The Obit For Rick Mahler

Ex-Braves pitcher Mahler dies

By Mark Bowman /

03/02/2005 5:10 PM ET

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Former Braves and Reds pitcher and current Mets minor league coach Rick Mahler died Wednesday of a heart attack.

Mahler, 51, passed away in Jupiter, Fla., where he was preparing to attend the Mets' minor league camp.

Former Brave Tom Glavine called the Braves clubhouse on Wednesday morning to give them the news. Mahler spent most of his 13-year Major League career pitching for the Braves.

"It's awful," said Braves manager Bobby Cox, who was Mahler's first skipper when the right-hander broke into the Major Leagues with Atlanta in 1979.

Mahler, who was in the Majors from 1979-91, spent his first 10 big league seasons in Atlanta. He was the Braves' Opening Day starter five times (1982 and 1985-88) and accumulated 96 career wins in 271 big league starts.

His 6-0 victory over the Phillies on April 7, 1987, was his National League-record third Opening Day shutout. His others came in 1982, when the Braves began the season with 13 straight victories, and 1986.

Mahler's best season came in 1985, when he went 17-15 for the Braves. The next year, he led the Majors with 18 losses.

"Rick was a great competitor," Cox said. "He really knew how to pitch."

Mahler went to Cincinnati after the 1988 season and was part of the 1990 Reds World Series championship squad. He finished his career one year later with stints in both Atlanta and Montreal.

This would have been his second season as the pitching coach for the Port St. Lucie Mets.

"It's a sad day for our organization," said Mets senior vice president of baseball operations Jim Duquette. "Our hearts go out to his wife, Sheryl, and his children."

Mahler leaves behind his wife, Sheryl, and five children; Ricky, Robby, Timothy, Tyler and Shannon.