apodaca made 43 appearances & was second on the staff with five saves. 

On April 19th, he pitched three scoreless innings in a 15-inning affair in St. Louis to earn a victory. Del Unser's HR was the difference in the top of the 15th.

In May he took three losses, including one coming in a start on May 31st, before earning a save on June 13th. On July 5th Apodaca made a start in Houston & was tagged for six runs in just three innings to earn his fourth loss. On July 11th, he gave up three runs to the Braves in the 8th inning to take his fifth loss.

He would earn two more win on the season, but he struggled with a 3-7 record although he posted another strong ERA at 2.81. He struck out 45 batters & walked 29 in 89 innings of work. He was also credited with two holds & he finished off thirty games.

1977:  In a bad year for the organization, Apodaca appeared in a career high 59 games, mostly in middle relief for the last place Mets, which was now a franchise that was hitting rock bottom.

On May 15th he gave up a run to the Dodgers in the 11th inning to take his first loss. A week later he gave up three runs in Cincinnati to take his second loss. Three of his four wins came in the month of June. Two were results of leads he had actually blown. On June 30th, he pitched three scoreless innings in Montreal & benefited from Mike Vail's 9th inning grounder that resulted in a run scoring. 

The last win of his career came on September 17th, as he pitched one scoreless 9th inning against the Chicago Cubs. The Mets won the game on an Ed Kranepool's walk off double.

Once again Apodaca was second on the staff, to Skip Lockwood in saves (5) going 4-8, with three holds & a respectable 3.43 ERA.

Career Ending Injury: In Spring Training of 1978 hard luck fell on Apodaca, he tore a ligament in his right elbow which ended up finishing off his career. He did not pitch again for three seasons, until 1981 when he attempted a comeback with AA Jackson.

He pitched in just six games, before being forced to retire, ending a once promising career that never took off.

Career Stats: In five seasons Apodaca appeared in 184 games (11 starts) going 16-25 with a 2.86 ERA and 26 saves. He struck out 197 batters walked 131 in 361 innings pitched. Apodaca has one complete game to his credit. 

Coaching Career: After his playing days he spent over a decade as a coach in the Mets farm system, starting at Little Falls & Jackson in 1983. That season he helped coach two young relievers named Roger McDowell & Calvin Schiraldi. 

He went to the Columbia Mets from 1984-1987 working there under Bud Harrelson in 1985. In 1986 they too finished up as league champs.

He then went to the St. Lucie Mets & back to Jackson from 1989-1990. From 1991- 1996 he was at the Mets AAA level with Tidewater then with them in their move to Norfolk.

Over the years he had tutored Mets pitchers, Anthony Young, Pete Shcourek, Bobby Jones, Paul Byrd, Rick Reed & the Generation K trio of Jason Isringhausen, Bill Pulsipher, & Paul Gibson. 

Mets Pitching Coach: He was promoted to pitching coach of the New York Mets on Bobby Valentine’s staff from 1996 to 1999. 

Apodaca's staff won 88 games in both 1997 & 1998 posting the leagues fourth best ERA in 1998. In 1997 they had the most saves in the NL (41).

Coaching Staff Shake Up: On June 5th, 1999, the Mets were one game under .500 & the front office wanted to shake things up a bit.

Manager Bobby Valentine arrived at Shea Stadium‚ to learn that GM Steve Phillips had fired his three closest coaches Bob Apodaca‚ Tom Robinson and Randy Niemann.

Mets Trivia: After spending 27 years in the Mets organization at various levels & job positions, Apodaca was moving on.

As pitching coach, he is remembered for wearing a stopwatch around his neck to keep pitch counts & time his staff.

Post Mets Career: Apodaca moved on to the Milwaukee Brewers as pitching coach in 2000-2001, then returned to the Mets organization as pitching coach for St. Lucie in 2002.

Rockies Pitching Coach career: In 2003 he got the job as pitching coach for the Colorado Rockies under Clint Hurdle whom he had met while coaching in the Mets minor league system. 

Their staff went all the way to the World Series in 2007, leading the NL in wins & were second in innings pitched.

The Rockies fell below .500 the next year but returned to the post season in 2009, Apodaca's bullpen was first in the league in saves & third in wins. 

Apodaca remained as the Rockies pitching coach for parts of seven seasons. On June 26th, 2012, he asked the organization that he be reassigned. He was then named special assistant to the General Manager, Dan O'Dowd.

He then became a Rockies minor league instructor through 2016. More recently Apodaca coached with the A ball Boise Hawks in 2018 & 2019. After fifty years in baseball, he retired in 2020.

Family: Bob & his first wife Rita have three children & grandchildren. In 2017 he married his wife Rene & is stepfather to her children as well.


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