Don Gullett, one of Munson’s 1977 heroes, died at 73

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The baseball world mourns the passing of southpaw pitcher Don Gullett at the age of 73. Gullett pitched for nine seasons in the major leagues, leaving his mark primarily with the Cincinnati Reds and later with the New York Yankees. He made 266 appearances, compiling a stellar 3.11 ERA and a solid 1.84 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Baseball-Reference estimates his career was worth 18 Wins Above Replacement, contributing significantly to his teams’ success.

Don Gullett twice received Cy Young Award votes, in 1974 and 1975. He was incredibly fortunate to be part of six World Series appearances, winning four championships: twice with the Cincinnati Reds (1975, 1976) and twice with the New York Yankees (1977, 1978). He also pitched in the World Series with the Reds in 1970 and 1972. His postseason record was impressive, with a 3.77 ERA in 20 appearances, including 13 starts.

Don Gullett’s legacy goes beyond the mound

Beyond his statistics, Don Gullett will be remembered for his competitive spirit and contributions to some of baseball’s most iconic teams. His passing leaves a void in the baseball community, and his legacy as a champion will continue to inspire future generations of players.

While manager Sparky Anderson’s prediction of a future Hall of Fame career seemed prophetic, Don Gullett’s path was undeniably marked by physical struggles. He battled hepatitis in the early 70s and eventually succumbed to a career-ending double rotator cuff tear that required surgery.

Despite these challenges, the talent Anderson saw was undeniable. As noted in SABR’s biography of Gullett, by his 25th birthday in 1976, Don Gullett had achieved more wins than legendary southpaws Warren Spahn (8), Whitey Ford (43), and Sandy Koufax (53) at the same age. This accomplishment highlights his immense potential, tragically cut short by injuries.

Beyond mere numbers, Don Gullett was a key contributor to his teams’ success, participating in six World Series and winning four championships. His competitive spirit and leadership were valued assets, both on and off the field.

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AP Photo/Bob Hannah

Following his playing career, Don Gullett transitioned to farming before returning to the Reds in various coaching and instructional roles. His most notable contribution was serving as the team’s big-league pitching coach for over a decade, from 1993 to 2005. This tenure allowed him to share his knowledge and experience with a new generation of players.

Though ultimately denied a Hall of Fame nod, Don Gullett’s impact on the game transcended mere statistics. He exemplified resilience, leadership, and a passion for baseball that extended far beyond his playing days. His legacy will continue to inspire future generations of pitchers and baseball fans alike.

Bob Castellini, the CEO of the Reds, remarked in a team-issued statement that Don dedicated 24 years to the franchise as a player, coach, and minor league instructor. Castellini highlighted Don’s role as an anchor on the pitching staff of one of the greatest baseball teams in history and emphasized his contributions to the team’s rich tradition, the city, and the community, stating that they will never be forgotten.

In 2002, Don Gullett was honored with induction into the Reds Hall of Fame.

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One thought on “Don Gullett, one of Munson’s 1977 heroes, died at 73

  1. I saw him pitch for the Yankees and he was really something too see. It is a shame that injuries took his Hall Of Fame chance away from him. My condolences to his family and friends. He will be missed.

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