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Ron Darling

Ron Darling

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Ronald Maurice Darling, Jr. (born August 19, 1960) is an American former right-handed starting pitcher
Starting pitcher
In baseball or softball, a starting pitcher is the pitcher who delivers the first pitch to the first batter of a game. A pitcher who enters the game after the first pitch of the game is a relief pitcher....

 in Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

 who played for the New York Mets
New York Mets
The New York Mets are a professional baseball team based in the borough of Queens in New York City, New York. They belong to Major League Baseball's National League East Division. One of baseball's first expansion teams, the Mets were founded in 1962 to replace New York's departed National League...

, Oakland Athletics
Oakland Athletics
The Oakland Athletics are a Major League Baseball team based in Oakland, California. The Athletics are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. From to the present, the Athletics have played in the O.co Coliseum....

 and Montreal Expos
Montreal Expos
The Montreal Expos were a Major League Baseball team located in Montreal, Quebec from 1969 through 2004, holding the first MLB franchise awarded outside the United States. After the 2004 season, MLB moved the Expos to Washington, D.C. and renamed them the Nationals.Named after the Expo 67 World's...

. Darling currently works as a color commentator
Color commentator
A color commentator is a sports commentator who assists the play-by-play announcer, often by filling in any time when play is not in progress. The color analyst and main commentator will often exchange comments freely throughout the broadcast, when the play-by-play announcer is not describing the...

 for national baseball coverage on TBS as well as for the Mets on both SNY
SportsNet New York
SportsNet New York is a New York City-based regional sports cable network which airs in the New York metro area and all of New York state, and nationwide via satellite. It is owned jointly by the New York Mets, Time Warner Cable, and NBCUniversal...

 and WPIX.

During his 13-year career, Darling amassed a 136–116 won-loss record, with 13 shutout
Shutout
In team sports, a shutout refers to a game in which one team prevents the opposing team from scoring. While possible in most major sports, they are highly improbable in some sports, such as basketball....

s. He threw 1,590 strikeouts and had a 3.87 ERA. In 1985, he was picked for the All-Star team
Major League Baseball All-Star Game
The Major League Baseball All-Star Game, also known as the "Midsummer Classic", is an annual baseball game between players from the National League and the American League, currently selected by a combination of fans, players, coaches, and managers...

.

Darling's weak point was control; he finished seasons in the top four in base on balls
Base on balls
A base on balls is credited to a batter and against a pitcher in baseball statistics when a batter receives four pitches that the umpire calls balls. It is better known as a walk. The base on balls is defined in Section 2.00 of baseball's Official Rules, and further detail is given in 6.08...

 three times. He was considered one of the better fielding pitchers of the time, and won a Gold Glove Award
Gold Glove Award
The Rawlings Gold Glove Award, usually referred to as the Gold Glove, is the award given annually to the Major League Baseball players judged to have exhibited superior individual fielding performances at each fielding position in both the National League and the American League , as voted by the...

 in 1989. Darling had one of the best pickoff
Pickoff
In baseball, a pickoff is an act by a pitcher or a catcher, throwing a live ball to a fielder so that the fielder can tag out a baserunner who is either leading off or about to begin stealing the next base....

 moves among right-handers. An above-average athlete, he was sometimes used as a pinch runner
Pinch runner
A pinch runner is a baseball player substituted for the specific purpose of replacing a player on base. In the typical case, the pinch runner is faster or otherwise more skilled at base-running than the player for whom the pinch runner has been substituted...

. In 1989, he hit home run
Home run
In baseball, a home run is scored when the ball is hit in such a way that the batter is able to reach home safely in one play without any errors being committed by the defensive team in the process...

s in two consecutive starts.

Early life


Born in Honolulu, Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii
Honolulu is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Hawaii. Honolulu is the southernmost major U.S. city. Although the name "Honolulu" refers to the urban area on the southeastern shore of the island of Oahu, the city and county government are consolidated as the City and...

 to a Hawaiian-Chinese
Chinese immigration to Hawaii
The Chinese in Hawaii frequently referred to by their Hawaiian name Pākē, constitute about 4.7% of the state's population, most of whom have ancestors from Zhongshan in Guangdong. This number does not include people of mixed Chinese and Hawaiian descent...

 mother and French-Canadian father, Darling speaks fluent Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

 and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

. After growing up in Millbury, Massachusetts
Millbury, Massachusetts
Millbury is a town in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 13,261 at the 2010 census. The town is part of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.-History:...

, he attended St. John's High School
St. John's High School (Massachusetts)
Saint John's High School is a private Catholic boys' high school located in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. It is located in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester...

 in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts
Shrewsbury, Massachusetts
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 31,640 people, 12,366 households, and 8,693 families residing in the town. The population density was . There were 12,696 housing units at an average density of...

.

College


He later attended Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

, where he had a dual major in French and Southeast Asian history. He was set to graduate in December 1982, but was drafted in June 1981.

