David Brian Cone (born January 2, 1963 in Kansas City, Missouri) is a former pitcher in Major League Baseball. Armed with a wicked fastball and tremendous instinct on the mound, Cone earned a legion of some of the most devoted fans in major sports, dubbed "Coneheads", who seemed to follow him no matter the team for which he played. Cone, a right-hander, was regarded as one of the top strikeout pitchers in the majors during the late 1980s and early 1990s and won the American League Cy Young Award in 1994 with the Kansas City Royals.
David was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 3rd round of the 1981 amateur draft and made his Major League debut on June 8, 1986. Prior to the 1987 season, however, he was traded with Chris Jelic to the New York Mets for Ed Hearn, Rick Anderson and Mauro Gazzo. The following season, David split time between the bullpen and the starting rotation and enjoyed marginal success, going 5-6.
Cone's first exceptional year came in 1988 when he went 20-3 with a 2.22 ERA, leading the New York Mets to the postseason, where they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Over the next dozen years, Cone became accustomed to leading teams to the postseason and became known as a "big game" pitcher.
It was this reputation which led to Cone's becoming a popular trade commodity during deadline deals as his pitching down the stretch was highly sought by contending teams. He was twice a part of midyear deals, being shipped from a losing team to a contending team in 1992 and 1995. Cone compiled an 8-3 postseason record over 21 postseason starts and was a part of five World Series championship teams (1992 with the Toronto Blue Jays and 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000 with the New York Yankees). He had a career postseason ERA of 3.80.
In addition to the 1988 campaign, Cone also enjoyed a 20-win season in 1998. He led the National League in strikeouts in 1990 and 1991, but his 261 strikeouts in 1992, split between the two leagues, were a personal best. He won the American League Cy Young Award in the strike-shortened 1994 season, going 16-5 with a 2.94 ERA.
Cone's career faded dramatically in his later years. After pitching a perfect game on July 18 (which lowered his ERA to 2.69), 1999, he seemed to suddenly lose effectiveness, and in 2000 he posted the worst record of his career, 4-14, while seeing his ERA balloon to 6.91 (up from 3.44). The change in fortune was so severe that sports reporters would semi-seriously ask if he'd sold his soul to the devil in order to pitch the perfect game.
Cone retired after pitching for the Boston Red Sox in 2001, but attempted a comeback in the 2003 season. Pitching for the New York Mets, the results were no better - he went 1-3 in 4 starts with a 6.50 ERA. He retired, again, in the off-season.
The 2001 book A Pitcher's Story: Innings With David Cone by Roger Angell (ISBN 0446678465) is a revealing glimpse of Cone's career. Instead of a stock "as told to" sports "autobiography", the book interweaves an enlightening biography of a great pitcher with an inside look at his most disheartening season.
- Fastball (95)
- Sharp curve
- Fastball (92)
- Overhand curve
- Sidearm (laredo) curve
"He's got a better-than-average fastball and a real hard slider. Those two pitches help set up one of the best change-ups in either league." (Durwood Merrill)
"David Cone has one of the best repertoires I've ever seen a pitcher possess. He had phenomenal natural stuff...he had a mid-90s fastball with about eight different arm angles. He threw a Frisbee slider that started out behind right-handed hitters, yet he could paint the outside corner with it." (Tom Candiotti)
Source: James, Bill and Rob Neyer. The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers. Fireside, NY: 2004.
- All-Star (1988, 1992, 1994, 1997, 1999)
- American League Cy Young Award winner (1994)
- Finished 9th in American League MVP voting (1994)
- Finished 10th in National League MVP voting (1988)
- Finished 3rd in National League Cy Young Award voting (1988)
- Finished 4th in American League Cy Young Award voting (1995, 1998)
- Finished 6th in American League Cy Young Award voting (1999)
- Pitched 16th perfect game in history (for New York Yankees, 18 July 1999 vs. Montreal Expos)
- His 2668 career strikeouts ranks 18th on the all-time list
- Kansas City Royals (1986, 1993-1994)
- New York Mets (1987-1992, 2003)
- Toronto Blue Jays (1992, 1995)
- New York Yankees (1995-2000)
- Boston Red Sox (2001)