Cisco pitched against all-time greats


With spring training currently in progress, I thought it would be a good time to look back at some baseball history.

Galen Cisco was a standout all-around athlete at St. Marys (Ohio) High School and later a star football and baseball player at Ohio State.

As a team captain at fullback/linebacker, he helped lead the Buckeyes to the 1957 UPI national championship in football but decided to pursue a career in professional baseball as a right-handed pitcher.

Cisco entered the majors with the Boston Red Sox in 1961 and was acquired on waivers by the New York Mets a year later.

He started 59 games for some awful Mets’ teams from 1963-65 and predictably, didn’t have a very good record.

But Cisco knew how to pitch, as he showed later as one of MLB’s greatest pitching coaches ever.

He was the pitching coach for the Toronto Blue Jays when they won back-to-back World Series titles in 1992-93, and former Blue Jays’ General Manager Pat Gillick recently told me that Cisco’s ability to develop pitchers was one of the main reasons why the team was so successful.

While toiling for the Mets in the mid-1960s, Cisco had a lot of success pitching against Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente and Ernie Banks.

I recently asked Cisco how he approached pitching to each one of them.

“The strategy for pitching to them was to start and finish with different pitches in every at-bat which means you have to stay ahead in the count, therefore control is vital,” said Cisco, 86.

“Banks and Aaron were mostly pull hitters so staying down and away was the best, but you had to throw inside off the plate to keep them honest. Again, mixing all pitches in different counts and locations was best. Clemente and Mays – who was the best player I ever played against – would hit the ball where it was pitched with power to center and right field, then occasionally pulling to left field. Pitches inside for balls were a must to keep them honest.

“In all, velocity is important but pitching comes down to control,” he added.

Trivia Time Paul Krause intercepted the most passes in NFL history with 81.

This week’s question – Galen Cisco finished his MLB career with which team?

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