At Yale, Darling began his college career for the Yale Bulldogs
Yale Bulldogs
The Yale Bulldogs are the athletic teams of the Yale University. The school sponsors 35 varsity sports. The school has won two NCAA national championships in women's fencing, four in men's swimming and diving, and twenty one in men's golf.-Men's baseball:...

 in the Ivy League
Ivy League
The Ivy League is an athletic conference comprising eight private institutions of higher education in the Northeastern United States. The conference name is also commonly used to refer to those eight schools as a group...

 as a position player, and did not pitch regularly until his sophomore season. On May 21, 1981, Darling faced future Mets teammate Frank Viola
Frank Viola
Frank John Viola, Jr. is a former starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the Minnesota Twins , New York Mets , Boston Red Sox , Cincinnati Reds and Toronto Blue Jays . A three-time All-Star, he was named World Series MVP with the Twins in 1987 and won the AL Cy Young Award in 1988...

, then of St. John's University
St. John's University (New York City)
St. John's University is a private, Roman Catholic, coeducational university located in New York City, United States. Founded by the Congregation of the Mission in 1870, the school was originally located in the borough of Brooklyn in the neighborhood of Bedford–Stuyvesant...

, and had a no-hitter
No-hitter
A no-hitter is a baseball game in which one team has no hits. In Major League Baseball, the team must be without hits during the entire game, and the game must be at least nine innings. A pitcher who prevents the opposing team from achieving a hit is said to have "thrown a no-hitter"...

 through 11 innings. In the 12th inning, St. John's broke up the no-hitter and then scored on a double-steal
Stolen base
In baseball, a stolen base occurs when a baserunner successfully advances to the next base while the pitcher is delivering the ball to home plate...

 to beat Darling 1–0. Darling's performance remains the longest no-hitter in NCAA history, and the game is considered by some to be the best in college baseball history.

Darling went on to play more games in major-league baseball than any Yale alumnus since 19th-century pitcher Bill Hutchinson.

Darling was the last former Yale Bulldog to reach the major leagues until pitcher Craig Breslow
Craig Breslow
Craig Andrew Breslow is a Major League Baseball relief pitcher for the Oakland Athletics. He throws left-handed, and is considered a lefty specialist....

 made his debut in , and was not followed by another Yale player until catcher Ryan Lavarnway
Ryan Lavarnway
Ryan Cole Lavarnway is an American professional baseball catcher with the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball....

 in 2011.

Minor leagues


He was selected in the 1st round (9th overall) of the MLB draft by the Texas Rangers
Texas Rangers (baseball)
The Texas Rangers are a professional baseball team in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, based in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League, and are the reigning A.L. Western Division and A.L. Champions. Since , the Rangers have...

. He put up mediocre numbers with the AA Tulsa Drillers
Tulsa Drillers
The Tulsa Drillers are a minor league baseball team based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The team, which plays in the Texas League, is the Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies major-league club.-Stadium:...

 and, before the season began, he and Walt Terrell
Walt Terrell
Charles Walter Terrell is a former starting pitcher with an eleven year career from 1982 to 1992. He played for the New York Mets , Detroit Tigers , San Diego Padres , New York Yankees , Pittsburgh Pirates , and once again the Detroit Tigers...

 were traded to the Mets for Lee Mazzilli
Lee Mazzilli
Lee Louis Mazzilli, , is a former Major League Baseball player, coach, and manager. On December 11, 2006, he was hired as the lead studio analyst for SportsNet New York, the New York Mets' cable television network...

 in an ill-advised trade. For the Mets, Darling and Terrell would eventually combine for seven double-digit win seasons. They traded Terrell three seasons later for Howard Johnson
Howard Johnson (baseball player)
Howard Michael Johnson , nicknamed HoJo, is a switch hitting third baseman for the Rockland Boulders of the Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball. He is best known for his career in Major League Baseball, where he played for the Detroit Tigers, New York Mets, Colorado Rockies and...

. For Texas, Mazzilli never regained his limited glory of the late 1970s.

Darling would have compiled decent numbers with the AAA Tidewater Tides in 1982 and except for very high base on balls
Base on balls
A base on balls is credited to a batter and against a pitcher in baseball statistics when a batter receives four pitches that the umpire calls balls. It is better known as a walk. The base on balls is defined in Section 2.00 of baseball's Official Rules, and further detail is given in 6.08...

 counts during both seasons. Despite that, Darling was called up to the majors in late 1983. The Mets had the worst record in the National League and second-worst in the majors when Darling debuted on September 6, 1983. He was impressive in that start but left the game down 1–0 and the Mets lost 2–0. The Mets were also last in offense in the N.L. Darling's 0–3 start were all in decent pitching performances. He finished his season with a complete game
Complete game
In baseball, a complete game is the act of a pitcher pitching an entire game without the benefit of a relief pitcher.As demonstrated by the charts below, in the early 20th century, it was common for most good Major League Baseball pitchers to pitch a complete game almost every start. Pitchers were...

 victory and was in the majors for good.

Building to a championship


In , Darling won a spot in the starting rotation and maintained a spot there almost uninterrupted until . While his early walk percentages were poor — he even led the league in walks in — he never again showed the terrible walk percentages he had at AAA.

With Darling and Terrell each getting their first long-term chance in the majors and with the debut of young star and eventual Rookie of the Year
MLB Rookie of the Year Award
In Major League Baseball, the Rookie of the Year Award is annually given to one player from each league as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America . The award was established in 1940 by the Chicago chapter of the BBWAA, which selected an annual winner from 1940 through 1946...

 Dwight Gooden
Dwight Gooden
Dwight Eugene Gooden , nicknamed "Doc Gooden" or "Dr. K", is a former Major League Baseball pitcher. He was one of the most dominant and feared pitchers in the National League in the middle and late 1980s.-Career:...

