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Happy Birthday David Cone

Toronto Blue Jays

David Cone turns 61 today.

Cone had two short stints with the Blue Jays.

The Jays traded for him in 1992 at the end of August. We were in first place, 2.5 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles. We were doing alright except for the 5th starter spot. Dave Stieb had the role, but his last start was August 8. Stieb only went 3 innings and allowed 5 runs. That was his last real season with the Jays. He had a 5.04 ERA (he did try to make a comeback in 1998). Rookie Doug Linton took his spot, made three starts, and had a 10.66 in those starts.

So the Jays sent Jeff Kent and Ryan Thompson (as the PTBNL) to the Mets for Cone. Kent went on to have a great career. But then Cone helped us win a World Series. Cone went 4-3 in the stretch run, with a 2.55 ERA in 8 games, 7 starts. We finished in first, 4 games up on the Brewers. Cone made 2 ALCS starts, picking up a win and a loss, with a 3.00 ERA and didn’t have a decision in 2 starts in the series against the Braves with a 3.48 ERA (and hit 2 for 4 with a walk). We might have won the World Series anyway, but you never know.

But the Mets got good value for the rental.

After the 1992 season, Cone Signed with the Royals, but we traded for him again at the start of the 1995 season, giving up three guys who didn’t do anything. Cone was great, going 9-6, with a 3.38 ERA in 17 starts. He did well, but the team didn’t. We were in 5th place with a 35-47 record, so we were sellers at the trade deadline. We traded him to the Yankees for three players that didn’t do much. Marty Janzen was the only one of the three to make it to the majors, and he went 6-7, with a 6.39 ERA, over two seasons for use.

Cone went on to win four more World Series rings with the Yankees.

David had a heck of a career. He was a 5-time All-Star and won a Cy Young award in 1994. He had a 19-strikeout game in 1991 as a Met and pitched a perfect game as a Yankee on July 18, 1999 (which he discussed in detail in the book Full Count).

Cone retired with a 194-126 record with a 3.46 ERA in 450 major league games regular-season games and an 8-3 record with a 3.80 ERA in 21 playoff games. However, he didn’t get much love from the Hall of Fame voters, appearing on just 3.9% of ballots, falling short of the 5% needed to get on the ballot a second time.

Also having a birthday today is Royce Clayton, who turns 54 today.

Royce was a free agent signing to fill our shortstop hole in 2007. Royce, 37 at the time, wasn’t great, hitting .254/.304/.344 in 69 games before the Jays released him, giving John McDonald the full-time job. Nevertheless, Royce had good career, playing for 17 seasons, hitting .258/.312/.367 with 110 home runs.

Happy Birthday to both.