Anthony Young, a former Mets pitcher who was best known for losing a major-league record 27 consecutive games, died Tuesday following a battle with brain cancer. He was 51.
The Mets announced Young’s death, which occurred in his hometown of Houston on the anniversary of his record-breaking 24th consecutive defeat on June 27, 1993.
Young pitched for the Mets from 1991-93. The losing streak started in 1992, when Young went 2-14 with a 4.17 ERA and 15 saves. In 1993, Young’s record was 1-16 and his earned run average was 3.77.
“I got a bad rap on that,” Young told the Daily News in 2009. “I always said I didn’t feel like I was pitching badly. It just happened to happen to me. I don’t feel like I deserve it, but I’m known for it. It was an 82-year-old record, and it might be 82 more years before it’s broken.”
The Mets, in a statement, said Young “never let his losing records with the Mets rob him of his sense of humor or his grace.”
Young broke the streak on July 28, 1993, when he was the winning pitcher in the Mets’ 5-4 victory over the then-Florida Marlins at Shea Stadium.
Young was charged with an unearned run in the top of the ninth and was in line to suffer another defeat. But he became the winner when the Mets scored twice in the bottom of the ninth on an RBI single by Ryan Thompson and walk-off double by future Hall of Famer Eddie Murray.
“This wasn’t a monkey off my back,” Young said. “This was a zoo.”
Young appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” after breaking the streak.
Young lost his last three decisions that season, his final one with the Mets. He pitched for the Cubs from 1994-95 and the Astros in 1996. His career record was 15-48 with a 3.89 ERA and 20 saves.
With the Mets, he was 5-35 with a 3.82 ERA, but former players who knew Young after his career say he never let the losing streak define him.
“A.Y. took a lot of kidding about his losing records,” said former Mets infielder Doug Flynn, who participated in fantasy camps with Young. “But he was the victim of some bad luck during the streak. He knew inside that he was a better pitcher than his numbers.”
Former Mets pitcher Turk Wendell said Young told him earlier this year about his illness.
“Anthony was a true gentleman,” Wendell said. “At this year’s fantasy camp, he told us he had a brain tumor. That was Anthony. He never ran away from anything.”
After his playing days, Young worked in a chemical plant and coached youth baseball in Houston.