Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Rob Gardner, Former Yankees and Mets Pitcher, Dies at 78

Rob Gardner, Former Yankees and Mets Pitcher, Dies at 78

Rob Gardner, a former Mets and Yankees pitcher, reportedly passed away last Saturday (October 21st). He was 78 years old at the time of his death. 

According to his obituary, Gardner was drafted to the MLB during the middle of his school senior year. He played for the Minnesota Twins and played professionally for more than a decade. Along with the Twins, Mets, and Yankees, the former professional pitcher played for the Brewers, Oakland A’s, and Chicago Cubs.

Gardner joined the Mets in 1961 and made nearly 50 appearances for the team.  He currently holds the record with the Mets for most scoreless innings pitches in a game, which he achieved on October 2, 1965, against the Phillies. The New York Post reports that the game ended in a 0-0 tie after 18 innings.  

The media outlet notes that Gardner threw 133 2/3 innings with a 5.12 ERA for the Mets in 1966. He was then traded to the Cubs in 1967. Two years later, he returned to New York to play for the Yankees. He played for the club’s Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse and appeared in one game for the Bronx Bombers in 1970. 

Rob Gardner’s family revealed he had retired from baseball due to an elbow injury. He went on to join the Binghamton Fire Department and became one of the first group of firefighters to become paramedics. “He often commented that he felt blessed to have had two careers he loved,” his obituary reads. 

An 11 a.m. memorial mass for Gardner will be held on Friday (October 27th) at St Patrick’s Church in Binghamton, New York. Gardner is survived by his two children and three grandchildren, as well as his sister, niece, and nephew.

Rob Gardner Once Discussed Why the Mets Traded Him  

During an interview with The Sporting News in 1971, Rob Gardner spoke about being traded by the New York Mets. He admitted he didn’t know what happened.

“It was about the next to last day of spring training when [manager] Wes Westrum told me that I had been waived out of the league,” Gardner recalled. “He floored me when he said ‘I should have used you every fourth day last year, but I can’t use you this year.’” However, although he was originally told he was waived out of the league, the Mets ended up trading him to the Chicago Cubs.

Rob Gardner then said the mystery of his trade was solved when Chicago Cubs General Manager John Holland asked about his arm. “[He said] ‘When you were on the waivers list, the word was that you had a bad arm.’”

Along with discussing the trade, Gardner also spoke about his unique pitching style. He said he always threw the ball on the outside of the plate with some kind of movement. “[I was] hoping to get a groundball,” Gardner said about his playing style. “The first thing to go when you don’t pitch a lot is control of your breaking ball. Going into the bullpen did not help me at all.”