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1996 Yankees 20th Anniversary Retrospective: David Cone

Our retrospective on the Yankees' 1996 team continues with a beloved Yankee pitcher, broadcaster, and Pinstripe Alley follower.

Vincent Laforet/Getty Images

Background

David Cone was drafted in the third round by his hometown Kansas City Royals in the 1981 draft. His major league debut came on June 8, 1986 as a reliever before the Royals sent him back to the minors until rosters expanded that September. The Royals traded Cone to the New York Mets before the 1987 season, joining their rotation and becoming an All-Star in 1988, when he finished third in Cy Young voting. Cone was traded from New York to the Toronto Blue Jays in the middle of the 1992 season in which the Blue Jays took home the World Series championship. As a free agent that offseason, Cone returned to his native Kansas City, winning the American League Cy Young Award in the 1994 season that was shortened by the strike.

Shortly after the end of the strike, Cone was sent back to the Blue Jays, briefly, before the Yankees acquired him via trade on July 28th, 1995. He pitched valiantly down the stretch as the Yankees won the Wild Card, but after winning Game 1 of the ALDS against Seattle, the Mariners wore him down in Game 5. A bases-loaded walk to Pat Strange on his 147th and final pitch tied it up in the eighth and they went on to lose in extra innings.

1996 Performance

Results: 11 GS, 72.0 IP, 2.88 ERA, 71 K, 3.24 FIP, 2.2 fWAR

Cone signed a three-year, $19.5 million deal with the Yankees before the 1996 season, opting to stay in New York over leaving town for Baltimore. The season got off to a good start for Cone, leading the league with a 2.03 ERA until discomfort in his pitching arm caused him to miss his first start in nine years. Cone started feeling a tingling in his hand in the middle of April which was later diagnosed as an aneurysm off the main artery in his shoulder.

Doctors performed surgery to repair the aneurysm in Cone's arm on May 10, 1996, and early detection gave his surgeons every reason to believe that the 33-year-old would be able to play baseball again after his recovery. Cone was limited to 11 starts in the 1996 season, but he did return in September, throwing a seven innings of no-hit ball against the Athletics in his first game back after surgery. After being roughed up in his first start of the '96 postseason in a game against the Rangers, Cone led the Yankees to their first win in the World Series with a six-inning, two-run start against the Braves in Game 3.

What did he do after?

Cone had a strong bounce back season in 1997 with a sub-3.00 ERA in 195 innings. The next season, Cone polished off a 20-win season, starting the clinching game of both the ALDS and ALCS against the Rangers and Indians, respectively. The team finished with an American League-record 114 regular season wins on their way to another World Series championship over the San Diego Padres. Their 125 total wins were the most by a team since the 1986 Mets.

On July 18th, 1999, Cone pitched MLB's 16th perfect game in a start against the Montreal Expos at Yankee Stadium on Yogi Berra Day. Cone managed to finish off his opponents on just 88 pitches, recording 10 strikeouts and never going to a three-ball count. No Yankee has thrown a perfect game since Cone's, and his remains the only perfect game in interleague play.

After leaving the Yankees following the 2000 season, Cone pitched for the Boston Red Sox for one year before sitting out in 2002. Cone made four starts for the 2003 Mets before announcing his retirement on May 28th. The YES Network featured Cone as a color commentator, bringing him back in 2008 for Yankees On Deck before he joined the booth with Ken Singleton in 2011. Since then, Cone has been a fairly regular presence in the YES booth, bringing his wealth of knowledge of pitching and sabermetrics as a color commentator.

Pinstripe Alley obviously has a great amount of affection for Cone as an analyst, and he is kind enough to cite our work during Yankees games from time to time. He's a fantastic follow on Twitter, especially if you follow both him and David Wells. Someone needs to get those two guys a television show ASAP. Cone's perfect game was one of my earliest baseball memories, and it was instrumental in me becoming the obsessed Yankee fan that I am now. He is up there among the most beloved players of our generation, and it is a treat that we still get to hear him talk baseball on YES.