Jim Coates, a pitcher who won two WS rings with the Yankees in the early 1960’s, passed away Friday at the age of 87.
Coates was with the Yankees 1956, 1959-1962, then Washington 1963, Cincinnati 1963, and the California Angels 1965-1967.
A spot starter/long reliever, he was an All-Star in 1960 when he went 13-3, 4.28, ERA+84 for the Yanks (18 starts, 17 relief appearances), leading the majors in winning percentage, but his failure to cover first base on a play in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series helped lead to the Yanks loss in that game.
He won WS rings with the Yanks in 1961 and 1962. The righty went 11-5, 3.44 in 1961 (11 starts, 32 relief appearances), ERA+ 108 and 7-6, 4.44 (6 starts, 44 relief appearances) ERA+ 85 in 1962.
In April of 1963 he was traded to Washington for the long, lanky, lefty reliever Steve Hamilton.
Coates pitched in six WS games, all in relief, and went 0-1, 4.15 in 13 IP, losing Game 4 of the 1962 WS.
With the Yankees ahead 7–5 with no outs (and one run in) in the eighth inning and Bill Virdon on second and Dick Groat on first, Coates relieved Bobby Shantz and got Bob Skinner out on a sacrifice bunt, which advanced the runners. Rocky Nelson then flew out to Roger Maris in right field, and Virdon declined to challenge Maris’ throwing arm. Coates then got to an 0–2 count on Roberto Clemente and was a strike away from getting the Yankees out of trouble.
However, a lapse by Coates allowed the Pirates to keep their inning alive. Clemente eventually chopped a ground ball toward first base, and Coates initially ran toward the ball instead of running directly to cover first base. First baseman Moose Skowron fielded the ball as Coates changed direction and ran to the first base bag. But the momentary delay enabled Clemente to reach the base right as Coates got there himself. Skowron was forced to hold on to the ball, and Virdon scored to cut the Yankee lead to 7–6. Coates then gave up a home run to Hal Smith to give the Pirates a 9–7 lead. Terry then relieved Coates and retired Don Hoak to finally end the inning. The Yankees got Coates off the hook by scoring twice in the top of the ninth to tie the game, only to lose on Mazeroski’s home run off Terry in the bottom of the 9th. The Pirates had hit four home runs in this Series; Coates had given up two of them.
1961 & 1962 Championships
In 1961, Coates went 11–5 as a spot starter. Led by the hitting of Maris, Skowron, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Elston Howard, the infield defense of Clete Boyer, Tony Kubek and Bobby Richardson, and Whitey Ford‘s 25–4 season, the now-Ralph Houk-led Yankees (Stengel had been fired immediately after the 1960 World Series) won the World Series over the Cincinnati Reds in five games. Coates relieved Ford in Game 4 of the Series and pitched four scoreless innings for the save in a 7–0 Yankee win; Ford had left the game with an injury, but not without first breaking Babe Ruth‘s World Series record of 29⅔ consecutive scoreless innings.
In 1962, Coates went 7–6 for a Yankee team that repeated as World Champions. Coates was the losing pitcher in Game 4 of this Series, which the Yankees won over the San Francisco Giants in seven games.
In his career, Coates, whose nickname, “The Mummy”, came from his funereal visage on the mound, won 43 games against 22 losses, with a 4.00 ERA and 396 strikeouts in 683⅓ innings pitched. He was also well known for throwing at opposing batters. Jim Bouton, in his book, Ball Four, said Coates, after throwing at the opposing hitters, “would not get into the fights that followed.”
Coates was 43-22, ERA 4.00 in his MLB career, ERA+ 90. His 162 game average was 10-5, 4.00 (11 starts, 46 relief appearances).
As a hitter, he hit .131 with 0 HR and 7 RBI in 160 at bats.