Longtime Yankees ace, pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre dies at 77

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Mel Stottlemyre, a longtime Yankees pitcher and big league pitching coach, died Sunday following a long battle with bone marrow cancer. He was 77.

Yankees chairman Hal Steinbrenner issued the following statement Monday:

"Beyond his tremendous accomplishments as a player and coach, Mel Stottlemyre was beloved for his class, dignity and fighting spirit. His contributions to different eras in our history guided us through difficult times and brought us some of our greatest all-time success. As a result, Mel's popularity transcended generations, all of whom thought of him as their own. His plaque in Monument Park will forever serve to celebrate the significance of his legacy.

"His passing is a tremendous loss to the Yankees and all those in the baseball community, and we extend our deepest condolences to Mel's wife, Jean, and the entire Stottlemyre family."

Stottlemyre, a right-handed pitcher, joined the Yankees in 1964 and spent his entire 11-year career with the club before a shoulder injury forced him into retirement. He went 164-139 with a 2.97 ERA, earning him five All-Star Game selections and MVP votes in four seasons. Stottlemyre served as the staff ace during the team's lean years from 1965-74.

Following his playing career, Stottlemyre joined the minor league coaching ranks with the Mariners and eventually made his way back to the big leagues. He served as pitching coach with the Mets (1984-93), Astros (1994-95), Yankees (1996-2005), and Mariners (2008). Stottlemyre won World Series rings with the 1986 Mets as well as the 1996 and 1998-2000 Yankees.

Joe Torre, who worked alongside Stottlemyre during his stint as Yankees manager, issued the following statement:

"I am sorry to hear of Mel's passing. Mel was a role model to us all and the toughest man I have ever met. Sometimes a manager hires a friend to be their coach but with Mel, as with (Don Zimmer), he was my coach who became a dear friend and someone who became very special to me. I send my deepest sympathies to his wife Jean, boys Mel Jr & Todd as well as the entire Stottlemyre family."

At Old Timers' Day in June 2015, the Yankees surprised Stottlemyre by announcing he would be honored with a plaque in Yankee Stadium's Monument Park. Here is the touching video:

"Today in this Stadium, there is no one that's happier to be on this field than myself," Stottlemyre said at the ceremony. "This is such a shock to me ... If I never get to come to another Old Timers' Day, I will take these memories and I'll start another baseball club, coaching up (in heaven), whenever they need me." 

Stottlemyre grew up in Mabton, Washington, outside Seattle. He is survived by his wife, Jean, and their two sons, Mel Jr. and Todd, both of whom pitched in the big leagues. Stottlemyre had a third son, Jason, who died of leukemia in 1981.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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