October 23, 1965 |
Toms River, New Jersey
|September 15, 1987, for the New York Yankees|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 2, 2005, for the New York Yankees|
|Earned run average||3.80|
|Career highlights and awards|
Alois "Al" Terry Leiter (//; born October 23, 1965 in Toms River, New Jersey) is a former Major League Baseball left-handed starting pitcher. Leiter pitched 19 seasons in the Major Leagues for New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Florida Marlins, and New York Mets. He is now a studio analyst for MLB Network and a color commentator for the YES Network.
Early career (1987–1995)
Leiter was raised in a baseball-oriented family; all five of his brothers played the game. A native of Berkeley Township, New Jersey, Leiter attended Central Regional High School, in the township's Bayville section. During one stretch in high school, he pitched consecutive no-hitters followed by a 32-strikeout game in 13 innings on April 19, 1984 (a game which he did not win). Leiter was selected for the Wilson First Team All-American team.
Leiter was drafted by New York Yankees in 1984 as a second round pick. Both he and his brother Mark became Yankees prospects.
Leiter made his major league debut as the starting pitcher for the Yankees on September 15, 1987, earning the win in a Yankees 4–3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Yankee Stadium. Leiter has mentioned on a YES Network broadcast that early in his career with the Yankees, manager Billy Martin walked up to him and asked him why he was lifting weights. Leiter responded, "To strengthen my arm." Billy was quoted as saying, "If you want to strengthen your arm, do some long toss." In one of his final starts as a young player for the Yankees, manager Dallas Green left Leiter in to throw 162 pitches in a cold damp day in 1989.
The Yankees traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays for outfielder Jesse Barfield on April 30, 1989. After being dealt to Toronto, the left-hander had arthroscopic surgery. He pitched in fewer than 20 innings for the Blue Jays from 1989-1992, because of the surgery, a pinched nerve in his elbow, tendinitis, and another arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder. His statistics during this period were a 5.17 ERA, 15 2⁄3 IP, 14 H, 10 K, 11 BB, 1 HR, 1 GS, 0–0. He was, however, able to overcome the blisters problem with an exotic liniment (that he used throughout his career), and was still seen as a very promising prospect.
Leiter finally got over his injury troubles in 1993, making 32 appearances (12 starts) for the Blue Jays. That year he appeared in 5 postseason games and even picked up a win in relief in Game One, and hit a double in Game Three of the 1993 World Series, as the Blue Jays went on to win their second consecutive World Championship. Leiter pitched effectively for the Blue Jays for the next two seasons before departing via free agency in 1996.
Florida Marlins (1996–1997)
Following the 1995 season, Leiter left Toronto and signed with the Florida Marlins as a free agent. In his first season as a Marlin, Leiter made his first All-Star team, going 16–12 with a 2.93 ERA and 200 strikeouts. On May 11 of that year, Leiter pitched a no-hitter against the Colorado Rockies, the first in Marlins history.
In 1996 was selected to his first All Star game. The game was played at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia where Leiter recorded the last out of a National League 6-0 win over the American League. The win was the last NL win for 13 years until 2010 when the National League won the All Star Classic in Anaheim.
In 1997, Leiter won another World Series as the Marlins beat the Cleveland Indians. Leiter started Game 7 for the Marlins, pitching 6 innings and giving up two earned runs while being credited with a no decision. The Marlins would go on to win the game 3–2 in 11 innings to capture the championship.
New York Mets (1998–2004)
In Leiter's first season as a Met, he reached a career high in wins going 17–6 and a career low in ERA finishing with a 2.47 ERA. In 1999, when the Mets were tied with the Cincinnati Reds for the National League Wild Card spot after 162 games, Leiter was the Mets starting pitcher in the "winner take all" one game playoff in Cinergy Field in Cincinnati. Leiter pitched a 2-hit complete game shutout to earn the win in the Mets 5–0 victory. The win put the Mets in the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons. The Mets would go on to lose the 1999 National League Championship Series to the Atlanta Braves 4 games to 2.
In 2000, Leiter made the All-Star team once again going 16–8 with a 3.20 ERA and 200 strikeouts. The Mets made the playoffs again in 2000 and this time reached the World Series. Leiter started Game 1 of the 2000 World Series at Yankee Stadium and Game 5 at Shea Stadium. Although he managed to achieve a 2.87 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 15 2⁄3 innings, the Mets lost both games he started and eventually lost the World Series 4 games to 1. He was booed by Yankees fans when presented that year's Roberto Clemente Award prior to Game 2 of the World Series. Leiter was the second New York Met to be honored with the award. During the 2000 season, he pitched in the All Star game, and gave up a single to Derek Jeter.
On April 30, 2002, Leiter became the first Major League pitcher to defeat all 30 teams, after beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 10–1. Leiter would pitch for the Mets until the end of the 2004 season. In his seven seasons in a Met uniform, all wearing number 22, he went 95–67 with a 3.42 ERA. At the time he left the Mets, he ranked highly on several Mets all-time lists including wins (6th), strikeouts (7th with 1106), innings pitched (7th with 1360.0), and games started (6th with 213). He was the Mets Opening Day starting pitcher in 1999, 2001, and 2002.
