Leading Off

Cooperstown should save room for Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum, second from left, meets with pitching coach Dave Righetti (19) and teammates on the mound in the first inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Thursday, May 14, 2015, in Cincinnati.
San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum, second from left, meets with pitching coach Dave Righetti (19) and teammates on the mound in the first inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Thursday, May 14, 2015, in Cincinnati. AP

There must be some room in Cooperstown, N.Y., for Dave Righetti.

Maybe just a small spot on the wall for a plaque listing his impressive contributions to the game, first as a pitcher and then as a pitching coach.

How many men can say they belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame as both a player and coach?

Righetti certainly can.

Although drafted by the Texas Rangers, he was the 1981 American League Rookie of the Year for the New York Yankees with a 2.05 ERA. On July 4, 1983, he threw a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox – the Yankees’ first since Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956.

The next season, he replaced Goose Gossage as the team’s closer. But unlike today’s one-inning specialists, “Rags” often was brought in during the seventh inning to finish games. In 1986, he led the league with 46 saves and was an All-Star. His 224 saves were most in Yankees history before Mariano Rivera surpassed him.

With a career 82-79 record and 252 saves, it’s been debated whether Righetti belongs in the Hall.

But after what he’s done as the Giants’ pitching coach since 2000, there should be no question.

It’s no coincidence the Giants have had five no-hitters in the past seven years, beginning with Jonathan Sanchez’s gem in 2009. That was followed by Matt Cain’s perfect game in 2012, no-hitters by Tim Lincecum in 2013 and 2014, and Tuesday’s no-hitter by rookie Chris Heston. You think Madison Bumgarner doesn’t want to add his name to the list?

Besides the no-hitters, Rags has sent nine different pitchers to the All-Star Game since 2000, and his staff deserves much of the credit for the team winning the World Series three times in the past five seasons.

Sadly, position coaches receive about as much credit for their team’s success as a batboy.

There are 22 managers in the Hall and no position coaches. It’s about time that changes.

Victor Contreras, (916) 326-5527, vcontreras@sacbee.com

Playbook

  • WHAT TO WATCH: NBA Finals, Warriors at Cleveland, 6 p.m., Ch. 10. Cleveland looks to take a commanding 3-1 lead over Golden State before the series returns to Oakland.
  • TWITTER CHATTER: “Dave Righetti: ‘Real excited for him. (Chris Heston) has been through a lot in the minors. He got bigger, stronger & more mature. So proud of him’” – @KNBR
  • ON THIS DATE: On June 11, 1990, Nolan Ryan, 43, became the oldest pitcher to throw a no-hitter – his sixth – as the Texas Rangers beat the A’s 5-0.
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