, the Mets went from second-worst in the majors in 1983 to fourth-best in the majors in 1984 — but also second-best in the division thereby missing the postseason. Darling had difficulty pitching on the road in 1984 compared to pitcher-friendly Shea Stadium
Shea Stadium
William A. Shea Municipal Stadium, usually shortened to Shea Stadium or just Shea , was a stadium in the New York City borough of Queens, in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park. It was the home baseball park of Major League Baseball's New York Mets from 1964 to 2008...

 including an ERA
Earned run average
In baseball statistics, earned run average is the mean of earned runs given up by a pitcher per nine innings pitched. It is determined by dividing the number of earned runs allowed by the number of innings pitched and multiplying by nine...

 more than 50% higher. He had a streak of seven wins in seven starts in June (5–0) and July (1.88 ERA) including a pair of complete game
Complete game
In baseball, a complete game is the act of a pitcher pitching an entire game without the benefit of a relief pitcher.As demonstrated by the charts below, in the early 20th century, it was common for most good Major League Baseball pitchers to pitch a complete game almost every start. Pitchers were...

 four-hit shutout
Shutout
In team sports, a shutout refers to a game in which one team prevents the opposing team from scoring. While possible in most major sports, they are highly improbable in some sports, such as basketball....

s but the other two-thirds of the season were not nearly as successful. The Mets were in first place at the end of July but Darling's 2–6 record the rest of the way was little help and the Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs
The Chicago Cubs are a professional baseball team located in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the Central Division of Major League Baseball's National League. They are one of two Major League clubs based in Chicago . The Cubs are also one of the two remaining charter members of the National...

 won the division by 6 ½ games. Darling finished 12–9 overall with an ERA of 3.81.

1985 was an improvement for Darling despite a career-high 114 walks. His April included a one-hit seven-inning no-decision and a five-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts. On July 4, Darling pitched on one day's rest making the only relief appearance of his first seven seasons during a marathon 19-inning 16–13 win. Darling finished the legendary game in which 13 runs were scored in the extra innings alone and the Mets blew four leads and nearly blew a fifth. After starting 9–2, he was selected to his only All-Star team
Major League Baseball All-Star Game
The Major League Baseball All-Star Game, also known as the "Midsummer Classic", is an annual baseball game between players from the National League and the American League, currently selected by a combination of fans, players, coaches, and managers...

 but did not participate in the game. Overall, he posted his career-best winning percentage with a 16–6 record. His record could have been even better but, in eight of his starts, he received seven no-decisions and a loss despite allowing less than two earned runs each time. On October 1, Darling pitched nine shutout innings on only four hits but the game was scoreless until the 11th. The Mets narrowly missed the postseason but Darling established himself as a clear number-two starter behind Gooden's untouchable 24–4 season.

Pitches


Ron Darling has five pitches in his repetoir which include: A slider, curveball , circle change up, splitter, and a four seam fastball.

World series


In , everything came together for the Mets and Darling was no exception. He finished with a 15–6 record and posted his career-best 2.81 ERA which was third-best in the N.L. He also received the only Cy Young Award
Cy Young Award
The Cy Young Award is an honor given annually in baseball to the best pitchers in Major League Baseball , one each for the American League and National League . The award was first introduced in 1956 by Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick in honor of Hall of Fame pitcher Cy Young, who died in 1955...

 votes of his career, finishing fifth behind Mike Scott
Mike Scott (baseball)
Michael Warren "Mike" Scott is a former right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball for the New York Mets and the Houston Astros. He won the National League Cy Young Award in...

 who had his best season. The Mets led the way most of the season and their top four starters all received Cy Young votes. On May 27, Darling tied his career-high with 12 strikeouts in a five-hit complete game victory which, despite a poor April, raised his record to 6–0. He was good on the road but even better at home with a 10–2 record at Shea. His worst blemish was off the field when, on July 19, he and teammates Bob Ojeda
Bob Ojeda
Robert Michael Ojeda is a former Major League Baseball left-handed pitcher. Ojeda is best remembered as an anchor in the 1986 World Series Champion New York Mets starting rotation , and for being the lone survivor of a March 22, boating accident that killed fellow Cleveland Indians pitchers...

, Rick Aguilera
Rick Aguilera
Richard Warren Aguilera is a former Major League Baseball pitcher. During a 16-year baseball career, he pitched from 1985-2000 for the New York Mets, Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, and Chicago Cubs....

 and Tim Teufel
Tim Teufel
Timothy Shawn Teufel is a former Major League Baseball second baseman, and currently the 3rd base coach for the New York Mets.Teufel was a member of the World Series champion New York Mets...

 were arrested outside a bar in Houston, Texas
Houston, Texas
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of . Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of , which is the ...

 for fighting with security guards (who were also off-duty police officers). All four were released in time for the following game and the worst results were $200 fines but the incident fed into the Mets' reputation as a rowdy crew that season. Despite the run-in, Darling was featured on the cover of the August 25 issue of Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated is an American sports media company owned by media conglomerate Time Warner. Its self titled magazine has over 3.5 million subscribers and is read by 23 million adults each week, including over 18 million men. It was the first magazine with circulation over one million to win the...

 magazine.

