|Date of Birth
||2 January 1963,
|Place of Birth
||Kansas City, Missouri, USA
Cone's first exceptional year came in 1988 when he went 20-3 with a 2.22 ERA, leading the Mets to the postseason, where they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers (despite the fact that the Mets came in as heavy favorites) and the man who won the Cy Young over Cone, Orel Hershiser. Over the next dozen years, Cone became accustomed to leading teams to the postseason and became known as a "big game" pitcher.
It was this reputation which led to Cone's becoming a popular trade commodity during deadline deals as his pitching down the stretch was highly sought by contending teams. He was twice a part of mid-year deals, being shipped from a losing team to a contending team in 1992 and 1995. Cone compiled an 8-3 postseason record over 21 postseason starts and was a part of five World Series championship teams (1992 with the Toronto Blue Jays and 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000 with the New York Yankees). He had a career postseason ERA of 3.80.
In addition to the 1988 campaign, Cone also enjoyed a 20-win season in 1998, setting a Major League record for the longest span between 20-win seasons. He led the National League in strikeouts in 1990 and 1991, but his 261 strikeouts in 1992, split between the two leagues, were a personal best. On August 30, 1991, Cone struck out three batters on nine pitches in the fifth inning of a 3-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds; Cone became the 16th National League pitcher and the 25th pitcher in Major League history to accomplish the nine-strike/three-strikeout half-inning. He won the American League Cy Young Award in the strike-shortened 1994 season, going 16-5 with a 2.94 ERA.
Cone was diagnosed with an aneurysm in his arm in 1996 and was on the disabled list for the majority of the year. In his comeback start that September against the Oakland Athletics, Cone pitched a no-hitter through seven innings before he had to leave due to pitch count restrictions. Mariano Rivera allowed a single which broke the no-hitter up.
Cone's performance faded dramatically in his final years. After pitching a perfect game on July 18, 1999, against the Montreal Expos, he seemed to suddenly lose effectiveness, and in 2000 he posted the worst record of his career, 4-14, while seeing his ERA balloon to 6.91, more than double his mark the previous year. In spite of his ineffectiveness, Cone was brought in during Game 4 of the 2000 World Series to face the Mets' Mike Piazza, a controversial decision at the time -- Denny Neagle had given up a home run to Piazza in his previous at-bat, but was pitching with a lead and only needed to retire Piazza to go the minimum five innings to be eligible for a win. Cone induced a pop-up to end the inning.
In 2001 Cone pitched for the rival Boston Red Sox, performing with mixed but mostly positive results, including a 9-7 win-loss record and a 4.31 ERA. His 2001 season included a suspenseful 1-0 loss against Yankees ace Mike Mussina wherein Cone pitched 8.1 innings giving up one unearned run, keeping the game close even as Mike Mussina came within one strike of completing a perfect game. He sat out the 2002 season, but attempted a comeback in 2003 . Pitching again for the New York Mets, the results were no better - he went 1-3 in 4 starts with a 6.50 ERA. He announced his retirement soon after his last appearance for the Mets on May 28, citing a chronic hip problem.