Terry Leach: Former 1980's Mets Pitcher (1981/ 1985-1989)

Terry Hester Leach was born on March 13, 1954, in Selma, Alabama. His father Cecil was once a football player at Auburn University. He & his wife Alma had two other sons before Terry fourteen years & seven years older than him.

The six-foot right-handed pitcher went to Auburn University pitching in the College World Series in 1976.

He originally signed a contract with the Boston Red Sox that year, but that deal got voided. The next year he signed with the Atlanta Braves. There he struggled at 19-23 in their farm system & was released in July of 1980.

A week later he was picked up by the New York Mets. 

Leach was a side armed throwing pitcher with a unique style. In his pitching motion, he would bend down low scraping his knee, which he kept padded, on the ground. 

In 1981 Leach was 10-3 pitching at both AA Jackson & AAA Tidewater for the Mets getting called up in August of that year.

Mets Career: Leach made his MLB debut on August 12th at Wrigley Field with the Mets ahead 4-2 in the 7th inning in relief of Ed Lynch. Leach blew the save allowing a two run HR to the veteran Hawaiian native Mike Lum.

Leach pitches a middle reliever thru the rest of the season. On September 9th he came into the game & pitched 3.1 innings of scoreless relief at Pittsburgh earning a win in the Mets 5-3 victory.

He would appear in 21 games that season, going 1-1 with a 2.55 ERA. He finished off three games & made on start. Leach struck out 16 walked 12 in 35.1 innings of work.

1982: Leach began the year at AAA Tidewater where he was 4-1 with a 2.96 ERA & five saves in 30 appearances. He was called back to the Met staff by June. On June 29th he pitched four scoreless innings of relief in Montreal to earn himself a victory. 

In July he collected three saves & hold.  On August 1st he gave up a 10th inning HR to Nill Madlock taking a loss to the Pirates at Shea Stadium. He made just one start on the season & it was a memorable one.

One Hitter: On October 1st, Leach threw a one hit shutout at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia on a 1-0 victory over the Phillies & John Denny. The only hit was a 5th inning triple from Luis Aguayo. Along the way Leach struck out seven batters & walked six in ten innings of work. It was the first Mets one hitter since Tom Seaver tossed one in April 1977.

The only run of the game was driven in by Hubbie Brooks on a sac fly RBI in the 10th inning off Porfi Altamirano. This was the 13th one hitter in Mets history up to that point.

On the season Leach was 2-1 with three saves and a 4.17 ERA in 21 appearances. He struck out 30 batters walking 18 in 45 innings of work.

He couldn’t crack thru to the big-league club the next two years getting to the AAA World Series with Tidewater in 1983. He then had an impressive 11-4 season there in 1984 tying Bill Latham for the team lead in victories.

The Cubs were so impressed with they traded for him that season but when Jim Frey took over as manager, he wanted Leach to stop is side arm pitching which Leach was uncomfortable with. He was then traded to Atlanta & got resigned by the Mets.

1985: Davey Johnso who had managed him at Tidewater knew he had a rubber arm & liked his versatility. Leach was back at Shea in 1985 & was now pitching for a much better team than he had three years ago. After making seven relief appearances & collecting two holds he made a July 21st start against the Braves. He gave up three runs (two earned) after six innings & got the win in what turned out to be a wild 15-10 game.

On August 22nd, he had another memorable start throwing a three-hit shutout over the San Francisco Giants. He struck out just three & walked one in the 7-0 win.

He pitched in relief & made two more starts where he went 1-1. On the year he was 3-4 posting a 2.91 ERA with 30 strike outs & 14 walks in 55 innings in 22 appearances with four starts. 

Trivia: He earned the nickname Jack as in Jack of all trades.

Quotes- Manager Davey Johnson: "He just wants the ball. He doesn't want to give it up when he's on the hill & if he's not on the hill he cant wait to get there."

1986 Mets Championship Season: Leach began the season with the Mets but after six games was back at AAA Tidewater where he went 4-4 with a 2.49 ERA. He expected to be back when the September rosters expanded but he was injured at Tidewater & couldn't pitch. He was one of four Mets who did not get a Championship ring until years later when Randy Myers pressured Fred Wilpon & split the cost with him.

1987:  After the Championship season, Leach got a full-time chance to pitch as the staff was short when Dwight Gooden entered rehab & Roger McDowell got injured. It was his first year he spent opening day with the team, he was already 33 years old.

