I was just reading our Morning Briefing and learned that today was the birthday of Danny Frisella. Wow, I thought. There’s a name I haven’t heard of in a while.
I always had fond memories of Danny Frisella, a right-hander who the Mets selected in the third round of the 1966 Amatuer Draft out of Washington State University.
It didn’t take long before he’d make his way to the big league club, making his major league debut a year later on July 27, tossing two scoreless innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
At the age of 21, he wrapped up his rookie season with a 3.41 ERA, making 11 starts and two relief appearances.
After his debut, Frisella had a couple of non-distinct seasons as a starter for the Mets, trudging between both the minors and the majors with lackluster results.
However, with a rotation stacked with the likes of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry and Nolan Ryan, the Mets – at the urging of manager Gil Hodges – decided to transition Frisella into a reliever. It was a decision that paid off handsomely both for the Mets and Frisella.
Danny was a quality reliever for the Mets from 1970 to 1972. He had an absolutely filthy forkball and together with left-handed reliever Tug McGraw they formed one of the most effective backends of the bullpen in the National League.
In 1971, Frisella had one of the best seasons in franchise history for a reliever, going 8-5 with 12 saves, a 1.169 WHIP and a 1.99 ERA in 53 appearances. Frisella struck out 93 batters that season in 90.1 innings and walked just 30.
Tragically, Danny Frisella was killed in a dune buggy accident in January of 1977 when his vehicle went out of control, overturned, and crushed him. Danny was just 30 years old and left behind his wife and three-year old son.