Jan 24, 2020

Rick Ownbey: One of Pitchers Traded To Get Keith Hernandez (1982-1983)

Richard Wayne Ownbey was born October 20th 1957, in Corona, California. The six foot three, right hander attended Santa Anna College. He was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates, as forth round pick but he did not sign. He was drafted by the New York Mets in the 13th round of the 1980 draft.

In his first year at the A ball & AA ball combined he impressed at 9-1 with a 1.80 ERA. After going 10-7 at AA Lynchburg, he was promoted to AAA in 1982. After a solid start there he was brought up to a poor Mets pitching staff in August.

Ownbey made his MLB debut on August 18th, 1982 in a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Riverfront Stadium. He gave up five runs in six innings in the Mets loss. His next start was in Atlanta & he gave up four runs in three innings. On August 28th he made his third start of the season, it went better than the others, seven innings two runs on two hits.

By September, Ownbey quickly matured. He threw two straight complete games, the first was a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Frank Pastore & the Cincinnati Reds. The only run of the game came when Ownbey balked in Dave Concepcion from third base. On September 8th, he earned his first career win, a one run complete game win over the Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium.

In his first season he made eight starts, going 1-2 with a 3.75 ERA.

The 1983 Mets brought back Tom Seaver & added veteran Mike Torrez to a young staff. Craig Swan led Walt Terrell & Ed Lynch as the other starters, with hope out of Spring Training that Ownbey would also be part of the staff. He made two relief appearances before making his first start. 

On April 30th, he began a stretch where he lost three straight starts, as his ERA climbed to six.

On June 10th, he came into an extra inning game at Shea, against the Montreal Expos. He entered the game in the 14th inning & pitched four shut out innings, earning the win when Dave Kingman hit a walk off HR in the 17th. In June 13th he made his last Mets appearance, finishing off a 7-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

Blockbuster Trade: On the trade deadline, he was the last piece of a giant trade for the New York Mets. He & Neil Allen went to the St. Louis Cardinals for Keith Hernandez. It was one of the best trades the Mets ever made. As Hernandez became one of the best Mets in history, leading them to contention & a Championship in 1986.

Ownbey spent the rest of 1983 in the minors with Louisville. He went 0-3 in just four games in 1984 & spent all of 1985 back at AAA Louisville.

 In 1986 he made 17 relief appearances going 1-3 with a 3.80 ERA. At the end of the year he was granted free agency & signed with the Kansas City Royals.

Injuries ruined his career & he never pitched in the majors again. In a four year career, Ownbey went 3-11 with a 4.11 ERA in 39 appearances.

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