Happy Birthday to Dick Rusteck. We were rookie pitchers in New York in 1966, Dick for the Mets and me for the Yankees. We were both from Chicago. I never played against him, not even in the minors. I started 1965 in the Carolinas League with the Greensboro Yankees while Dick was playing for the Greenville Mets in the Western Carolinas League. I remember his MLB debut because I was reading the New York newspapers every day back then. And of course, I was paying careful attention to as many pitchers as I could, especially a New York rookie. It was June 10, 1966 at Shea Stadium, against the Cincinnati Reds. Dick pitched a four-hit shutout, a complete game, with four strikeouts and just one walk. Pete Rose went 0-for-3. This would be Dick’s only major league win. He got sent back down to the minors about a month later, then brought back up in September. But 1966 would be his only season in the majors. I think about the parallels between us, two Chicago-born southpaws who were 1966 Rookies for the two New York teams. I was blessed with eleven seasons in the majors, and have to think there by the grace of God go I.
One more thing: in 1966, the Reds were a 7th place team and the Mets finished 9th in the National League. Just three years later, the Mets won the World Series, followed immediately by the ascent of the Big Red Machine. Things change quickly in baseball.