As a starting pitcher for the San Diego Padres, Ed Whitson had posted just one winning season when the Yankkees handed him a five year $4.5 multi-million dollar deal. Fortunately for the Padres, that winning season came in 1984 as Whitson was one of the workhorses in the San Diego rotation that led them to the World Series.
When Whitson hurled a gem against the Chicago Cubs in the NL Playoffs, Steinbrenner sat up and took notice. That’s about all it took for Whitson to become a Yankee. Steinbrenner overlooked the fact that Whitson was a disaster in the World Series by the Detroit Tigers that same year. Unfortunately, it was a sign of how the right-hander handled big time pressure.
Temperamental Whitson was never comfortable in The Big Apple. Not only did he pitch poorly in pinstripes, it got so bad that he refused to pitch in Yankee Stadium in front of fans who booed him mercilessly. He managed to go 10-8 despite a 4.88 ERA in 1985 due to fantastic run support, but when he pitched poorly early in 1986, Whitson was relegated to the bullpen. He was traded back to the Padres in July where he went on to have four solid seasons.
Whitson was so bitter about his brief foray as a Yankee that he refused to sign autographs of photos or baseball cards that depicted him as a Yankee. He also refused to pitch in Shea Stadium, lest he be booed by Yankee fans there. The Yanks inked another Padre starting pitcher five years later, Andy Hawkins, a former teammate of Whitson’s. Hawkins tanked as well.
- 1984 World Series, Ed Whitson, George Steinbrenner, Lou Piniella, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, Yankee Stadium