On July 6, 1971, New York's most beloved franchise, the New York Mets, announced that ace left-hander Jerry Koosman was being placed on the 21-day disabled list.
Koosman started against the Montreal Expos at Shea Stadium, but was forced to leave following only one inning of work. After the game, Mets' manager Gil Hodges said Jerry had developed tightness in his left side.
A team spokesman told reporters, "They don't know what it is. It could be his shoulder or his back or a virus. They don't know what."
In early August, Koosman threw 174 pitches in a special drill in Atlanta Stadium, where the Mets were playing the Braves. Jerry threw early batting practice to Tim Foli, Ken Singleton, Duffy Dyer, and Don Hahn.
Gil Hodges and Joe Pignatano were pleased with the performance, after which Hodges announced that Koosman would soon return. On August 9th, the lefty was reactivated as the Mets continued their pursuit of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In his first start after coming off the disabled list, Mets' pitching coach Rube Walker lowered Koosman's pitch count to 80 pitches, or a little more than one-half Koosman's regular limit.
Yes, Rube Walker, Gil Hodges, and the New York Mets put Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, and Nolan Ryan on pitch counts.
Seaver's limit was 135 pitches, Koosman's was 145 pitches, and Ryan's was 150.
"We did have pitch counts," Seaver said. "They weren't mandated. Mine was 135 and I knew it, and Rube knew it. And when I got to Chicago, I told [pitching coach Dave Duncan], 'I'm at 135.'"
Seaver and Ryan recognize that today's teams invest heavily in "role pitchers." If a team is paying a closer $10 million, the front office is going make sure that their manager uses him.
"There are always individuals who want to [pitch deeper in games], but aren't allowed because of the economic ramifications of a guy blowing out his shoulder," Seaver said. "And sometimes decisions are mandated from above.
"I want a manager who'll go to the mound and say, 'Kid, you're throwing great. Go get 'em, and I'm not coming back.' I want to see that, but you'll never see that."
With the passage of time, the number of teams limiting pitchers to a specific number of pitches increased, until we have today's situation.
Contending teams remove effective pitchers from the rotation in August or September because they have pitched an artificially created number of innings. The New York Yankees, New York's second team, did it with Joba Chamberlain, and have announced that they going to do it with Phil Hughes.
Sometimes, limiting a young pitcher's innings is justified, but not always. Seaver has hit the nail on the head. Teams must distinguish between pitchers who can handle the load from those who cannot.
"I think they indoctrinate the younger pitchers who are coming along, and they don't identify the foxhole guys," Seaver said. "Some guys are 110-pitch guys, and some guys are 135-, 145-pitch guys. Not everybody is cut from the same cloth."
By MURRAY CHASS. (1971, July 7). Mets Lose, Trail by 5 1/2 Games; :Expos Win, 5-1 -- Koosman Is on Disabled List. New York Times (1923-Current file),p. 43. Retrieved July 10, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 79675448).
By JOSEPH DURSO Special to The New York Times . (1971, August 6). Mets Lose, 2-1, in 17th :6 Braves' Double Plays, Hit by Evans Beat Mets.. New York Times (1923-Current file),p. 21. Retrieved July 10, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 79146924).
Koosman Reactivated. (1971, August 10). New York Times (1923-Current file),p. 26. Retrieved July 10, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 79684964).
Pitch Counts Encourage Mediocrity