Mike Witt

Michael Atwater Witt (born July 20, 1960) is a former American professional baseball pitcher. He played 12 seasons in Major League Baseball between 1981 and 1993, and threw the 11th perfect game in MLB history in 1984.

Mike Witt
Witt with the Angels in 1987
Pitcher
Born: (1960-07-20) July 20, 1960
Fullerton, California, U.S.
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 11, 1981, for the California Angels
Last MLB appearance
June 17, 1993, for the New York Yankees
MLB statistics
Win–loss record117–116
Earned run average3.83
Strikeouts1,373
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Early life

Born in Fullerton, California to a family of six children, Witt started playing Little League Baseball at age 9.[1]

He played both baseball and basketball competitively for Servite High School. As a 6-ft, 7-in tall All-County basketball player, many assumed basketball would be his sport of choice, but he found baseball more enjoyable.[2] His pitching took Servite to a 14-0 record and victory at the 1978 CIF Southern Section 4A baseball championship, and he was named the Angelus League's Player of the Year. He was drafted out of high school in the fourth round of the 1978 Major League Baseball draft.

He was sent first to the Rookie League Idaho Falls Angels of the Pioneer League, then the Single-A Salinas Spurs in 1979. He was promoted to the El Paso Diablos in 1980, and despite having only a dozen Double-A games to his name, was invited to spring training with the California Angels for 1981.[2]

Professional career

At 20 years of age, Witt made his major league debut with the California Angels on April 11, 1981. He went 8-9 with a 3.28 ERA his rookie season, which was shortened by the Major League Baseball strike.[3] He stumbled in his third season, finishing 7-14 with a 4.91 ERA, and was sent to play for the Tiburones de La Guaira of the Venezuelan League, where he won seven of eight decisions.[1]

Possessing a great curveball as well as a good fastball, Witt's breakout season came in 1984, when he went 15–11 for the Angels. On July 23 of that year, he struck out 16 Seattle Mariners during a complete game five-hitter; but the highlight of the year came on the final day of the season, September 30,[4] when he pitched the 11th perfect game in baseball history against the Texas Rangers at Arlington Stadium. He struck out 10 and needed just 94 pitches to complete the gem. Witt's perfect game is, as of 2020, one of five no-hitters pitched on the final day of a Major League Baseball regular season.

From 1984 to 1987, Witt led the Angels every year in wins, strikeouts, innings pitched, and complete games. His best season was 1986, when he was named team Most Valuable Player after compiling 18 wins and a 2.84 earned run average, finishing third behind Roger Clemens and Teddy Higuera for the American League Cy Young Award, and guiding the Angels to within one strike of the World Series.

In the middle of the 1987 season, however, Witt suddenly lost his overpowering stuff and saw his strikeout numbers decline significantly. He did manage to combine with starter Mark Langston to pitch a no-hitter on April 11, 1990, against Seattle,[5] pitching the last two innings. Combined with his perfect game this makes him the only pitcher to throw a complete game no-hitter and also appear in relief for a combined no-hitter.

Witt was traded to the New York Yankees on May 11, 1990, for Dave Winfield,[4] but suffered his first career injury on his fifth start.[2] He was re-signed by the Yankees to an $8 million, 3-year contract, but missed most of the 1991 and 1992 seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery, and he won no more than five games before retiring in 1993.[2]

Personal life

Witt met Lisa Fenn, who worked for the Angels' group sales department, his rookie year.[3] They wed in 1983, and have three children: daughter Kellen Marie and sons Justin and Kevin.[2]

Witt did not pursue a coaching career in college or professional baseball as he wanted to spend time with his family.[6] He transitioned to coaching high school, starting with Dana Hills High School in 1994.[7] He followed his sons in 2000 to Santa Margarita Catholic High School, becoming varsity assistant and pitching coach there.[3]

See also

References

  1. Anderson, Bruce (April 22, 1985), "Brevity Is the Soul of Witt", Sports Illustrated, retrieved 2023-01-24
  2. Hensler, Paul (February 1, 2017), "Mike Witt", SABR Baseball Biography Project, Society for American Baseball Research, retrieved 2023-01-24
  3. Smith, Marcia C. (August 21, 2015), "Witt's call to the Angels' Hall is a perfect moment", Orange County Register, retrieved 2023-01-24
  4. Coffey, Michael (2004). 27 Men Out: Baseball's Perfect Games. New York: Atria Books. pp. 157–174. ISBN 0-7434-4606-2.
  5. "Most Recent No-hitters, By Team". SI Vault. Retrieved 2009-06-05.
  6. Connolly, Tom (June 1, 2016), "From Angel to Eagle", Orange County Catholic, retrieved 2023-01-24
  7. Terry, Mike (April 17, 1997), "Major League Stuff : Former Angel Witt, Who Once Pitched a Perfect Game, Still Enjoys Baseball as Coach at Dana Hills High", The Los Angeles Times, retrieved 2023-01-24

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