The 1986 National League Championship Series
1986 National League Championship Series
-Game 1:Wednesday, October 8, 1986 at Astrodome in Houston, TexasGame 1 featured a pitching duel between eventual NLCS Most Valuable Player Mike Scott and Dwight Gooden. Scott allowed just five hits and walked one while striking out 14 in a complete-game effort as the host Astros prevailed 1–0...

 was tied 1–1 when Darling started Game 3 but he pitched poorly and left losing 4–0. The Mets recovered to win both the game and eventually the series. Darling opened the World Series
1986 World Series
The 1986 World Series pitted the New York Mets against the Boston Red Sox. It was cited in the legend of the "Curse of the Bambino" to explain the error by Bill Buckner in Game 6 that allowed the Mets to extend the series to a seventh game...

 against the Boston Red Sox
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox are a professional baseball team based in Boston, Massachusetts, and a member of Major League Baseball’s American League Eastern Division. Founded in as one of the American League's eight charter franchises, the Red Sox's home ballpark has been Fenway Park since . The "Red Sox"...

. He pitched extremely well in Game 1 allowing only a single unearned run but lost a hard-luck 1–0 game to Bruce Hurst
Bruce Hurst
Bruce Vee Hurst is a former Major League Baseball left-handed starting pitcher. He is best remembered for his brilliant performance for the Boston Red Sox in the postseason. He was even named World Series M.V.P...

. With the Mets in danger of falling into a 3–1 series deficit, Darling started Game 4 and extended his 0.00 ERA to 14 innings as the Mets won easily, 6–2. After Game 6, Bill Buckner
Bill Buckner
William Joseph Buckner is a former Major League Baseball first baseman. Despite winning a batting crown in , representing the Chicago Cubs at the All-Star Game the following season and accumulating over 2,700 hits in his twenty-year career, he is best remembered for a fielding error during Game 6...

 and the Sox bounced back in Game 7, scoring three early runs against Darling. Shaky into the fourth inning, Darling was relieved but the Mets recovered to win their second World Championship.

Post-championship decline


Darling went 12–8 in but had to battle most of the way, as did the rest of the team. Darling's April ERA was over six and he didn't win a game in either May or June, going 0–4 with eight no-decisions between victories. He rebounded to win six consecutive starts after the All-Star break but a good second half only lowered his ERA to 4.29 — the worst of his first seven seasons. On June 28, Darling had a no-hitter
No-hitter
A no-hitter is a baseball game in which one team has no hits. In Major League Baseball, the team must be without hits during the entire game, and the game must be at least nine innings. A pitcher who prevents the opposing team from achieving a hit is said to have "thrown a no-hitter"...

 through seven innings but the Mets wound up losing the game. They were poised for a run at the division in mid-September when Darling went out with one of the few injuries of his career. He missed the last couple weeks of the season and the Mets missed the postseason.

In , Darling bounced back with a career high 17 wins. He started quickly with two shutouts in his first four games. A first-half 10–5 record with three shutouts and a 2.70 ERA were not enough to earn an All-Star spot. On the season, he compiled a career-high four shutouts but also suffered one of his worst games, getting knocked out in the first inning of an 11–2 loss on July 19. Darling's home-versus-road discrepancy was enormous as he went 14–1 at Shea and only 3–8 on the road with an ERA more than twice as high. He finished the season strong winning his last five decisions and the Mets coasted into the playoffs but Darling pitched poorly in the 1988 National League Championship Series
1988 National League Championship Series
-Game 1:Tuesday, October 4, 1988 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CaliforniaThe series opened with a classic pitching matchup, pitting the Dodgers' Orel Hershiser, who had won 23 games during the regular season and carried a Major League record 59 consecutive scoreless innings into the game,...

 against the Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers are a professional baseball team based in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers are members of Major League Baseball's National League West Division. Established in 1883, the team originated in Brooklyn, New York, where it was known by a number of nicknames before becoming...

. With the series tied 1–1, he fell into an early 3–0 hole but the Mets bounced back twice to win 8–4. In the deciding Game 7, Darling was again matched against 1988's best pitcher, Orel Hershiser
Orel Hershiser
Orel Leonard Hershiser IV is a former right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball. He is currently an analyst for Baseball Tonight and Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN and a professional poker player for...

, but was overmatched. Darling gave up six runs and was knocked out in the second inning while Hershiser pitched a five-hit shutout shocking the Mets and winning the series' Most Valuable Player
Most Valuable Player
In sports, a Most Valuable Player award is an honor typically bestowed upon the best performing player or players on a specific team, in an entire league, or for a particular contest or series of contests...

 award. The one-sided game was the last postseason appearance for the Mets until 1999.

After their 100-win 1988 season ended, the Mets started a decline that lasted well into the 1990s. Darling's started as poorly as 1988 had ended when he lost his first three starts with an ERA of 11.57. He recovered with a good May but was inconsistent for the entire season, finishing 14–14 with a 3.52 ERA. Darling's five losses in his last seven starts contributed to the Mets missing the postseason. Darling did become the first Mets pitcher to win the Gold Glove Award
Gold Glove Award
The Rawlings Gold Glove Award, usually referred to as the Gold Glove, is the award given annually to the Major League Baseball players judged to have exhibited superior individual fielding performances at each fielding position in both the National League and the American League , as voted by the...

