Before the names of Kyle Sleeth, Kenny Baugh, Justin Thompson and even Scott Aldred and Steve Searcy evoked images of a star-studded starting rotation for the Tigers, there was one name the personified unfulfilled promise for Tiger fans: Rich Monteleone. (Actually, Monteleone and 1981 first-rounder Ricky Barlow led this category in the early ’80s, but we’ll focus on Monteleone who celebrates his 45th birthday today. Ironically, Barlow’s 45th was yesterday.)
Anyone who’s followed the Tigers at least since the late 1970s likely remembers the name. Detroit’s first-round pick in the 1982 amateur draft (#20), Monteleone, we were told, would slide into the rotation behind Dan Petry and someday become the Tigers’ ace.
So we waited. And waited.
And each Spring Training we’d follow his progress and wonder if this was the year Monteleone would break through. But that year never came. Instead the Tigers gave up on him after the 1985 season and traded him to the Seattle Mariners for Darnell Coles.
Though Monteleone failed to live up to the expectations of a number-one draft choice, he managed to carve out a nice 10-year career in the majors with the Mariners, Angels, Yankees and Giants. He retired after the 1996 season with a record of 24-17 and 3.87 ERA.
Today, Monteleone is a special pitching instructor for the Yankees.
Happy Birthday, Rich.