Anthony Young pitched way better than his record showed. Working as a starter or reliever, whether at home or on the road, he often threw well enough to win.
But for the longest time, he never did.
Young, who set a major league record with 27 straight losses for the New York Mets, died Tuesday. He was 51.
The team said Young died in Houston after a long illness. He had told Mets teammates at a fantasy camp this year that he had a brain tumor.
“A.Y. took a lot of kidding about his losing records,” said Doug Flynn, a former Mets second baseman and fantasy camp coach. “But he was the victim of some bad luck during the streak. He knew inside that he was a better pitcher than his numbers.”
Young’s streak of losses began in 1992 with the Mets and stretched into the next season. In all, the drought spanned 74 appearances — he had a 4.39 ERA in that span.
The right-hander posted 15 saves in 1992. But he was 2-14 that season, then went 1-16 in 1993 for a miserable Mets team that led the majors with 103 losses.
The highlight of that awful season might’ve come on July 28 at Shea Stadium. That night, Young was summoned in the ninth inning against the Florida Marlins and gave up the go-ahead run on a bunt single, putting him in position for a 28th straight loss.
Instead, the Mets rallied for two runs in the ninth for a 5-4 victory. Young got the win and was mobbed by his teammates.
“That wasn’t even a big monkey that was on my back,” Young said. “It was a zoo. The guys treated it like I had won a World Series game for them.”
Soon after ending the streak, Young was a guest on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno.
Young broke the mark of 23 losses in a row by Cliff Curtis in 1910-11 for the Boston Braves. At one point, Young met members of Curtis’ family. Young also got all sorts of encouragement and advice during his slump, with psychics often offering ideas on how he could reverse his fortunes.
Young was traded to the Chicago Cubs before the 1994 season and finished with the Astros in 1996. He was 15-48 with a 3.89 ERA in his six-year career.
After his playing days, Young worked with a youth baseball group near his hometown of Houston.