. He was also the last N.L. pitcher to win the award before Greg Maddux
Greg Maddux
Gregory Alan Maddux , nicknamed "Mad Dog" and "The Professor", is a former Major League Baseball pitcher. He was the first pitcher in major league history to win the Cy Young Award for four consecutive years , a feat matched only by Randy Johnson...

's remarkable streak of 13 consecutive Gold Gloves. On August 10, 1989, Darling won his 83rd game with the Mets to move him past Jon Matlack
Jon Matlack
Jonathan Trumpbour Matlack is an American former Major League Baseball left-handed pitcher...

 into fourth on the Mets' all-time wins list where he remains today (behind Tom Seaver
Tom Seaver
George Thomas "Tom" Seaver , nicknamed "Tom Terrific" and "The Franchise", is a former Major League Baseball pitcher. He pitched from 1967-1986 for four different teams in his career, but is noted primarily for his time with the New York Mets...

, Dwight Gooden
Dwight Gooden
Dwight Eugene Gooden , nicknamed "Doc Gooden" or "Dr. K", is a former Major League Baseball pitcher. He was one of the most dominant and feared pitchers in the National League in the middle and late 1980s.-Career:...

 and Jerry Koosman
Jerry Koosman
Jerome Martin Koosman is a former left-handed starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the New York Mets, Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies between 1967 and 1985...

).

In , the Mets were in transition and manager
Manager (baseball)
In baseball, the field manager is an individual who is responsible for matters of team strategy on the field and team leadership. Managers are typically assisted by between one and six assistant coaches, whose responsibilities are specialized...

 Davey Johnson
Davey Johnson
David Allen "Davey" Johnson is an American Major League Baseball player and current manager of the Washington Nationals. He was the starting second baseman for the Baltimore Orioles when they won four American League pennants and two World Series championships between 1965 and 1972...

's job was in jeopardy. Darling was sent to the bullpen part-time for the first time in his career. His first relief performance in late April went well but was followed by three terrible starts. The rest of his season was a mix of starting and relief. With an ERA of 4.60 in late August, Darling was in the bullpen for the next month. He made two starts to close out his season and won them both but the Mets could not catch the Pittsburgh Pirates
Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates are a Major League Baseball club based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They play in the Central Division of the National League, and are five-time World Series Champions...

. In total, 1990 was Darling's first losing season (7–9) and was his worst ERA to-date.

Trade and American League


Darling was back in the New York Mets' starting rotation in . Although his pitching was improved over 1990, he was still inconsistent, winning three games with scoreless pitching but getting hit hard in many other games. Unlike previous seasons, Darling posted poor numbers at Shea Stadium while pitching well on the road. He pitched scoreless two-hit ball over eight innings in Montreal in his last pre-All-Star break game but pitched only once more before being traded.

Darling's Mets career came to an end on July 15, 1991 when he was traded with a minor leaguer to the Montreal Expos
Montreal Expos
The Montreal Expos were a Major League Baseball team located in Montreal, Quebec from 1969 through 2004, holding the first MLB franchise awarded outside the United States. After the 2004 season, MLB moved the Expos to Washington, D.C. and renamed them the Nationals.Named after the Expo 67 World's...

 (the team he had two-hit less than two weeks earlier) for former closer
Closer (baseball)
In baseball, a closing pitcher, more frequently referred to as a closer , is a relief pitcher who specializes in closing out games, i.e., getting the final outs in a close game. Closers often appear when the score is close, and the role is often assigned to a team's best reliever. A small number of...

, Tim Burke. Burke pitched well for the Mets but their 28–48 record after the trade was the worst in the majors. Burke was out of the majors after and the Mets were terrible for the next several years (though more due to ill-advised expensive acquisitions than the Darling trade). Darling's three starts for Montreal were poor with an ERA of 7.41. The Expos re-traded Darling to the Oakland Athletics
Oakland Athletics
The Oakland Athletics are a Major League Baseball team based in Oakland, California. The Athletics are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. From to the present, the Athletics have played in the O.co Coliseum....

 on July 31, 1991 for two minor leaguers. After the Darling trades, the Expos were left with three minor leaguers, none of whom played more than two games in the majors.

With Oakland, Darling immediately logged two seven-inning scoreless starts and won his first three decisions. Then, his poor control returned and Darling lost seven straight decisions including his last six starts. In three of those losses, he allowed two or fewer runs. Oakland, coming off its third consecutive league pennant, was barely above .500 before acquiring Darling. His acquisition did little to affect that.

After the 1991 season, Darling became a free agent
Free agent
In professional sports, a free agent is a player whose contract with a team has expired and who is thus eligible to sign with another club or franchise....

 and re-signed with Oakland. In , he had his last quality year, finishing with over 200 innings pitched
Innings pitched
In baseball, innings pitched are the number of innings a pitcher has completed, measured by the number of batters and baserunners that are put out while the pitcher on the pitching mound in a game. Three outs made is equal to one inning pitched. One out counts as one-third of an inning, and two...

, a 3.66 ERA and 15 wins. Inconsistent for most of the season, Darling also showed flashes of brilliance, including three complete game two-hit shutouts — the only two-hitters of his career. He was the victim of poor run support including a no-decision seven-inning one-hitter that was nearly a loss, an eight-inning two-hitter that turned into a no-decision after an unearned run, and two other games where he allowed one earned run and took the loss. Darling finished with the best record on the team percentage-wise. Oakland coasted into the postseason with little trouble and Darling was called to start Game 3 with the series tied. He pitched well but gave up two costly home runs and took the loss. The A's went on to lose Games 4 and 6 as well and Darling never again pitched in the postseason. Similar to the Mets, the A's descended into a postseason drought that lasted seven seasons.

