I’m going to try something called Monument Monday, as a weekly tribute to the Pitchers I knew during my baseball career.
One of the greatest things about being a young ballplayer is that sometimes you get to actually play on a team with some of the guys you followed as a kid. Pedro Ramos was a good pitcher and would have done better if he had played for a better team. But the Washington Senators of the mid-to-late 1950’s finished last in the American League for four of the six years he played there, so his stats don’t really do the man justice. He was in Cleveland for two years (another bottom half AL club) and came to the Yankees during the 1964 Pennant race. Always a starter, the Yankees used him in relief; I hesitate to call him a closer, because pitchers threw more complete games than they do today. During my rookie year, 1966, Pedro pitched in 52 games – pretty amazing for one guy to pitch almost 1/3 of the games — had a 3.61 ERA and struck out 58 batters in 89 innings.
I think the first time he relieved me on the mound was on May 22, 1966, the second game of a double header against his old team the Minnesota Twins, at Yankee Stadium. I wasn’t pitching badly – I had only given up two hits before Tony Oliva tripled to lead off the 4th and Bob Allison hit a sacrifice fly to Mickey Mantle in CF, and we were losing 1-0. Elston Howard doubled to left to lead off the 8th and Hector Lopez pinch hit for me. Ralph Houk put Horace Clarke in to run for Ellie, and Hoss was able to get to second after Hector hit a deep shot to center. Hoss scored on Roy White’s single, tying the game. White advanced to second on Bobby Richardson’s hit, and scored on Joe Pepitone’s double to left.
Pedro came in to pitch the 9th, got Rich Rollins to ground out, and struck out Sandy Valdespino and Russ Nixon. That was my third career win, a 2-1 victory over the Twins, and I’ll always be grateful for Pedro for that and for his friendship.