Last Updated on October 27, 2023 at 4:15 pm by Amanda Cunha
Former MLB pitcher, Rob Gardner, known for his stints with the New York Yankees, passed away at 78, as reported by the Press & Sun-Bulletin last Thursday. Gardner’s illustrious five-season baseball career left an enduring mark on the hearts of fans on both sides of the Big Apple.
Gardner’s Journey with the Mets
Gardner’s journey in the Major Leagues commenced with the New York Mets in 1965, when he made his MLB debut on September 1, 1965, as a left-handed pitcher. Over his tenure with the Mets, Gardner made 46 appearances, including 21 starts, maintaining a 4.79 ERA and amassing an impressive 93 strikeouts. His most iconic moment unfolded on October 2, 1965, when he pitched an astonishing 15 shutout innings against the Philadelphia Phillies. Although the game ended in a 0-0 tie after 18 innings, Gardner’s performance etched an enduring legacy.
Renowned for his powerful left arm, Gardner struck out seven batters, conceding only five hits and issuing just two walks in that memorable game. His contributions to the Mets endeared him to fans.
Transition to the Yankees
In 1966, Gardner continued to represent the Mets, pitching 133 ⅔ innings with a 5.12 ERA. However, he was later traded to the Chicago Cubs before the 1967 trade deadline. In 1969, Gardner returned to New York, donning the pinstripes of the New York Yankees. He joined the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse and made one appearance for the Bronx Bombers in 1970.
Trading Across the Big Apple: Gardner’s baseball journey included a trade to the Oakland Athletics in April 1971, with Felipe Alou being sent to the Yankees. Yet, Gardner’s tenure in Oakland was brief, as he was traded back to the Yankees a month later. Over the 1971 and 1972 seasons, Gardner made 22 more appearances for the Yankees, further solidifying his place in New York’s baseball history.
The Yankees once again parted ways with Gardner, trading him back to Oakland, this time in exchange for Felipe’s brother, Matty Alou, after the 1972 season. Gardner’s tenacity and unwavering dedication to the game were evident throughout his career.
Final Season with the Brewers
In 1973, Gardner spent time with the Milwaukee Brewers, marking his final season in the Major Leagues. During his tenure with the Brewers, he continued to exhibit his skills and contributed to the team’s efforts.
Unfortunately, an elbow injury forced Gardner into retirement from professional baseball. Following his retirement, he embarked on a new career path, joining the Binghamton Fire Department. Gardner was part of the first firefighters to become paramedics, exemplifying his commitment to serving the community.
Rob Gardner’s legacy extends beyond the baseball diamond. He is survived by his two children, three grandchildren, sister, niece, and great-nephew. Gardner’s contributions to both New York baseball teams, the Mets and the Yankees, have left an indelible mark in the hearts of baseball enthusiasts. His journey from the pitcher’s mound to the fire department exemplifies his dedication to both the sport he cherished and the community he served.
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