Darling re-signed with Oakland again after 1992, this time a multi-year deal for over $2 million per season, but he was unable to repeat his 1992 performance. was awful for Darling. Through July, his ERA hovered around six and he was relegated to long relief for over a week. He pitched better after July lowering his ERA to 5.16 but lost five of his last six decisions.

Outside of July, Darling's would have been as bad as 1993. In July, he won five starts with one no-decision with an ERA under three. It was Darling's last hurrah. He stumbled through two starts in August before the 1994 Major League Baseball strike ended the season. With his torrid July, Darling reached double digits in wins once again but finished under .500 with a 4.50 ERA. Darling led the American League
American League
The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League , is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball in the United States and Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, which eventually aspired to major...

 with 25 games started despite pitching that was average at best.

When the strike lasted into , Darling started terribly, logging an ERA over nine in his four starts without making it through the fifth inning in any of them. His only complete game of the season ended with a 1–0 loss on May 30. Darling won only four games with an ERA of 6.23. After a bad loss, Oakland released him on August 19, 1995 (his birthday) bringing his playing career to an end.

Post-retirement


Since 2000, Darling has been active in television. He worked as a broadcaster for the A's, had a FOX
Fox Broadcasting Company
Fox Broadcasting Company, commonly referred to as Fox Network or simply Fox , is an American commercial broadcasting television network owned by Fox Entertainment Group, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Launched on October 9, 1986, Fox was the highest-rated broadcast network in the...

 show called Baseball Today and appeared on The Best Damn Sports Show Period
The Best Damn Sports Show Period
The Best Damn Sports Show Period is an American sports television show on Fox Sports Net and Comcast SportsNet. The show regularly featured irreverent and opinionated interviews with top athletes, coaches, celebrities, and entertainers. It also aired Top 50 countdown shows and other sports...

. He also provided baseball analysis for the YES Network
YES Network
The Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network is a New York City-based, regional cable television channel; it broadcasts a variety of sports events, with an emphasis on New York Yankees baseball games, and New Jersey Nets basketball games. YES made its debut on March 19, 2002...

, Fox Sports Net
Fox Sports Net
The Fox Sports Regional Networks, or simply Fox Sports Net , are a collection of cable TV regional sports networks in the United States owned and operated by News Corporation.- Beginnings :...

 and, in 2004, CSTV.

Darling appeared on the Hall of Fame balloting for 2001
Baseball Hall of Fame balloting, 2001
Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 2001 followed the system in use since 1995. The Baseball Writers Association of America voted by mail to select from recent major league players and elected two: Kirby Puckett and Dave Winfield...

, receiving one vote.

In 2005, Darling was involved in banking ventures in Southern California
Southern California
Southern California is a megaregion, or megapolitan area, in the southern area of the U.S. state of California. Large urban areas include Greater Los Angeles and Greater San Diego. The urban area stretches along the coast from Ventura through the Southland and Inland Empire to San Diego...

. He was then hired to be the television color commentator
Color commentator
A color commentator is a sports commentator who assists the play-by-play announcer, often by filling in any time when play is not in progress. The color analyst and main commentator will often exchange comments freely throughout the broadcast, when the play-by-play announcer is not describing the...

 for the inaugural season of the Washington Nationals
Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals are a professional baseball team based in Washington, D.C. The Nationals are a member of the Eastern Division of the National League of Major League Baseball . The team moved into the newly built Nationals Park in 2008, after playing their first three seasons in RFK Stadium...

. Darling worked alongside veteran play-by-play announcer Mel Proctor
Mel Proctor
Mel Proctor is an American television sportscaster, actor, and book author.-Biography:A Denver, Colorado native, Proctor has called play-by-play for such teams as the Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals, San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Clippers at various points in his career...

 on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
Mid-Atlantic Sports Network is a regional sports network owned by two Major League Baseball franchises—the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals -- and televises every available game of both teams, live and in high-definition...

, which suffered from low viewership due to legal battles between Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles are a professional baseball team based in Baltimore, Maryland in the United States. They are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball's American League. One of the American League's eight charter franchises in 1901, it spent its first year as a major league...

 owner Peter Angelos
Peter Angelos
Peter G. Angelos , is an American trial lawyer.Angelos is also the majority owner of the Baltimore Orioles, a baseball team in the American League East Division.-Career:...

 and Comcast
Comcast
Comcast Corporation is the largest cable operator, home Internet service provider, and fourth largest home telephone service provider in the United States, providing cable television, broadband Internet, and telephone service to both residential and commercial customers in 39 states and the...

 cable television. Darling and Proctor were not asked back by the Nationals for 2006.

In 2006, Darling was hired by SportsNet New York
SportsNet New York
SportsNet New York is a New York City-based regional sports cable network which airs in the New York metro area and all of New York state, and nationwide via satellite. It is owned jointly by the New York Mets, Time Warner Cable, and NBCUniversal...

 as a color commentator and studio analyst for the Mets, joining veteran Gary Cohen
Gary Cohen
Gary Cohen is an American sportscaster, best known as a radio and television play-by-play announcer for the New York Mets of Major League Baseball....

 and former Mets teammate Keith Hernandez
Keith Hernandez
Keith Barlow Hernandez is a former Major League Baseball first baseman. He is currently a baseball analyst working for the New York Mets, for whom he played from –, on SportsNet New York and WPIX television broadcasts...

