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Don Gullett

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Donald Edward Gullett

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[edit] Biographical Information

"He was a different style of pitcher, but he reminded me of Whitey Ford. Donald just knew how to win." - Sparky Anderson
"Gullett's the only guy who can throw a baseball through a car wash and not get the ball wet." - Pete Rose

Pitcher Don Gullett found early success in the majors, winning over 100 games and playing on three World Series champions before his 27th birthday. However, injuries ended his baseball career by the time he was 30.

Gullett grew up in Lynn, Kentucky, about two and a half hours outside of Cincinnati, and was a three-sport star at McKell High School. He hurled a perfect game while in high school, striking out 20 of the 21 batters he faced in the process. He was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the first round of the 1969 amateur draft with the 14th overall pick and made his pro debut that year with the Sioux Falls Packers of the Northern League, going 7-2 with a 1.96 ERA in 11 starts for the club.

"I wasn't nervous a bit going in there. Talking to all these reporters is a lot tougher than facing Willie Stargell or Roberto Clemente." - Gullett, as a rookie in the 1970 NLCS

At just 20 years old, Gullett reached the majors in 1970, pitching primarily out of the bullpen. Facing the New York Mets on August 23rd, he threw four perfect innings of relief and struck out the first six batters he faced. Overall, he ended his rookie season with a 5-2 record, a 2.43 ERA, 76 strikeouts, and 6 saves in 44 outings. He went on to record a save in the NLCS against the Pittsburgh Pirates and gave up only one earned run in three appearances in the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles.

Gullett joined the Reds rotation in 1971 and won 16 games while leading the National League with a .727 winning percentage. He missed part of the next season, 1972, with hepatitis and posted the only losing record of his career, but he bounced back in the World Series, allowing just one earned run in his Game 4 start against the Oakland Athletics. He won a career-best 18 games in 1973 while making 30 starts and 15 relief appearances. The following summer, 1974, he notched 17 wins while striking out 183 over 243 innings.

Gullett got off to his best start in 1975, winning 9 games by mid-June before breaking his thumb in a game against the Atlanta Braves. He came back in August and added 6 more late-season victories to end the year with a 15-4 record and 2.42 ERA in 22 starts. Despite missing about two months, he still finished fifth in NL Cy Young voting (won by Tom Seaver). He went on to win his only start in the NLCS against the Pirates and added another win in Game 5e of the World Series, as the Reds beat the Boston Red Sox in one of the most memorable Fall Classics of all time. Slowed by injuries again in 1976, he still managed to post an 11-3 mark in 23 regular season games and earn wins in both the NLCS sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies and the World Series sweep of the New York Yankees.

Following the 1976 campaign, Gullett became a free agent and signed a six-year, two million dollar deal with the New York Yankees. Despite shoulder injuries, he won 14 of his 22 starts in 1977 and led the the American League with a .778 winning percentage. However, he struggled in that fall's World Series, but New York defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games. He pitched in just 8 games in 1978 as his shoulder problems worsened and required surgery. He was unable to come back from the injury and was ultimately released by the Yankees in 1980, never to pitch professionally again.

"I always felt when I took the mound that I would win every game. I'll always wonder what I might have done with seven or eight more years. It's the goal of every player to get into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. I'm not saying I would have or could have made it. But we'll never know." - Gullett

Following his playing days, Gullett was pitching coach for the Reds from 1993 to 2005 and was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 2002]

Gullett's brother, William Gullett, briefly played minor league ball in the Detroit Tigers organization.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • AL Winning Percentage Leader (1977)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 4 (1971 & 1973-1975)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 3 (1971, 1973 & 1974)
  • Won three World Series with the Cincinnati Reds (1975 & 1976) and the New York Yankees (1977)

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