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Saturday, June 5, 2021

Randy Niemann worked with minors pitchers to get them to bigs; Made bigs himself as player, coach

Binghamton Mets pitching coach Randy Niemann saw his staff struggle early in 1993 and he attempted to explain to The Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin why.

He saw his pitchers throwing to avoid bat contact, instead of throwing quality pitches, he told The Press and Sun-Bulletin

"Great strikeout pitchers don't throw to avoid contact until they get ahead of batters," Niemann told The Press and Sun-Bulletin. "Nolan Ryan was in the majors for 10 years before he learned that, and as a result he was only a .500 pitcher until then."

Neimann spoke with first-hand knowledge, from time spent as a pitcher in eight major league seasons, including as Ryan's teammate for a season in Houston.

His coaching career later took him back to the majors.

Nieman's career in baseball began in 1975, taken by the Yankees in the second round of the June secondary draft out of the College of the Redwoods in California.

He started at short-season Oneonta, then moved to single-A Fort Lauderdale in 1976, then AA West Haven to start 1977. The Yankees then traded him to the Astros and he played out the season at AA Columbus.

He then made AAA Charleston to start 1979, then made Houston for the first time that May. He soon picked up his first win, a 2-1 victory against Johnny Bench and the Reds.

"You have got to give him credit," Bench told UPI afterward. "Randy Niemann threw a well-pitched ballgame."

Niemann got into 26 games, seven starts that year for the Astros, with a 3-2 record and a 3.76 ERA. He then returned for 22 mostly relief outings for 1980. He didn't see the majors in 1981, but returned with the Pirates for 1982.

He then saw the majors each season through 1987, including a 31-outing run with the Mets in 1986. He last played in the majors in 1987, six relief outings with the Twins. He then last hit the field in 1988, with the Mets at AAA Tidewater.

Niemann started his coaching career the next season, as pitching coach for rookie Kingsport. He then moved to short-season Pittsfield for 1990, AA Binghamton for 1992. He also saw high-A St. Lucie.

Then for 1997, he returned to the majors as Mets bullpen coach. He's credited as staying in that role for five seasons, then returned to that role for 2009 and 2010. More recently, he's credited as serving as pitching coach at high-A Palm Beach in 2017. 

He made it back to the bigs in 2012, with the Red Sox, where he finished out the year as pitching coach.

"For me personally, it’s been tremendous. ... I’ve gotten a chance to do what I’ve always wanted to do my whole life, and that’s to be a pitching coach at the big league level," Niemann told The Boston Herald that September. "To actually be able to do this job I've trained to do has been really fun. I've enjoyed that part of it, the relationships with the guys, seeing them get better."

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,666
Made the Majors:1,254-34.2%-X
Never Made Majors:2,412-65.8%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:522
10+ Seasons in the Minors:308

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