Al Leiter debuts on BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Al Leiter pitched parts of six big league seasons before establishing himself at the major league level.
But after that, the strikeout-minded left-hander made up for lost time – both on the field and in the community.
Leiter, who played for 19 seasons with the Yankees, Blue Jays, Mets and Marlins, is one of 33 players on the 2011 Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot for the Class of 2011 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Leiter is making his debut on the BBWAA ballot.
BBWAA members who have at least 10 years of tenure with the organization can vote in the election, and the results will be announced Jan. 5. Any candidate who receives at least 75 percent of all BBWAA votes cast will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2011. The Induction Ceremony will be held July 24 in Cooperstown.
Born Oct. 23, 1965, in Toms River, N.J., Leiter was drafted by the Yankees in the second round of the 1984 MLB Draft and shot quickly through New York's system, debuting in the majors in 1987. Over the six seasons – with the Yankees and then with the Blue Jays following a 1989 trade – Leiter appeared in 31 big league games while shuttling back and fourth between the big leagues and minors.
But in 1993, Leiter made the Jays' staff as a spot starter – going 9-6 and helping Toronto win its second World Series title.
Leiter joined the Marlins in 1996 as a free agent, going 16-12 with a 2.93 earned-run average and a league-best 6.395 hits per innings pitched mark – and earning his first All-Star Game selection. The next year, Leiter went 11-9 – and started Game 7 of the World Series for Florida, a game the Marlins won 3-2 in 11 innings. Leiter allowed just two runs in six innings of work.
The Marlins traded Leiter to the Mets before the 1998 season, putting Leiter in position for the most successful portion of his career. Over the next seven seasons, Leiter averaged almost 14 wins a year. And off the field, Leiter's work was recognized with the 2000 Roberto Clemente Award for civic responsibility.
"Not to take anything away from an MVP or the Cy Young Award," Leiter said. "But this is something I'll cherish forever."
Leiter wrapped up his on-field career in 2005 with return visits to the Marlins and Yankees, then retired with a record of 162-132 and a 3.80 ERA. In 2002, he became the first pitcher to defeat all 30 MLB teams.
"I love this game very much, but when you were a certain type of player for a few years, being a front-end starter, that's the way I still think I can pitch," Leiter said "But the body tells you no."
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum