Ron Guidry still can throw strikes. Three days before the 40th anniversary of his franchise record 18-strikeout performance, the Yankees legend threw one in the ceremonial first pitch before Thursday’s game against the Rays at the Stadium. Then he predicted that current Yankees ace Luis Severino would shatter his team mark.
“He’s the one that’s going to break it,” Guidry said.
“Records are made to be broken,” he added. “Mine has lasted 40 years. I just think it’s going to be him, because as good as he is, he’s going to go out one night and he’s going to be blessed and he’s going to do something spectacular. He might go out and pitch a perfect game . . . There’s gonna be one night when he’s having a great season and he’s going to be dominant and something magical is going to happen to him. And it could be that. He’s got the ability to push 20, 21 [strikeouts]. He’s got the talent.”
Guidry fanned 18 Angels on June 17, 1978, a spectacular performance in a special season. He finished 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA and earned the Cy Young Award in a year that the Yankees won the World Series..
He said he and his wife, Bonnie, have become accustomed to tuning in to watch Severino pitch.
“He’s turning himself into a dominant pitcher in the American League. He’s certainly the ace on this staff, but he’s turning himself into one of the best pitchers in baseball,” Guidry said. “[Severino] throws as hard as anybody, but he throws hard longer than most guys do. He tops out in the seventh or eighth inning at 98 or 99.”
Guidry said he never thought he was about to have a special night before he set the record. He said he was so wild in the bullpen he asked closer Sparky Lyle “what was the earliest he’d ever gone into a game.”
Guidry said he and catcher Thurman Munson started out going for soft contact from the Angels hitters, but they were taking pitches in the strike zone and swinging at ones that dove out of it. In the third inning he said he started to feel “everything going into the strike zone.” When they came off the field after the seventh inning of what would be a 4-0 win, Guidry and Munson were perplexed by the Stadium applause.
He said both were stunned that the scoreboard indicated he’d tied the franchise record of 15 set in 1919 by Bob Shawkey and equaled in 1959 by Whitey Ford. That was until Munson’s well-known competitive streak took over and he challenged Guidry to go after the then-major league record of 19.
He got one more in the eighth and struck out the first two Angels batters in the ninth but couldn’t equal the modern-day mark of 19 owned by Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton and Tom Seaver.
“The hitters I faced in the ninth were the only ones I was trying to strike out,” he said.