In ten straight seasons, from 1995 to 2004, Leiter had at least 10 wins and at least a .500 record.
Final season and second stint with Marlins, Yankees (2005–2006)
Following the 2004 season, the Mets declined Leiter's US$10 million option for 2005, making him a free agent. His former team, the Marlins, signed Leiter to a one-year, $8 million contract on December 8, 2004.
Leiter struggled during his return to the Marlins. He walked more batters than usual (60 in 80 innings, in addition to 88 hits). In 17 appearances (16 starts), he had a 3–7 record and a 6.64 ERA, and he took much criticism for the Marlins' first-half struggles in 2005 (they were 7 games behind the surprising Washington Nationals at the All-Star break). He was demoted to the bullpen in late June, but he returned to the rotation after an injury to Josh Beckett. On July 10, when the Marlins played their last game before the three-day All-Star break, he gave up six runs in three-plus innings.
On July 14, 2005, the Florida Marlins designated Leiter for assignment. The next day, he was acquired by the New York Yankees, who had four starting pitchers on the disabled list, for a player to be named later. His first start as a Yankee since April 26, 1989, came on July 17, 2005, against the division-leading Boston Red Sox. Leiter won the game, pitching 61⁄3 innings, allowing one run and three hits, and striking out eight. After several starts with mixed success, he informed Joe Torre that he would be willing to pitch out of the bullpen, where he would stay for the latter part of the season, yielding his starting slot to Aaron Small.
Leiter worked out of the bullpen in the 2005 American League Division Series pitching in four of the five games between the Yankees and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Angels won the series 3 games to 2. In his final official appearance in a Major League uniform, Leiter earned a win pitching 2/3 scoreless innings in Game 4 at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees won the game 3–2.
Leiter signed a minor league contract with the Yankees in 2006; however, he stated he would likely retire. The primary reason he spent part of spring training with the Yankees was to keep in shape for the World Baseball Classic. After the United States team was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic, he officially retired in an interview on YES, after a Yankees spring training victory versus the Indians where Leiter pitched 1/3 an inning.
Al Leiter has worked in the television broadcast booth for FOX during the playoffs for several seasons, mainly to provide in-depth analysis of various pitchers. Worked the post season for ESPN as studio analyst in 1998 and 1999. Since 2006, Leiter has worked as a color commentator and a studio analyst for the YES Network. He won a NY Emmy in 2007 for the "Manny game" in Boston. In 2009, Leiter was hired by MLB Network and appeared on the very first show the Network produced on January 1, 2009. He became a studio analyst for MLB Network in addition to his commentating job for the YES Network. In 2009, 2011 and 2013 National Sports Emmy Award Nomination for Studio Analyst. 2012 Sports Emmy for Outstanding Studio Show-Daily MLB Tonight Segment Producer.
Leiter has also expressed interest in possibly running for political office as a Republican in his home state of New Jersey. He served as a member of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's transition team. Leiter was appointed as a member to the New Jersey Sports, Gaming, and Entertainment Committee. Governor Christie nominated/appointed him for the New Jersey Hall of Fame Commission.
He and his wife Lori have three children: Jack Thomas, Carly Jayne, and Lindsay Brooke.
- MLB All-Time Hit Batsmen List
- Top 100 strikeout pitchers of all time
- List of Major League Baseball no-hitters
- "Pitcher Fans 32, Still Doesn't Win". Eugene Register-Guard. April 20, 1984. p. 5D.
- Lieber, Jill. "Mets' Leiter delivers hope for others", USA Today, August 28, 2002. Accessed May 27, 2013. "He has pledged $1 million to Leiter's Landing, his charitable foundation that helps children in need, and has initiated a dozen or so projects in his hometown of Berkeley Township, N.J., as well as throughout New York City."
- Rushin, Steve (November 1, 1993). "World Series: 1993 - Home Sweet Homer". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved April 26, 2007.
'I don't give a —— how it feels,' said a laughing Leiter, whose last hit came for Central Regional High in Bayville, N.J., where he batted .220 in 1984.
- "Prep Pitcher Fans 32 in 13 Innings". Los Angeles Times. April 20, 1984. p. D18.
- "Leiter's 'Great Future' Will Be as a Jay". nytimes.com. May 1, 1989. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
- "Mets 101 All Star Memories: Al Leiter (2000)".
- Caldera, Pete. "LEITER HAS BEATEN THEM ALL", The Record (Bergen County), May 2, 2002. Accessed August 26, 2008. "With the Mets' 10–1 victory Tuesday against the Diamondbacks, Leiter became the first man to ever defeat all 30 teams."
- Calcaterra, Craig. "10th anniversary: first man to beat 30 franchises". TheHardballTimes.com. Retrieved May 6, 2012.
- "Leiter likely to retire after Classic". Major League Baseball. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
- Matt Friedman (November 13, 2007). "Leiter says he has his eye on a US Senate Seat - just not v. Lautenberg '08". PolitickerNJ.com. Archived from the original on June 27, 2009. Retrieved June 10, 2009.
- Leiter entry, Business Wire. Accessed June 22, 2015.
- Career statistics and player information from ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- Baseball Library (biography)
- Leiter's Landing- Al Leiter's Charity
May 11, 1996
|NL hits per nine innings