David Cone, who pitched a perfect game 20 years ago with the New York Yankees, penned a book with Jack Curry titled “Full Count: The Education of a Pitcher” by Grand Central Publishing.

David Cone Yankees
The Yankees carry pitcher David Cone (center) off the field after pitching a perfect game on July 19, 1999 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. (Image: AP)

Cone, a five-time All-Star pitcher and five-time world champion, sat down with sportswriter Jack Curry to pen a pitching memoir. As far as book about inside baseball goes, “Full Count” lets you get inside the mind of a sensational pitcher.

Birthdate: January 2, 1963
Hometown: Kansas City, MO
Position: Pitcher
Throws: Right
Bats: Left
Record: 194-126, 3.46 ERA, 2,688 strikeouts
Titles: 5 (1992, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000)
Teams: Royals, Mets, Blue Jays, Yankees, Red Sox

Cone won five World Series titles. In 1992, he won his first ring with the Toronto Blue Jays. He’d win four more with the New York Yankees between 1996 and 2000.

On July 18, 1999, David Cone became the 16th player in MLB history to throw a perfect game. He only needed 88 pitches against the visiting Montreal Expos to put down 27 batters in a row, including Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero.

Wild Guy, Control Pitcher

David Cone grew up in Kansas City and had the rare opportunity to play for his hometown team. Cone admittedly said his wild personality got him in trouble with the coaching staff and management.He often argued with pitching coaches in what he felt were spirited debates on the merits of pitching, but in reality, the coaches didn’t want to hear a young pitcher talk back to them. Cone also liked to party, almost a little too much for the likes the upper management.

The Royals traded him to the New York Mets. He was bummed to no longer pitch for his hometown team, but moved to the Big Apple. Cone felt right at home with the hard-partying Mets. After six seasons with the Mets, they traded him to the Blue Jays. He finally he had an opportunity to win a World Series with the 1992 Toronto Blue Jays.

Cone bounced back and forth between the Blue Jays and Royals over the next few seasons before the Yankees acquired him in a trade in the middle of the 1995 season. The Yanks wanted him for their impending playoff run. The Yanks lost in the ALCS to the Seattle Mariners that year. However, that was just the start of a huge run for the Yankees.

Cone was a part of the 1996 World Championship team for the Yankees first title in over two decades. They followed that up with a three-peat between 1998 and 2000 with Cone an integral piece of the championship rotation.

Inside Dirt

Pitching is delicate matter with a significant amount of pressure riding on the pitcher/catcher relationship. Cone dished on his preference of catchers when he pitched for the Yankees during their 1990s dynasty.

Jorge Posada and Cone were not on the same page when it came to calling games. Cone felt Posada didn’t put alternative signs up fast enough, because he liked to work quickly and Posada slowed down his rhythm. Joe Torre places Joe Girardi with Cone as his personal catcher. Cone explained that it wasn’t hard feelings on Posada.

Cone also mentioned that he shared a suite on the road with David Wells during the 1998 season. Wells and manager Joe Torre butted heads, but Cone acted as the mediator between an old-school coach and the boisterous pitcher. During road trips, the two rebels stayed in a different hotel from the team. Instead of going out to bars and getting in trouble with drunken fans, Cone and Wells had the party come to them.

Cone, during his early days with the Royals, asked Gaylord Perry to show him how to throw a spitball. Perry refused, but encouraged Cone to try different arm angles inn order to fool hitters.

Cone has the dubious distinction of playing for both the New York Yankees and New York Mets. He shared many positive compliments about his fellow Yankees, including deep praise and respect for Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera.

Cone also admired starters Andy Pettitte and Cuban defector Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez. Cone felt Pettitte had the best game plan execution compared to all other teammates. Pettitte excelled at throwing a first strike, which allowed him to pitch from ahead in the count. Cone referred to El Duque as a “master of deception” who fooled batters with his unusual delivery and willingness to throw non-traditional pitches during given situations.

The Perfect Game

The Yankees hosted “Yogi Berra Day” at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx on July 18, 1999. The sold-out crowd was on hand to see Yankees legend Yogi Berra make his return to the stadium for the first time in over 14 years. Berra refused to return to the Bronx after surly owner George Steinbrenner fired him a couple of weeks into the during the 1985 season.

Yogi’s return also included Don Larsen, who threw the only perfect game in playoff history for the 1956 Damn Yankees. Larsen threw out the first pitch to Berra. On a day set aside to honor Yankee legends, no one expected David Cone would make history.

Cone retired 27 batters in a row for a perfect game against the Montreal Expos. The game was also delayed 33 minutes by a rain, but Cone stayed loose by playing catch with a ball boy in the hallway outside the Yanks locker room.

Cone also credited his personal catcher, former Yankees manager Joe Girardi, as helping him execute a flawless game plan to attack the Expos. The Expos, led by slugger Vladimir Guerrero, were a young team and playing a rare interleague game against the Yankees. Cone took advantage of the overzealous hitters who were unfamiliar with his pitching style.

Cone established a wide strike zone with home plate umpire Ted Barrett. In the era before pitch cameras and tracking balls/strikes, Cone was able to get a lot of borderline pitches called for strikes.

Cone got ahead in almost every count and used sliders as his out pitch. Numerous Expos chased sliders in the dirt or outside the strike zone. Cone even got the best of Guerrero who went hitless in his three chances against Cone.

Cone might not have stats to garner entry into the Hall of Fame, but he still etched his name in the history books at Cooperstown with his perfect game in 1999.