Jesse Orosco: World Champion Mets Pitcher (1979-1987) & All Time MLB Leader in Appearances

Jesse Russell Orosco was born on April 21st 1957 in Santa Barbara, California. He was the fifth of seven children to Ray & Tomasa Orosco. Jesse began playing baseball at age six. His father founded, funded & played on the semi pro team, the Santa Barbara Jets. Jesse & his brother were bat boys on the team.

The six-foot two lefty attended the local high school & City College at Santa Barbara. He turned into a local star pitcher as well, getting drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the second round of the 1978 amateur draft.

In December of 1978, Shea Stadium was a already a sad place. Then one of the last pieces of the 1969 Championship team; Jerry Koosman was traded away to his home state of Minnesota. 

Koosman went to the Twins & a young Jesse Orosco came to the Mets. Little did anyone know that the player sent over in exchange for Koos would help be another piece to a future Championship.

Mets Debut: In 1979 Orosco made the team out of Spring Training. He made his debut on Opening Day 1979 pitching to one batter at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Orosco relieved Dwight Bernard in the 9th inning, closing out Craig Swans 10-6 Mets victory. 

On April 22nd, Orosco earned the first victory of his career, coming at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, pitching one inning of relief. 

But after taking a loss & seeing his ERA rise to 4.89, Orosco was sent to AAA Tidewater in early June .

There he went 4-4 as a starter & was demoted to AA Jackson the next season. He converted into a relief pitcher that season under manager Bob Wellman. 

1981 Season: Orosco started the season back at AAA Tidewater, going 9-5 with eight saves in 47 appearances being used as both starter & reliever. He got another brief call up, pitching in eight games that September. 

Firs Career Save: On September 18th, he pitched three scoreless innings of relief against the Cardinals, striking out four, earning his first career save in the 8-1 win. 

1982 Season: Orosco was up for good this season, starting out at 0-5 before collecting his first win on June 18th in the first game of a double header with the Cardinals. On July 21st he earned his first save of the year then blew his first save in his next outing in San Diego. In September he won two games in the week of September 21st to September 28th, both in Mets walk off wins. Ron Gardenhire 7 Rusty Staub provided the game winning hits.

On the season, Orosco made 54 appearances going 4-10 with four saves & five holds while posting an ERA of 2.72 on the sixth-place club.

1983 Season: Orosco matured to be a most pleasant surprise for the '83 Mets, as he turned into one of the best pitchers in the NL. After collecting his first save on April 29th, he racked up three early victories & was 3-0, with three saves, posting a 0.92 ERA by the end of May. 

After he had a rough June, where he blew a save & took three losses, he was 4-4 with seven save & a 1.32 ERA by the All-Star break getting named to the NL squad.

1983 All Star: Orosco was the Mets sole representative of the NL All Star team. He came on in the bottom of the 7th inning with two men on in relief of Pasqual Perez who had just given up two runs. Orosco struck out the Brewers Ben Ogilvie to end the inning. The NL took a 13-2 loss at Comiskey Park in Chicago.

Pitcher of the Month Award: Later in summer, from July 31st to the end of August Jesse was 4-0 with six saves, giving up just one earned run in 23 innings of work with 19 strike outs in 13 appearances. He won two Pitcher of the Week Awards that month as well as the Pitcher of the Month Award.

In the second half of the season, Orosco was 9-3 with ten saves & a 1.63 ERA. 

Overall, for the ’83 season, he was the best pitcher on the staff, leading everyone including veteran Tom Seaver who had returned to New York. Orosco led the team in wins (13) going 13-7, winning % (.650%) saves (17) & topped the staff in ERA (1.47) which would also be a career best for him.

He made 62 appearances (second to Doug Sisk) pitching in 110 innings while striking out 84 batters & allowing just 13 earned runs. He finished third in the Cy Young voting.

Although the Mets finished sixth that season (68-94) there were signs of improvement with the addition of Keith Hernandez & rookie of the Year Darryl Strawberry. In the off season they brought in Davey Johnson as manager & had some outstanding young talent ready for the big leagues. The Mets would enjoy first or second place finishes over the next decade with Orosco playing a big part of their bullpen thru 1987.

1984: Orosco started out the season strong, going 2-0 with five saves, not allowing an earned run until May 5th. He gave up four runs that day taking his first loss. He would make six more appearances that month giving up just an earned run in ten innings of work.

After a June 1st loss, Orosco would save 12 straight games before blowing a save on July 23rd.

1984 All Star: At the All Star break he was 7-2 with 18 saves and had an ERA under two (1.89). He made his second straight All-Star team, but this time was not the only Met at the Mid-Summer Classic. He was joined by teammates Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry & rookie phenom Dwight Gooden.