He spent April & May pitching out of the bullpen, collecting three straight wins from May 22nd to May 29th. Leach was placed in the starting rotation on June 1st. His first start came in Los Angeles against Fernando Valenzuela. Leach allowed just one run on four hits in six innings of work, to earn his fourth win of the year.

On June 16th he beat the Expos in Montreal then on June 27th he beat the Phillies in Philadelphia where he gave up just two runs & four hits over eight innings. He was now 6-0 with a 2.45 ERA.

Two Hitter: On July 2nd, he tossed a memorable two hit shutout in Cincinnati. He struck out just three & walked two as he beat the Reds to best his record to 7-0. Lenny Dykstra led the offense with a HR, as Howard Johnson & Rafael Santana had two RBIs each.

Next Leach earned a win at Atlanta where he gave up just one run in six innings lowering his ERA to 2.08. He was even used in relief on July 29th collecting a hold in St. Louis in between starts. On August 1st he earned his 9th win beating Montreal as the Mets put up 12 runs for him.

On August 11th in a start at Shea Stadium he beat the Expos again, pitching eight innings allowing two runs, to put him at 10-0 on the year with a 2.80 ERA. 

Leach was an incredible surprise to the Mets helping them out in a time where they were short on pitching. By mid-August they were in second place five games behind the Cardinals.

On August 14th Leach took his first loss of the season, the Cubs got four runs & eleven hits off Leach knocking him out by the 5th inning. After another start, he was put back in the bullpen for September.

The Mets got as close as 1.5 games on September 19th, but they couldn't catch the Cardinals & finished second three games behind. In an era with no wild card the season was over.

Leach finished the year wat 11-1 with a 3.23 ERA. He had 61 strikeouts & 29 walks in 131 innings pitched. Leach made 12 starts that year in 44 appearances & finished 12 games. He allowed 14 HRs in that time & 132 hits.

1988 Mets NL Eastern Champion Season: It was back to the bull pen full time in 1988, where he had another fine season. On May 11th Leach came into a tied game in Houston in the 9th inning & earned the win when Kevin McReynolds won the game with a 10th inning RBI single off Dave Smith. On June 12th, he took a walk off loss when former Mets teammate Hubie Brooks singled in the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning. Leach would go two months before he took another loss.

In July he earned another extra inning win, coming in Atlanta when McReynolds once again delivered the game winning hit. On August 31st he took over for an injured Sid Fernandez in the 2nd inning in a game at Shea Stadium against the Padres. Leach gave up four runs in six innings taking the loss, his first of the year. In September he earned another win & a save.

On the season he went 7-2 with three saves while posting a 2.54 ERA. He struck out 51 batters walked 24 in 92 innings pitched in 52 appearances.

1988 Post Season- NLCS: He appeared in three games of the 1988 NLCS, striking out four Los Angeles Dodgers, without allowing any runs in five innings pitched.

1989: Leach appeared in just ten games with New York, playing his last Mets game on June 5th before getting traded to the Kansas City Royals for Agueda Vasquez.

Mets Career Stats: In his seven-year Mets career Leach was 24-9 (.727 %) with three saves 194 strikeouts 104 walks three shut outs three complete games in 18 starts & 176 appearances.

He was released by the Royals in Spring Training 1990 & then signed with the Minnesota Twins. Leach pitched two seasons in the Twin Cities, going 2-5 with a pair of saves in 1990, making 55 appearances. 

In the 1991 Twins Championship season, he made 50 appearances going 1-2 with a 3.61 ERA. 

1991 World Series: He did not pitch in the 1991 ALCS win over the Toronto Blue jays. In the World Series he made two appearances. In Game #5 he gave up one run in the 5th inning, of the 14-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

 After winning his second career Championship, he signed with the Chicago White Sox for 1992. There he went 6-5 with a 1.95 ERA in 51 appearances. He finished his playing career in Chicago, the following season. 

Career Stats: In an eleven-year career, Leach was 38-27 with ten Saves & a 3.15 ERA. He posted 331 Strikeouts with 197 walks in 700 innings pitched in 376 appearances with 21 starts & 138 games finished.

Retirement: In 2000 he wrote an autobiography titled: "Things Happen for a Reason: The True
Story of an Itinerant Life in Baseball".

Family: Leach met his wife Chris in Savannah daughter, whom they named their daughter after.

Honors: Leach attended the 2022 Mets Old Timers Day at Citi Field.

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