Although Guidry won over 20 games three times in his career, he is remembered for having one of the greatest single seasons ever. He was 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA in 1978, won the Cy Young Award unanimously, and finished second to Boston’s Jim Rice in AL MVP voting. Guidry set club records that year in strikeouts (248) and consecutive wins at the start of a season (13). He called his Yankee-record 18 strikeouts against California on June 17 of that season “perhaps my greatest single thrill.” He started the AL East playoff game on October 2, 1978 against Boston and won 5-4 in what was “probably the most tension-packed game I ever played in.” Guidry was named TSN Player of the Year and Man of the Year and the Associated Press ‘s Male Athlete of the Year, and he made every all-star team. His nine shutouts tied Babe Ruth’s AL record for a lefthander. During the 1970s, Yankee management made a policy of acquiring pitchers through trades and free agent signings. As a result, Guidry did not find a regular place in the Yankee rotation until 1977, when he was 26 years old. Even then, there were those who felt that the 5’11” 160-lb lefty was too small to pitch effectively and last in the major leagues. Guidry dispelled the notion by going 16-7 that year and perfecting the wicked slider that became his bread and butter pitch. He went on to lead the majors in victories from 1977 through 1987 with 168, posting records of 18-8 (1979), 21-9 (1983), and 22-6 (1985). He is fourth on the all-time Yankee victory list (170), second in strikeouts (1,778), sixth in games and innings, and tied for sixth in shutouts (26). Guidry compiled a 5-2 postseason record, 3-1 in World Series play.
Guidry’s success and durability were attributable in part to the fact that he was an outstanding athlete. He won five straight Gold Glove awards (1982-1986) and was twice used briefly in the outfield.
Guidry was slow to recover from elbow surgery following the 1988 season, and he started 1989 on the disabled list before beginning a rehabilitation assignment in June at Triple-A. When he didn’t impress the Yankee management with his performance at Columbus, he retired from baseball on July 12, 1989.
Guidry was a good amateur drummer who kept a trap set at Yankee Stadium and once played with the Beach Boys during a postgame concert. (EG/CR)