Orosco did not pitch in the NL's 3-1 win at Candlestick Park, San Francisco. In that game teammate Dwight Gooden wowed everyone by striking out the side in the top of the 5th inning.

From August 4th thru the August 17th Jesse saved five straight games allowing one earned run in
7.1 innings of work. He collected three ore saves in September as well. 

On September 24th, Orosco earned his tenth win of the year, pitching a scoreless 8th inning. It was his second year of earning double figures in victories out of the bullpen.

The Mets remained in contention until mid-September finishing the year in second place with 90
wins. It was their first winning season since 1976 & the future looked bright.

On the year Orosco went 10-6, with 31 saves (3rd best in the NL) posting a 2.59 ERA in 60 appearances. He struck out 85 batters & walked 34 in 87 innings of work.

1985 Season: Orosco the lefty, started the year sharing the closing duties with right-hander Roger McDowell. Davey Johnson who loved righty lefty matchups now had an awesome combo to close out games. 

On Opening Day he pitched a scoreless 9th inning, holding the Cardinals to a 5-5 tie. The newest Mets star Gary Carter won the game with a walk off HR.

On April 16th he collected his first victory, it came in Pittsburgh pitching two scoreless innings. On April 27th he blew a save allowing three 8th inning runs to the Pirates, taking the loss. He then saved three straight games in May before giving up a game winning hit to the Padres Terry Kennedy on May 22nd.

In July he had a solid month winning a game while collecting five saves not allowing an earned run from July 7th to July 29th in eight appearances. In August he didn't allow an earned run in eight appearances, with two more wins & three ore saves, totaling 14 for the year.

In a busy September pennant race, Orosco made 12 appearances. On September 1st he earned his 15th save, closing out a 4-3 over the Giants. On September 6th he earned a win in Los Angles in extra innings, when Darryl Strawberry drove in two runs with a 13th inning ground rule double off Tom Niedenfuer. Two days later he blew a save giving up an 8th inning two run HR to Mike Marshall, although the Mets still won the game 4-3 in extra innings.

On September 11th he gave up a 10th inning HR in a scoreless game to the Cardinals Cesar Cedeno. The loss put the Mets & Cardinals at a tie atop the NL East. The next day he earned the win as the Mets beat the Cards in the bottom of the 9th on Keit Hernandez walk off base hit off Ken Dayley.

The Mets fell four games back of the Cards in late September but then took two of three in a big series in St. Louis. 

On October 1st, Orosco was the winning pitcher in the classic game where Darryl Strawberry hit a HR off the clock tower at Bush Stadium in St. Louis. The Mets lost three of their past four games & ended up finishing second, three games behind the Cardinals in the East. 

That year Orosco made 54 appearances going 8-6, tying McDowell for the team lead of 17 saves (9th in the NL) while posting a 2.73 ERA. He struck out 68 batters, with 34 walks, allowing just six HRs in 79 innings of work. 

1986 Championship Season: In the 1986 Championship season, Jesse earned his first save in the second game of the year a 9-7 win over the Phillies at Veterans Stadium. The next day. although he allowed three walks & blew the save, no runs were charged to him in the 9-8 loss. 

He then saved five games, not allowing an earned run until May 16th, when he took his first loss. On May 23rd he gave up a walk off HR to Tony Gwynn in San Diego. He closed out the month with two wins.

By June 8th he notched his tenth save of the year & by the All-Star break was 4-4 with 12 saves & a 3.35 ERA. The Mets already had run away with the division & were winning so often the closer spot didn't seem that important.

Brawl & Playing Left Field: On July 22nd at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati the Mets & Reds had a classic brawl. The fight began when Eric Davis slid hard into Ray Knight at third base. After the benches cleared & punches were thrown there were ejections.

Mets manager Davey Johnson made some creative defensive moves, one had Orosco play right field with Roger McDowell relieving him on the mound. Orosco then came back to pitch with two outs in the 11th inning. 

Reds manager Pete Rose protested the game saying Orosco should not have been allowed to warm up. Orosco also pitched a scoreless 12th inning. He went back to the outfield for the 13th inning catching a Tony Perez line drive for an out. The Mets won it in 14 innings.

Quotes- Jesse Orosco:
"I hoped the game would lase 20 innings. We were having a lot of fun".

He had a better second half posting a 1.33 ERA as opposed to a 3.35 ERA in the first half. In the second half he allowed just six earned runs in 40 innings pitched. All six runs came in just four of his outings, as he shut out the opponent in 22 second half appearances. Through the final two months he was 3-1 with eight saves.  

Orosco finished the 1986 Championship regular Season at 8-6 with 21 saves (9th in the league) posting a strong 2.33 ERA. He struck out 62 batters & walked 35 in 81 innings pitched in 58 appearances allowing 21 earned runs.