. Darling also appears on some of the SNY-produced WPIX
WPIX
WPIX, channel 11, is a television station in New York City built, signed on, and owned by the Tribune Company. WPIX also serves as the flagship station of The CW Television Network...

 broadcasts in the New York Metropolitan Area
New York metropolitan area
The New York metropolitan area, also known as Greater New York, or the Tri-State area, is the region that composes of New York City and the surrounding region...

. He won an Emmy Award as "Best Sports Analyst" for his work on the Mets broadcasts. Darling currently lives in Manhattan. He appeared in a Sovereign Bank
Sovereign Bank
Sovereign Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Spanish Grupo Santander. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, the bank—whose principal market is in the Northeastern United States—has more than $77 billion in assets, operates 723 retail banking offices, over 2,300 ATMs and employs approximately 8,500...

 commercial in 2008, which is frequently shown on SNY and is often joked about between the three Mets broadcasters during games.

Because of their popularity, Darling along with Cohen and Hernandez have created a website (www.pitchinforagoodcause.org), where the net profit from the merchandise sold by the website goes to charity; specifically, the Cobble Hill Health Center, Juvenile Diabetes Research Center, and The Danbury Women's Center.

Darling had small roles in the films Shallow Hal
Shallow Hal
Shallow Hal is a 2001 romantic comedy film starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Jack Black, and Jason Alexander. It was directed by the Farrelly Brothers and filmed in and around Charlotte, North Carolina as well as Sterling and Princeton, Massachusetts at Wachusett Mountain.- Plot :Hal Larson is a...

and The Day After Tomorrow
The Day After Tomorrow
The Day After Tomorrow is a 2004 American science-fiction disaster film that depicts the catastrophic effects of global warming in a series of extreme weather events that usher in global cooling which leads to a new ice age. The film did well at the box office, grossing $542,771,772 internationally...

. He also played himself in Mr. 3000
Mr. 3000
Mr. 3000 is a 2004 American sports comedy film starring Bernie Mac and Angela Bassett. The film's plot surrounds a retired Major League Baseball player who makes a comeback at age 47 in order to attain 3,000 hits.-Plot:...

.

He threw out the ceremonial first pitch during Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS
2006 National League Championship Series
The National League Championship Series , the second round of the 2006 National League playoffs, began on October 12 and ended on October 19; it was scheduled to begin on October 11, but was postponed a day because of inclement weather. The St...



In 2007, Darling was a color analyst for TBS' coverage of the 2007 MLB playoffs. He was paired with play-by-play man Dick Stockton
Dick Stockton
Dick Stockton is an American sportscaster. He is currently employed by Fox Sports and Turner Sports as a football, baseball, and basketball play-by-play announcer.-Early life and career:...

. As of 2008, he provides commentary for the network's regular-season coverage, paired with Chip Caray. During the playoffs, he joined Caray's other regular partner, Buck Martinez.

As of 2011, Darling is still a color analyst for TBS.

The Complete Game: Reflections on Baseball, Pitching, and Life on the Mound


In March 2009, Alfred A. Knopf published Darling's book The Complete Game: Reflections on Baseball, Pitching, and Life on the Mound.
The Book is a compilation of a number of innings throughout Darling's career. It is his attempt to bring the reader's mind into the mind of a major league pitcher. He breaks down and explains what is going through his head at various points in time during his career.

Chapter 1 – First Inning – Getting Started – September 6, 1983: Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies are a Major League Baseball team. They are the oldest continuous, one-name, one-city franchise in all of professional American sports, dating to 1883. The Phillies are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball's National League...

 vs New York Mets
New York Mets
The New York Mets are a professional baseball team based in the borough of Queens in New York City, New York. They belong to Major League Baseball's National League East Division. One of baseball's first expansion teams, the Mets were founded in 1962 to replace New York's departed National League...



Chapter 2 – Second Inning – Finding My Way – October 22, 1986: New York Mets
New York Mets
The New York Mets are a professional baseball team based in the borough of Queens in New York City, New York. They belong to Major League Baseball's National League East Division. One of baseball's first expansion teams, the Mets were founded in 1962 to replace New York's departed National League...

 vs Boston Red Sox
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox are a professional baseball team based in Boston, Massachusetts, and a member of Major League Baseball’s American League Eastern Division. Founded in as one of the American League's eight charter franchises, the Red Sox's home ballpark has been Fenway Park since . The "Red Sox"...



Chapter 3 – Third Inning – Dealing with Adversity – April 22, 1984: New York Mets
New York Mets
The New York Mets are a professional baseball team based in the borough of Queens in New York City, New York. They belong to Major League Baseball's National League East Division. One of baseball's first expansion teams, the Mets were founded in 1962 to replace New York's departed National League...

 vs Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies are a Major League Baseball team. They are the oldest continuous, one-name, one-city franchise in all of professional American sports, dating to 1883. The Phillies are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball's National League...



