- November 28, 1958
- 6' 4"
- 195 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 9-16-1979 with NYA
- Allstar Selections:
- 1981 ROOK, 1986 RR, 1987 RR
The Yankees' all-time save leader when he retired, Righetti set the major league single-season mark of 46 in 1986. He began his career as a starter and threw a no-hitter against the Red Sox on a hot day at Yankee Stadium on the Fourth of July, 1983. Acquired from the Rangers as part of the Sparky Lyle trade after the 1978 season, Righetti appeared in three games in 1979. His next trip to the majors, 1981, resulted in the AL Rookie of the Year award, based on his 8-4 record and 2.06 ERA. Righetti was effective during the postseason, winning two games over Milwaukee in divisional play and once over Oakland in the LCS. He went 11-10 in 1982 and 14-8 in 1983, including the no-hitter, the Yankees' first since Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series.
Moved to the bullpen to replace Goose Gossage as the Yankees' closer, Righetti saved 31 games in 1984 and 29 in 1985 with 12 wins. Then came record-setting 1986, when he converted on 29 of his final 30 save opportunities, including both ends of a season-ending doubleheader against the Red Sox, to break the record of 45 held by Dan Quisenberry and Bruce Sutter. Righetti finished fourth in voting for the AL Cy Young Award that season. His save totals dropped to 31 in 1987 and 25 in 1988 and 1989, prompting increased speculation that he might be returning to the starting rotation. On the Yankee all-time lists, he ranks 2nd in games and 12th in strikeouts.
David Allan Righetti (born November 28, 1958, in San Jose, California) is a former left-handed pitcher for various Major League Baseball teams, primarily the New York Yankees. He is currently the pitching coach for the San Francisco Giants and was the first player in history to both pitch a no-hitter and also lead the league in saves in his career. Dennis Eckersley later duplicated the feat. His nickname is "Rags."
Righetti attended Pioneer High School.
He was selected by the Texas Rangers on January 11, 1977, in the first round (10th overall pick) of the amateur draft. On November 10, 1978, he was traded, along with Greg Jemison, Juan Beníquez, Mike Griffin, and Paul Mirabella, to the New York Yankees for Domingo Ramos, Mike Heath, Sparky Lyle, Larry McCall, Dave Rajsich, and cash. His first major league game was with the Yankees on September 16, 1979, wearing uniform number 56. In this game against the Detroit Tigers he pitched 5.0 innings, striking out three and allowing 3 hits, 6 walks, and 3 earned runs. Righetti was almost traded to the Minnesota Twins in January 1979; the Twins and Yankees were unable to complete a deal in which Rod Carew would have moved to New York in exchange for Chris Chambliss, Juan Beniquez, Dámaso García, and Righetti. In 1980 he returned to the minor leagues, but rejoined the Yankees in 1981 wearing number 19, which he would keep until 1994.
He pitched strongly as a starter for the Yankees from 1981–83, winning the American League's Rookie of the Year award in 1981, and helping the Yankees reach the World Series the same year. The highlight of his efforts as a starting pitcher occurred on the Fourth of July, 1983, when he threw a 4-0 no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox on the anniversary of Lou Gehrig's farewell speech. It was the first Yankee no-hitter since Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series, and the first by a Yankee left-hander since 1917. Former American President Richard Nixon attended the game. Twenty-five years later, Righetti reminisced about the game:
“My biggest worry, because I had a tendency to fall toward third base, was him tapping a ball between me and Mattingly and me trying to get to first base...I threw a lot of fastballs during the at bat, but the last slider I ended up throwing, he happened to miss it. Thank goodness.”
In 1984, Righetti was moved to the Yankees' bullpen due to an excess of starters, and replaced Goose Gossage as the team's closer. He proved even more effective in relief, averaging 32 saves per season over the next 7 years with the Yankees, and being named an All-Star in 1986 and 1987. On October 4, 1986, he saved both games of a doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox, finishing the season with 46 saves, and breaking the major league record shared by Dan Quisenberry and Bruce Sutter. The record would stand until Bobby Thigpen saved 57 games for the Chicago White Sox in 1990, which would also be Righetti's last season with the Yankees. Righetti retained the single-season record for left-handers until 1993, when Randy Myers saved 53 games for the Chicago Cubs; Righetti still owns the AL record for left-handers.
Following the 1990 season, he signed as a free agent with the San Francisco Giants. While with the Giants in 1991, he broke Sparky Lyle's major league record for left-handers of 238 career saves; Righetti's record would stand until 1994, when John Franco surpassed his eventual total of 252. Righetti saved only 24 games in 1991, and the following two years saw him ineffective in middle relief roles; his career as a closer was over.
Released by the Giants after the 1993 season, he crossed the Bay to sign as a free agent with the Oakland Athletics. After beginning 1994 with the A's, he was released, and signed as a free agent with the Toronto Blue Jays, playing for the Jays wearing number 24. After that season he was released by the Blue Jays, and in spring 1995 he signed as a free agent with the Chicago White Sox, wearing number 45 with the team. On November 9, 1995, he was again granted free agency; but no team signed him, and Righetti retired to end his 16-year career, finishing with 252 saves, a 3.46 ERA, and a record of 82-79 in 718 games.
Since 2000, Righetti has been the pitching coach for the Giants. Despite uncertainty if he would return to the Giants for the 2007 season due to a managerial change, Righetti announced in early November 2007 that he would remain with the Giants in his present role. He was the pitching coach for the pitching staff that included Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sánchez, and Brian Wilson that won the 2010 World Series. An analysis by Fangraphs showed that Righetti has an uncanny knack for teaching pitchers to not give up homeruns.
Righetti currently lives in Los Altos with his wife and triplets (two daughters and one son). One of his daughters has a cochlear implant. He served on the Board of Directors for more than ten years for Jean Weingarten Peninsula Oral School for the Deaf. He is a San Jose Sharks season ticket holder and can be seen in attendance for games.
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- Dave Righetti