1986 Post Season: Orosco's clutch relief pitching in the 1986 postseason was one of the key reasons the Mets were world champions. He was on the mound for the final pitch of the final game of both the 1986 NLCS against the Houston Astros, and the 1986 World Series against the Boston Red Sox.

Orosco ended both series by striking out the final batters. 

1986 NLCS: Jesse made his first appearance of the NLCS pitching a scoreless 8th inning in the Astros 1-0 win in Houston.

In Game #3 of the NLCS at Shea Stadium he pitched two scoreless innings, allowing a hit with a pair of strike outs. He earned the win when 
Lenny Dykstra hit a walk off HR in the bottom of the 9th inning off Dave Smith. 

In Game #5 Orosco was on the winning end of another Mets walk off hit, as Gary Carters 12th inning base hit off Charlie Kerfeld scored Wally Backman with the games winning run. (centerfieldmaz was there in attendance)

Finally, he was the winning pitcher in the epic Game #6 at the Houston Astrodome, although it didn’t come easy. He came in relief of Roger McDowell in the 14th inning with the Mets ahead 4-3. Jesse allowed a HR to Billy Hatcher that tied the game back up.

Orosco pitched a scoreless 15th, striking out Kevin Bass & Jose Cruz then getting a ground ball out from Alan Ashby.

The Mets put up three runs in the top of the 16thwith RBIs from Ray Knight & Lenny Dykstra.

Orosco was at bat when Jeff Calhoun threw a wild pitch that allowed Knight to score from third base. He then sacrificed Backman over, who scored on Dykstra's single.

The wild game went to the bottom of the 16th inning & Orosco started out by striking out Craig Reynolds. He then walked Davey Lopes, then gave up a base hits to Bill Doran & an RBI hit to Billy Hatcher. 

Houston had scored two runs to come within one run of tying the game, Manager Davey Johnson came to the mound & told Orosco he was sticking with him the rest of the way. That confidence meant everything to Jesse. 
He next got Denny Walling for the second out.

In the final at bat, Orosco was struggling a bit on Kevin Bass. Keith Hernandez came in from first base & said to Jesse “I don't care what Gary calls. If you throw a fastball, I'm going to kill you”. Orosco then struck out Bass swinging, clinching the pennant & heading to the World Series.

Overall, Jesse was 3-0 in the NLCS, appearing in four games allowing three runs in eight innings pitched with ten strikeouts.

MLB Post Season Record: In the NLCS he made baseball history becoming the first and only relief pitcher to get three wins in a playoff series.

1986 World Series:  Orosco made his first appearance in the World Series against the Red Sox finishing off the Game #2 loss at Shea Stadium pitching two scoreless innings.

In Game #4 at Fenway Park, he earned his first save of the Series, pitching 1.1 scoreless innings of solid relief, as Ron Darling got the win in the 6-2 victory. 

Orosco came back in the classic Game #6, getting the final out of the 8th inning as Bill Buckner was the only batter he faced. 

In Game #7 he came in relief of Roger McDowell in the 8th inning with two on, nobody out & the Mets ahead by just a run, 6-5. Orosco reared back & retired catcher; Rich Gedman, Dave Henderson & pinch hitter Don Baylor to bring the Shea crowd to a near frenzy as the Mets were only three outs away from the Championship. 

In the bottom of the 8th, Darryl Strawberry added an insurance run with a HR. Rau Knight then singled & Rafael Santana was walked to get to Orosco. But Jesse singled to center bringing in Knight with a World Series RBI putting the Mets up 8-5.

In the 9th he retired the side in order & struck out Marty Barrett to close out the 1986 World Series. Jesse threw his glove in the air & was mobbed by his teammates in a ecstatic Shea Stadium, on a historical night that centerfieldmaz can proudly say he was there.

In that game he also came to bat got a base hit & drove in a run in his only post season at bat.

In the World Series Orosco would save two games, allow no runs on just two hits in 5.2 innings pitched. The image of Jesse flinging his glove in the air and kneeling down on the mound in victory is now one of the most classic scenes in Mets history.
After the Championship: In 1987 he struggled as did the rest of the team, going 3-9 with 16 saves 99th most in the NL) with a 4.44 ERA, the highest since his first season in 1979. Orosco struck out 43 batters with 31 walks in 77 innings pitched in 58 appearances.

That season Roger McDowell led the team with 25 saves, a young Randy Myers was emerging with his blazing fastball as well. Orosco now thirty years old & the Mets felt they could move on from him.

That winter he was traded away by the Mets in a huge three team, seven player deal that brought Kevin Tapani & Wally Whitehurst to the Mets.

Mets Career Stats: In his eight-year Mets career, Orosco has 107 saves (4th most in Mets history). He made 372 appearances (6th most in Mets history). He is 47-47 (tied for 19th most wins in Met history) with 506 Ks (26th most in Mets history) 240 walks & a 2.73 ERA in 595 innings pitched.

