July 12, 1989: Ron Guidry Came To The End of His Impactful Career

Tracy Ringolsby

For Ron Guidry, it was far from the retirement he anticipated.

Forty-nine days shy of his 39th birthday, having been shipped back to Triple-A at the start of the season, Louisiana Lightnin' made it official -- he was retiring. Reality set in with a 1-5 record and 4.18 ERA in seven starts that covered just 32 1/3 innings.

Fourteen years later, Guidry once again was on center stage at Yankee Stadium, the club retiring the No. 49, making Guidry the 16th Yankee to be given the distinction. He also had his plaque mounted in Yankee Stadium's Memorial Park.

“This will probably be my toughest game, trying to tell you how much I appreciate today,” said Guidry. “I spent three hours working on my speech. I don’t think it’s going to do me any good.

“The only regret I’ve had since I retired is that I never had a chance to say goodbye to all the great Yankee fans. I enjoyed pitching for you and I especially loved it when you clapped when there were two strikes on the batter. I just want you to know I heard that.”


There was plenty to clap for when Guidry finally got his chance to establish himself as a key part of the Yankee rotation. He finished his career with the eighth best winning percentage in MLB history for a left-handed pitcher with a minimum 140 decision.

He was a part of three World Series teams -- winning world championships in 1977 and 1978 against the Dodgers, and then losing to the Dodgers in the 1981 World Series. Guidry won a start in each of the two championship seasons, and went 1-1 in that 1981 showdown. 

The resume is impressive. He was 170-91 with a 3.29 ERA. He was a five-time Gold Glove selection, and was a unanimous selection for the 1978 AL Cy Young Award after a season in which he was 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA.

There has not been a left-handed pitcher win 25 games since, and only two right-handed pitchers -- Bob Welch (27) with the Dodgers in 1990,, and Steve Stone (25) with the Orioles in 1980.


Cooperstown Corner