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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Don Gullett, Right Temperament - 2

Don Gullett's time in baseball ended abruptly as a player, shut down by rotator cuff tears. What had been a career that truly had the potential to be great, had to settle for really good.

So, when he had the opportunity to return to the game in 1990 as a minor league coach for the Reds, Gullett jumped at the chance, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.

"I definitely missed it," Gullett told The Enquirer that March. "Making it better is getting back with the organization I started out with. I'm well pleased."

Gullett not only returned to baseball, he rose quickly. Two years later, he returned to the majors as pitching coach for the Reds, a job he didn't relinquish until more than a decade later.

Gullett's long career in the the game began in 1969, taken by the Reds in the first round of the draft out of high school in Kentucky.

Gullett started at short-season Sioux Falls in 1969. He then made the jump all the way to Cincinnati for 1970.

He went 5-2 in mostly relief work for the Reds his rookie year. He picked up his first win that April as a 19-year-old.

"He throws smoke, and I mean real good heat," Reds catcher and future Hall of Famer Johnny Bench told UPI afterward.

Gullett broke out in 1971 as he turned starter. He went 16-6, with a 2.65 ERA. It marked the first of six seasons where he turned in double-digit wins.

He went 18-8 in 1973, 17-11 in 1974 and 15-4 in 1975. Over his nine-season major league career with the Reds and later the Yankees, Gullett saw the post-season six times. He saw the World Series in five of those years.

Gullett's success with the Reds saw him sign with the Yankees for 1977 - and get a big contract.  The Yankees gave him nearly $2 million in a six-year contract.

"Don Gullett is the modern Whitey Ford," Yankees president Gabe Paul told UPI after the signing. "His one-lost record is just phenomenal."

The UPI article, however, also noted Gullett had suffered injuries already. After two seasons with the Yankees, his rotator cuff tore and ultimately ended his career.

After reentering baseball as a coach, Gullett joint Cincinnati in 1993. In all, he served in that post for nearly 13 seasons, lasting until mid-2005.

Gullett drew high praise in 1999 from his manager Jack McKeon for his ability to work with pitchers and bring about their best, according to The Enquirer.

"In all my years in baseball, there's no doubt in my mind he's the finest pitching coach I've been around," McKeon told The Enquirer. "He has the right temperament."

Gullett explained his approach in 2004 to The Chicago Tribune.

"The game was not invented to strike everybody out," Gullett told The Tribune. "What we want to do is have our pitchers throw it in the strike zone and make them hit it. . . . The more time you are on the mound, the more time you have to think and the more time you take to think the more confused you get. [Plus] the more time you are out there the more time you give the hitter to figure you out."
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,717
Made the Majors:1,037-38.2%-X
Never Made Majors:1,680-61.8%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 429-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:263

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