Post Mets Career: Jesse Orosco signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers & got to pitch near his hometown of Santa Barbra, in Southern California. 

By 1988 he was no longer a closer, pitching behind Dodgers closers Jay Howell & Alejandro Pena. In 55 appearances, he posted a 2.72 ERA going 3-2 still notching nine saves. 

1988 Post Season: Orosco got to another post season, as his Dodgers surprised his old Mets teammates beating them in a seven game NLCS. Orosco made four appearances, giving up two runs, four hits with three walks in 2.1 innings of work.

In Game #3 at Shea Stadium, he gave up an RBI single to Mookie Wilson & walked Keith Hernandez with the bases loaded in the Mets five run 8th inning of their 8-4 win.

Jesse did not pitch in the Dodgers shocking sweep of the Oakland A’s in the World Series.

After the Championship: Now at age 32 with two World Series Championships under his belt, he became would become a journeyman pitcher for the next 14 years until the age of 46.

 He pitched with the Cleveland Indians (1989-1991) the Milwaukee Brewers (1992-1994) saving eight games in 1993.

Reunited with Davey Johnson:
Orosco then went to the Baltimore Orioles (1995-1999) pitching for his former Mets manager Davey Johnson. In 1995 at age 38 he led the L in appearances with 65. 
He was the AL's top fielding pitcher in 1994 & 1998. With the Orioles he made it to two more post seasons in the 1996 & 1997 seasons getting to the ALCS both times. 

1996 Post Season: In the 1996 ALDS Game #2 he gave up a run in the Orioles 7-4 win over the Indians. In Game #4 he was the losing pitcher after giving up three runs with three walks in the 9-4 loss at Cleveland. In the ALCS loss he gave up a run in two innings over four appearances.

1997 Post Season: In the ALDS win over Seattle, he made two appearances. In the ALCS loss to
Cleveland, he made two more with a strike out & a walk in 1.2 innings of work.

At age forty the ageless Orosco posted a 2.32 ERA, among the best of all AL relievers. In his five seasons with the Orioles, he made 336 appearances, with eleven saves finishing off 83 games.

In 1999 he was traded back to the Mets but never pitched for them as he was soon traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for utility player-"Super" Joe Mcewing. 

Trivia: From 1999 through 2003 he was baseballs oldest player.

As the years went on, he was strictly a left-handed specialist which kept him pitching even longer. Orosco went back to the Los Angeles Dodgers (2001-2002) then the San Diego Padres (2003) the AL New York club (2003) & Minnesota Twins (2003) before finally retiring at the age of 46.

Career Stats: Orosco was one of the best relievers of his era. He was known to have had one of the game’s best sliders, which was his main pitch.

In his 24-year career he made two All Star teams, won two championships & played in four post seasons. In the post season he was 3-1 with two saves 7 a 4.15 ERA. He had 22 strike outs 10 walks in 21.2 innings in 24 games.

Trivia: In his last six seasons he was the games oldest player.

MLB All Time Record Holder In Appearances: Orosco holds the all-time MLB record for pitching appearances with 1252.

Career Stats: Lifetime he was 87 –80 with 144 saves (90th all time) with 501 games finished (42nd all time). He posted a 3.36 ERA with 1179 strike outs & 581 walks in 1295 innings pitched. 

Orosco only committed four errors in 1,295 career innings pitched with a .985 fielding percentage.

Queens Trivia: In his early Mets years he rented an apartment in Maspeth Queens. He became friendly with his landlord who owns O'Neil's Pub there. After the Mets won the 1986 World Series, Orosco brought some of his teammates there to celebrate.

Family: Jesse met his future wife Leticia Banda at Dodger Stadium. It was her first baseball game & Jesse was in the Mets bullpen. The two married in 1984. Leticia is a native of East L.A.

Together they have three children, daughters Natalie & Alyssa. Also, a son Jesse Jr. The family live in the San Diego area, where Jesse has been a long-time youth baseball instructor. 

His daughter is also an instructor. His son Jesse Jr. pitched minor league baseball.

Mets Honors: Orosco has been on hand to throw out ceremonial first pitches at Shea Stadium on various occasions. He attended the 20th & 30th anniversaries of the 1986 Championship team. He was also on hand for the final ceremonies of Shea Stadium in 2009.

At the 30th Anniversary celebration of the 1986 Champs at Citi Field, Orosco threw the ceremonial pitch to the late Gary Carters son. Carter leaped into Jesse's arms just like dad did on that historic night. Orosco then raised his hands in victory reminiscent of 1986.

Hall of Fame: There is a strong argument & there are many supporters for Orosco's induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The case gets even stronger as more mediocre players have been inducted in recent history.


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