Former Senator Darrin Winston dies
Winston would quietly work his way back from elbow surgery to appear in 24 games for the Senators in 1993 and 25 more for them in 1994. The onetime Rutgers University star eventually worked his way to the major leagues, pitching in 34 games for the Philadelphia Phillies over the 1997 and 1998 seasons, going 4-2 with a 5.84 earned-run average.
On Friday, he passed away from leukemia at his home in Freehold, N.J., only a few days after being diagnosed with the disease. He was 42.
Winston reached the majors almost by accident, having gone home to northern New Jersey after the minor league season ended in 1997 only to get a call from the Phillies when they needed somebody to help in the bullpen during a series of September doubleheaders.
Winston then made his major league debut as a 31-year-old rookie on Sept. 10, 1997, working the eighth inning against the Mets at Shea Stadium and giving up four runs in a 10-2 loss to New York.
Not that Winston was dejected, saying afterward that, 'Things like this happen, but I waited too long to get here.''
Rutgers star, ex-MLB pitcher Darrin
Winston died Friday at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold Township. His death was announced by the Somerset Patriots, the independent Atlantic League team that he played with for four years before his career ended in 2002.
Winston, who was 42, starred at Bishop Ahr High School in Edison before moving on to Rutgers. He holds the university's career records for victories (26), innings pitched (278) and complete games (22), and was inducted into its hall of fame in 2000.
Drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1988, he pitched for them and for the Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Mets and the Los Angeles Angels during his minor league career. His only time in the major leagues came when he appeared in 34 games with the Phillies over the 1997 and 1998 seasons, posting a 4-2 record and 5.84 ERA.
The lefty was nearly out of luck in June 1997 before he got a break.
The Phillies had decided to release him from Triple-A after a game, but when the scheduled starter got a blister while warming up, Winston filled in and pitched 6 1-3 solid innings. The organization's director of player development happened to be in attendance that day, and told the team's manager in mid-game that Winston wouldn't be released.
When the minor league season ended, Winston went home to New Jersey and kept working out, hoping for a call. And when manager Terry Francona and the Phillies approached a stretch of doubleheaders in September, they summoned Winston.
Winston made his big league debut at age 31, pitching one inning and giving up four runs _ including a homer by Brian McRae _ at Shea Stadium against the Mets.
Winston left his debut with a 36.00 ERA, but was able to smile about it.
"Things like this happen, but I waited too long to get here," he said then.
After leaving organized baseball, he played with the Patriots from 1999 through 2002, compiling a 22-17 career mark with a 4.50 ERA. He was a member of the Somerset squad that won the Atlantic League title in 2001.
Marc Russinoff, vice president of public relations for the Patriots, told The Star-Ledger of Newark that Winston _ a father of six and grandfather of one _ had been diagnosed with leukemia on Wednesday.
"Darrin was a fan favorite, a Patriot standout and in the early years of this league and team, kind of our first big-time player," said Patrick McVerry, the team's president and general manager. "He brought the right character, the charm, in anything you asked. And he was a great family guy, somebody that we all looked up to and admired."
The Patriots observed a moment of silence for Winston before Friday night's game. Coincidentally, Somerset was holding a "Rutgers Night" celebration, and longtime Scarlet Knights baseball coach Fred Hill was among those in attendance.
"He was a great young man. If you knew Darrin, you knew he was always in great shape. And he had more enthusiasm than you could imagine," Hill told The Star-Ledger of Newark. "And he always had time for his family. They were included in everything. He was just an outstanding person on and off the field."
Darrin A. Winston