Chapter 4 – Fourth Inning – On the Defensive – April 1, 2008: New York Mets
New York Mets
The New York Mets are a professional baseball team based in the borough of Queens in New York City, New York. They belong to Major League Baseball's National League East Division. One of baseball's first expansion teams, the Mets were founded in 1962 to replace New York's departed National League...

 vs Florida Marlins
Florida Marlins
The Miami Marlins are a professional baseball team based in Miami, Florida, United States. Established in 1993 as an expansion franchise called the Florida Marlins, the Marlins are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball's National League. The Marlins played their home games at...



Chapter 5 – Fifth Inning – The Longest Walk – August 7, 1984:New York Mets
New York Mets
The New York Mets are a professional baseball team based in the borough of Queens in New York City, New York. They belong to Major League Baseball's National League East Division. One of baseball's first expansion teams, the Mets were founded in 1962 to replace New York's departed National League...

 vs Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs
The Chicago Cubs are a professional baseball team located in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the Central Division of Major League Baseball's National League. They are one of two Major League clubs based in Chicago . The Cubs are also one of the two remaining charter members of the National...



Chapter 6 – Sixth Inning – Taking Chances – September 11, 1987: St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals are a professional baseball team based in St. Louis, Missouri. They are members of the Central Division in the National League of Major League Baseball. The Cardinals have won eleven World Series championships, the most of any National League team, and second overall only to...

 vs New York Mets
New York Mets
The New York Mets are a professional baseball team based in the borough of Queens in New York City, New York. They belong to Major League Baseball's National League East Division. One of baseball's first expansion teams, the Mets were founded in 1962 to replace New York's departed National League...



Chapter 7 – Seventh Inning – Righty-Lefty-Righty – June 16, 2008:New York Mets
New York Mets
The New York Mets are a professional baseball team based in the borough of Queens in New York City, New York. They belong to Major League Baseball's National League East Division. One of baseball's first expansion teams, the Mets were founded in 1962 to replace New York's departed National League...

 vs Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are a professional baseball team based in Anaheim, California, United States. The Angels are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. The "Angels" name originates from the city in which the team started, Los Angeles...



Chapter 8 – Eighth Inning – On a Roll – July 12, 1992:Oakland Athletics
Oakland Athletics
The Oakland Athletics are a Major League Baseball team based in Oakland, California. The Athletics are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. From to the present, the Athletics have played in the O.co Coliseum....

 vs Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays are a professional baseball team located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Blue Jays are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball 's American League ....



Chapter 9 – Ninth Inning – Clincher – September 22, 1988: Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies are a Major League Baseball team. They are the oldest continuous, one-name, one-city franchise in all of professional American sports, dating to 1883. The Phillies are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball's National League...

 vs New York Mets
New York Mets
The New York Mets are a professional baseball team based in the borough of Queens in New York City, New York. They belong to Major League Baseball's National League East Division. One of baseball's first expansion teams, the Mets were founded in 1962 to replace New York's departed National League...



Chapter 10 – Extra Innings – The Old College Try – May 21, 1981:St. John's Redmen vs Yale Bulldogs

Chapter 11 – Post Game – Done

Personal


He was married to Irish
Irish people
The Irish people are an ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years , with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha...

 Wilhelmina
Wilhelmina Models
Wilhelmina Models is a modeling agency founded in 1967 by the model Wilhelmina Cooper and her husband Bruce Cooper in Manhattan Starting in 2010, Wilhelmina Models started a sub-brand called "Digital Empire Modeling" for new digital-era modeling talents....

 model Antoinette O'Reilly, with whom he had two children, Tyler Darling and Jordan Darling. She had small roles on television and in movies, sometimes using her married name, Toni Darling. During their marriage, they appeared in numerous magazine features together.

In 2004, he married Joanna Last, a makeup artist for Fox Sports
Fox Sports (USA)
Fox Sports is a division of the Fox Broadcasting Company . It was formed in 1994 with Fox's acquisition of broadcast rights to National Football League games...

.

Ron's cousin, Gary Darling, is a MLB umpire.

Pop culture


Game 6 of the '86 World Series, broadcast by NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

, ran so long that the network chose not to air Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live is a live American late-night television sketch comedy and variety show developed by Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title of NBC's Saturday Night.The show's sketches often parody contemporary American culture...

rather than show it after the game. When it was shown for the first time two weeks later, Darling filmed a special introduction, apologizing on behalf of the Mets for pre-empting SNL.

Ron is mentioned in the Law and Order
Law & Order
Law & Order is an American police procedural and legal drama television series, created by Dick Wolf and part of the Law & Order franchise. It aired on NBC, and in syndication on various cable networks. Law & Order premiered on September 13, 1990, and completed its 20th and final season on May 24,...

episode "Under God". Lennie Briscoe
Lennie Briscoe
Leonard W. "Lennie" Briscoe is a fictional character on NBC's long running police procedural and legal drama television series Law & Order. He was featured on the show for 12 seasons, from 1992 to 2004. He was created by Walon Green and René Balcer, and was portrayed by Jerry Orbach...

 is telling Ed Green
Ed Green
Edward "Ed" Green is a fictional character on the NBC crime drama Law & Order, created by Rene Balcer and portrayed by Jesse L. Martin.-Character overview:...

 how he blurts out Darling's first name for no reason, as the pitcher reminds Lennie Briscoe of his daughter Cathy, who was killed in 1998. Cathy had a crush on the pitcher during the 1986 season, when she was a teenager.

See also


External links